I am ‘As a Gentile & Tax Collector’ AKA – I Was Ex-Communicated Today

How many people get to say that in their lifetime?

Also I totally told you guys this was going to happen.

This is what was read, out loud and openly to the congregation of my former church today. I’m just so grateful to God that Leif has decided not to attend there anymore or subject our children to this terribleness.

Where is the love, people?

Bold emphasis mine [brackets mine too].Italicized theirs.

 

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ:

On September 1, 2013 Elder [name redacted] read during the divine service an announcement that the Consistory decided to proceed to the first step of public discipline with a member of [name redacted].

According to Article 55 of our Church Order the Consistory needs to ask the advice of Classis before proceeding to the second step of discipline. The Consistory asked for that advice of Classis at its meeting on September 17-18, 2013 by presenting the circumstances and the care given to this individual without the name of the individual being mentioned. During the course of the discussion it was mentioned that a few months ago this member stated via e-mail to the Clerk of Consistory that she wanted to resign from being a member of [name redacted]. At that time this request was denied because the Consistory didn’t see that option in our Church Order nor do the By Laws of [name redacted] allow for such a termination of membership. After much discussion Classis gave our Consistory this advice:

“…classis advise the consistory of [name redacted] to consider acquiescing to the request for resignation from Mrs. X and thereby recognize her as standing outside the communion of the saints and consider her as one excommunicated from Christ’s church.”

The Consistory voted to accept that advice and to act according to it. Towards that end we have called this special meeting of the [name redacted] membership.

Up to this point the Consistory has proceeded according to Matthew 18 and our Church Order and we have not made known to the congregation the individual that we have placed under discipline. Because this individual has requested to resign from the church of Christ [Side note: WTF? I am still a member of Christ’s church — just not this particular congregation. I have never asked to be removed from my savior, whom I rely upon daily. Gah.] the Consistory considers that excommunication and we are treating it as such. Normally there are two other public steps of discipline including the announcement of the sinner’s name prior to the announcement of excommunication, but given the circumstances and the request of this member, Classis advised us to proceed to this final step.

At this time, then, it is appropriate that we announce to you again the sin of the individual as well as her name. We do this with heavy hearts and with the prayer that the Lord will give her saving faith and once again bring her into the communion of the saints. The Consistory of [name redacted] has used the Keys of the Kingdom in the exercise of Christian discipline towards Jennifer Erikson for the sin of filing for divorce without Biblical grounds and no attempt to reverse those actions.

Form for Excommunication:

As you know we have announced to you the great sin committed and the grievous offense given by our fellow-member, Jennifer Erikson, to the end that, by your Christian admonitions and prayers, she might come to her senses, turn to God, and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26).

[Another side note. Snare of the Devil. I’m sorry, but I just snorted. Y’all should’ve heard it. It was totally sexy. Snare. Of. The. Devil.]

But to our great sorrow no one has yet appeared before us who has caused us to understand that, by the frequent admonitions given her (in private, before witnesses, and in the presence of many)[False. Very, very false. I met with Leif and one elder the morning after I left him, and one elder, ALONE, soon after that. They both said I was a sinner-sinner-pumpkin-eater and I figured I was better off not heeding their advice to meet with My Pastor], she has come to any sorrow for her sin or has shown the least evidence of true repentance. Since, then, by her stubbornness she daily aggravates her transgression, which in itself is not small, and since we have made known to you the last time that in case she did not repent, after such patience shown her by the church [Patience? Y’all have ex-communicated me in less than six months. When has that happened before? I mean like maybe if I were convicted of a crime or something, but hot dang this was lightning quick — which I guess is your decision to make, but to then brag about your patience is making my eyes roll] we should be constrained further to grieve for her and to come to the extreme remedy, we are therefore at the present time compelled to proceed to her excommunication. We do this according to the command and charge given us in God’s holy Word. Our purpose is that she may be ashamed of her sins, that by this corrupt and as yet unrepentant member we may not put the whole body of the church in danger, and that God’s Name may not be blasphemed but reverenced.

Pronouncement of Excommunication

Therefore, we ministers and rulers of the church of God at this place, being assembled in the Name and authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, declare before you all that for the aforesaid reasons we have excommunicated and hereby excommunicate Jennifer Erikson from the Church of the Lord [Again, sorry, guys, you can’t ex-communicate me from God. Only from your church.]; that, so long as she persists obstinately and impenitently in her sins, she is excluded from the fellowship of Christ, and of the holy sacraments, and of all the spiritual blessings and benefits which God promises to and bestows upon His Church; and that she is to be accounted by you as a Gentile and a tax collector (Matt. 18:17), according to the command of Christ, who says of His ministers, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven (Matt. 18:18).

Exhortation

Further we exhort you, beloved Christians, not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of such sin—not even to eat with such a one (1 Cor. 5:11) to the end that he may be ashamed; yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother (2 Thes. 3:15).

