I have discovered that in a congregational setting, for those congregations who have a “bully network”, this network has two parts. Part one is of course those who engage in the bullying. Part two is the rest of the congregation, that overwhelmingly sits by, mute, as whoever is being bullied, gets “the treatment”. I believe both sides are equally culpable. Yet I feel the greatest disgust for the “part-two” folks who know better, but refuse to act because they fear being bullied themselves. And so they watch, always behind the cloak of “not wanting to cause trouble”. Dysfunctional cowardice.
One of the most popular pieces of advice they gave to seminarians’ wives while we were at the seminary?
“Just be yourself”.
These pictures are dedicated to all those women out there, who have discovered that that piece of advice can get you into a whole HEAP of trouble… and eventually drive you underground – at least for a time; avoiding the folks at church, other pastors’ wives, and eventually, perhaps even yourself. Spare me the cliches boys, you KNOW what I’m talking about. Take a look at all the blogs written by these women. It will make you cry. Reminds me of the suggestion I received concerning my role as the “mother of the groom”: “Wear beige, smile, and shut up”. (BTW, I wore black and behaved myself, no problem.)
I do have a role model for being the wife of the guy up front; Laura Bush. She conducts herself so well, in spite of all “that”. But for now, I am angry.
Another Bush, this time Laura’s father-in-law once said: “Only the amateurs stay mad”. Of course, Christ/ His Word are the ultimate source of great comfort and encouragement, but this parish life, it can be brutal.
Yet I am forgiven…and so are they.