A question on my guestbook...

I have not responded to any comments on my guestbook previously because I didn't want to clutter it up with a "thanks" every time someone said something kind, and when the inevitable unkind remark appeared (which I expected), I did not want to respond on the guestbook to that either. However, I did intend the guestbook to be a place where readers could ask me questions about the book and my journey. So I answered the following question this morning on the guestbook. But I thought I would post it here as well. Anyone reading is welcome to participate in this discussion if you have something to add.
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Sherie said: February 2nd, 2010 10:29 pm

Shari, I know that both through your online posts and your book you have received feedback that you should not have spoken out. Have you been told you are "spreading discord"? My past church is charging me with that and it leaves me feeling like I can't even tell my story or it will be proof that I have a heart of disunity. I feel like I have nothing to hide and even if I have done things that are sinful and wrong I would like to have others point that out because so far I can't see what I did as wrong. I know that abusers can try to trap the victims into silence, but God's word also tells us to walk in unity and not cause discord. I'm just wondering how you have worked through this and what counsel you have received from others. Thank you for your book. It has helped me on my journey over the last months after being excommunicated from a church without clear answers about why. I too have experienced that false gospel and have now found the truth and it is life changing. Thanks, Sherie

Shari said: February 3rd, 2010 8:25 am

Sherie, I have mostly heard this: "Even if it's the truth, why does she have to tell it?" Most of the criticism has been that I should have walked away silently. If someone actually reads it, there is little chance they can get through the book without feeling my heart. But if they choose not to read it for themselves and still offer criticism, their criticism is not relevant to me. The book is my life and testimony. I was careful not to judge anyone's heart and I made an effort to protect the privacy of individuals not in leadership positions. I wrote in love and not in malice. I prayed that if the book would not glorify God and be a tool He could use to help others, that He would block my efforts and show me it was not His will. I shed many tears in the process and experienced anxiety over various people's reactions. God knows the sincerity of my heart. I would have been extremely sensitive to any indication that He was answering that prayer. Yet I never experienced one obstacle. To the contrary, it amazed me how many doors just opened. Now that the book is in print and I have received feedback from many readers, I don't have any remaining anxiety or doubts. I truly believe I have done the right thing by sharing my testimony. I know my story has helped other people. And it's helped me to finally have closure. I believe God used this book to further deliver me from my own spiritual bondage. I knew there would be those who would perceive me as doing this with a wrong motive. It has never been in my heart to hurt or harm people. And when someone takes a jab at me personally, it does still hurt. I care what people think of me. But I am no longer controlled by what they think of me. Only God could have done that for me, and writing the book was a part of that process. I'm free and I know I'm free to share my testimony. I hope this answers your question and helps you to find a more complete freedom in your journey as well.
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PS I was only allowed 2,000 characters (including spaces) in my response to you on the guestbook. And you may have noticed it will not allow you to separate paragraphs. So I apologize for all my many thoughts running together.

I wanted to add here on my blog that I don't believe God desires for me to walk in unity with the beliefs, ways and practices of my former fellowship even though I still love people who remain there. I don't believe that point would be valid or relevant to my book or my reason for writing it. I gave Scripture in the book for my convictions. I did my best to portray them fairly, accurately and with compassion. I believe I accomplished that goal. And yet I understand why they might still judge me harshly. I've had to contend with a lot of different emotions in publishing this book, but I don't feel any guilt or condemnation whatsoever. I still care about how people feel toward me as individuals, but the group has no power over me spiritually anymore. Those chains have definitely been broken. If you have any other questions, please feel free to continue the dialogue.

Comments

Shari, thank you for your words. They have helped me gain better perspective and to continue to process. I appreciate your statement, "I don't believe God desires for me to walk in unity with the beliefs, ways and practices of my former fellowship even though I still love people who remain there." That rang very true for me as I can not be under the authority of leaders who have treated me and others in manners I have experienced and heard of, but I still love them and the members of the church very deeply. Forgiveness has been key for me in that, because without true forgiveness I would not be able to love them, but I can. Their lack of forgiveness hurts me, but I know the gospel and have a true relationship with Christ in which I have found freedom, hope, and life so I am trying to only look forward now.

Again, many thanks.
~Sherie

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