In the meantime let every one take warning by this and similar examples to fear the Lord and diligently to take heed: let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12); but having true fellowship with the Father and His Son Christ, together with all believing Christians, to remain firm to the end (Heb. 3:14), obtaining the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:9). You have seen, dear brothers and sisters, in what manner this our excommunicated sister has begun to fall and gradually has come to ruin [ruin!]. Learn, then, from her how subtle Satan is to bring man to destruction and to draw him away from all salutary means of salvation. Guard yourselves, then, against the least beginnings of evil, and according to the admonition of the apostle, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:1–2). Be sober- minded; be watchful (1 Peter 5:8); pray that you may not enter into temptation (Luke 22:46). Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts (Heb. 4:7), but work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12); and let every one repent of his sin, lest our God humble us again and we be obliged to mourn for some of you; but may you, with one accord living in godliness, be our crown and joy in the Lord.

But since it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13), let us call upon His holy Name with confession of our sins.

Prayer of Confession

O righteous God, merciful Father, before Your high majesty we blame ourselves for our sins and acknowledge that we have justly deserved the sorrow and pain caused us by the excommunication of this our late fellow-member; indeed, if You should enter into judgment with us, we all deserve to be excluded and banished from Your presence on account of our great transgression [No. Comment.]. But, O Lord, be gracious unto us for Christ’s sake; forgive us our trespasses, for we heartily repent of them; and work in our hearts an ever increasing measure of sorrow for them, that we, fearing Your judgments which You bring upon the stiff-necked, may endeavor to please You. Grant that we may avoid all pollution of the world and of those who are excluded from the communion of the Church, in order that we may not make ourselves partakers of their sins, and that he who is excommunicated may become ashamed of his sins [Church copy-editor apparently got lazy. I’ve been a girl up to this point]. And since You desire not the death of the sinner, but that he may repent and live, and since the bosom of Your Church is always open for those who return, kindle, therefore, in our hearts a godly zeal, that we, with good Christian admonitions and example, may seek to bring back this excommunicated person, together with all those who through unbelief and recklessness of life go astray. Add Your blessing to our admonitions, that we thereby may have reason to rejoice again in her [yay I’m a llama again!] for whom we must now mourn, and that thus Your holy name be praised, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

 

So yeah that happened.

I’d have words, but they’re kinda unnecessary, right?

And to think … I used to be scared of what these people thought of me.

Cray Cray Crazy Beautiful & Busy Life

Oh my goodness. Today I ran around like a one-armed wallpaper hanger on crack and speed. Or are crack and speed the same things? I don’t know, I’ve never been very fluent in drug-lingo, having never partaken of things like crack or speed, and also I’m not a cop and I’ve never appeared on an episode of Miami Vice.

Regardless, today was crazy busy.

It was my first day back at The Stir. I wrote about silly school districts unintentionally giving kids heat strokes, and also Miley Cyrus’s VMA debacle. You know, because that hasn’t been talked about enough. Can people please stop talking about Miley? Oh, I should take my own advice? Hmmm … well then let’s just say I wrote some social commentary about teen culture in America.

Also in there somewhere, I carted the kiddos to school, which is now a 30-minute commute, saw my therapist and went through the usual emotional meat grinder and came out a lovely sausage at the other end (or something), picked up my brand new kindergartener at the ‘transitional’ 1 pm pick-up time, ran home for an hour to relieve Furbaby and cuddle with said kindergartener, ran back to school to pick up the fifth grader, and ghostwrote a couple of fundraising emails for my other job. Also laundry, dishes, breakfast, lunch, dinner, homework, and bedtime stories.

I’s is a leetle bit tired. And I can’t wait until next week when I can pick both kids up at 3 instead of this skewed pickup time nonsense. But only one more day of that for me, because Leif is in charge of them from tomorrow evening until Sunday! Holla! Don’t get me wrong, I miss them like nutso when they’re gone, but I’m glad they love their daddy, and honestly, it gives me a few days to play catch up. I might even put that pile of clean laundry away! Hahahahahaha — I almost believed myself there for a moment.

So many people have asked me over the past several months … how are you going to live? It’s been asked in various contexts (emotionally, financially, sanely, etc.), but the answer to them all is one day at a time. At least for right now.

It’s odd and strangely freeing to not know exactly where I’m going to be a year from now. I’ve always been the girl with The Plan. The Plan has changed every now and then, because hey, life requires adaptation, but right now there is No Plan other than love my girls like crazy, work hard enough to pay the bills, and rely totally and fully on God.

I’m sure His Plan is better than My Plan anyway.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep. Goodnight and God bless!

The Jump

When you’re in the process of getting divorced, questioning religion, and generally trying to figure out who you are as a person after three decades under your belt on the planet, you have your bad moments.

I had such a moment last weekend.

“Eff it. I’m done with the sad. I’m going skydiving!” I half yelled at a friend.

“You should totally do that,” was the response.

I got off the phone and looked up some companies in San Diego that might be willing to toss me out of an airplane. Left the tabs open and went to sleep because it was like 1am.

