Finding My Voice

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A month ago I severed ties to the abusive relationship I had with a church.

When I resigned from my position, I exercised my prophetic voice by speaking the truth in a gracious way. To say that I was shocked by the bullying I received is an understatement. Looking back on the pattern of dysfunction now, I realize that I should have been prepared for the backlash. It was a textbook example of a toxic faith system (literally – it fully encompassed the “rules” from the book Toxic Faith). But God met me in that moment. God’s Spirit empowered me to boldly declare why I was choosing to free myself from a system of abuse. I looked the leaders right in the eyes and told them that the system they had created was contrary to God’s intent.

You see, I am a freedom fighter, and free people are dangerous. Free people are not afraid to stand up to bullies and speak the truth. They are not afraid to decry abusive tactics of fear, intimidation, and isolation.

We glorify these moments of triumph and bravery, but very rarely do we talk about what comes after these brave stands for freedom. The frame fades to black right after the climactic event; the last chapter concludes before the dust has a chance to settle. So let me tell you what comes next: the enemy tries to take away your freedom again. Depression settles in. Doubts creep into your mind, and you lie awake at night, praying and asking God whether you did the right thing (no matter how many times he reassures you that you did). Hurt becomes a familiar companion and resentment lurks beneath the surface. You eat way too many brownies.

The victory is immortalized in song, but the aftermath is too ugly to be packaged in a beautiful art piece.

So I painted something raw. This painting represents the initial battle I had against the church’s tactics of fear, anxiety, and isolation. It also represents the current battle I have as I pick up all the pieces and heal from the abuse.

This church tried to steal my voice when I spoke out against injustice, but I wouldn’t let them.

As awful as that last showdown was between me and the leaders at the church, I remember walking out of that meeting and thinking, “This is me. This is my voice. Hello, old friend. Where have you been hiding?”

Now I’m raising my voice again. I won’t let the ugly aftermath silence me. I am a freedom fighter, and I will not be controlled by the past. I will not be shackled to resentment. I will silence the lies and control they tried to feed me. I will forgive. God has set me free and I will continue to fight.

Now that I have my voice back, I don’t want to shut up.

1 comment

  1. Good for you! I often think of this phrase when I have to go through something difficult. "“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once." Shakespeare.
    (I had to look it up) you were very valiant! Kudos to you. I recently confronted people I know well about something and it wasn't pretty. But, I feel I was right and I am glad about it now.


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