As a child, I remember playing the game “Telephone” with three friends. I whispered a short story into my friend’s ear who then whispered into my other friend’s ear. When she stood up and re-told my story, I was shocked to hear that while the story was similar it was not the same story.
This is also how mountains fly into molehills with gossiping. As usual, one of the worst gossip havens is church.
There is a personal story that I remember when I was 9 years old at our church in South Carolina where a Deacon cheated on his wife, Debbie, who also happened to be my Sunday School teacher that I really liked it. They had 9 kids or something ridiculous together and two of them were really close with me.
Anyways, the gossip was so bad it was literally vibrating in the church halls so the Pastor called an emergency meeting with the entire congregation present (children included which I personally disagree with but okay) to address the matter, and put in a policy I have followed pretty whole heartedly. He said, “If you have a question or concern – go directly to him as the Pastor and that there was no reason for anyone to discuss it further with anyone else.” In this case, because the gossip was so bad, the Pastor actually told the facts of the affair in front of the entire congregation to set the matter straight and dared anyone to talk about it after that.
I never realized the importance of having a Pastor who did that (Jay E. Adams – he is pretty famous) until recently when I had a personal incident at another church in Tennessee and the Pastor really did not want to get involved because there were a lot of congregation members and wanted to stay out of it. After the Pastor basically wanted no involvement, someone from the church called the police who showed up at my house (which was an ordeal), but all was fine in the end, but it scared me that someone from church would do such a thing and I had no clue who would or why – I was just coming to learn about the Bible after all.
In the hallways and in other places like the grocery store, church members were talking badly about other people to me and vice versa – it seemed to be an overloaded hopeless situation. People wanted me to leave the church because of the Pastor, but the Pastor had not done anything wrong and I needed his advice on what to do until I could figure it out! So I resolved to suck it up and just still kept coming to church, even though it was a land mind and certain members of the congregation repeatedly were negative. But I could handle negative, but not the constant gossiping when I went to other places or calling law enforcement – running and being paranoid without addressing the problem and getting to know the congregation is something maybe I would have done before, but not now. I was facing this problem head on – if the church members were going to do that, they could it to my face. And made it clear I would ask the Pastor in front of the entire church congregation!
So I accepted that I couldn’t leave the church. In truth, my strategy worked and a lot of the craziness stopped, but it single handedly was the worst experience I can say I have ever gone through in my life…and then I slowly drifted away and began church shopping, but it was a long process. It took a while to gain acceptance and accept that it may be like that forever, but I had to make a decision and do something so rather than run in fear, I went back in!
Then a congregation member”mother” hacked my computer and my WordPress blog uploaded a topless photo of me, and another of my stepson and triangulated the men in the congregation. What a nightmare right?
However, going back to South Carolina, there is something I regret really badly to this day – so the Pastor had the congregation meeting and everyone had to walk up and give Debbie and her husband a hug after the meeting (I suppose it was the Pastor’s way of reconciling?). Like an ignorant child, I refused to give the deacon a hug – I was 9 or 10, but still, to this day I do feel bad about that. As a kid, I didn’t really get the dynamics but remember he looked down and will never forget that feeling.
All I can say is that we all do the best with the facts as presented, but I am super glad to be out of the Tennessee church and would never rejoin now that it is manageable and everything got worked out…I think it was definitely a unanimous decision!
This will End. If further abuse comes