moving on

Last night BD and I spent 2 hours giving an exit interview to the mediators hired by our former congregation.  It was challenging to condense all that happened for us, and to us, in a way that appropriately conveyed the enormous amount of stress we lived with since selling all we had (otherwise known as downsizing), moving to a much smaller house, (while still paying mortgage on the bigger house) to Come Follow Jesus (with them) when we were unaware that the invitation didn’t really include us, a same-gender-covenanted-couple. But we did it by the Grace of God, who desires all things whole and beautiful. The mediators (a man and a woman) were respectful, considerate and gracious, and though professionally low-key, there were a few responses of considerable empathy and/or dismay that were audible. It was helpful to know that what we were sharing of our experience was hitting hearts and minds together…both/and, rather than either/or.

I, of course, apologized for having made my (previous) assessment of our being an after-thought (posted 9/30/09), which was promptly returned with an apology of their own! Their job is to uncover the pieces and put them together in a coherent enough whole that can serve them in making recommendations toward a healing center for the congregation. This is a tall order and we pray that they are able to bring a semblance of healing and wholeness, but we don’t hold an expectation that this church will  embrace an Open and Welcoming/Affirming stance any time soon. My half-full view or educated observation? Time will tell. I have a lot of opinions, but I am also glad to admit error…and I will be most happy and delighted if I am in error here.

Mennonites as a group, do not speak readily of their thoughts/feelings. It’s an ethnic characteristic found in many rural communities as well. BD, although not ethnically Mennonite, comes from a rural background, understands this and has her own habit of unspoken thought. I, on the other hand come from a Middle Eastern heritage and we have a lot to say, even if we don’t know what we are talking about! (I think I’ve harnessed that last part, pretty well though, I hope!) We are openly passionate…unless depressed. Yes, I did most of the sharing, but I can tell you that when BD verbalizes something from the past that really hurt her to the quick, it is very powerful. And so, between the two of us, we put our story out there quite credibly. Praise God!

At the end of the time together the mediators thanked us for sharing our story…i.e., being vulnerable, and we assured them that vulnerability went with the territory, and not to give us more credit that we were due. This was CLOSURE for us…we were finally handing the pitiful story off to persons who perhaps may make a difference. We wanted it to be clear that we would not be telling this story again (hopefully never, ever again), but that we would like to know the outcome of their work with the congregation; we would answer questions, consider meetings, but never again dip back into those painful times on a personal basis. Although we don’t expect Open and Welcoming to be the end result, we hope for a resolution that allows us to visit at will…without tension and questions hanging silently heavy in the air. Accountability is rock-bottom in all of this, but we don’t expect it from everyone, just the major players. That will be enough for us. There are many people there that we love and miss…many who miss us as well. What we want is a semblance of Shalom.

Today I am happy to be free of the burden. We have closure for ourselves. We can journey forward where the Spirit leads. Our desire is One Body, One Spirit, One Hope, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism and One God. In the immortal words of Rodney King:

Can’t we all just get along?

2 Responses to “moving on”

  1. October 4, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Naomi and Judy….I was so grateful to have encountered you at Janalee’s party. I think time connects us on deeper levels as we age. I was moved by your excitement and warm embrace of me…since I think in days past at RBA we were not close on a day to day basis. I was appreciative of both of you as individuals. It just seemed not much opportunity to inteweave into each other’s lives. As I reflect on my own experience at RBA….I believe I often felt invisible and less than….all those IMPORTANT people running around. And more so when I was exiled from the community by those who blamed and perceived me as unacceptable to be in the body of Christ. How strange that I was sent away to find God…in a terrifying abyss that lasted for five months. And I did not find God. I still reel at the fact that there were those who thought I needed to be apart from the body, to atone for my sins…then I was acceptable to come back to RBa. But that is a very long story. You can imagine that JL was the Power that be….among the All important elders who thought it was the answer that I be apart from the body, until I atoned for my wrongs. What damage that did to me, and to my faith journey. It is untold!!!! After all of that trauma…I was invited back to Rba. But the damage was too deep…of which I have never fully recovered. However, I am a strong…follower, seeker, believer of somone higher than me. I just can’t describe it, in the Christian way. I know who I am…and who I am not. So there is an element of salvation in that respect.
    I loved reading your blog Naomi. Thank you for sharing so deely and profoundly. I am in awe of what you have been through and how you have emerged in such a beautiful way. I am not sure I got the website correct. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to put in that line. I hope this finds it’s way to you.

    My prayers, thoughts, love and peace are with you and Judy. I will continue to read your blog. It inspires me, lifts me up and I hope we can connect again. With my peace and loving kindness for both of you. Janet

  2. 2 Naomi
    October 5, 2009 at 8:13 am

    To my dear friend, Janet, whom I barely knew then but now by the Holy Spirit, I feel connectedness: I have been thinking of you ever since that party. I was blessed by your presence. You seemed like an angel. I know your experience at RPF was harsh, as was mine. I have been able to get beyond it because there has been confession and forgiveness between the major players and myself. (JL did the best he could and I give him a pass for what he cannot yet manage.) I am glad to let go of the scars and memories of the bad old times there. I spent enough years holding them. I choose to think only of all the good and wonderful things I received there. There were so many…and the people who I still see as my first spiritual family. I am not in denial. I hold both in my hands, but only cherish the good—the very good. I received an excellent Christian foundation in that place and do not wear a ‘coat’ of Christian belief as many do. I do not wear a coat at all. My experiences there were life lessons and I am grateful for the end result (not the process). I am a strong advocate for all wounded RPF-ers to pursue dialogue with those who hurt them. Confession and forgiveness is paramount for both the abused and the abuser. Matthew 18 was the basis of our life together there and so it is mine still, whether or not my current church body ‘gets it’. Thank you for your candid remarks. Let’s have coffee together!!

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October 2009

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