Monday, August 20, 2007

A Dream

There was a special rock thats existence was told to me. I longed to go see it, but when my friends went they left me behind. I was so upset that 3 of them chose to accompany me on the voyage though it was a strange and magical one.

This voyage occured largely in the mind.

Though the rock was only a short distance away, to be reached a land that could not be traversed had to be crossed. The only way to reach the stone was to go underground and follow the paths and tunnels that first dove deep into the land then climbed steeply upward to the rock.

The four of us began our decent, sneaking into the tunnel while others looked for us in the wrong places. Down we went into the stifling tunnels that caused my fear of being crushed wanted to scream. We stopped and the Presence drew us a map on the wall and my fear quieted as I saw where I needed to go. Down we inched with the Presence. Then we swooped and swooshed around corners and bends at a rapid rate as our feet were swept out from under us. The heat became unbearable and I longed to be free.

The bottom was reached and we began the long climb up. My muscles ached and we came to a ledge where my friends told me that they had been before and not to fear because in the end we would be fine. The inhabitants of this strange land took us and staked us out on the cliffs but as we spoke the stakes came apart, our bodies were freed, and we taught of our God and fed the people spiritual food as they shared their physical food with us.

Onward we needed to climb, leaving friends behind who had begun as enemies. We stepped and moved upward and each aching step seemed fruitless and small but carried hope for I knew the journey had been completed before. We became exhausted and fell asleep on yet another ledge , only to awaken and find ourselves in a battle for our lives. In the end there stood two sets of swords rising up from the ground, in honor of two of my fallen friends. What grief! This was not how this journey was to unfold. How could this happen? How could this magical world really exist and cause such pain? And then I knew!

I reentered the tube of tunnels and there they were waiting for us, the two that had fallen, alive and well and smiling. They said we were almost there and so we reached up and commanded our feet to move upward one more small step after another - wondering how we would have the strength to return.
Then suddenly there it stood, that rock so large and full of pebbles. So unique. So different from all the rock surrounding it. Soft and sedimentary, formed as pebbles landed on the bottom of some stream to be gathered together and solidified into one large stone. Around it was all fine grained and strained metamorphic rock that had undergone the stresses of time and the heat and pressure of immense strain. All of the rock had been changed. All of the rock had faced this horrible pressing and pushing and forcing into some other type of rock, and yet, miraculously stood this large lens of stone in the midst and it was unchanged.

And I knew that this stone resided in my heart, one piece protected by God, unchanged from his original purpose and still soft, waiting.....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Emotions and a Response

The past several days have been busy with 7th graders and labs. The evenings have been emotional. Though I tried to sit and compose my reply to Reg, I found I could not. I could not write a post either. Finally last night, I let all the anger come to the surface. I thought I was going to explode. Then with the anger readily available, I worked on what was my stuff and what was Reg's.

Interestingly, earlier in the day, I had spoken to one of my students who had received the brunt of some bullying in my homeroom class. He was in tears. As I comforted him, I heard myself teaching: Greg, I want you to think about this. When someone treats you like that, it is not a statement about who you are, but rather a very loud statement about who they are. What the other boys did does not define you Greg, but rather it says a lot about Tom and Jack. I could see his wheels turning.

And so also did mine last night. I had to unload the gun. I was ready to fire. When I am that angry, it is usually because I am letting someone else have more power in my life than they deserve. I arose from bed this morning able to write for the first time in days. Rather than calling Reg the names I wanted to call him last night, I was able to compose a first draft that is clear if not concise.
I reiterated my feelings on sharing with the ministerial leaders of the state.

"I have decided that in some way, my voice will be heard by the leadership of the Church. My desire is that this would happen in a similar setting and atmosphere as my conversation with you occurred. I desire to sit down and work with the (leaders of the state) as an invited individual with important experiences and strategies to suggest. I would love to be involved with a task force that is looking at and forming a newly revised policy. I am offering to give rather than to take. This is something few victims can do or would offer to do."
As you can see, I added a little more umph to my appeal.

In Reg's response to me, he informed me that it was in the file that I had agreed to the monitoring being set up on Bob. This was news to me, but as I thought about it, I did remember the previous minister pressing me as to my verbal response to his informing me that some type of monitoring would occur. I was not happy that he was unwilling to inform me of the details but in the moment of a phone call, I simply replied "ok". My tone was hesitant. I only gave the ok as I was pushed to do so.