The next morning, I reread the reviews, confirmed to myself that I actually liked the one I’d picked out the night before (note to my mama — see! I totally made a rational decision about skydiving NOT at 1am.) (I’m going to guess that doesn’t mean much to my mama, whose only comfort right now is that I’m still alive.) (I love you Mom!), and I booked it.

**Everything written up to this point was pre-free fall. The following is my thoughts and reactions to being PUSHED OFF AN AIRPLANE.**

Ok, I volunteered to be pushed. And it’s a good thing I was pushed, because I probably would have sat in that open airplane door all freaking day if my tandem jumper Igor (how cool is that name? He’s Russian, apparently. But he lived in Australia. His Russian-Australian accent was dreamy.) hadn’t fallen out of the plane on top of me 10,000 feet in the atmosphere.

Anyway. I showed up to Pacific Coast Skydiving this afternoon, and it looked so much like a movie set I was half expecting to see Matthew McConaughey walking around the corner. It was open and funky and breezey and it was kinda like a hip hanger barn with airplanes and parachutes and old couches and a ping-pong table.

The people there were warm and friendly, and totally made me feel at ease. I signed and initialed a bunch of stuff, including something that said I had made provisions for my children in the case of my death. I laughed that off and didn’t think too much about it, because no one likes to think about dying.

All of a sudden a thought crossed my brain that I swear had not even entered it since I made the reservation — what if the chute doesn’t open?? Seriously. I hadn’t even entertained that idea. As soon as I thunk it, I unthunk it. No point in worrying about being their first causality. Besides, that’s why you go tandem with a professional — you die, they die.

So they got me all harnessed up and on the plane with this other chick and her skydiver, and then we took off. It took maybe 15 to 20 minutes to reach altitude, and of course the view was amazing. Igor got me all hooked up to him, and told me that when the door opened, I needed to swing my legs out (I was going first) and sorta hook them under the plane. Then look up, hold onto my shoulder straps, and arch my back.

The plane door opened and I think I cussed. This part happened so fast that I’m not sure if I wanted to change my mind, but by the time my legs were out, I know I had changed my mind, and before I could very politely and calmly explain to Igor that I would not be falling out of the sky today, we were tumbling. I cussed some more I think, but mostly just screamed.

Someone asked me if it was like being at the top of a rollercoaster but more so, but it was nothing like a rollercoaster. The only way I know how to explain the sheer terror and adrenaline of it is to say it’s like that feeling you have when you think you’ve gone down all the stairs, but there’s one more step you missed, and you have a mini panic attack as your foot doesn’t find solid ground where it expected it. Times a zillion.

One thing I’d heard was that it’s over before you even know it, but I had a different experience. I think I lived a lifetime in about 30 seconds. I think I still might be up there somehow.

It was amazing and empowering, and the perfect way to celebrate some of the very difficult life changes I’ve made recently that completely knock out the status quo. For a very long time leading up to the split, I used ‘jumping’ as an analogy for going through with it. I was scared — so scared — that my ‘life chute’ wouldn’t open, and I would crash to the earth a broken and bloody mess.

It came to the point that not jumping became a scarier thought than letting go, so I got myself as prepared as possible. I did my safety checks. I talked to people that had done it before, and what their experiences had been. I examined the potential (and the certain) negative outcomes that would occur if I did this.

Ultimately, even though the actual skydiving was something I had wanted to, and planned to do — when it came to that split-second moment of truth, I didn’t want to go through with it. But a little push out the door led to feeling more alive than I ever have before, and I have no regrets.

I not only got some closure today for my broken marriage, but I got some weird closure for my broken relationship with My Pastor. If things hadn’t happened the way they did — if telling Leif I was leaving him had been left to me entirely — I honestly have no idea if I could’ve gone through with it.

I thought I could. I planned on it. I prepared for it. But could I have ‘jumped’ out of my marriage of my own volition? I don’t know anymore.

But I’m glad I did. Yes, there’s some terrifying freefalling at first when you feel like you’re inside a gyroscope and you’re spinning and the earth is spinning in the opposite direction around you … but then you’re flying.

Er, um … falling with style.

No regrets.

This Is Not a Post About Church — It’s About Target.

So hi.

I had this big long post all typed up for y’all about the church drama aftermath, but I forgot to save it.

Just kidding. Jesus saves my soul, and I save all my writing just about every other sentence. The truth is that it’s long and messy and super sad and I’m trying really hard to have a positive attitude and not get trapped in the quagmire of crap surrounding this particular situation.

There’s more to life than that. Which is why I use words like quagmire — because that’s seriously a great word.

So I’ll tell you that Leif, to his credit, has decided to take the girls to church elsewhere on his Sundays.

And that’s all I have to say about that, because a dead horse is not worth beating.

Now onto more interesting things — like shopping at Target.

You may or may not have heard, but I’m a single mom now. And single moms aren’t exactly rolling in dough. Also, I’m the one that moved out, and I took very little with me. So now I have this mostly empty house that needs some stuff.

