On the The Black Sheep Blogger, Wordsofaforeigner and I were talking about how so many Biblical terms can come to mean something quite different in the culture of charismania. Many of us can relate times when we’ve had an emotional, almost automatic reaction to certain buzzwords of the charismaniac experience we have left. In her case, she left charismania about a year ago. It’s been five years for me, and there are still terms that bring back certain memories. (This paragraph was edited for clarity)
Every one is different and there may not be two stories alike, but from accounts I have read and people I know, including myself, a year isn’t very long into the process of deconstructing what was absorbed.
I was having a conversation with a friend who also has left the charismatic/WOF movements, but her reasons were quite different. Her senior pastor, “man of God” was literally living a double life complete with multiple girlfriends across the country (him a married man to boot).
Hers was not a realization about the false teachings and a resultant decision to leave. In her case she was going along happily agreeing to it all when blindsided by the horrific hypocrisy and falsehood of her trusted leader who she considered an awesome anointed man of God.
She was/is devastated. She trusted this man explicitly. Consequently, she is left with a large hole in her life. While she has tried to deal with the sense of betrayal she experienced, she is only flirting with the underlying doubts about the whole belief system and culture that allowed him to live his duplicitous life, wrangle tens of thousands of dollars from church members, travel across the country to see his girlfriends, and become the sole owner of a piece of property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What has become of him? He laid low for awhile and then started a new ‘church’ where no one knows him.
Did I mention this happened five years ago? Did I mention she is still lost, confused, angry, and most distressing to me she does not believe it will ever change? In some ways it seems to me she has quit trying. Quit praying. Quit the Bible. It’s like she’s rendered motionless.
As I was thinking about her situation, I was comparing it to my own, only because I was trying to find some parallel in our processes, as if there is some kind of hand book of stages. You know, like the five stages of grief, or whatever.
I have noticed some parallels in the accounts I’ve heard and read of people leaving similar movements, but something struck me about the big difference between her story and mine: I look back on my trip through charismania and the PM and I see myself as foolish. A fool among the fooled. I see the friends I lost, the leaders I trusted and myself as deceived. To use a charismania term, ‘reproducing’ what we’d seen.
My friend, however, looks back on her experience and sees herself as One Fooled By Another. She looks back on her leader and sees a a purposeful, intentional Deceiver.
While it is difficult enough to see one’s self as a fool, it’s much more difficult to be someone fooled by a person trusted.
I’ll try to keep this in mind in the future. I had my ‘angry time.’ Sometimes it rears its ugly head, and I try to submit to Jesus in those times, but her anger is coming from a different wound. I’ve been a little less than understanding of people like my friend. Her experience was different than mine in a very basic way. The way the Lord brings healing to her life might not look much like the way He brought it to mine.
I know He knows how to do it, I just hope she lets Him.