MD Guest Columnist : Dennis Diehl

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Needing to Forgive and Move On

I realize that I am stuck in this process of moving on and I need to move on with life as it is, not as I would have wished it to be.  If you want to make God laugh.....just tell him your plans...comes to mind.

Whatever the real concept of forgiveness, I need to apply my best understanding of it now and lift the dark cloud of residual depression and anger that lives in me.  The painful suicide of Rodney O. Lain made me realize at a deeper level, I have to let it go... now.

I came to the WCG as a hopeful, save the world, codependent caretaker at the tender age of 14 believing, in part, that I was supposed to be there, I had to be there, I could not, not, be there.  So I accept responsibility for choosing it.  It felt like the truth at the time.

I forgive myself first of all for not being more authentic and speaking up to the dictator type pastors I had met and worked with.  You know who you are.  I wish I had been more like my brother in law and dad who, though elders and deacons, were always wont to notice and tell those for whom it was intended,  that people with sh__ for brains were not going to intimidate them.  Love you dad! 

I forgive myself for not intervening as much as I could have to undo the ridiculous advice given by others, and I applaud myself for the times I did.  I remember telling one world-traveling evangelist, who was a family friend as well, that his visits caused more confusion and harm than the good they were supposed to be.  He didn't get it, but after a kick under the table by others present, it felt good to say what I saw, as I had to clean up theologically and spiritually after each visit for weeks to come.

But back to what I have to forgive.  I will forgive myself privately for my own sins, failings, divorce and pain given. I have to forgive some publicly because experience has taught me that to write them individually and express my anger or observations about reckless zeal and reinventing a very old wheel theologically that looks so shiny and new to them, only invites sarcasm, or an aloofness in response that deepens my anger and does not relieve it.  I don't need to be reminded that only the loyal or converted,  whatever the hell that can mean from those concerned, can expect any physical help or loving support.   I also forgive those ministers who only minister to receive those benefits, but I understand.  It's an authenticity issue and it won't leave you much room to wiggle.

I forgive myself for the depression that all this has put in my lap to deal with and for those who provided the trigger.  Depression is not a spiritual weakness and anxiety is not a lack of faith.  I feel there is door yet to open for me to be all I can be.

I forgive the Armstrongs, both Herbert and Ted for being who they were and are.  I don't see the world through their eyes anymore but I allow them to.  Whatever deep motivations, fears, anxieties, needs, wants and desires they had both spiritually sincere (and I believe there are those) and those other darker shadow sides they had....I forgive.   We ALL have them...the yin and the yang.  I have my own.

I forgive the Tkachs for what I always perceived as insecure, reckless bravado and being put in a position that they knew little about administering or, in fact, how to work with people long on experience and common sense. I just wish you had asked for help and input from good people of which there were many.

I forgive them for abusing people with bravado and embarrassing long time ministers with challenges to come behind the stage for five minutes and let's "work this out."  I never thought it was funny asking God to turn his back for five minutes while "I"...........

I forgive them for believing and then shoving inaccurate theology at us as if it was a revelation.  It was a reinvention of the Wheel, not an epiphany on Christ leading the Church.  Christian history is not as I had been taught and frankly it appears not to even be an original idea.   (I would have hoped Christ would have chosen one way to lead the church and a consistent direction in which to go, but alas, it was all left up to the representatives who seemed to know Christ's mind better than us all.  As I said in a sermon long ago...we have run so many gun laps, we have run out of bullets...:)

I forgive administrators for not asking for input and feedback from those who had to administer foolish beliefs and practices.

I forgive Imperial Schools for providing us practically every administrator of the Church whether they admit it or not.  Bitter kids, grown up with no knowledge of what they were undertaking and refusing to ask others for insights and experiences having already come FROM those doctrines, practices and beliefs years before.

I forgive you for taking our life experiences in other denominations frivolously, something you never experienced.

I forgive you for taking my youth, which I admit I gave you freely .

I forgive you for making an ass out of me before congregations who knew more than I did, even though I went to the conferences, asked the questions and found out  "NO"  ALWAYS meant "YES" in terms of what we would never change into as a church.  100% of every question I ever asked about "does this mean we will be keeping or doing, or believing...." that was answered with no....became a yes.

I forgive the attorney types for condescending comments and ignorance of what it is like to give one's life to a once believable cause and then be dismissed by simply signing the papers which gave them every control over my future.  I do remember one pastor/lawyer being bed bound for, I believe years, as a minister, and myself being blessed with good health and doing my job.  Where would you have been without Church compassion and care through your illness, whatever it was?

I forgive church administrators for having to experience  depression and anxiety over the trashing of every congregation I ever "built" .  Yes I know, Christ built the church...but I did the work.

I forgive you for turning my desire to encourage, teach, and  inspire ( I don't do control or mind the business of others )  into visits that turned into shouting matches, anger and suspicion, leaving me to simply hate visiting the people I had come to love.

I forgive one evangelist involved in finance for promising "we will take care of you" so don't worry about your future......

I forgive myself for being naive.

I forgive myself for not understanding forgiveness as I thought I did

I ask those who I may not know of, and who need to forgive me to do so.  It won't hurt me if you don't, just as it doesn't concern those I forgive if I do or do  not.   Forgiveness is for the forgiver.

Life does what it does and I do believe that I am a spirit having a human experience.  I am grateful for the lesson and also  hate that I have had to experience clinical depression and anxiety events to reinforce the experience.  But "if we understand then things are as they are, and if we don't understand, then things are as they are."

I apologize to my family, divorce not withstanding, for the years of moving, pressure and losses.  I apologize as well to parents for miles apart and grandkids never seen much.  They are fine men now and authentic human beings none the less.

I guess there is always much to say that can be of therapeutic value, but I appreciate this outlet for some of that which is molding me further for who knows what.  My time is not over, my purpose in life is not defeated....there is not one way for me anymore...and perhaps just being on the path is way and purpose enough.

Warmest regards
Dennis C. Diehl

For the few that might like to judge this act or method of forgiveness, or any way I have expressed it....I forgive you too.  Mornings are reflective times for me.

Warmest regards to all
Dennis Diehl