The girls took care of the lack of a dining table by turning the dining room into a campground. Done. And they have beds, I bought a couple cheap couches, and there are stools at the kitchen counter. We’re making do, and honestly, I’m enjoying the minimalist lifestyle for a bit. Cleaning is much easier this way.

But I really wanted some backyard furniture. The girly girls have been loving having a yard after years of condo-living, plus I’m one of those I-love-nature girls, so I’ve been wanting a place to park my rear that wasn’t the retaining wall or the plastic child-sized picnic table my parents let us nick from their house.

Enter Target. I took the girls to get some sunscreen, a kiddie pool, and a box-o-wine, and looked up to see this:

Target girls on chairs

 

And then I saw this:

Target chair price tag

Which led to this:

Target cart

But then on the way to the register, I saw these!

Target stools

And this:

Target stool tag

And so with one hand pushing the loaded cart, the other carrying one stool, Thing 1 diligently carrying the other, and Thing 2 dancing along backward behind us, we made our way to the register.

The lady took one look at us and asked, “Would you like some help out today?”

Yes. Yes I would, thank you.

Then this happened:

Target trunk

And that, my friends, is Target done like a boss.

It’s Just an Appliance … I Think.

I was in therapy recently when I thought to mention a particular incident that had happened in my life the day before. What does it mean? What is wrong with me? Why is this an issue?

All of those questions and more went through my head as I casually mentioned to my ‘feelings doctor’ (that’s what Thing 2 calls her therapist, because duh the girls are in therapy because your parents splitting up is a big freaking deal) that I had experienced total paralysis over a Keurig.

Background — I’d wanted a Keurig forever, or least forever since I first heard of them. Leif didn’t want one, for whatever reason. Something about quantity and quality. Anyway, I wanted one for a very long time, but couldn’t convince my husband to spend the money on one. A year and a half ago, my mom got me one for Christmas!! I was uber excited, especially because I love love love a morning cup of tea, am usually too groggy to make one the traditional way, and Earl Gray k-cups are the bomb.

Fast-forward 18 months or so, and Leif has ended up using the Keurig far more often than myself. No, I don’t know why he changed his mind about it. If I knew why and how he changed his mind about things … well … things might be different. But I don’t and they’re not.

When I left, I told him he could keep the Keurig because he’d ended up using it more than me.

However.

I have missed my magic pixies that make me tea in my mystical morning machine. A lot.

Which brings us to the morning last week when I was standing in my old kitchen, staring at my Keurig on the counter and wanting it but never daring to take it.

It’s mine!

But I promised him he could have it.

But he didn’t want it to begin with.

But I told him he could have it.

What if I changed my mind.

Well you can’t go back on your word.

Gah.

Anyway, I spent a good long time standing in my old kitchen wrestling with myself over whether or not to take my coffee machine that I had told my husband he could keep.

So I mentioned this whole thing to my therapist, and he asked why I didn’t just take it.

“I don’t want to make him mad!”

“Mad? How would he get mad?” (yes, therapists actually ask these kinds of things. The good ones know when to ask them.)

“He’d be upset.”

“If you took the coffee maker?”

“Yes.”

“What else have you done recently that might upset him?”

“… I … uh … left him.”

“… So in the grand scheme of things, how does leaving your husband and taking the coffee machine compare? Because I’d sure as heck rather my wife take the coffee machine than leave me.”

Well when you put it that way … (There was actually a lot more back and forth over this issue — I’m paraphrasing so as not to bore you.)

So a few days later, I gathered my gumption, got over my fear of being viewed as the biatch that not only left him but took the Keurig too, and I asked him if I could have custody of it. And my All-Clad pots and pans. I wanted those too, and if I was asking for stuff, I might as well.

He said of course I could. Anything.

It was another few days before I got around to his house, and the pots and pans had been set out on the dining table. Next to them was the Keurig, all boxed up and ready to go.

Huh. I didn’t even remember that we’d kept the box. Weird.

I went to the kitchen to refill my water, and the Keurig was sitting on the counter. Eyes back to the box in the dining room. Back again to the appliance on the counter. What the … ? Crap. I was going to have to call him.

“Did you buy me a new Keurig?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you. That was very nice.”

“You can have the old one for sentimentality if you want, but it’s up to you.”

“I’ll take the new one. That was kind. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

So the dude bought me a new Keurig, which then of course brought up all of these new questions like — what the hell? I could’ve just bought a new Keurig. We don’t have the money for a new Keurig. Why couldn’t he just sacrifice the Keurig for me? Why does he always insist on his own way?

Then I remembered that ‘we’ don’t have money anymore. We’re legally separated, which means that he has his money, and I have my money. Well, he pays support, so technically it was his money, but you know what I mean. And the dude bought me a Keurig, when he could have given me mine and kept the new one for himself.

I mean, it’s not like we’re getting back together or anything, but I think it shows that he cares. And that could be a rekindling of a friendship.

How did a countertop appliance all of a sudden take on such significance?

I swear I’m living in Bizarro World.

Bitterness & Truth-Twisting

“You do love to poke the hornets’ nest, don’t you?”

