Sunday, July 6, 2014

Being Shunned

Hollywood producer, Robert Evans writes in his autobiography (The Kid Stays in the Picture) about surviving Hollywood’s worst gossip, lies, and character attacks.  He was able to just brush off what people said about him, apparently subscribing to the adage, “what people think about me is none of my business”.  Besides, he was no saint.  It took, however, just one horrible egregious lie by actress Sharon Stone to cause him to have a heart attack. The sexy star falsely accused Evans of murder.

Words matter. Anyone who says, “They’re just words – ignore them” has never suffered true character assassination by a cruel person wielding the ax of gossip and lies.

Over the course of the past few months I’ve suffered numerous anxiety attacks.  Once I left a partially filled cart in the grocery store, and another time I carried my unstamped (and therefore unsent) packages out of the post office.  No, I haven’t been accused of murder, but I HAVE been accused of putting a hit out on a former friend.  A HIT!!

The accusation has been affirmed and confirmed.  This woman has made a myriad of crazy allegations against me over the years.  She once accused me of threatening her entire family, so this isn’t new.  I have confronted her about her allegations and gossip.  She sat across a table from me, pointed her finger in my face, and told me she had proof that I was “weak”, a “victim-wannabe” and then added,  “I have no choice but to assume you’re jealous of me.”

But putting a hit out on her?  She has insisted that her informant was a “reliable source”.

Now on one hand, I finally understand all the strange things that have been going on whenever I showed up at the church in which she is a leader and teacher.  Her husband denied me communion, she herself snubbed, shunned, and walked away from me whenever I got close enough to say hello.  One day she even stood with her arms folded behind me during a church service while I sat innocently in my seat listening to the sermon.  I don’t think her eyes ever left me.  Finally, I became so uncomfortable that I left.

On the other hand, what kind of a person makes this kind of crazy accusation?

As soon as I confirmed the truth of the situation, I contacted a pastor at the church who knows my history with this woman.  I was looking for counsel on how to deal with this new accusation.  The pastor told me to “keep your mouth shut and let God be your defender”.

Listen, I’ve written ad nauseam about the damage this woman and her friends have caused my family.  We don’t deserve this!  If saying those words out loud makes me a “victim-wannabe” then so be it! 

The fact that this woman and her friends are Christians is relevant ONLY in that when there is conflict, we are supposed to confront one another in love and for the purpose of reconciliation (Matthew 18).  It is NOT okay – EVER – to spread gossip or to LIE.

 I’ve always followed the Biblical steps of confrontation and reconciliation.  I remember one man defending his own slams against me by turning the tables and making accusations against me.  When I denied his claims, he called me a liar.  The truth is, I’ve never seen the steps in Matthew 18 actually work.  I don’t believe people want reconciliation and restoration, but rather they just want to be right. 

The attacks from this woman and her friends have done life-altering damage to my family and me.  I lost so much – a job, a best friend, an entire church family, and my kids lost their faith.  I do NOT blame The Church for the bad choices or for the dark path my kids took.  I do, however, believe that we ALL do things we wish we hadn’t done when we are in deep never-ending pain.

Like us, our kids lost every friend they had when we were originally kicked out of this woman’s church, AND they watched as their mother was knocked down and beat up again and again by our family “friends”.  They watched me seek restoration with these Christian friends (many times), only to be told that because I worked for The Theatre, I was a danger to their reputation.  It was devastating for ALL of us. 

Are we victims?  NO!!  We’re survivors.  But here’s a fact: For every action there’s a reaction.  My kids walked away from The Church, from God, and from their faith because of how we as a family were treated.  The ugliness towards us has NEVER ended and no matter how deep my faith is nothing can change the fact that my kids have seen (and are seeing) so much ugly.

These people caused deep unnecessary pain and we suffered.  We truly felt as if one day we were out riding our bicycles on a beautiful warm day when out of nowhere a semi-truck deliberately ran us over.  And then, to add insult to injury, we were blamed for riding our bikes – for being human. 

You know, when a Christian mom and dad lose a child to disease or sudden accident that family is embraced, loved and never forgotten.   But, I’ve had people stop me at church to tell me my kids “deserved to be kicked out of church”, and will “never be saved”.  Ummm….so, if (according to you) my kids are dead in Christ, where is your compassion?  Where are your prayers and friendship?  Why am I shunned? 

Some of you have expressed a great deal of impatience with me.  “Move on.” “Let it go.” “Ignore these people.”   I move on and the gossip follows me!  I’m tired of you telling me that I’M a bad witness.  Just by telling our story?  You have no problem talking about the evils of the Westboro Baptist Church, or denouncing the Sudanese for sentencing a Christian woman to death for her beliefs.  But, I share our story of abuse in the name of religion and I’M a bad witness.  Is there no one who sees that as hypocritical?

Am I still bemoaning something that happened years ago?  No!!  I’m frustrated that YEARS LATER these people continue to rip at my family and no one will defend, affirm, or protect us!

The Barna group has written books about how The Church has driven away an entire generation of young people.  David Kinneman wrote (or co-wrote) “You Lost Me” and “UnChristian” and preachers teach the truths from these books in churches all over the country.  Another book detailing the disconnect between what we say and what we do is “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stearns.  And yet I DARE to tell our story – to put names and faces on the anecdotes we read in books, and I’m shamed.

Because you profess to be a Christian, you have a responsibility to me just as I have to you.  I firmly believe that if ONE person had stood up with courage and told the truth years ago, we would not be in this scary place today.  This woman and her friends have been allowed to terrorize my family, and no one speaks up.

Perhaps I’ve misread the Bible.  Perhaps the God of mercy, grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love is not real at all.  Perhaps He IS a judgmental, condemning, hate-filled being who really does not want me in His kingdom – just as you don’t want me in your church.  

Perhaps.  But I KNOW who Jesus is, and guess what? He loves my family.  It is HIS desire that we spend eternity with Him.  I will CONTINUE to be a Christ-follower because I know the Son of God.  I know his character, his compassion, his mercy, his grace, his miraculous works, and his unconditional love.

Robert Evans wrote a check to Sharon Stone for $250,000.  That check is hers if she can corroborate one word of her heinous story.  I’ll make the same offer - $250,000 to this woman who has made this horrendous accusation against me if she can prove I put a hit out on her!   Come see me, and bring your “reliable source”.  The money is yours – unless I first spend it all on therapy and anti-anxiety meds.

1 comment:

  1. Well I've been shunned most of my life don't let it consume you just move on.I'm shy and don't say much I've developed a thick skin and what pisses them off the most is I do my own thing.