I haven’t written on this blog much in the last couple of years. A lot has been going on in my life. A lot of bad things, some of them tragic. Two years ago someone we considered a dear friend, someone who was in our ‘inner circle’, someone who influenced our lives in many ways was accused and later confessed to being a serial child molester over the course of 20+ years molesting 20+ little girls. I didn’t write about this in all that time for a lot of reasons but I’m going to write about it now. Eight months after he was arrested and sent to prison for a very long time, but not long enough, I wrote this.
The first struggle that I have is second guessing my discernment. I have cried out to the Lord and wondered how it could be that I did not have discernment in this area. I don’t have any good answers. I am going to have to be satisfied that the Lord determined to remove my discernment and the discernment of many other discerning people in this particular situation. It still haunts me though.
My second struggle is with rage. I’m not talking a little bit of irritation or even the kind of angry a crazed Little League parent gets at the umpire that calls their little Johnny out at home plate. I’m talking a white hot blinding rage. It seems to be true that this type of betrayal will take you through the stages of grief. At first I was in denial. Then I was numb. Then I went through a period of tremendous grief. That sorrow slowly gave way to rage. I’m stuck here for now and I’m OK with it.
My third struggle is relating to all the others going through the very same thing I am. We’re all in different places and we’re all processing it differently. Our entire reality has changed. How do you come back from that? How do you find that new normal? I don’t know yet but when I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
Here is what I do know. The Lord was not caught by surprise by this betrayal. His equilibrium is still intact even though mine is not. He will use this for His glory, though that seems utterly impossible to me. He will heal me from this if I let Him and do not allow myself to sit in bitterness. I’m working on climbing out of that pit of bitterness now.
A lot has happened since then. One thing is this incident has caused me to rethink many of the “convictions” I have embraced. This man influenced our thinking on many things such as the evils of television, women wearing only dresses, the evils of Halloween and Christmas… just a lot of the legalism you hear debated in corner discussions in churches everywhere. But he had a way of making me feel like a sinner for the most odd things. One example is facebook. He accused me of being a gossip by being on facebook in very subtle ways. He even told one of my daughters that they shouldn’t tell me when they are married and get pregnant with their first baby unless they want it plastered all over facebook. Crazy stuff, looking back. Why did I put up with that? I don’t know. I did push back some, but not too much because I didn’t want to be a heretic. And all along he was the heretic.
Fast forward to October of this year and the revelation that Doug Phillips, another man I had admired and who had been profoundly influential in shaping my convictions, is found to be a long time adulterer. Just when I think I’ve come to some resolution over a personal situation with a man we once considered a friend, the Doug Phillips scandal has brought it all back to the surface as though it just happened yesterday. The same anger, the same sense of betrayal, the same call by well-meaning Christians trying to be godly to offer immediate unconditional blanket forgiveness. The same bitter pill to swallow.
Of course, the obvious lesson here and one that I needed to learn, or at least be reminded of, is never put your faith in man. I don’t think I put my ‘faith’ in Doug or the man I know personally. My faith has always been in the Lord and Him alone. Where I went wrong was allowing other men, evil men, to influence me and my ‘convictions’ with their legalism without testing their ‘rules’ against Scripture. I took the easy way out and unconsciously told myself they were more studied than I am so I should listen to them. I shouldn’t have believed what they told me just because I liked how it sounded. I should have believed it only because Scripture convicted me so. It’s been a hard bitter lesson.
Now I am in a season of reevaluation. I have apologized to my oldest girl for the crazy things I imposed on her such as girls should stay home and not attend college. I’m particularly disgusted by that one and I’m thankful that after a couple years of sitting in that, she did go to college and graduated and is moving forward in her life now. She wants to be married and have babies, but she also wants to live her life until the Lord should choose to bless her in that way. I let my son go trick or treating for the first time in his life this year and I’m planning to take my baby to get his picture made with Santa. These are stupid, inconsequential things. But they mean a lot to me because I am no longer letting anyone dictate my convictions to me. I’m going to find them for myself through Scripture alone, as it always should have been. I reject any and all legalism and I am going to call it out when I see it. No more shrinking violet (as if I ever was one).
I also realize that my pendulum is swinging wildly and I am categorically rejecting a lot of things I may eventually embrace again. But right now Vision Forum and everything about them is revolting. The TV cabinet I have in my living room today because a child molester convinced me television is evil is going away and I’m going to get a 55-inch flat screen with surround sound for my main living room wall. Oh, and we have cable again. Like I said, my pendulum is swinging. How did I get so far off track? Because I looked to men to tell me what the Bible said instead of searching it out for myself. I was lazy.
No more. I repent of idleness and spiritual sluggishness. I repent of the legalism I embraced and imposed on others.
My mom’s terminal cancer has also had an enormous impact on me and I feel like my life has been spiraling out of control for a couple years now. It’s time to find my way back to peace. May the Lord grant me discernment and wisdom as I seek Him in all things.