So, you saw someone from your former church and hid…..

I want to address some fairly common situations which those of us who have left a church group (such as the meetings) might face and how to better deal with them through insight, prayer and the strength and comfort of Scripture.

I am sure I’m not the only one who has ducked behind something or into another aisle in the store after seeing people from the old church, to avoid a confrontation with them.  And I just didn’t want them seeing me.

Why on earth would I feel this way?  Why would I react this way? These were once my people.  I have struggled with this for years, by the way.

At first, I believe the reason to hide was because I didn’t want them to see how I looked now. (Looking totally different than I did as part the church under their strict dress code.)  I knew they would not approve at all of how I looked and would be disappointed and judge me and/or be hurt that I had chosen such.  I didn’t want to see their pitying glances or the sadness in their eyes.  I didn’t want to be confronted with the confusion, disappointment or sadness I may have caused them because of my choices.  And the smugness of a few.

But still, I wanted their approval, even though I was the one who had left and changed, I wanted their approval but I knew I no longer had it.  And that was painful and hard to face.

In the church we sang the hymn, “Approved of God, what more could we desire?”  Well, the approval of others that’s what.  It’s very real and feeds a person’s insecurities enormously.  But another hymn in that group states a very real truth I found out:  “Honor from men is but a passing show.”  When I left I discovered who my real friends were and who weren’t.  It was painful seeing some ‘drop me’ when I still reached out to them.  I found out I was loved by some because of the ‘office’ I held in that group, not because of who I am.

Truth is; it’s easier often to have God’s approval
than the approval of others. 

But you know what also happened?  As the approval of others faded and all but disappeared, the approval of God became more tangible, available and possible.  Truth is; it’s easier often to have God’s approval than the approval of others.  I had a serious talk with God about this matter, to find out why the approval of others meant so much to me.  God took their approval away from me for a reason.  Staying in this group because of fear of what others would think or say if you left, is not being honest with yourself or God.

Also, let me state clearly that I have been very guilty of judging them. Big time. I now pray OFTEN to cease from judging them and pray that they would cease from judging me.  Neither side wins in judging.  I never want to have any hint of a spirit of arrogance or pride around them but also not to have a spirit of fear.

Oh God, why are we still trying to win the approval of others more than You?  May we let go of needing and/or wanting their approval in order to feel secure or safe because, like Your Word says, if we are still trying to please others, we will not be a servant of Christ.  It’s not a sin to have others approval but it sure puts us in bondage to seek it.  Help us to always keep loving our friends and family from our old church and cease from trying to please them because we have found, by Your Grace, it’s truly easier to obtain Your approval than it is theirs.  Help us, Father, to never be ashamed of the liberty and freedom we now have in Christ because we truly have been set free. You said to Jeremiah to ‘not be afraid of them for You are with us and You will rescue us’. Your Word also assures us that it is Your Perfect Love that will cast out our fear.  We thank you for that and cling to Your promises now more than ever before because they are SURE and STEADFAST. 

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6 thoughts on “So, you saw someone from your former church and hid…..

  1. I will admit that I am just as guilty of judging the “friends” myself. I will also tell you that I have had various reactions in my run ins with certain people. Most, by far, have been fairly kind, even if there is a little bit of condemnation in their eyes and others have been a true model of what it is to be a Christian. Even when I was attending the meetings, I never felt that other Christians would be lost , just because they did not worship in the exact way we used to. But, as one may already know, that is more the exception than the norm. There seems to be a constant message of divisiveness within the group that makes sure anyone who might be looking in will be regarded with suspicion etc.

    I can say, with a clear conscience, since I made the decision to leave the meetings about five years ago, there was an immediate sense of relief from being within that environment that disallows free thought and seeking of actual biblical knowledge ( not as in Gnostic context) that is not biased and so often uneducated.

    I too have had the realization that God is MUCH more loving , forgiving and kind than what we were led to believe. Gone is the feeling of emotional coercion and spiritual insecurity. All I have to do now is read the bible (which I do in a much different light and with better comprehension) and pray as my heart desires and feel his closeness.

    Now, I know who God is, much clearer than I had ever experienced in my life.

    I do love the friends and workers very much- how could I not? Because God loves ALL humanity, and not just the ones who claim to be what he says they should, I have comfort in knowing the love of God as it is. My perception and my reality has been altered and I have had fellowship with so many different people as a result of that very love from Heaven.

    Thank you so very much for this blog Darla, it warms my heart to know that there are others out there who have had similar experiences and now we have a place to turn and encourage one another.

    God bless you and praise him in the highest!!

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  2. Since stopping going to the meetings four months ago I have felt many emotions about what the “friends” think of me.
    My biggest anxiety was seeing the workers in my area, after writing to say I no longer felt able to continue attending meetings etc…. And saying very clearly that in no way had I lost my love and faith in God, I had a reply back saying they were going to have a mission in the village hall where I live and hoped i would attend and that it would be a means of restoring my love and faith for God!!!
    At the time I was feeling vulnerable and didn’t feel able to speak face to face, as the elder worker speaks so quickly and doesn’t really listen before making assumptions, so when they came to visit the village and give out invites I “was not at “home! I felt very cowardly and felt how little my faith was in God.
    Since this I have felt much stronger and am living with the fact that I am looked on as causing my home to be a “divided home” by my mother in law….who still likes coming and having her lunch after the Sunday morning meeting!! My husband continues to go.
    I did bump into one of the friends the other day, because of having had mouth cancer and still getting over the effects of the surgery, I think many feel it is why I have stopped going, so this friend made a comment on how much better I was talking, not having heard me for four months!
    I take comfort in that it’s not what we wear, the colour of our shoes!! The length of our hair, but it’s the close loving and very real indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and how we show forth what has been worked into our hearts by Jesus.
    It’s so liberating to no longer be under the rules and regulations of the way the friends should dress and appear outwardly!! I am even getting excited about buying my first pair of jeans to do the garden in!!
    It’s so amazing at how having taken that leap of faith out of the professing box, the VASTNESS and GREATNESS of Gods love and mercy are at last seen and experienced first hand!!

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  3. I have pondered these things too. I have been caught in judging as well. I feel directed to remain friendly and kind even though blowing up bridges might be easier for healing and moving on, but not always sure what that might look like. A friend of mine said the thing she learned in leaving was that love hurts. I sometimes feel that it’s easier to love and be kind from afar rather than being close and rejected. I would love to know how to navigate this better.

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