I told Reg of this memory and shock that something so informal and of which I was totally unaware of it being viewed official was in the file. I feel as if I was tricked into something I was unaware of.

"I remember being told that some type of monitoring would occur. I was not given any detail, even though I questioned it, nor was it suggested that I had the right to disagree with the decision. I was unaware that my “ok” was being interpreted as giving my approval. I do remember some intensity on TN’s part, over the phone, to get me to give some sense of agreement, though at the time I was reticent and in the present this seems one more use of a pastor’s power to get what they need at my expense. Let me just reiterate that I was unaware that my opinion carried any weight or purpose. I feel now that I was coerced into giving a weak statement of agreement that was then recorded as something I did not even know I had given."

As you can see this is not something I want to see in the denomination I attend. Pure out and out deceit on their part or at least on the part of one man who attempted to run the whole show. Now, I am beginning to expect it. Shut the victims up and get through this as quickly and painlessly as possible seems to be the "justice" of the church.

I am hearing it once again from another regional minister. "No, you may not speak," is being spoken again. It will only require one more "no" for them to discover my "yes" is much louder.

I repeat - sadly but determined. I will not be silenced. Truth will prevail. Truth will be heard. It will be their decision as to whether they choose to embrace it but they will hear it. Let them face their God with their fingers in their ears, if they choose. However, they cannot defeat truth as long as our God lives.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Pain of Sexual Abuse Continues

It doesn't stop. It still inflicts its pain. I guess it will until heads are out of the sand and shame is destroyed along with the lies people choose to believe.

Tonight as I told my mom that I was sharing the children's sermon in two weeks, she challenged, "Why don't you both join the church?" I am not even sure how I answered her. I remember telling her that it might not ever happen. Talk about timing?! It wasn't her intent to hurt me and to answer her honestly would have hurt her. I do not want to hurt her.

So, on other hard questions. What do I want my reply to Reg to say?

  1. I want it to be forthright and not murky as his reply to me was. I am not a murky person. I prefer to speak the truth in love. I believe God honors that.

  2. I want to be honest in letting him know that I do not intend to remain silent in this. I do not want that to sound like a threat though.

  3. I want to open his eyes to the fact that those he is trying to protect from the embarrassment of this issue are going to be hurt more if I am shut out.

  4. I want to impress upon him that this is a passionate issue and the passion cannot be removed from it.

  5. I want to say that though his intent might be to share my points, since he seemed to not agree with them, he cannot do them the same justice I can.

  6. I want to challenge his statement on accepting the differences in mine and Bob's story. This is very dangerous and I want to point that out to him.

  7. I want to make it clear that I was never given the opportunity to give my opinion of the monitoring of Bob. I was TOLD that some would occur but not given any details and lead to believe I was not welcome to them. That is very different from saying I supported the direction it was going.

  8. I also want to make it clear that I requested to talk with the previous state minister about an advocate after having originally been unsure of that desire. And I asked to speak directly to the state ministerial committee. My email was never answered.

  9. He states there was some form of a response team but they never contacted me. I would like to know if there names are listed and if it was noted as to why I was not contacted by them.

I also intend to send the letter to the chair of the state ministerial commission.

I do not expect to be heard or to be allowed to speak. Yet, I have to try before I can take other roads to being heard. I forwarded Reg's email to David Clohessy yesterday and heard back from him today. He is the national leader of SNAP. I replied to his reply asking if he would help me if I decide to go public with this. He said he would be honored to help me. I hope it never comes to that. God, please open their eyes! This cannot be avoided. It has to be faced no matter how uncomfortable.

I am reminded of Trey Morgan's blog ( and this quote:

"There are more questions that need to be answered. And this is a subject that we "as Christians and as a church" have ignored. "

I thank you Trey for not sticking your head in the sand! I wish you had the power to pull a few out for me right now. I wish all ministers were like you. Once again the church has hurt me. But men like Trey and Tom stand in righteousness and in the heart of Christ. I thank God for them.



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The State Minister Avoids Truth

Is it possible to accept both my statement and Bob's as truth?

No. One of us is not being truthful. Either I am lying. Bob is lying. I have deceived myself and believe I am telling the truth but am not. Or Bob has deceived himself and believes he is telling the truth but is not. (And yes, I know those are not complete sentences but it reads easier that way, fellow educators and writers.)