A dear friend made this comment to me in good humor after she read one of my recent blog posts. To be clear, I don’t love it — but I’m not afraid of it. And oh boy, did I take a giant whap at the stinging, buzzing insects with yesterday’s post.

Of the myriad of responses I received (both public and private), I was able to categorize them into two main subsections: The people that were horrified over what happened to me, and the people that were horrified that I was talking about it.

From that latter group, the main thought expressed was that I’m just bitter, and that I’m twisting the truth to drag someone’s good name through the mud.

Am I bitter? If hurt, sad, traumatized, and a little bit angry equals bitter, then by all means, label me as such. However, I did not post what I did out of bitterness or resentment. I did it because I feel that I have been treated, and still am being treated, abominably.

I did try to keep this private. Was I supposed to post all the private communications back and forth that lead to my hand being forced to say something publicly in order to protect my integrity and reputation? Did y’all want to know that I begged the elders to hold My Pastor accountable for his un-pastoral action toward me? That I begged my husband to see how wrong it all was? And that after all that, I begged for some time and space to be left alone so I could regroup and figure out where to go from there, and that in spite of my pleas, the weekly and sometimes daily haranguing continued?

Had these people taken the thought and care to listen to my concerns, rather than jump to unquestionably defend the man that felt like it was his God-given duty to inform my husband of a rumor he’d heard that I was leaving him before talking to me about it, this might have all turned out differently.

But it didn’t.

When it became clear to me that we’d reached an absolute impasse, and that no reconciliation between this church and myself could be reached, I attempted to resign.

One does not simply resign from a churchI received a lengthy response from one of the elders condemning me (again) for not being a good little girl and going to My Pastor and the consistory to allow them to hear my story and help me fix my marriage. I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but geez louise the cognitive dissonance is astronomical. The letter also said, “… It is impossible for us to grant you your request.  One cannot simply resign from a church and we can’t release/transfer your membership under these circumstances … simply bailing on [name redacted] is not an option as much as you wish it was (sic).”

Side note: I did meet with this man several weeks ago, and told him my ‘Biblical grounds’ for divorce — grounds that every other trusted, Christian male I’ve met with has said, “Yup. You’ve got grounds.” He said that he didn’t believe I did, but I should come share with all the elders the heartbreak I’ve experienced and let them judge for me. Because that’s encouraging.

Anyway, since apparently I’m not allowed to resign, and I’m currently ‘in sin’ by not letting these guys decide for me whether or not I have a right to make my own life decisions, I’m going to be excommunicated.

What this means is that they will eventually get up in front of the entire congregation, where my children still attend every other week with their father, and announce to all that I am an unrepentant sinner, and will be “suspended from all privileges of church membership, including the use of the sacraments.” Our church order (Article 55) says my offense will be explained, which as far as I can tell is that I filed for divorce without their permission.

Which is why I wrote what I wrote, and why I’m writing what I’m writing now.

Now as to this whole “truth-twisting” business … this is the truth of what I’ve been going through. It is raw and bare and ugly, but it is factual. Shedding light on a situation doesn’t mean I’ve twisted it.

There are plenty of people that defend My Pastor’s actions, and that’s their choice to make. Everyone has his or her own definition of what constitutes intolerable behavior, and I understand that many feel that My Pastor was acting out of love and kindness by reaching out to my husband about his wayward wife. If you choose to defend this man, go ahead and do it. But don’t try to pretend like I’ve twisted the truth by sharing my perspective.

For those of you that feel I’m dragging his name through the mud … what name? I have never made publicly known what church I attend or who my pastor and elders are. I’ve even untagged myself on Facebook when other members have checked me in. I haven’t kept that information private for any reason other than that my husband asked me to, and I respected his request.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m very busy bitterly starting a new job, decorating my new house, catching up with old friends, rediscovering the true grace and mercy of Christ, thinking up fun summer activities for the girls, and painting my toenails.

How My Husband Found Out I Was Leaving Him

Our pastor heard a fourth-hand rumor and told him before talking to me about it.

Just like I’ve never really talked openly about the huge problems in my marriage out of respect for my husband, I’ve never shared about the challenges I’ve faced in my church, or how over the years my pastor became my nemesis. So long as I submitted to his spiritual oversight, I kept my mouth shut out of respect for his office.

But seeing as I’ve just sent off my official church membership resignation letter, and will likely be excommunicated shortly (oh yes, they can excommunicate me even if I resign — they are refusing to accept my resignation. I think there’s a name for religious groups that won’t let people leave on their own accord. I think it starts with C, and it ain’t Church.), I have some pretty fantastic stories to tell you.

Starting with the one about how Leif found out I was leaving him.

Before I begin. Some history. For years, my relationship with My Pastor has been fragile at best and contemptuous at worst. I take that back — it’s been destructive at worst. Honestly, if this were my only exposure to ‘Christianity,’ I’d likely be an atheist. Thankfully, my faith in God is stronger than my fear of men, and I feel like I’m finally getting right with Him again after years of wandering in the wilderness.

