I’m following up on the previous post where I talked about how it feels to be abandoned by friends. It helps a lot if we can think of Jesus and what he went through. It helps to identify with him and draw close in fellowship. But back to my experiences a few year ago: Painful, but to tell my story is healing.

A big part of the hurting seemed to come from more than a single person. Attitudes towards me developed in tandem. I had at one time received loving support and had helped them in various ways. What made them behave the way they did? I was treated like a nuisance. It showed in their unkindness and unwillingness to include me or talk to me. Frowns and unfriendly words replaced the smiles I had at one time received.

As I look back I can see that they considered me as one might consider a child. A child for whom they had no patience. A child they wanted to send outside to play. A child they no longer wanted around. It was not until years later that therapy revealed the truth. They were trying to encourage me to leave the church. Why? What did I do?

I had left my Living Room group because of unwellness. My husband suspected dementia. This seemed to have been forgotten. Why did they treat me, a person who had contributed so much, with such harshness? Where was the compassion I should have had?

Only a short time before this I had been a leader, successfully facilitating a group, supporting troubled individuals. I had been respected for my ground-breaking work, referred to as a pioneer by one who knows the history. Who I was and what I’d done was forgotten. After at least a year of being treated with disrespect, I too almost forgot who I had been and what I had done.

An anonymous comment came to my blog in June of last year:

So Marja, if you know that you are treated that way, sometimes in a way that is not obvious, but taunting. Because you know yourself better…you know that if you’ll stay it wouldn’t be good to your mental health. You know that if you’ll stay you might say something out of your character. Is it bad then to just leave and say nothing? Wouldn’t it be better to just resist temptation to fight and be right and just leave? And if they turn the table on you, how do you defend yourself then?

Just leave? Say nothing?

I could never have considered leaving my church, the place where I had birthed the ministry I loved, the place where I had learned to come close to God, the place where I had at one time found so much love. This was where I belonged. How could a child leave her family home? Where would she go?

Throughout the abuse, I was like a child, helpless to defend herself, hurting badly. I was even hospitalized for two or three weeks as I dealt with this and other stigma.

In answer to the above comment: It was impossible to have known the deterioration of mental health that awaited me. I did not realize to what extent this would become a tragedy.

I think of Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6) Seeking righteousness is the only way I know how to live. It’s following Jesus’s example.