I have no reason to lie if Bob's truth is the truth. So be it. It was still abuse. He was still my youth pastor. There is no more shame in it for me that way. If it was true I would simply say it was true. He however has much to lose. It is the difference between his being a pedophile and predator or making a one time mistake. Big difference. Big difference in how many victims still exist out there hurting like me.

Reg, emailed me his reply today. He chooses to believe both of us, which essentially says he believes some weird kind of lie. Let me quote him:

"I believe honestly that your story is true. I also believe Bob’s recounting is true as well. Even though the statements may indeed differ, I believe both can be true statements of what each person believes. That difference, though it is uncomfortable, cannot be eliminated. It must simply be accepted."

No it cannot be accepted! This goes against my whole push for testing of perpetrators. It needs to make us uncomfortable enough to do something to stop the Bob's ever abusing again. We cannot simply say, oh my this makes me uncomfortable but I must accept it!!! That is not what God says. He says His word discerns the truth and rightly divides the truth from lies. Let him divide it. I stand before him willing to have that truth divided. Why, because I speak the truth. Anything I have been gray on I have avoided sharing.

As one of my books said earlier this week: "You will see the truth and after it has caused you to flinch a few times it will set you free." I can handle Bob's inability to see the truth - he is a sick sociopath and as such isn't supposed to be able to see the truth. Reg however is not supposed to be sociopathic but he sure has his head in the sand.

I am in shock. Reg says HE will share with the state ministers my desires. This is in direct opposition to what I requested. I choose to share it myself. It will cost me to do what I may need to do but it will cost me more to remain silent.

I called Tom, who read the email reply and called me back this evening to talk more. His statement was to remain calm and know this is not the end of it. I hope the rest of the ministerial commission is more like Tom than Reg. Our plan is to pray for a few days and contemplate on our reply to Reg. We (Tom is using the "We".) need to work at getting from point A (me not sharing in person) to point B (me sharing in person). I explained to Tom why Reg could not do this for me. He didn't even support my suggestions. He did not want the mandatory testing. There is no way he can present that in a convincing way. I can though.

Tom is very aware that I will not stop if not allowed to speak at the state ministers leadership committee. I have told him that I can easily send a letter to every church in this state and the two other states that Bob pastored in. I can explain my mission and tell my story. I can make phone calls. I can even talk to the national group working on this same issue.

This is very hard my friends. I thank God for my husband who has come to me and hugged and held me many times tonight and my pastor who unconditionally believes every word I have spoken.


Friday, August 10, 2007


Have you ever stepped out in faith and then realized that you left your faith somewhere back behind you. That is what I realized a few moments ago.
I have contacted the state minister and now the chair of the state ministerial team, both out of a sense of God's purpose. Suddenly I realize that I have little faith that either will respond in such a way as to accomplish much. My expectation is that they will sound good but offer little.

I was wondering if this was just my own transference from past experiences, when I realized that it is not simply a matter of trusting them but also of trusting God. I know that when we trust God, it does not always mean that we are trusting him to work it out the way we want. Instead, I know that trusting God means that I believe He will work it out with his arms around me and with nothing for naught. In the least, my heart will be changed and I will grow. Whatever happens, His arms of grace and healing and strength will surround me. If I cannot look into the eyes of men and believe they will come through for me and other victims, I can look into the eyes of God and believe He will stand with me, proud of me, never tiring of working His will, His love, His mercy, His strength, and His grace into my life.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Victim to Survivor: Women Recovering from Clergy Sexual Abuse

The title of my post is the title of a new book I just received in the mail yesterday. The book is composed of 6 women's journeys through similar situations that I have experienced. I have only read the foreward by Marie Fortune and felt a need to share parts of it with you.