Which is kinda ironic, given the amount of Repent, Sinner, repent! communications I’ve received from the men in leadership at my (former) church.

Anyway … here’s the highlight reel of interactions between My Pastor and me …

There was the time I was severely reprimanded for standing and rocking a sleepy baby Thing 2 in the back of the church during worship service — we have a cry room for moms to hold their babies! Never mind the fact that I was keeping an eye on Thing 1, who was sitting in the pews by herself while my husband served the church as an usher.

That was followed shortly with an admonishment for having the audacity to suggest we start a cooperative nursery, so that parents of very young children could occasionally worship together in peace.

Did I ever tell you about the time My Pastor commented on my Facebook wall that I was in direct violation of Romans 13 by being involved with the Tea Party movement? Yeah, that happened. And it was the day before I was hosting a ladies tea party for the sisters in his congregation.

Remember all the GMA hullaballoo about Victoria’s Secret earlier this year? My Pastor said I was acting unwisely “to take covenant children shopping at a store that clearly uses soft pornography to market its product.” Again he did this publicly, on my Facebook wall. I got a visit from church leadership over that incident, and it was basically decided that they were going to ‘let’ me shop where I wanted and even write about it. I believe they said they were going to grant me a little bit of grace. My Pastor never apologized to me for the atrocious way he handled the situation — he only defended himself as acting in a pastoral manner. Seriously.

Through all of this and more, I have cried buckets of tears. I have begged my husband to find a new church home. His response has always been some variation of, “The perfect church is called Heaven. We made a commitment to this church, and need to understand that it’s led by fallible men.”

Ah, Christian oppression … isn’t it insidious?

Anyway, I could write volumes on the crap I’ve endured over the last 7+ years of attending there. But this is a post about My Pastor’s betrayal of me, and my husband’s defense of him.

What happened was that I had a friend. She was a relatively new friend, but we had a connection, and I trusted her.  I had been talking to her for several weeks about possibly finally ending it because I just couldn’t take it anymore, and then one Tuesday I told her I was going to do it on the upcoming Friday.

Long story short: Instead of telling me she didn’t believe I was doing the ‘Christian’ thing, she told her husband, a seminary student. Instead of encouraging her to talk to me about it, he told one of his professors. Instead of encouraging his student to talk to his wife to talk to me about it, he told My Pastor. Instead of asking if the initial contact had been made, as per directed in Matthew 18, My Pastor began harassing me the next day via phone, email, and text.

I had a busy day, and had an inkling as to what the whole thing was about, so eventually I texted him back and asked what it was regarding. A ‘pastoral matter,’ I was told. Ok, fine. No reason to take time out of my life if he couldn’t even be bothered to answer my question.

I tried calling him back mid-afternoon, but got his voicemail. Told him I’d give him a call in about half an hour. Within that half an hour, Leif called to tell me he was on the way home. I think it was around 5pm at this point, and he hardly ever comes home early.

My senses were on red alert as I called My Pastor back again. Keep in mind that the last time this man addressed me personally, it was to call me a bad mother on my public Facebook wall. He picked up the phone, and said he had heard some disturbing news. I made a joke about not having written about my panties on the internet recently, and he didn’t even laugh. Pfffttt.

He told me that he had heard a rumor that I was planning on divorcing my husband. I told him it was just that — a rumor. Then he told me details that could have only come from one place. I said very calmly that I needed to speak to my husband. My Pastor asked me three or four times if the rumors were true, and somehow I managed not to flip my lid at him. I told him I needed to speak to my husband before I could talk to him any further.

“Well, I was concerned, so I called Leif and discussed it with him … “

I hung up the phone. Thanked God in Heaven that the girls were at my parents’ house that afternoon. RAN through the house throwing clothes, documents, girls’ lovies, and other various items into my car.

He walked in the door. He didn’t know I knew he knew, and he seemed unperturbed. Distant and detached, but that was nothing new. We shared a quick kiss (what would turn out to be our last), and I asked him if he minded taking the dog out for me. I grabbed my phone and my keys. I had no idea how this was going to go down.

He got back from taking the dog and went to the kitchen to wash his hands. I sat down on the other side of counter bar.

“I want to know what My Pastor told you,” I said as evenly as I could.

“Yeah, we should talk about that…”

“I want to know what My Pastor told you,” I repeated.

He paused. Dried his hands. Took a deep breath. Sighed. “That you were planning on filing for divorce on Friday,” he finally admitted.

So there you go. My Pastor had actually told my husband, based on a fourth-hand rumor, without talking to me first, that I was planning on leaving him. That. Just. Happened.

“I filed for divorce last week,” I told him flatly. “I was planning on telling you this Friday.”

It wasn’t more than a 15 or 20-minute conversation, the details of which are irrelevant to this particular story. I walked out the door. Spent the night at my parents’ house with the girls. Told them it was a fun slumber party because Daddy was having a boys’ night.

