Abandoned to Satan: Shunning Part 5

This post is the third in a series where Trudy Metzger describes the excommunication meetings that occurred when she left the Mennonite faith tradition. Trudy is now the mother of 5 and an avid blogger about spiritual abuse. Best of all, she offers her services as a lay counselor and mentor to those recovering from spiritual abuse! All you have to do is click this link to request her services. In her bio, Trudy writes: ...my greatest fear is that someone will look up to me, admire me and be let down because they perceived me to be something more than I am. Something more than anyone is capable of being. Who am I? I am me. What is my passion? God, people, truth, justice and mercy. Why do I blog? Because we all learn from life experience–our own and what people share. I blog because I want to encourage you, challenge you and inspire you. That’s why I read, that’s why I write. You can get to know Trudy better at her blog, http://trudymetzger.com.

Having decided to leave the question of whether my hair was dyed, or not, between me and God, the preachers moved on. The meeting dragged on, and on. I was numb.

They concluded that I was not living in victory and my priorities were not as they should be. And, as a defeated Christian, who had defied the church constitution regarding musical instruments and watching TV, and because I was not making an effort to come home for weekends, I would need to be excommunicated and treated as an unbeliever and a heathen.
While I was still welcome to attend church, I would be treated as an outsider. I would be ‘marked’.  They would make an announcement on Sunday. Without them saying so, I was well aware that the announcement would be made throughout the ‘sister churches’, so they would know not to ‘greet me with the Holy Kiss’, if I showed up at church.
I felt a strange sense of relief and terror almost simultaneously. Being freed from the burden of countless man-made rules and religious agenda, was like breathing pure air for the first time in years.
The freedom was, well, freeing. But, with no ‘truth’ to counteract the lies of experience I was vulnerable and fearful, creating conflicting emotions. If ever I felt bipolar, it was in that moment.
And then there were Bible verses that had been used to instill fear, mostly by my father, causing me to believe that excommunication had the power to sentence me to hell. (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18) Little did I realize that these verses had nothing to do with making up rules not grounded on Scripture, and then judging people by them as though they were vile sinners. Nor had they taught me the verses were Jesus condemned Pharisaical religion. I only had enough information to mess with my head. I left that meeting more confused than I had ever been.
Arriving back at Grandma Katie’s house at about 10:30, I immediately disappeared into her basement. An unused, moist-smelling, family room with an old couch became my haven. I needed time alone. To think. To feel. To adjust.
I curled up on that old couch and sobbed. My thoughts were broken, scattered. Were they good tears? Bad tears? Did God hate me? What if they were right? Would I go to hell for not being ‘one of them’? Had I rejected the ultimate truth? Would the devil now slowly invade me? Overtake me? Destroy me?
My body shook with a blend of terror and uncertainty, as I continued sobbing uncontrollably.
Suddenly I sensed something in the room.  Someone…  a powerful force. As abruptly as the sobbing had started, it ended.  It would be more than twenty years before that memory would return and with it, an understanding of what took place in that moment, as my heart cried out to God.
In my early twenties, when I started working through the abuse of childhood, youth and eventually elements of Spiritual Abuse, I asked God, “Where were You when this was happening to me?” I listened. I waited. And I sensed Him there, suffering with me. I was not abandoned. I would later learn that this was ‘Theophostic Healing’, or something similar to it.
It was only in the last several years that I revisited the memory of excommunication, for the first time since it happened, to explore what happened to my heart. What I felt. What I believed because of it. As I did, the scene in that basement returned. I was alone. Abandoned. Rejected. Hated by God. Weeping and crushed at the very core of my being. At least that is what I believed.
The memory of the couch returned. The moist-smelling basement. Then the sudden awareness of a Presence. I recalled the fear I felt, wondering if Satan really was coming to claim me. I didn’t even ask God where He was. The instant that moment returned, God gave me a vision of Jesus, standing in the room with me, watching over me.
Nothing had changed in the Heavenly realm, based on that moment with a handful of preachers. I was still loved. Accepted. Understood. I was His.

And after the storm, 
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up, 
on my knees and out of luck, 
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold, 
That's why I hold with all I have. 
That's why I hold.

I won't die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
God knows where.
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.
~Mumford and Sons, After the Storm~

This part 5 is the final post in a series on shunning in the Christian church. If you have a guest post to share, please find me at http://TurquoiseGates.com and leave a comment or contact me to let me know, as I may periodically continue to offer guest posts on the subject. Please refrain from rude comments directed toward the brave souls who have stepped forward to explain these painful chapters of their live. If you have a post, old or new, about shunning or church discipline, please link up below so we can read YOUR story! What do you think about church discipline as it is practiced "according to" Matthew 18? Feel free to link to your post, old or new, using the link-up tool below, and add your story to ours.