2007 – Broussard, LA
Barry and I arrived back in Louisiana with a fresh outlook. It was comforting to know that we had maintained Godly friendships outside of our church and staff, they were key in us finally realizing the truth. As we traveled Barry and I prayerfully decided to be upfront with our pastors…yet again.
Barry arranged a meeting with them. I was not needed for this one, he was going to share with them that we truly felt our time under their leadership was coming to an end. We had certain commitments to Master’s Commission and we felt it would only be right to see those through. However, we requested the chance to move on as soon as the class of first year students graduated. It seemed like a good plan and one that they could agree to.
Sadly…they did not see why we would want to resign and several hours later I received a phone call from my husband. He was on his way home…we had much to talk about. I braced myself for the conversation looming in front of me. I knew from previous encounters that they must have convinced Barry to stay. He was an asset. Devoted, pastoral and truly kind towards people and this attribute made him key in the development of future leaders.
As Barry spoke, my heart sank. I loved and respected him, but his decision to stay was hard for me to grapple with. It seemed unreasonable and his words did not echo in his heart. They sounded rehearsed…they sounded empty…they hurt the both of us.
He said they were willing to let us go and by all means they would even set us up with jobs. But, and here’s the catch…BUT, they did not feel that was the best for us.
They began using past accountability sessions against us. Barry was told that we would probably not make it apart from their love and care. We needed them to help groom us into leaders. We needed them to walk with us in our marriage and plans to start a family. We became convinced again that WE NEEDED THEM…without them everything we believed in and dreamed of would surely fail.
Barry and I felt trapped there, yet we realized that we also felt like we truly could not make it apart from them. They were so good at convincing us that without them, we would have never made it. Those words and phrases struck a chord of fear in my heart. I didn’t want my marriage to end, I didn’t want to walk away from the ministry. I didn’t want to lose friendships that I had enjoyed and loved for over 10 years…yet those were the choices in front of us. If we left, they would still be our pastors but they informed us that they would not have time for us like they did when we were on staff. They would not walk with us in life or be free to enjoy the same relationship with us. That was heartbraking…but in all honesty it was controlling.
Barry and I sat there…in our living room completely numb to the reality that we had been manipulated. Again, good things were promised if we stayed on staff…good things were ahead.
But, I was still keeping count. We had asked God to number our days on staff and secretly I was crying out to God for complete freedom. I knew the countdown had begun…I just knew it in my heart.