You are not good enough. When I was a little girl I was very good friends with the pastor’s daughter. She and I were often together. We went to school together. We hung out in church together. While our mothers practiced for all the different school and church music events we were right there too waiting. One Sunday morning an older woman named Dolly (who also acted as the school nurse) told us she would like us both to give our “testimony” during the main service.
So a few weeks later one by one they called a few young children forward, to stand on that massive stage, with the senior pastor holding a microphone to our faces, and we were to share about when we “asked Jesus into our heart.”
Except I went first.
And once I got up there in front of that large crowd, on that lofty stage high above everyone’s head, with that pastor man I barely knew, and a crowd of grownups staring at me – I cried. Whether from terror or because I didn’t fully know my “testimony” yet I bawled. Even when he asked questions meant to help I was only able to babble out a few words and head shakes over the sobs.
In shame I walked back the long center aisle completely unable to speak and filled with dread. I had failed.
Then they called my girlfriend forward and… she cried too. With some probing she was at least able to get out a small portion of her story, but we both stood up there on that stage in front of all the grownups and cried.
After the service Dolly – the little old school nurse who had selected us to speak – came up to us and said, “I am so disappointed in you both.”
That pretty much describes the next three decades of my life vs. the churched people – “You are such a disappointment. You are NOT good enough.”
Fighting the Life Themes
I believe we all live with specific life themes. Some of them are 100% true of us while others have latched themselves onto us for most of our lives when we weren’t paying attention. A few of our more aggressive themes are probably not true of us. Perhaps someone who should of loved us, but didn’t – needed a theme to be true so they spoke it often over us (you are ugly, stupid, not important, a liar, lazy, fat, etc.). Words are powerful.
When someone we love speaks a life theme often enough we believe it and often begin to live as if it is true. It has been there for so long we might not remember having lived life without it.
One of my life themes – particularly as it pertains to churched people is HOW disappointing I am to them, I am not measuring up. You are not good enough. “Who gave you permission to say that or be here, or do that? Who do you think you are? Your mouth is too much.” I have never been able to maintain the Christian Good Girl Image they need me to maintain. And when I fail at holding up my mask they are vicious in shoving it back up into my face.
My church breakup which finally culminated the week of my 30th birthday was really another moment when I was not meeting church people the way they needed me to show up. I wasn’t being nice, compliant, offering my gifts to the church body without complaints or complication. They wanted me to showing up, support the leadership and the leadership’s vision without drama. Maintain the party lines. If I could not do these things then they had no use for me.
If I didn’t behave I had no value.
When you do not behave they stop praying blessings over you and being to pray for your removal.
A church lapdog is only helpful as long as she is willing to bite without question. Once she starts thinking for herself, and wondering why she is being asked to do what they are doing… she has worn out her usefulness.
It only took till my 29th year for me to wear out my usefulness to the church.
You are not good enough.
I had worn out my welcome. Then they went about gathering together to pray me out.
Thankfully I discovered the depths of my enough beyond what the church ladies had to say about me. What they believed about wasn’t even true. I am not deficient. And honestly neither are you. My usefulness in this world has nothing to do with how the church can use me. I am NOT what the church ladies have to say about me.
But it took an entire year of silence to remove their beliefs, ideas, and words about me. It took a year of silence to rid myself of the toxic thought patterns which had caused an unholy mess of my whole being. I didn’t know which end was up.
Silence is a good thing. But I didn’t know at the time how difficult it was going to be to let them all go. I didn’t know how much sifting and sorting I was going to need to do. It was going to be hard work. A year of silence is up tomorrow.
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