"The miracle of these stories (and the hundreds more like them) is that these women are the church, the broken body of Christ seeking to be made whole through the courage to demand justice. In their pain, these women call upon the church to be the church, and they really expect those of us in the institutional church to rise to the occasion. Tragically, all too often we have failed them. We have sent them away with a stone instead of the bread they deserved. Yet often, like the persistent widow in Luke's Gospel (18:2-7), they have gone back again and again to the unjust judge, demanding to be vindicated." (p. ix)

"Only occasionally (and I write this with a profound heaviness in my own heart) have such women found a just and compassionate response from their church. All too often they have been blamed, rejected, stigmatized, persecuted, and revictimized. Many have left the church in order to survive. But we must remember that they did not leave voluntarily; they were driven away by an institution that failed in its responsibility to protect its people from the unethical and exploitative practices of its leaders. Those who have left represent a huge loss for us all. Their skills, energy, and faith are no longer available to us for the ministry fo the church. A few have stayed, buoyed by a just and reasonable response. Many of these who have stayed now work from the inside to change the practices that they know are so harmful to congregants." (p. x)

"When these women brought complaints, they met with varying degrees of success. A wide range of responses are possible, from the tragic and outrageous to the good and solid. In my experience, the church is more likely to disappoint than to satisfy the needs of the survivor. But don't let this necessarily discourage you from trying. If and when you are ready, are feeling stong enough to sustain an effort, and have some system of support around you, you may choose to bring a complaint as part of your own healing process. Lower your expectations below what you deserve, and you may be surprised by getting more than you expected. " (p. xiii)

"For those of us who remain in the church and are committed to making it as safe a place as possible for those who turn to it, we must recognize that the stories we read here (along with many others) are a gift to us. They are the gift of the truth about who we are as church and what we need to do to be faithful to our call to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. These women speak truth to power in the hope that they will be heard and that things will be changed. It is a painful truth. As a colleague of mine says (in paraphrasing John 8:32), 'You will know the truth, and the truth will make you flinch before it sets you free.'" (p. xvi)

I think there is little I can add except to say it is good to not be alone.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hurry Up and Wait

I was talking with one of my team members at school today. She commented that her weaknesses were impatience and a need to be in control. I told her that we were destined to either kill each other or be good friends because we understood each other well.

Today was the first with students and I am exhausted but haven't posted in a while and thought it would be good to add a brief update.

I have not yet heard any response from Reg. I am expecting some kind of reply in the next week. I also emailed an old friend of my brother's who it turns out is the chair of the state ministerial association. He however is waiting at the bedside of his mother who is not expected to live much longer.

Thus the title of my post. I have no choice but to wait, yet with each day I become more frustrated and more determined that I will not be silenced this time. My email to Jay, my brother's friend was out of both of those emotions. If the ball is not picked up and run with, I will give it a swift boot, hopefully with God's blessing.

It remains my heart to make positive differences in the lives of others. Too many times the church however chooses to white wash over abuse out of denial or their own pastoral softness. As I talked with Reg, it was obvious that the concepts of Bob's mental/emotional condition being as bad as I described them was not something he wanted to believe. Three or four times he tried to pad the worst and suggest some other remote option.

We are all that way, not wanting to wrap our minds around the worst especially if we know the worst is about a person we care about. Once again it all boils down to truth and our willingness to face it. Truth is a hard thing to face but with it comes the move of God's Spirit.

Please pray that the truth will prevail and this denomination will care for its sheep by coming down firmly and decisively against pastoral sexual misconduct. Pray they can't sweep it under the rug. And please pray that I have the ability to continue to hear God's leading and the stamina to do this. I know I will be both crushed and angered if my thoughts and requests are shrugged off.

Yet, I am determined that good will come from the pain I suffered, that my journey will not be for naught, that others will be handled better, and that I can see one good consequence of my pain.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Recovering the Lost Self by Elisabeth A. Horst

I found a wonderful source of encouragement and healing in a little booklet entitled Recovering the Lost Self: Shame-Healing for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse by Elisabeth A. Horst. Packed into 54 pages is much of what I learned over the past 7 years.

Horst is a psycholgist on the board of the Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institute, the organization birthed by Marie Fortune. Much of the book expounds on the story in Mark 5 of the woman with the hemorrhage and her determination to obtain healing.

