As I look back over the last few months, I feel freer and more confident and comfortable in our decision to leave our church and its toxic leadership. It’s as if the fog is slowly evaporating, and things are becoming clearer and clearer. I am grateful that my family is free- free from the false teachings, the psychological manipulation, and the spiritual abuse, and free from the persistent pain and turmoil that filled our lives. Free to be ourselves, and to not worry about the repercussions of pissing off the pastor’s wife. I am glad that we made the difficult decision to go, a decision which now seems to be the only decision we could have made. We chose to protect ourselves and our family, and to not let fear of the unknown and possible backlash control us. At the time, it was agony. But in looking back, I almost laugh because as I begged God to give us a definitive answer as to whether we should stay or go, it was as if He was saying, “Hello! What do you call all of the information and insight I have given you over the past few months? What do you call that sick feeling that you have in your gut?” It reminds me of that joke where the guy is on the roof during the flood, confident God will save him. As the waters rise, a boat, a helicopter and a plane come along, but the man refuses help from them all, saying he’s waiting for God to save him. When he finally succumbs to the flood and goes to heaven, he asks God why He didn’t save him, to which God replies, “What do you mean? I sent you a boat, and helicopter and a plane!!” It was as if God was sending us all of these signs, yet we were waiting for the “burning bush,” or the audible voice of God. We were afraid to trust our own discernment. Even with Scripture to back us up (Acts 20:29-31, Matthew 23:27-28, 1 Tim. 3:11, 2 Tim 3:2-7), we still thought that maybe our leadership knew better than we did.
The Holy Spirit was leading us away from there, but we were afraid to do the wrong thing. Joyce Meyer says that if you miss God, He will find you. So true. We really didn’t have to worry so much about making a wrong decision regarding whether or not to leave our church, because no matter what we did, He would have taken care of us. If there was a lesson He wanted us to learn, He would give us that opportunity where ever we were. A lot of that fear came from the way we were taught to always be obedient, always submit. We were terrified that if we weren’t obedient to what God was calling us to do, there would be serious consequences. But I now see that if God absolutely wanted us there for a reason, He would have made it extremely clear to us. As long as we are seeking Him and His truth with all of our hearts, He will honor that.
I myself tend to get caught up in wanting a “burning bush” answer to all of my questions. I tend to play little games with God, wanting God to give me a sure sign that I am doing the right or wrong thing. It’s easy to do when you hear so many testimonies from people who talk about how God "told" them to do this or that and they did it and then they had a huge spiritual breakthrough, or became wildly successful in their ministry, business, etc. In thinking like this, I tend to get paralyzed by fear, terrified that if I don’t do everything “according to God’s will,” I will not be blessed and I will miss out on something. But my husband and I have learned that for the most part, God expects us to use the intelligence and discernment that He gave us. He expects us to investigate, question, research, and study, in addition to our prayer. He will send people to speak into our lives and provide wise counsel, but not to control us or run our lives for us (idolatry). He doesn’t send people to tell us what to do, but rather people will often confirm what He has already put in our hearts.
And when He sends the lifeboat, helicopter and plane, we should get out of our own way and jump in.