There was a rumor going around the small town in Wyoming, where I spent my junior high and the following years growing up. The rumor was, that the reason I got married so young, was because I wanted out of the house; as my father was molesting me.
Of course, I did not hear THIS rumor until I was in my early twenties. I heard it from the son of the woman who started the rumor. Who, in fact, claimed to be a survivor of incest, herself. Wow! Nothing like a little projection lady!
She and her son had a very “strained” relationships as he grew up. By that, I mean she was down right cruel to him most of the time. So, it’s understandable that as young adults, he would confess his mother’s sin against my father and me.
Yes, I married young…at seventeen. Almost. I was two months shy of it. And yes, I expected, and heard the TYPICAL rumor. i.e. I was pregnant. Which I was not.
I was just…
In fact, we didn’t have our first child until we had been married over two years.
That’s the thing about small towns. Rumors are so vicious and can all but destroy you. But big cities aren’t much different- because there are small communities inside them, where rumors do just as much damage.
See, the woman who tried to impugn my dad…was nothing short of crazy. I’m not a professional who can actually diagnose her as such, but that’s my opinion. Because, who goes around saying such awful things??? ….about their pastor, no less?!!?!!
But that was her goal. To get rid of my dad and make him lose his church. And ultimately, with the help of a handful of others; she succeeded. He later resigned.
I rack my brains trying to recall if she was at the wedding…but can’t recall. I’m sure that given her state of mind regarding the whole situation, she wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I can envision her there, scrutinizing every little detail and framing it “JUST SO,” in order to be sure it will meet the criteria for her juicy bit of gossip!
As for me being pregnant…I wonder how they explained away the fact that I wore a size 6 dress and was thin as a rail….too thin, really…and my fiancé had been away for months up until a couple days before the wedding; as he was in the military.
Surely, if we were getting married because I was pregnant, I would have been showing by THAT time!
But some women don’t really “show” until way later on in the pregnancy…and a few don’t show at all..I’m sure they said of me, “She must be “one of those!””
I’ve no doubt they reasoned it away…whatever the case may be… Because why would a girl get married so young? And why would her parents let her??
Well, for one, the guy I married was my absolute dream. (I didn’t say he was perfect, or even a good guy. Just that I had idealized him and he was an extremely handsome man. In short; I was obsessed with him.)
Secondly, yes, I did want out of the house! But not because my dad was a creepy pedophile! I was a stubborn and a very independent young lady who hated being told what to do! (Like most teenagers!)
What’s more, I had also gone to a self-paced Christian school that previous year, and worked ahead. So aside from 6 hours of phys ed per day they later said I needed to take; (Like THAT was gonna happen!) I was basically done with school.
Back in the day, people got married really young all the time. Even as young as fourteen! Heck, my own mama was only seventeen when she married my dad and they were still together! (STILL are-51 years!) And yes, you can be sure I threw that in my parents’ face as part of the process to convince them to let me!
I sure didn’t come with instructions, and they did the best they could with what they had to work with when it came to me. (Don’t all parents?)
But this story isn’t really about that…
No. What is FAR more an issue here is how people can spread such horrendous rumors, to the point that they ruin people’s careers…even their lives.
People really are crazy. And our church….that’s where all the crazy people went!! It’s a good thing, cuz they REALLY NEEDED the Lord’s help….bad!
We hadn’t been there long when it was made known to me that the wife of one man in the church had had an affair with the piano player’s husband. And said wife wanted the piano player’s husband; so she stood up in church one day and told everyone they were having an affair!
When I think about the anguish of all parties involved…how embarrassed and hurt they had to have been…it brings tears to my eyes, even as I write this. It’s truly heartbreaking, to me.
Thank goodness the Father can heal those things…and at the same time; how sad that the church is so quick to “fry their own” instead of being that source of comfort, safety, and support for the reconstruction of lives that it’s supposed to be….
I was mad at God for many years because of the hypocrisy and two faced bull-puckey I was constantly exposed to. As the preacher’s daughter, I witnessed a lot of crap, let me tell ya! Probably more than a child should have. But the good news is, he can complete his work in me too. And through all of it; even when I wanted very little to do with God; he still had his hand on me and protected me…and always brought me back to him.
As for the crazy lady spreading rumors…he will even forgive her too. Now, if I forgive her….that’s a different story!
I know I’m supposed to forgive people….but the list is just…..SO LONG!
This was not the only lie I was forced to deal with; though I write about it because it was one of the most hurtful and damaging to me. I seriously doubt that this rumor in particular was what forced my father’s hand in resignation, but I can’t be sure. I have never asked my parents about this particular rumor. I only know that this one came from a source I felt I could trust. The rest of it…I only knew of as strictly rumors.
My mama said there was basically three ladies in the church who gave them the hardest time. The gal spreading the rumor of molestation was not mentioned. My mother has been the only one willing to say much about the situation, and she stated that of the three, two of them did later come to her and tell her that they were wrong for what they had done, and they were sorry. The “leader of the pack,” so to speak never did. And apparently she was the most ruthless.
