Telling the Truth
There is much in relation to all the RPNA church crud that I have been holding back on my blog for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons was because there was one particular person who influenced me and who has a disdain for people who bare their hearts for the general public. For a number of years I felt like I had to keep this person pleased and happy with me in order to have their approval and good opinion and to keep them off my back. Well, that is yet another chain that has fallen from me in recent months.
Another reason was because I know that those still in the RPNA (General Meeting that Never Meets) make those of us who are disaffected brethren the topic of conversation after their society meetings. I have heard that some of them give one another "high fives" for not belonging to The Effort, which was an informal meeting of those of us who had questions about the way we were being governed, and that not belonging to The Effort or having those same questions has now become yet another unwritten term of communion for those who are still "in" or who want to be "in".
You can call it pride if you like, but I just didn't want to add fuel to the fires of "I told you so" that I know is circulating in that sphere. The prediction was made by one of the elders wives that those who were "excommunicated" by that phoney church court would end up all over the map in terms of what they were doing. IOW, none of us would hold to the "faithful" positions that the RPNA (GM) had taught us. Well thank God, many of us are being freed from all that mess, is all I can say. It may look like being all over the map to outsiders, but what I am seeing is that some of us are finding our way back to God and that the Lord is using a variety of methods to accomplish this.
So why have I decided to open up and share what I really think and feel? Well, I know that I am risking more of the same stupidity from the phony law advocate that I experienced recently. I am also making myself more of a target for those after society meeting conclaves and telephone conversations where the faithful gather around the elders and they all "tsk, tsk" together over the latest evidence of depravity and unfaithfulness on the part of the disaffected. However, I am not writing for that audience. Instead, I want to share what I am thinking/feeling because I know that I am not the only one who thinks/feels this way. One of the worst things that can happen in this sort of situation is to feel isolated and alone in what you are experiencing. By sharing my own angst, concerns, questions, and even triumphs, maybe someone out there will be encouraged to think that perhaps they aren't crazy or even "Thank God someone understands!"
I don't know if any of you are familiar with the concept of stages of grieving that have been identified by Elizabeth Kubler Ross, but don't be surprised if you find yourself experiencing this. I know that I have. In the past few months I have found myself swinging through most of the stages at one point or another. But as one friend told me, you can be completely self conscious about which stage you are in, but it doesn't do a thing to help you get through it any quicker or easier. Well yeah. The only thing I can recommend is that you just ride the waves knowing that at some point they will stop heaving and tossing you about.
Why grief? Many of us invested a lot of time and energy in this enterprise. There is the loss of years that went into this and the result is what? Being given over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh and classed with scandalous persons who make sin a way of life. This has the same feeling that you get when you find out that someone has slandered you and accused you of some serious sin. You feel guilty and slimed by it, even though it isn't true.
Then there is the grief over lost or divided relationships. In the RPNA they say they don't practice shunning, but what do you call it when one of the elders has nothing to do with members of his own family who don't agree with him on every jot and tittle of his own profession of faith? Now if you happen to be a child of this elder and you see what happens to other family members who don't toe the line, how much room does that leave you for being honest about what you really think or feel? And if you think that this sort of thing keeps them in line -- well guess again. Do we really want outward conformity at the expense of honesty and the means of getting to the heart of matters? Some people are experiencing divisions in their own families with husbands, and children being pitted against wives and mothers. If you don't think that this causes grief, guess again.
The elders' record for restoration of the lost is dismal. Just recently the elders sent out a rebuttal to The Effort's paper and they also wrote up a document on steps to repentance in order to effect reconciliation with the disaffected. But guess what? I don't know a single person who was excommunicated who received this document. I only found out about it when one of the insiders, who was subsequently excommunicated himself, sent it around. So who was the intended audience, I have to ask? Talk, and apparently writing, is cheap. These so called undershepherds take the example of the Great Shepherd, who left the 99 to seek the lost one and turn it on their heads. They strike the flock and scatter it instead of gathering it back in. Not that I want to be gathered back to this particular fold, mind you. But still, you get the point, right?
So the upshot of all this is to say that even though you and I might be happy and relieved to be out from under all the restrictions, guilt, and control we experienced there, you might also still be grieving. It may be a happy and advantageous release, but it is still like experiencing a death and grief is just a part of all that.