Is it OKAY That I Am Still Angry?
This past weekend, during a night where sleep evaded me, I stayed up and watched the entire Hillsong documentary.
This new one, called The Secrets of Hillsong, features Carl and Laura Lentz telling their story. It also talks about the abuse by Frank Houston and the cover-up by so many in his circle. It is heartbreaking and at times very hard to watch. When I mentioned it to a friend, she told me that she can’t watch these church shows because it is a trigger for her past church hurt. To that I replied - I have to watch them. I am drawn to them. But they definitely do trigger some things.
It has been four years since my husband was fired from church. Four years where I have seen healing, forgiveness, redemption and a ministry born out of this church hurt. So is it ok that I still get angry?
This past week, during the Women in Ministry Small Group that I am leading (side note - this virtual small group has been AMAZING and if you are a pastor’s wife or woman in ministry I encourage you to sign up for the next one through this form) I encouraged the women to look at the painful thing that they have pushed aside that is holding them back from going further in their ministry.
A few years ago, I did this as I was in the healing process and forgiving the church and people in it. I thought I would get to a day when I only felt grateful and peaceful over our past situation. And for the most part I do. But after facing this hurt again this week, and watching this documentary, I realized that I still get angry and I still want to fight for those who are going through the very same thing we went through. And I think that is ok.
JFM was built as being centered around loving the church and loving ministry while seeing the challenges and being open about them. It was built to walk alongside women as they need support and go through the ugly parts of church. JFM is about helping women thrive even among the pain and the struggle. This ministry is about surrendering the bitterness, hurt, and experiences and seeing God’s redemption. This ministry is about knowing when God calls you, no one can take that away from you. This ministry is about community and hope. This ministry is about joy.
I have said repeatedly that what makes this ministry different is that we speak the truth, expose the truth, but also love God and love his church. It is intentional. In the “church hurt” world - so many people can’t find healing and they have to walk away from church and sometimes from God. I see it way too often. It breaks my heart. And to the person who needs to hear this - God loves you more than he loves your ministry.
So why after four years, do I find myself getting angry again as I’m watching this Hillsong documentary? I've often said that the justice loving side of me is in a tug of war battle with the compassion and mercy side of me.
I am reading a book by Beth Allison Barr called The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth, which by the way I recommend you read, In her introduction, she talks about her husband being fired from their church. She talks about the pain of that and I see so many similarities in our story. We also had a table where people wrote letters to us saying goodbye on our last day while they had no idea why we were fired. We also could not say what happened and there was little to no transparency. We also had people fight for us, while not knowing why this was happening. We also thought we could change a toxic culture from within. We also stayed silent as we saw things happen to other people that we knew were not right.
Beth talks about being complicit when you don’t speak up. Am I complicit when I stay silent? Am I no better and the person inflicting the wrong? After four years, I find myself getting angry once again when the Hillsong documentary talks about non-disclosure agreements or NDA’s. Some churches like to call them “separation agreements”. You should sign it because after all - you wouldn’t want to gossip anyway. The Bible talks against gossiping. So sign this agreement and we can spin the narrative any way we want. It’s a protection and it’s a trap.
We will give you a severance once we fire you only if you sign this. TRAP. You shouldn’t be talking about things with other people anyway. TRAP. This is for your protection and our protection. TRAP.
The truth is, when I find myself getting upset watching this documentary it is because I am realizing that this problem is in churches all over. And we went through this. I don’t want anyone else to feel trapped into signing something so they can feed their family. I don’t want anyone else to feel like they have to stay silent when people ask them what happened. I don’t want anyone else to feel like they can’t speak the truth because God wouldn’t want them to cause division. I just want to help this person who might be facing this. Because I know the pain.
I say to myself, "it’s been four years, don’t be upset." Does this mean you haven’t forgiven? Does this mean you’re bitter? No, this doesn’t mean I’m bitter and unforgiving. This doesn’t mean that I am not thankful for what we went through. I am so thankful we went through that, because now I get to help people all over the world walk through it, but I still get angry when I see other people walking through this. Because it’s not right and just like Beth Allison Barr wrote, if you stay silent you are part of the problem. I know that this is happening so I don’t wanna stay silent. If this is happening to you and you are presented with signing a nondisclosure agreement or a separation agreement but that means you can’t tell the truth about what has happened, you might need to ask yourself who are they protecting, what are they hiding, and what do they want to stay silent?
If you are in this position, email me and I would love to hear your story.