Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gossip Girl: The New Prayer Chain

Spotted: Pastor's daughter acting more "experienced" then reverend. Looks like the family has more than a handful to deal with thanks to Little J. Time to put on your Sunday's best. There is nothing more holy than the stoning of a young maiden in the works.

Does this sound like an episode blog out of Gossip Girl or more like a regular prayer chain at a church? Regardless of what tone it is said in, (spiteful, concerned, manipulative) the aim is still the same: Gossip.

That quote was an example of years of gossip I had put my family through due to the hapless choices I made growing up. My parents were heavily involved in the church, my dad was a teaching at a Christian university, and they had a reputation to protect, a church to run, and a riotous daughter to discipline. Of course I gave people something to discuss. I provided some major damage to a reputable family. The part that bothers me the most is not the disturbance itself, it was the people who brought the adversity to a whole new meaning of scandal: the church.

As advanced in my age as I was to cause trouble, I was also very vulnerable. When the associate pastor's wife asked to meet with me because she was so worried about me, I thought my parents were up to it. My mom had tried all tactics to help me get "better" and I was sure she was behind this. During the meeting, I broke down and shared with her things I would only tell my good ol' Dear Diary. I trusted her. My parents didn't know half of the things shared. Until that Sunday. I walked in the middle of my dad's sermon, late as usual, and literally, all heads turned to me. Normally, I would love the attention, but this, I felt uneasy about. The sermon went on, and I had pitiful smiles look my way, and some were not smiles at all. The unforgiving stares made me look twice at my outfit, think of my hair, or even wonder if I was seen doing something in the area that day. The deacon handed me a church pamphlet, and for the first time ever, the church pamphlet was printed in color. With my photo inside. Underneath my photo was a prayer request, and a list of all the misery I shared with the associate pastor's wife.

I wondered why my smut was displayed publicly, but yet, the associate's pastor's divorce was not displayed. Or how the woman who leads the prayer chain goes to Alcoholics Anonymous for her current drinking habit. Or how the music director was once a gay Broadway actor in his younger days. Or how the youth pastor has battled a pornography addiction. Or how the deacon was caught with a married woman in the church gym (yes, we had a church gym).
That moment, reading all the things I did that once seemed fun, now seemed so surreal. It did not matter what I did anymore. It was how my dirty laundry was aired. I may have caused some disturbance in my heyday, but I was raised in a Biblical based home, and I could distinguish, this was not Biblical. My mother's hard work to read to us daily from the Bible paid off.
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed [1] thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:9-14

The verse above stood out to me that most. It has been one to keep me intact. The Christians at my church were so unrighteous in their own lives, they used my exposure, my family, my life to obtain some sort of order in their own church-going lives.

Everything I had done and tried to hide from not only myself, but especially my parents, was in print. I was livid, but this time it wasn't the normal rebellious anger, it was a shameful anger. I was angry at myself for not being obedient to my parents, to God, and I can't even describe the guilt that has burdened me for years after that. I was found out. I was exposed and I had no one to be mad at but myself. Or so I thought.

Finding redemption in the church is like searching for substance in a really bad episode of reality TV. The reason I still desired a deeper relationship was because I knew my love for Christ was not based on the gossip of a church, or where I stand with God. Everyone knew I was having hardships, but their way of intervening changed my innocence of how an American church runs.

Oh, little J. Looks like the cat's out of the bag with this one. Let's just hope you have all nine lives in tact to try to save at least one.

2 comments:

  1. I'm sorry you went through this. Everyone loves to point the finger at others, ignoring the fact that they have three or four fingers pointing back.

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  2. Horrific. Truly horrific. I am constantly amazed at the pain the church causes. I am so, so sorry you had to go through that.

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