In parts 1&2 I discussed how circumstances often silence us. This one is a little tougher, it is how people can intentionally silence us. Part 4 will address when people inadvertently silence us.
It was latish on a Thursday night. The pastor and associate pastor came to the house to speak to my husband. That wouldn't have normally been an issue since husband was a deacon. But events of the day made this wrong. Earlier that day, a staff member had responded to a situation involving me in a very intimidating way. He had put his much larger frame into my space, had leaned into my face and blatantly lied to me, with an undercurrent of a threat. His anger was out of control, as witnessed and attested to by others later. My husband had asked for the deacons to meet and address this issue since it was not the first such event. They had met, but had excluded my husband from the meeting. The pastors were there to tell him that the decision was that this incident had nothing to do with his being on staff, that it was a church fellowship matter and that I needed to meet with said staff member and work it out because it was my problem and it was leading to division amongst members. I was effectively tried and condemned by the church leadership. The problem was, not one of them had asked ME what happened. They asked staff member. They asked his wife and other witnesses. They did not ask me. And the decision was not even consistent with what they heard!
I had been silenced.
Over the next week, husband was also caught in a cross-fire of issues, and eventually had to resign from leadership due to the back-biting, dishonest things that were being said in order to change some church decisions.
It was ugly and hurtful and unnecessary. It led to our withdrawal from church activities and eventually our moving away. It ended a myriad of friendships. It took SIX weeks before anyone asked me how I felt. Six weeks of attempting to meet with staff person who refused our invites, deacon invites, and pastor invites. Six weeks of not coming to church on communion services before someone asked if there was a correlation. And in the sixth week, it took sitting through a church meeting where said staff-member was given a bonus for his 'good work.'
Six weeks of silence.
Then, the pastor and the deacon who approached me were surprised by the depth of my hurt.
And although both acknowledged that it had been easier to talk to husband than me, neither would give a reason. Truth is, they had not spoken with him again either, even when he resigned from leadership.
It redefined my expectation of church leadership and it almost destroyed my trust in the organised church.
Sometimes we lose our voice because others deliberately set out to not allow us to speak.
One thing I learned during that time:
People may seek to silence truth,
but God never silences it.
My friends, if you have been silenced by those around you, if your opinions, desires, needs have not been heard, or if those you love have deliberately chosen to not hear you, please do not lose heart. God hears you. He draws near to you. And, when the time is right, he will vindicate you. Draw near to him and allow him to hear the depths of your pain. He can soothe what no one else can. Trust one who has walked the path and survived. You are heard and your voice matters.
As for me, I call to God,
and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
He rescues me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.................Psalm 55:16-18