It Wasn't All Bad...
The Abused Bride of Christ Defense
I recently found an old church friend on the internet whom I haven't spoken to since we were teenagers. In the process of catching up on the past twelve years, I mentioned "The Painful Truth" Website and asked for his opinion on some of the pieces I have written. He still attends United, along with most of his extended family, but had expressed similar opinions on all that Worldwide Church of God and it's various offshoots have been going through over the past few years. His response? He appreciated some of the humorous points but felt that my writings had an overall negative tone and emphatically reminded me that "It wasn't all bad..."
That simple phrase evoked a visceral response in me and I was quick to counter with my newly adopted mantra "Yes, but we must admit the TRUTH about what it was (and still is) like so it won't continue to happen!" I am sure that I am not unlike most ex-Worldwide Church of Goder's...if we had a nickel for every time someone said "But it wasn't ALL bad!" we might be close to reclaiming most of that tithe money that the church has squandered over the years. I, for one, am sick of hearing this lame excuse, even though I will readily agree, it wasn't ALL bad. But does that somehow cancel out what was? Should we say the sinking of the Titanic wasn't ALL bad because a handful of passengers survived? How ludicrous would that sound? How about that as the excuse often offered by battered and abused wives? "But he's only like this when he's been drinking..." or "He's so sweet most of the time..." and they stay with the men who will predictably abuse them again and again. Why don't these women feel like they deserve better? Why don't ex-Worldwide Church of Goder's and those still hanging on in the various splinter churches feel that they deserve better? Why did we let ourselves, the supposed "Bride of Christ", continue to be neglected and abused over the years? Why now, in retrospect, are we so quick to point out "It wasn't ALL bad!"?
I realize that for many it is simply a coping mechanism...to block out the painful memories that are too difficult to relive. I also realize that it is futile to continually dwell on mistakes of the past. It is important to get on with living here and now and to move ahead with a positive outlook. How can this be effectively accomplished without living with the TRUTH of our collective history within the church? That is why this particular Website has become such a Mecca to those who have left or are leaving Worldwide Church of God behind forever. We cannot move forward to live happy, fulfilling lives if we continually ignore the pain of the past.
I, too, have many stories of what WAS bad about growing up in Worldwide Church of God. I do not feel it necessary to share all of these intimate details in order to facilitate my healing process. However, when someone casually discredits the fact that damage WAS done to all of us with a flippant "It wasn't ALL bad" I immediately feel a remnant of the pain stab like a knife through my psyche. I experience the abuse all over again. While I can hardly consider what I have experienced to be anything like the horrors that the survivors of the Holocaust endured, I empathize with their desire to keep history alive as they proclaim "Never again!"
I, for one, intend to put a stop to this minimizing of the abuse we all suffered at the hands of the Worldwide Church of God. In this age of rabid political-correctness, we often find it difficult to stand up for what we really believe and express our opinions firmly and eloquently without seeming offensive. One of the few gems of wisdom I can recall from two years of an Ambassador College education was an off-handed remark I heard an instructor make in one of my theology classes. "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for everything."
I am writing today in hopes that someone who is still struggling with decision to leave the cult or anyone who is still struggling with the confusion and pain and guilt of having already left will draw some strength from this. Hopefully the next time any of us are confronted with that all-too-familiar phrase "Yes, but it wasn't ALL bad..." we will have the strength and courage to stand up and say "It doesn't matter if it wasn't ALL bad, I deserve BETTER!"
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