The next morning, I went back to the condo after taking the girls to school, talking to my therapist, and contemplating drinking before 9am (I stuck with Coke Zero). He was home. We sat in the living room and talked for maybe 45 minutes. There was a lot of silence.

I told him how incredibly inappropriately My Pastor had acted; how he had made it impossible for me to go to him in a time of need by his previous treatment of me, and how he had gone behind my back and told my husband something deeply personal and painful based on a rumor he’d heard.

My husband defended him as doing his pastoral duty. I looked him straight in the eyeballs and said, “The fact that you are defending this man’s actions yesterday is one of a thousand reasons I cannot stay married to you.”

That was a month and a half ago. I’ve spoken to two other leaders at my church, and they have both defended My Pastor’s actions that day. And they have both asked me time and time again to ‘repent of my sin.’

Did you know that apparently it’s up to men in the church to decide if you have cause for divorce, not God? I keep wanting to ask them if they’re going to tell God on me, but thus far have managed to refrain.

So that’s the story of how my husband found out I was leaving him. Last I heard he’s still going to My (ex) Pastor for council on the matter of his broken marriage.

Because I’m sure that guy has my best interest at heart.

**Note to clergy everywhere: There is more than one side to every story. Before you begin condemning one party and begging them to repent of their sin, you might like to try lovingly and graciously asking them what the heck is going on. 

When Life Hands You Lemons, Grab the Remote

I’ve been living without a man around the house for just over a month now, and there are definitely some things I’ve had to get over. Spiders, for instance. I’ve had to kill numerous spiders all by myself. I tried to make the girls do it, but they were too busy screaming bloody murder at the eight-legged freaks to obey me. We’re going to have to work on that. Or something.

Then there was the time Godzilla snuck in my front door. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A FOOT-LONG LIZARD IN YOUR LIVING ROOM? Trap it under a box, that’s what. Out into the garden he went — I spared his life on the promise that he’d eat any spiders before they wandered into the house. He has not been keeping his end of the bargain. Moral of the story? Never trust a lizard.

I’ve had to do all my own dishes. Leif used to do that. (Credit where credit is due.) Also, I don’t have a working dishwasher at the moment, so it’s all by hand. Ugh.

Money. Is. Tight.

So far, a toilet hasn’t clogged yet, but I know it will eventually (hello, I have kids!), and then it will be my responsibility to fix it. *Skipping off to knock on wood*

But there are some pretty neat things too. Since I’m a silver linings kinda girl, I’m taking great joy in the little things. Things like catching up on Nashville. Once the kiddos go to bed, my time is my own — yay! I started watching Nashville in Boston, and just got caught up on the season. Oh my gosh, I thought my life was full of drama! Such a good show, and highly recommended.

Routine and schedule. The girls and I have gotten into a groove already. It turns out that predictability is awesome. Who knew?

Sleeeeeeeeeep. Sweet sweet sleep. No snoring, no sleeping on the couch. Just sleeping in my own bed. All night long. Ok, I still get up to use the ladies room at least once, but then I go right back to bed and fall asleep again.

Time to recharge. When Leif has the girls, it’s completely guilt-free time to myself. I know they want to see him and vice versa, and that they’re with someone that loves them (almost) as much as I do (they lived in me — trump card!). Of course I miss them, but I’m glad that they have a relationship with their dad. Every girl needs a daddy.

Did I mention total control of the remote? So what if my cable is so basic I only get 10 channels? That’s what Hulu is for.

Yeah, life is going to throw you challenges, but it’s how you cope with them that matters. Life is messy and complicated, and it’s too short to live negatively. So when your marriage falls apart (or whatever is getting you down), find the very cool, maybe somewhat selfish things to do that make you happy. Do the things you couldn’t really do before. Spend time getting to know yourself again. You might even like who you find.

Now. Has anyone seen my remote? It’s around here somewhere, and I have some very important flippant channel Hulu surfing to do.

The Things People Say

“Jenny, I only have one comment on your blog posts this week.”

“Yes?” Here it comes. The Judgment. Whatever, I’ve been so judged throughout my life and especially recently that it barely registers anymore. I’m a conservative woman that works in politics and now I’m a Christian wife separated from her husband — I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of Judgey McJudgersons.

“You didn’t slam him. Good job, Mama, I know that must have been very hard, but your kids will reap the benefits.”

THANK YOU!!! Yes, that’s the kind of encouragement and support that’s appreciated right now — as opposed to the accusations (both veiled and bald-faced) that I’ve been getting about what went wrong in my marriage and/or how I’m acting wrongly now. Because yeah, that’s happening.

There are no less than 8,497 reasons I filed for divorce and moved out with the kids. Like I said, there was no one big event that led to this … it was a slow erosion. Death by a thousand cuts, if you will. It would be easy and momentarily satisfying to air our dirty laundry and garner some sympathy, but I’m thinking long game right now.

The long game is that we have children and I have a conscious. Leif is their father and their hero, and there’s no reason for them to feel otherwise about their daddy. Being a loving dad was never an issue.

