I grew up in a very devout faith based home. My father was a minister in a Baptist church for many years during my childhood. I spent a lot of time serving and learning ministries. My husband and I met through church and spent our first 14 years together serving in church…A LOT! We raised our kids in church for 13 of those years. However, much has changed in the last three years.
“Be a good witness by the way you live. The way we live is often more convincing than the words we say.”~Billy Graham
After marrying and moving we found a little church in a quaint Vermont suburb. As a newly married and very young couple we found it to be perfect, with many other young couples as members. Their beliefs were the same as ours and we made quick friends of the core group of families, as well as the Pastor. A friendly bunch, we were always serving together and outside of church we were getting together at each other’s houses. We had pregnancies together, spent holidays together, did birthday parties and babysat for one another. It was as though we were extensions of one another’s families.
For over 14 years life was blissfully happy, in fact we had all but ostracized ourselves from our actual family. Church and church “family” was our life. My husband and I held over six positions within the church by this time- deacon, accountant, computer and sound system laymen, adult Sunday school teacher, head usher, choir and more. We were in church all of Sunday, every Wednesday night and any extra days in between that we were needed.
Then, in an instant this life that we thought we were sure of and knew was gone. Families that we held close bonds with, we thought unbreakable, turned on us. The deceit, the bitterness, the hypocrisy, the lack of forgiveness and more all came to light. We were shunned for one family’s, one person’s words. The people we considered to be our closest friends…NO, family, had turned on us, ostracized us. The devastation was nearly insurmountable. People took sides, the Pastor was of no help and in the end we were left with only the option of leaving. Quietly, as if thieves in the night, we left. We did not get to tell our story, in fact we had not told anyone what happened, only “the others” were sharing their lies. But, we needed to leave with our dignity and our testimony, we would not be pulled down to throwing stones at glass houses.
“The lukewarm Christian can accomplish nothing with a whole life in which to do it. If you have lived for sin and self . . . your witness will have [a] telling effect on all who have known you.” ~Billy Graham
So, why do I share all of this? Well, I tell you my story after living through the hypocrisy and seeing the lowest of Christian behavior, because I have learned so much! About myself, about my faith and about what people will believe. I was pulled in, I was brought down to a level that was not okay- my witness was blemished. People could believe the lies because like these that we chose to be close to, I had become a haughty Christian! I spoke about people behind their backs with these “friends”, believed I was better than others and bought in to all that I was being served. Yet, when things went sideways, no one was there for us- even the Pastor did not practice what he preached.
Here I am over three years later. Not in contact with one person from that past life. Fourteen years wiped away as if it never happened. My children lost all friends and perhaps for a while faith in having friendships. I have worked through many of my own demons, as has my husband. Learning to rebuild trust and faith, learning to forgive even though no forgiveness was ever asked for. Believing that this is not what God and faith are about, man is flawed not God. I’ve really come to a place where I know what I believe outside of church. I have not ever lost my faith in God, only my faith in people- because they will let you down! And most of all, coming to the realization that I can be a witness anywhere, even here on this blog. God is not to be put in a box (or a church for that matter) like so many would like to do. His love and who He is can be witnessed anywhere as long as I am willing to be a testimony for Him. “The greatest way to witness is through the life you live. Let the radiance of your Christian life be such that it will make [others] ask questions about your [faith].”~Billy Graham