WARNING: IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST, MENNONITE, You may not like this post. I advise either you read it with an open heart and open mind, trying to understand my perspective, or you delete it this instant and remove yourself from my mailing group. I love you dear people and do not want to offend you, but I know we will disagree about some of my sharings and there is no agreeing to disagree in these matters…
Recently I received an email from a “sister” in the church about a birthday group I had been a part of for the last year. It begins ever so nicely, speaking about the lovely rains we have been receiving and about some minor changes the group would be making for the coming year. I think I will just quote the rest as I am not sure I can paraphrase without losing some of the essence:
“I just wanted to let you know that we are continuing our heart sister group with a few minor changes. We seemed to all enjoy it and although we did post another list up on the bulletin board at church for sisters to sign up and be a part of our group we had no one sign. We are saddened to have to inform you that because of your church membership being severed at this time, you will no longer be a part of our heart sister group. We will continue to pray that you can find your way back to the Lord. We love you!
I am praying for you and love you very much,
Honestly, I was so saddened to receive this email for a number of reasons, although, not being able to continue in the group was NOT one of them. I have been silent on all things related to the “avoidance” until now. I studied this doctrine before I was expelled and agreed with it because I found it to be scriptural. Then I received this email. And I was done.
I wrote a reply and sent it to the few I still have email addresses for (I have been deleting things out of my phone, etc., that I never use), including to this woman. One should know that she is a minister’s wife, albeit the newest ordained. I found out that the group of “sisters” apparently decided together that as this is her post she should be the one to tell me. Poor, poor lady.
Some thoughts I included are:
“It saddens me to know that you all thought I would not know this fact, and a little more that rather than tell me in person, I received an email. Had you even allowed me to continue , I doubt I would have because I know my place, and I know how uncomfortable I make everyone feel. I find it unfortunate that because my membership status has changed, so must all of our relationships. “
“Would it have been better for me to stay a member and continue to struggle with legalism to the point of complete spiritual death? I daresay it would not have. And no membership of any church is worth my soul to me. God has not left me and continues to work with me everyday. I have learned things and grown in ways I would never have been able to within the membership because of the legalism I struggled with.”
“I did or didn’t do things because I wanted to be a good Mennonite and stay within the church, not because I was convicted of God to do it. I longed for the acceptance of the people, though I couldn’t even see this until right before I was expelled. No one, NO one called and checked on me spiritually speaking, no one asked how I was doing or if I was struggling until I came to the staff and asked to be expelled.
“As much as everyone loves me, no one asks now. Not one of my friends is current on how life is with me or how God and I are doing, unless I take the initiative to share. If everyone wants me back then why does no one act like it? Why am I treated as a leper was treated by the Jews? I am not an atheist or Buddhist or Islamic or other nonChristian. I still believe in the same God as you, believe that Christ died for me, believe God takes mercy on me and has not forsaken me, still love the same church as you. I am still a Follower of Christ.”
“There is no malice intended, no anger or hate, just a saddened heart that a status can cause such a shift. I’d better understand if I had completely quit the church, never to return, but I have not.”
“If there is acceptance of me but it is conditional, is it truly acceptance at all? If you accept me as Christ does, why the conditions? Will membership save me? Did Christ not accept the sinner completely, covered in filth as he or she was? Did He not forgive the repentant heart and welcome them with open arms? Who is to say I am unrepentant and judge my heart besides Christ? If anyone ever spoke to me, they maybe would see the love I have for my Savior and be more sanguine in this time.
“But as it is, I get text messages and emails. Impersonal and unloving though they may be filled with words like “love” and “praying for you”. Just close enough to get the point across, just like a Jew avoiding the leper.”
Of the replies I received only two were in agreement with my thoughts, one more was open minded, and the rest were full of accusations, for lack of a better word, saying it is my fault, I need to change, and my favorite, I don’t understand the church or my sisters. Apparently not in the way I am “suppose” to anyway. The response I got made me realize I should have continued to keep my mouth shut because no amount of truth will set someone free from their mindsets and I am learning the hard way how to come out of mine.
A few days later I received a letter (which I promptly gave to my husband and he promptly threw it in the trash…but curiosity got the better of me and I dug it out and read it) which I am sharing just as it came to me:
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe both. Not in repenting of my wayward ways, but in a sheer lackadaisical manner. So tired of all this manmade “thou shall and thou shall nots”. Then God began to show me something. I began to study to prove whether these doctrines so neatly printed on paper are really scriptural or not. I needed to understand why I could no longer, can no longer, be a part of this beloved church of mine. This church I worked so hard to conform to and be a part of….
To be continued….