Side note: I just went back to first blog on this to get the link above, and I made the mistake of reading the comments. What was I saying about Judgey McJudgersons again? Just … wow.

Anyway. Leif is a good dad, we have amazing kids together, and I hope and pray that at some point we can be on the same page.

Now. To the people that seem to be under the mistaken impression that I’m a selfish, selfish girl … I roll my eyes in your general direction. Here are some of the comments I’ve gotten and how I would like to respond.

Marriage isn’t a joyride — it requires a lot of hard work. Tell me about it! It requires extra hard work when one person thinks everything is just fine and the other is miserable. You can only drag the horse to the water so many times and watch it not drink before you throw your hands in the air and walk away. Sometimes it’s not about giving up; it’s about letting go.

You’re hurting my feelings by blogging about your separation. Wow, I’m so sorry that talking about this instead of shutting up about it is hurting *your* feelings. I’m also sorry someone tied you to a chair, propped your eyelids open, and forced you to read my blog. If I were to force someone to read something it would probably be Steinbeck or Fitzgerald, but to each their own.

It’s not fair to Leif to be blogging about this. Look. I’m a blogger. Before I was a blogger, I was a sharer. I’ve been telling stories about my life to anyone that would listen for as long as I can remember. Leif has often told me that the first time he really noticed me was when I was 17 and speaking to our entire church congregation about a mission trip to Mexico I’d just gotten back from.

Talking about my life and experiences is who I am. He knew it when he married me and he shouldn’t be surprised by it now.

Jenny, you need to humble yourself to God’s will. Seriously? No, really … SERIOUSLY?? Please tell me again how you know more about God’s will for my life than I do … Was it your tarot cards or your crystal ball? Because you sure as heck don’t know what happened in my marriage, let alone what’s happened in my heart and brain.

I love you but … I’ve been hearing an awful lot of I love you buts recently. No. You either love me or you don’t. Just because you preface something diminishing with an I love you doesn’t make it ok. Love does not boast, even about itself.

He wants to change. Into what? A pumpkin? If he wants to change, he’ll do it. I hope he does some self-reflection. Everyone needs that.

God hates divorce. Yes he does. But sometimes He allows it. When did getting divorced become the biggest sin outside of murder? I missed the part in the bible that says God cares more about marriage than His people.

This is a sad situation. I know there are lots of people upset that I’m being vocal about it, but for every one of those there are ten people offering encouragement. And I’ll take 10-to-1 odds any day.

Divorce & Piety

Before I begin ranting, I would like to take a few sentences to thank every single person that has reached out to me in love after yesterday’s bombshell. I hold you all near and dear to my heart, and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. My most appreciative thanks to every woman that recognized herself in my words and took a moment to tell me that what I wrote mattered to her … I can’t even express my love and compassion for you right now.

Now. To those that would condemn me for this. I have something to say to y’all.

One of the hardest things for me to face when deciding whether or not to leave my husband was the censure from other Christians that I knew I’d be exposed to. In the secular culture, divorce is sad and all, but more or less accepted. In my world, it just isn’t an option. Especially when it’s between two believers that haven’t had affairs.

I used to be full of righteous judgment for Christians whose marriages fell apart. I believed they weren’t faithful enough to God, had lousy communication skills, and/or generally put their own selfish desires above God’s commands. As little as a year and a half ago, a dear friend told me he and his wife were splitting, and my response was an immediate, “You can’t DO that!”

To this friend, and to every other person I have judged without knowledge of what lay in their hearts or where they stood with God — I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I assumed you were giving up … now I know you were moving on.

I’m sorry I thought you should try harder … now I know you tried everything but selling your soul.

I’m sorry I thought you were putting yourself ahead of your kids … now I know that your children were never, ever an afterthought in your decision.

I’m sorry I thought you were stumbling in your walk with God … you might have been, but that wasn’t for me to judge.

I’m sorry I thought I was better than you … I am the same as you.

To every person that has insinuated or even flat-out accused me of sinning by separating from my husband after years of prayer, reflection, denial, realizations, more prayer, begging, and even more prayer — please un-bunch your pious panties and go read Matthew chapter 7. There’s something in there about a log and speck you might find particularly interesting.

I needed a time-out for my marriage — possibly a permanent one. But every person that tells me I’m going against God’s will by separating from my husband drives me further away from wanting to reconcile with him.

Details aren’t needed. Leif is the father of my amazing children, and I want nothing more than to be his friend again someday, regardless of what happens in our marriage. But things have been very broken between us for a very long time, and it took every ounce of courage I had to take the step that went against everything my religious culture told me but somehow I knew God was telling me was right.

To be told that this beautiful, wonderful thing I have learned exists in my soul, this thing that gives me the strength to flip my life over when nothing else has worked, this thing that has made me braver than I thought possible, and made me rely on God more than I ever have in my entire life … to be told that this is a perversion of His plan for me? Well, it would suck, but things have been so full of suckage the past few years that all I can really do is roll my eyes.

Now I understand all the eye rolls I once got. I hope that you never do.