Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My "Dangerous Path"

For today's Wild Ride Wednesday, I want to remind myself, and you, that it's okay to ask "why?"

“Randall used to say when you turn 50 you’re closer to the final curtain than the overture. But I think there’s still time to learn whatever it is I’m supposed to learn.” - Dinah Grayson, The Dixie Swim Club

Dinah Grayson is the character I’m playing in the upcoming Second Space production, The Dixie Swim Club. I myself am closer to 50 than to 40, and like Dinah, I believe there’s still time for me to learn. But first, I need to learn to BELIEVE the things I’ve already LEARNED! Why is that so hard to do?

It’s been several years now since a pastor told me I was on a “dangerous path”. One day Pastor H’s assistant, Pastor B, called me at home. He said, “Liz, you’re on a dangerous path, and I believe if you don’t get off you’ll end up in a bad place.” He and his wife were very dear friends and I had no reason to doubt he had my best interest at heart.

And what was this “dangerous path” I was on? Was I breaking a commandment—stealing, cheating, or lying? Nope, I had done something worse; I dared to ask “why?”

Pastor B told me (effectively) that I should never question pastors, as God Himself put the spiritual leaders in authority over me. Um…isn’t that exactly how priests justified abusing and taking advantage of kids?

You see, Pastor H fired me and then refused to tell me why. He removed me from the ministry I helped start and wouldn’t tell me what led to that decision. He kept saying, “I’m in charge, and you can’t put me in a box.” I’d poured my heart, talent, and time into building the ministry, and now I was arbitrarily being removed. Adding insult to injury, I was being reprimanded for asking “why?”

Pastor B gave three examples of my disrespect for Godly authority. He credited me with saying something about a pastor that another member of my family had said. In fact, I reminded him, I had DEFENDED the pastor. “Oh yeah”, he said. “Well…” he went on. “You challenged the children’s pastor after he chastised Drew.”

What? How did he know that? Yes, Tom and I were very disturbed about an encounter between the children’s pastor and our second son Drew. We confronted the leader, but never ever spoke to anyone else about it. Two weeks after the incident, the pastor took time out of his family vacation to call us—he was crying. He told me he’d been going through a tough time and he took it out on our son. He asked Tom and I to forgive him—which we did—and the incident was over. Apparently, however, he had asked for Pastor B’s advice before he called us, but never told him about his contrite phone call. Now the encounter was being used against me! Unbelievable.

The third “proof” of my dangerous-path-traveling was my daring to question my firing. I was just supposed to be quiet and accept Pastor H’s decision regardless of how my life was being affected.

It would be many weeks before Tom and I were finally allowed to sit with Pastor H to hear him explain his decision. He accused me of saying things I didn’t say and thinking things I never thought. When I stood up for myself, he called me a liar.

It is ALWAYS okay to ask “why?” I learned that truth when I was a child, and I gave permission to my own kids to do the same. But I’m not sure I really believed it until now that I’m almost 50. It’s my life and it’s okay to ask why!

You are allowed, by the way, to answer a “why” question with, “because I said so”, or “because I’m in charge”. That answer might not sit well with me, but you have the right to say anything you want.

Accusing me of saying something I never said is not cool. I have no idea what motivated Pastor H and Pastor B to do what they did. What I DO know, is that I spent way too many years doubting myself and believing their lies about me. Shame on me!

I bought a license plate frame that says, “I’ve got an opinion, and I’m not afraid to use it.” I am a smart, talented, and good person. I’ve worked hard to build a reputation as a hard working, respectful person, and I have an opinion. I never asked anyone to agree with me.

When the decisions and choices of other people affect my life, I have the right to ask “why”. So do you! Lesson learned.

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