SHAME ATTACK


If I have to hide it, I’m not going to do it (Diane Webb).  My husband and I once went to a horse training seminar presented by a world famous trainer, Clinton Anderson.  The opportunity to see this trainer in person close to our home was a rare treat.  It just happened to be on a Sunday. We went and greatly enjoyed ourselves!  As usual, we shared about our experience with our “friends” on social media.  The next time we went to church (which was the following Wednesday) our pastor’s wife immediately approached me and proceeded to shame me for missing church to attend what she called a “horse show” and specifically posting on social media at the same time as the church service.  I, being the autonomous adult that I am, responded with “I don’t do things I have to hide” (or something like that) indicating that if I make a decision to do something then it’s not something I’m going to hide from my church family even if it happens to mean missing church.  I, of course, implied that this is really between God and me.  She accepted this response with respect and from then on celebrated with me when I had a rare opportunity that conflicted with church attendance once in a while.  This lady’s husband, our pastor, on the other hand, had a habit of shaming people from the pulpit (most often by name) when they missed church especially when it meant spending time with family instead.  (Never mind that this same pastor would cancel services from time to time for his own purposes).  However, if he chose to have a service then he made it clear he expected everyone to attend and there was no excuse acceptable.  This created a huge problem for my husband since he took everything the pastor said seriously.  He missed his family reunion which was on a Sunday so he would not miss church.  The problem is that this reunion happened to be the last opportunity to see one of his sisters before she died unexpectedly a short time later.  He never really forgave himself for missing that reunion and he did have hard feelings against the pastor who made it clear that church (not necessarily God) came before family.  We have since come to realize that the family and marriage were created first and the church came later.  Some times the church is more about the man (the pastor) than it is about God.  We learned this lesson the hard way.  While we are still faithful church attenders (a different church), we do prayerfully choose to miss church once in a while to nurture our marriage or spend time with family we would otherwise not be able to see.  We have to remember that we are the church and the church is not a building or a pastor.  If we are attending a church service while wishing we were somewhere else it is the same as not being there at all–we would have been no worse off for having attended that event instead.

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