Some powerful excerpts from the book follow:

"Any relationship founded in the exploitation of power will produce shame, whether or not the participants are aware of it at the time." (p. 26)

"Any time one person treats another as an extension of the self, as a thing to be used to gratify needs rather than as a self-directed, separate self with its own needs and interests the user shames the one used. Sexual abuse is a primary example of a shaming interaction, since the abuser meets his or her own needs at the expense of the needs of the victim. The actions of the abuser in effect say to the victim, 'You deserve to be treated like something less than human.' It is poignantly easy for a victim to accept and internalize this terrible message." (p. 22)

"It is hard to believe anyone can survive such intense pain as shame, met undefended, can produce." (p. 45)

"Sometimes strategies that produce more shame in the moment lead to gradual healing over time. This is often true of telling one's story to a sympathetic listener. Sometimes activities that temporarily soothe shame will actually increase it over time." (p. 31)

"Any time a victim takes action on her own behalf, she is healing a bit of her shame." pg 36
"For most of us, the experience of healing comes not in one dramatic incident but in many small experiences." (p. 37)

"In order to heal shame, a victim must take the unfamiliar, even revolutionary, step of choosing to act solely out of her own interest." (p. 38)

"Shame is an internal experience and trasforming it requires a healthy focus on oneself and one's own needs." (p. 39)

"If shame is about not being worthy, not being smart, not being pretty, not being good, not being sane, or simply not deserving to be at all, then its greatest antidote is simply to be oneself." (p. 39)

"The single most effective cure for shame is the experience of being seen and understood exactly as you are by someone who has no need or wish for you to be anything different. This means that the most basic form of healing 'touch' for shame is compasssionate talk." (p. 40)


Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Teacher Returns

Today was actually sort of refreshing as I returned to school to prepare for the coming year. At the end of the long day (8:00 - 6:30) some of my former students came rushing in for hugs and hello's. They were there for the 8th grade orientation and greeting their new teachers. It was so good to see them come running with arms wide.

As I gave big smiles and hugs to them, I wondered at the power of my own position. I wondered how someone could even consider hurting one of them. Why would someone want control and power so much that they would destroy those smiles and joy at seeing you? I cannot comprehend it.

However I can comprehend crossing boundaries with a pastor. How scary it is at times when I see my own heart open to Tom. I thank God for my own healthy boundaries. It took many years to find the pieces and build them. I thank God for his boundaries. Yet, at the same time, I feel all the human emotions when I experience the acceptance and gentle care in his eyes, or we clasp hands in prayer, or I get a hug on the way out the door. Those are very intimate expressions and God's love is intimate.

I hope you don't judge me for admitting what I imagine most of us feel at times in similar situations. That is why it is abuse, because we do feel it. Pastors carry the power to give us hope, the power to manifest the love of God, the power to offer forgiveness and encouragement, the power of counsel, the power in a hand held and are around the shoulder, the power to call us to repentance, the power to pray for our healing, the power to bestow God's blessing.

I praise God for healthy boundaries. I pray for Tom's protection and I think I am going to add a new prayer. I think all pastors need this. I am going to pray special blessings on his relationship with his wife. The scripture says that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. That scripture was used in our wedding ceremony 27 years ago. May that third cord, God's Spirit, hold tight my pastor and his wife.

Pastors with integrity - God bless them.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Monitoring the Perpetrator

Yesterday I learned that Bob had been monitored by a congregant after my report of his abuse. What Reg could not tell me was why Bob was unaware there had been any monitoring. My questions to Reg seemed to cause a lot of squirming on his part. Had this person reported back to the state board of ministers? Had anyone followed up as the years passed? Did this person stay a member of the church? Did they have any training to know what to look for? Are they still alive?

Reg, knew his answers were not satisfactory.

Today I talked with my pastor, Tom who is convinced Reg will follow up. Tom says Reg will do his best to meet my needs and to give him time to deal with the emotional bomb that has gone off in his lap. Not that I am a bomb but what happened to me is. Tom described how the shock of it affected him, how wrapping one's mind around the reality of what all I told him was difficult.

When Tom said that if nothing happened over a few months time to cause changes to be made to the policy, he would make sure something happened, I cried. I believe him. I trust him. When I shared my concern that Reg did not believe my evaluation of the three conversations with Bob, Tom agreed to call him and tell him his rendition as a support of mine.

I trust a pastor. Radical.

I miss my brother who was a pastor in the state, in this denomination and once the head of the state ministerial committee. Why didn't tell him? Oh how I wished I had. Yesterday my sister-in -law assured me that he would have supported me and helped me find resolution. Oh how good it was to hear that. And today I told Tom that though I had lost my brother as an advocate, I had gained his support - and it means a lot.

I wrote an email to Reg. I reminded him of the scripture of the 99 sheep that were left to seek out the one lost. Will this church choose to seek victims out when it is known they probably exist? I do not think I will be able to quit until I see that in writing.