My mama recounted to me that she noticed that she had been more distant and seemed to be avoiding her. So, she went to her and asked her if she had offended her in some way or if something was wrong. This lady flat out told my mom, “I just don’t like your husband”!! Wow! Some nerve! (I suppose she gets one point for being honest…but only one.) I asked my mom if she said why and my mom said that she didn’t say why, nor did she ask. She just simply told the lady that she didn’t see how her not liking my dad had all that much to do with her. The lady said she couldn’t separate the two. My mom had felt like this lady was her friend, and was quite hurt by this behavior. I believe it still hurts her to this day.
My dad, the pastor, was not a perfect man. I submit to you, that the only perfect man, is the one I make up in my head and put upon my pedestal! (See former blogs for that joke.) However, if you know much about the Bible at all, you know that none of the Father’s chosen leaders were. In fact, it would appear as though he purposefully chose the imperfect. The least likely suspects, as it were. He didn’t choose a great Pharisee or popular king. He chose the average, every day, humble (for the most part…at least at first) and not always necessarily willing to follow guy. (As in Jonah and the whale.) But my dad loved the Lord. He still does. His fervent hold on his belief has never waivered. Which is more than I can say for myself, in spite of everything.
Of course, by the time he resigned, I no longer lived at home, so who’s to say what went on with him in his heart for sure? I wasn’t there to see much or hear much and he sure didn’t say much.
But the rumors, (also read as lies) were enough to drive my dad out. And I don’t know exactly what they were saying. Just the jest of them. Just that they were spreading untruths carefully wrapped up in a small amount of truth, so as it would appear as truth. For example: my parents went on a vacation to New Orleans. It was not during the time of Mardi Gras, mind you, but it may as well have been to hear them tell it! So they would say something to the effect of that while my parents were in New Orleans, they were doing all kinds of sinful, outrageous thing! But I would like to know how they would have known, since none of them were there! Know what I mean? But they were not the most damaging to my father’s character, in my opinion as the one that included me.
I was back in town that Sunday my father resigned. He stood up behind the pulpit and read a carefully prepared speech he had written out. I couldn’t tell you one word it said. I only remember a lady sitting behind me said in disbelief, “he’s just quitting!” Oh yes, there were people there who loved my dad, our whole family very much. There were those who cried and were sad to see us go. The church was divided….almost in half. You know the saying. A house divided amongst itself cannot stand. I don’t think it was really one thing in particular that made my dad decide to leave. I think he just got tired of fighting all the time. He had already had one heart attack (aged 35) and it was really wearing on him. I think it got to the point where in his mind, it just wasn’t worth it anymore.
But the lady who started it all got her way. She drove my dad out. I heard recently that she did the same thing to the guy who replaced my dad. She apparently doesn’t like feeling convicted of anything a pastor may have to say from the pulpit. If you ask me, a pastor isn’t doing their job if you never feel convicted. But what do I know?
Well, I can’t say I know a lot about what a preacher’s job really is. I do know a lot about how people who want to run the church can hurt a preacher’s family. I know a lot about how lies can literally destroy lives of four people. I know a lot about how hard it would be for four people to ever trust again…and this is the truth about lies.
People who lie and gossip about one person, will do the same to you. Lies are so common now, that I think most people generally expect them; and therefore accept them. But as an honest person, it makes me really angry to be called a liar based on nothing more than the fact that it is expected of me to lie. Perhaps the person I am speaking to would have lied, and so then assume I must be. Or the person I am speaking to feels that everyone is a liar, and so I must be too. I personally fall in the later category myself. I am generally pretty willing to accept what others tell me as long as it’s not too unbelievable, and I do not consider what I am accepting as truth can hurt me too much. However, if the person speaking to me can hurt me…they will have to spend a long time being honest with me about every single little thing before I would be able to just accept them at their word about something as vital as the safety of my heart. The odd thing about that…l still get hurt…all the time…and sometimes badly. It doesn’t matter how much you trust a person to tell you the truth. It’s part of life. You will get hurt. People will lie to you, and about you.
The REAL truth about lies is that you can overcome them. To rise above what you know people are saying about you. To live your life in such a way that even if someone says something that isn’t true about you, no one will believe it. (And some will believe everything they hear if for no other reason than they love anything juicy, especially if it’s salacious.) The real truth lies not in what others say about you, but in what you know is true. Sometimes, it has to be enough that you are the ONLY ONE who knows the truth about who you are, or what you actually said or did. Those are the hardest ones, but doable.
And then there’s the forgiving of the liars….also doable, and should be done…but a little less appealing, in my opinion….
You see, I know that forgiveness is for ME. It doesn’t mean what anyone did wrongfully to me was ok. Only that I am choosing to let it go so that it doesn’t hurt me any longer. It’s like letting a person live rent free in your head…but I’m pretty good at forgetting what I don’t want to think about. And when I find something keeps coming up, I have to ask myself if I have really forgiven. Sometimes I have to get really mad and write hate mail that I never send. I have to just be able to tell those people off and really give them a piece of my mind! There have been a few times that I have sent a letter or two as well. Sometimes, I am not sure if I should have done it…but mostly…it doesn’t bother me. Is that a forgiving spirit? No…for me…it’s just a step to being closer to being able to forgive. And when it comes to lies, they are the worst.
And that’s the truth!