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But first an update on “…and She Left”

I’ve officially left the church we were attending for the last 7 years.  I went to see the Pastor last week to shake his hand, smile and let him know I will be attending church elsewhere so please remove my name from the church’s member list… but he wasn’t available so I left a note with the same message.

The first church I tried out was what I thought was a small community church but it turns out it’s actually about the same size as the church I left.  I went there twice, the sermons were good and while the worship was sincere and heartfelt it was really conservative for my taste.  I found some brochures on the doctrine of the church and while I agree with most of them there were a few that  I don’t agree with, such as:  1. The board of elders are in complete control of everything that goes on in the church and are over the two pastors on the “teaching team”.  2. They allow women to be leaders of “sub-categories” but they may not be the head of any department.  3. And they sprinkle instead of immerse for baptism.  All in all, I don’t believe these things are salvational issues but I’m going to try a few more churches and see what else is out there.

It feels so good to know that I have a choice in where I attend church.  Grace is a powerful thing!

And now on to the new news…

I said the “D” word.  Out loud.  To my husband.  Dee-vor-iss.  What I said is that we should start to consider divorce as an option because this, our marriage, isn’t working anymore.  We believe different things regarding church and our faith.  I don’t agree with how he parents our youngest daughter.  While we don’t have The Biblical reason to divorce – adultery – when it comes right down to it he is a bully, he is emotionally/mentally abusive and he even qualifies as having been sexually abusive, although strictly in a requiring-sex-on-demand-even-when-I-didn’t-want-to sort of way.  (Yes, that’s right, it’s technically rape.)  To be perfectly fair, he has made a great many changes over the last two years since I first required that he end his pornography habit, and I must say that I am proud of him for all his efforts because he has, indeed, “kicked it”.  Like any addict, he still struggles with temptation regularly but he has stopped his online and magazine activity and is co-leading a class at church for other men struggling with sexual addiction.  This class has caused him to face some of what his life-long addiction has made him become and as a result of identifying some of his bad traits he is now nicer, easier to talk to and less demanding of me sexually.  In particular, he makes sure to get my permission/acceptance before we have sex nowadays and while he desperately wants us to “make love” it’s only ever sex, for a whole variety of reasons that I won’t get into now.

But even with all the amazing changes he has gone through he is still quick to anger, knows – and regularly takes – the many shortcuts to being frustrated and still has sex on the brain All The Time as evidenced by unsettling, seemingly random comments that he makes consistently.  And recently he asked a very alarming question – two nights ago we let one of our younger daughter’s friends stay with us because she was having difficulties at home with her step-mom, saying she “beat the crap out of her”.  (Yes, it was an exaggeration, the girl had no obvious bruising or wounds but she cried like a terrified child in spite of being 16 years old when I picked her up,) but the first question my husband asked our daughter before I could go pick her friend up was “What did your friend do to make her step-mom beat her?”  Seriously?  There is NO justification for beating a child, no matter what they did.

It’s high time we consider divorce.  Maybe that would allow us to develop a relationship with healthy boundaries, for once.  But I kind of doubt it.  I think my old church, that he is still attending, will encourage him to divorce me and move on, to remarry someone who will be a properly submissive and godly wife to him.

As for me, I am not the least bit interested in marrying again.  I just can’t imagine what would ever make it worth it…

 

Well, I did it, I told my husband Saturday night that I would no longer be attending the church we’ve been attending for the last 7 years.

Deep Breath.  Hold it.  Let it out sloooooowly…

It was a huge step for me, I’ve thought about it for a long time.  Over the years I’ve prayed about it, I’ve sought the advice of people I trust and I have even discussed it with my counselor and I honestly believe this is the right thing for me to do.

I’m not going to bash that particular church, it has done a lot of good things for a lot of people, ourselves included.  When we first moved to this city 7 years ago and started attending this church we were a lost, hurting family.  We went to every service we could, attended every class that was offered and served/helped in multiple areas both as a family and individually.  We grew spiritually and I think that each family member’s character changed for the better.  It was definitely a good thing for us.

But time changes everything and almost three years ago I approached my husband with several concerns I had regarding the church.  He did not share them but tried to be supportive of me.  After roughly three months of discussions between both he and I and us and the pastors my husband said we would leave that church… and then changed his mind at the last minute.  Since then I have tried to put my concerns aside and just move on but it became more and more difficult.  Also, many of my friends started leaving the church, all of them hurt and wounded in some way by the words and/or actions of the church leadership.  As I heard bits and pieces of their stories I could see there was a common thread and that many of them shared similar concerns to mine.  So in June of this year I brought up my concerns to my husband again.  He still did not share them and was much less supportive this time around.

To be fair, this church is still doing good things for him.  He has received the support, encouragement and accountability that he has needed in these last two years to battle his pornography addiction and is currently co-leading a small group of other men who are all fighting the same or similar issues.  He is still growing and changing and I am glad for him.  But this church isn’t right for me anymore and it was a difficult thing to take that step from “I don’t want to be here anymore” to “I am not going to be here anymore”.  However, I did take that step and the peace that came with that decision was overwhelming.

My husband wasn’t very happy about my choice.  He verbally fought me for almost an hour.  I don’t normally think well on my feet and I would rather hurt myself than confront anyone about anything, but I know God was with me because my voice did not waver, my hands did not shake and I was able to answer his every question calmly, clearly and coherently.

My husband didn’t speak to me for most of the next day, Sunday, or for Monday either, but on Tuesday he started acting like nothing had happened.  It’s fascinating to watch him and wonder what’s going through his mind, what’s going to happen next…  Does he have “a plan” for trying to get me to stay or has he actually accepted the fact that this decision is the result of the last three years of me struggling with my concerns at this church and that I’m actually going to go through with it and attend another church?  I guess I’ll soon find out.

In the meantime, I’ve found a little community church just down the road from my house that I’m going to try out first.  The salon I work at opens at 11:30 am on Sundays and so my current criteria for trying out churches is whether or not they have a 9 am service and how big are they?

Let’s just say I’m not going to be interested in attending any large churches for a while….

What I’m looking for and hoping to find is a church that focuses on loving God and puts all their efforts into helping their members have a closer relationship with Jesus and less on obeying a set of rules, no matter how biblical those rules are.  The way I see it, obedience is the natural fruit of love but forced obedience rarely, if ever, produces love.

And so it begins!