Posts Tagged ‘church abuse’


Abuse in Churches

May 4, 2009

I read a really good article today on how to teach leaders in churches to avoid abusiveness in congregational relationships. Margaret Jones did a guest interview at the blog of futurist guy. He asked some really good questions and I really liked Dr. Jones’ answers.

Dealing with abuse in congregations is not easy. Dealing with abuse that comes from the leaders is even tougher. It is really important to put things in place  to help prevent it from happening in the first place. Leaders need to be taught how to avoid being abusive and how to recognize those tendencies in themselves and others.

Dr. Jones makes a really good point that we are all at some point in time a victim, a bully and a bystander. I don’t know if that is true for everyone…but I would think that the huge majority of us, if we were able to be totally honest, could say that we fit all three categories at one time or another. That can be a very hard thing to face.

I hope that all groups, regardless of what kind they are, will take a look at what they are doing…both as a group and as individuals within a group. This world does not need abuse. It is tough enough to live. Life comes with enough challenges without having to deal with abuse on top of everything else.

In spite of all the healing I have gone through, I am still left broken. I still have to struggle with some things. I hate that. I don’t wish it on anyone…not even on my worst enemy. I have never wished ill on others. I have been angry and wished they could understand what they were putting me through…but I have never wished them to have to suffer, too. At least, not in so far as my amnesic mind remembers. My heart is just not wired that way…perhaps because of all that I went through…I don’t know. It is not that I have never hurt anyone…or acted in hurtful ways. I have…out of anger and frustration. But hurting someone just to hurt them…I don’t remember ever doing that.

I wish I had not been abused. I wish that my parents could have modeled for me what it meant to be a good parent so that I could have been a better mom to my own children. I am grateful that I gave them better than I got…still, I wish it could have been more. I wish I could have done better. That is where I have to trust that Yahweh’s perfect love covers a multitude of sins…including my own failings toward my children.


Dr. Jones Is Here Today to Answer Your Questions

April 13, 2009

Dr. Margaret Jones, author of Not of My Making: Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Churches, is here at my blog today. She and I are dialoging in the comments section on the previous post.

All are welcome to comment or ask her a question.

Editing in…….well, if you missed Dr. Jones today, please feel free to comment anyway. I will make here aware of any comments you leave so that she can respond to them.


Book Review: Not of My Making by Dr. Margaret Jones

April 9, 2009

I finished Not of My Making: Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Churches by Dr. Margaret Jones. Obviously, as she points out, the book is from her perspective. That is unavoidable, really, as no one can be inside another person’s head or heart to know what they are thinking and feeling. I am very impressed, though, with how much she really does try to understand her antagonists.

All through the book, she shares what was going through her own head and heart at the time. She ponders what is going on with the other people and tries to understand why they are doing what they are doing. She shares what she thought at the time might have been behind their behaviors.

Naturally, her own questions and pondering are done through the filter of her own life experiences. That is what we all do. Our perspective on any situation we are in is automatically going to include the effects of what we  have previously gone through.

One thing that really impressed me is what she did NOT do with this book. She could have used it to bludgeon the people who hurt her so deeply and treated her so badly. Yet, she didn’t. She says she just wants to share this so that others can learn from it and stop it from happening.I think she does a pretty good job of that. There were a couple of times when I winced a bit at something she said about someone else. However, in a book this size, I think it says a lot about Dr. Jones’ character that it was only a couple of times. She is, after all, human!

One thing I really appreciated were her attempts to communicate and work things out. She persisted beyond what many would. Ever the optimist, she thought that things could be worked out if she just kept communicating. She thought that, if she could just get others to hear her, that everything would be alright and friendships would be restored.

Sadly, though, that optimism and persistence cost her. Time and again, when she was unable to work things out, old messages would resurrect, causing her to automatically take the blame. The blame and the pain would trigger a battle to not use old coping mechanisms. She was often fighting to not injure herself. Her openness regarding the victories and failures in that battle really touched me. Although not a blatant self-injurer myself, I appreciated what it took for her to fight that battle.

As she went along, she figured out what she needed from others in order to have peace for herself. The more she figured it out, the stronger she became…and the more determined she became to get those things.  I knew that she was “needing” things that she would probably never get…and that caused me some concern. Thankfully, by the end of the book  she worked through a lot of that and learned to let go of her expectations. She chooses instead to focus her time and energy into making a difference in the world around her by educating people. She wants to do what she can to help others be able to avoid going through what she went through. That, in addition to the need to tell her story, is the purpose of this book.

It is heartbreaking what people will sometimes do to other people.  There were quite a few things that she describes that I related to. Not only did that help me to understand some of what she felt, but also to appreciate her determination to work things out. I had done the same thing in my own situations.

It is an awesome privilege to be given this window into her heart throughout all these experiences…to be able to witness her struggles and how she worked through them and came out the other side. As I read about her efforts, there were times when I was cheering her on. Other times I was cringing because I could see what was coming around the corner. I would read about something she was going to try and, having been there myself, I knew it would not work. Yet, try she did and, when she got hit, she got back up again. She would not stay down!

I would recommend this book to anyone who has been in a situation of conflict. Regardless of the circumstances or of the side you are on, you may find it helpful. You might even find yourself relating to some of the things in these events.

The book is well written and moves right along. Dr. Jones definitely had my interest from beginning to end.

I look forward to her stopping here at my blog on Monday, April 13th, as a part of her Virtual Book Tour.

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