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.

5 thoughts on “Fear

  1. Jana!!
    Oh my. I love how articulate and precise your description is, of that familiar manipulation. I have a dear precious friend that u know that is still on staff there (in a very “visible” position) and when people who don’t know about that church ask me if I think she’ll ever leave it or move on, or pursue a professional career in her amazing talent, my heart sinks. Your description is word-for-word, the exact same explanation I give. I say “I don’t see it happening anytime soon. But our God is bigger, and I pray he gives her eyes to see that she CAN make it, even without them. They make her believe she owes them something. That without them and their grooming she’d fall apart. But if she follows her heart and those God-given dreams, she WILL make it. she can. Simply with God and other believers.”

  2. Hey there Jana. Let me 1st say that You need to continue to write, but you also need to begin trying to publish your story. Your writing is amazingly articulate & the emotions that you express continually strike a chord within me.

    Now….If anyone on earth understands at all what your talking about, believe me I do. Every story I hear about or read (Not just from you, but from many others) that details actions & practices that are very familiar to me (in the church) breaks my heart. I want to apologize a million times. I want to right what has been wronged. I want to make people see the damage that they do in the name of the “Lord” & “His Kingdom”; at least I did for a while. The farther removed I am from it all the more clearly I can see. I encourage you to follow your heart, but I hope that you understand this one thing, The institution of the church will never ever be what Jesus intended it to be. It’s impossible. People have to drastically altered what Jesus was all about. Christianity itself has become a religion that is constructed by men based upon the teachings of a man who came to show us that we don’t need a religion to connect with God & each other. The good news is that what Jesus came to institute can never be abolished, it exists in each person, good or bad. I have experienced the depths of manipulation & control in the Lord’s name, & now I have also experienced the freedom for which I have been set free. I have been through a failed marriage, I’ve been rejected by family both literal & spiritual, I’ve lost everything that I once held dear (with the exception of music), but I now have a family that can never be lost, a peace that passes all understanding, a joy that can’t be taken away by any material loss or gain. I’ve found my people & my place, & more importantly I’ve found myself, broken & poor & dependent & rejected & more satisfied than I ever was when I was wealthy & “whole” & independent & Accepted by “God’s people”. I got to this place when I stopped depending on another human to dictate what God’s will was for me & I started to trust God enough to follow the dreams that he put inside of me. Nothing in life comes to you by waiting. If your being mismanaged, mistreated, unappreciated, manipulated or just plain abused, than that is terrible & those people will have to answer for that one day, but you must not let anyone come between you & your God & the passions that he has given you. I love you both dearly & feel infinitely more connected to you after reading your posts than I did when I knew you. I see no hope for the church & when I stopped trying to change it & just accepted it for what it is (A flawed, unfixable man made attempt to partially do good & partially control people) & walked away from it, that is when my life started. My journey is my own, as is yours, but I hope for the sake of you & your kids that you don’t place to much steak in any man made institution, because it will eventually fail you. I promise you that. Follow your heart, Value your relationships, give freely & take sparingly & above all to your own self be true.

  3. I am so you all had to go through that. Looks like some of us got out right in time. I am thankful that y’all didn’t turn your backs on God, and that you are using your blogs to help others that have been in your shoes. It’s amazing how God uses our hurts to help heal other peoples hurts. Jana, you should write a book, you are a wonderful writer, and you have a lot of readers. I love you and I think about you guys often.

  4. Since I’m not in a life of ministry, I don’t have first hand experience in dealing with what you and Barry have dealt with. However, I don’t believe it’s all that different from anyone else in the world that tries, and succeeds, at manipulating others to do as they wish. The shear audacity that they tried to convince you that “you needed them” just boggles my mind. I’ve had to grow up in my own world pretty quickly and learn to stand on my own two feet, do what is right for me, and me alone. I’ve been through a failed first marriage built on all the wrong reasons; another serious relationship that went south really quickly after I found out of his drug use; and after that, I just decided that I would raise my standards like God wanted me to. It worked! I found Bryan; well he found me actually. And from day one, I layed all of my cards out on the table – no skeletons would be hidden in my closets. And if he chose to accept me for the pain, trouble, and issues that I had already lived through; and knowing that those things would affect me for years; and knowing that I would have to deal with them emotionally for the rest of my life; then he was one tough man to take me as his wife.
    I have enjoyed reading your stories so much. I have always been such a skeptic of religion even though I grew up in a southern Baptist household; accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was a young girl and was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I think it all goes back to sitting in church every Sunday listening to the pastor preach about all the evils in the world and then watching him and others throughout the week not actually “walking the walk”. They could sure talk it on Sunday, but walking it was a whole other story. My hat goes off to the both of you for your determination to do the right things by God and to hold fast to your dreams. I have only learned recently that prayers are really answered. Let’s just say I am a cautious but optimistic now. I call it baby steps. Love to you both!

  5. Feeling trapped and feeling like you might lose so much if you leave is exactly how I felt! That’s why it took me several years to see the right choice for my life and actually go through with it. Even years afterward, I cried day after day because people I thought would still be my friend had turned their backs on me. It was truly painful.

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