I am currently writing about the final events during our time in Louisiana. These are more in-depth and it’s taken me a little longer to figure out how to compose them into a concise story. So, in order to keep things going I felt it would be helpful to share some key memories of our time in Louisiana. Stay tuned, I will be wrapping things up here in the next couple of weeks.
As I have been doing this portion of my blog, I have been flooded with memories. There were so many times that I acted out of obedience to a leader, even when I knew in my heart that what they were asking me to do would be damaging or hurtful to another individual. Below are a few of the instances that are etched into my memory. I am only sharing them so that you can see the type of control we lived under during that time.
* When we first arrived in Lafayette, there was a camp going on. Each of us “new people” attended the nightly services. After one of the evening services the senior pastor came over to see how we were enjoying ourselves. Excited to be in a new place, with new opportunities we all echoed our thanks and excitement for being there. Once we each finished chiming in, the pastor looked at us and told us to always remember one thing and I quote “You are at the bottom of the totem pole here and I am at the top.” I remember being impressed at the time. I thought it was great that he so freely spoke his mind. I thought this was a one time exercise of authority, but what I didn’t realize was that it was only the beginning.
* While working in the Master’s Commission office, we often had snacks or candy bowls at our desks. One particular day someone had given the office a box of chocolate and it was placed in the copy room for everyone to enjoy. One of the senior pastors came in and I was the only one in the office at the time. He began looking around and then came over to my desk and commented on the chocolate. I informed him that it was for anyone and that he could have some. He looked at me and laughed. He firmly stated that we did not need to be eating such junk and asked that I write-up a note to a particular person and place it on the chocolate. The note was to say something along the lines of… “Insert name you are not allowed to eat this.” I chuckled at the request, more out of shock …I didn’t really find it humorous. When he noticed that I did not write the note, he stood over my desk and told me he wasn’t joking…I had to write what he said and tape it to the box. Regretfully, I followed his instructions. I felt so bad, but I was afraid to say no or stand up for myself. Later that day the note scripted with my handwriting was found and a wound was inflicted…a wound I could have prevented. I searched for the right way to explain the note, the reasoning behind it and the fact that I felt as though I had no choice, but nothing could be done to recover the moment in which I should have followed my heart and said no.
* During one of our weekly staff meetings someone mentioned that they really liked Barry’s shirt. They asked him where he purchased it and he casually said Sears. When the senior pastor heard the name of the store, he quickly commented on our lack of taste. He addressed Barry in front of everyone and stated something about not shopping there and when we do, to not admit it. We were shocked…what was wrong with buying something you like…despite where you found it? We were beginning to see the importance of status and it’s role in the lives of the staff members.
* We were given 1 weeks vacation a year when we first arrived. Looking back I find this humorous since we were not even paid staff at the time, but regardless Barry and I complied and turned in our request for time off. We were planning to visit family, since all of our relatives were out of state, our plans involved them as well. Weeks before our scheduled time off an impromptu event was placed on the calendar. During our weekly staff meeting Barry mentioned that we would be out of town at the time. Without skipping a beat and with no concern for our plans, we were told to change our vacation. Sadly…we complied only to find out a week later that the event was canceled.
* Even on our days off and during vacation we were expected to answer our cell phones. I remember going to visit my family and they would ask why I was always so quick to answer my phone when I was clearly on vacation. I felt badly that my family noticed my behavior, but I couldn’t allow my phone to ring without feeling like I would get in trouble.