Sheena Goes to Church??? Part One

I owe christians an apology. I know this of me. I’m harsher on “evangelical fundamentalist conservative yet non-denomenational” christians because that was what I was raised in. While I learned scriptures and had a decent childhood in the church, what I take away all these years later is the repression. The broken families. The lies. The missing money. The secrets and how they handled my abuse.

I consider myself open minded and should you say you’re a monk, a voodoo priest, a nun or you worship constellations, I’d engage in a lively conversation about life, love and god. But the moment you say you’re a christian, I stack these preconceived notions in my head.

“Oh boy, I can’t talk about sex. I can’t swear. I can’t flirt. I’m a sinner. My flesh is weak. I need to give 10% of my money. The devil made me do it and basically I should just shut up and pray.” Those words flash through my mind.

And then don’t tell me you’re in leadership in the church. Usually the first thing I wonder is, “Are you beating your wife? Are you stealing the churches money? Do you rape children? Do you hide the rapes of children to save face? Do you put religion above law at the detriment of children.”….. and the list goes on. This is what I think without even trying the moment I find out you’re in a leadership position in church. Its judgmental and not fair and I quiet those man made and self made demons but those are my initial thoughts.

While I could spend hours exploring a Basilica in Paris or a Cathedral in London, you’d be hard pressed to find me step foot inside a christian church. Years ago, while in college, it was just too painful for me. The best thing a professor ever did for me was to say, “How about we not worry about church right now? How about you sleep in this Sunday?” That made such a huge difference for me.

Before that, it hurt too much. It was like returning to the scene of the crime where a deacon and pastor butchered my soul and innocence in the name of God. Didn’t matter whose church I went to. It was all the same. Moments after a service began, I had to fight back tears and screams. I had to fight back the impulse to just throw something up on the pulpit. I couldn’t find God within the walls of church. I just found men and men were the last thing I needed at that time.

So while its been years later and I have different reasons for why I wouldn’t consider myself a christian, I find that a past hurt that I have refused to deal with has resurfaced.

I’ve known this of myself. I’ve mentioned it somewhere on this blog. Years ago, I “forgave” my ex step father for the sexual abuse. I use “forgive” loosely because I feel most christians understanding of the word is a load of shit. Rather than “Forgive and Forget”, I like to say, “Release and Live.” And I did that…in regards to my ex step father.

But it was back during the summer of 2003 when I realized I hadn’t dealt with the messiness that was “Pastor Gary Brown.” I had some shit under the surface and for years I just keep pushing it away. After that, I told myself, “Well, at least I’ve acknowledged it. That’s a big step!!!” But I let it stay at acknowledging it. I never did anything with it except let it lace the bitterness in a lot of my post about a certain sect of christianity. I’m never this unfair with any other religion or other sect of christianity but I just poured green, stinky, vile on those freaking evangelicals!

It you don’t know, here’s part of my story in a nutshell.

My ex step father, a leader in our christian church began sexually abusing me when I was seven years old. This abuse continued until I was fourteen years old. When I was twelve, this abuse was brought to the attention of our pastor. Our pastor convinced me that it was best not to go to the police regarding the abuse because god said, “touch not my anointed” and my father was considered one of those. I was told to forgive and forget. Literally, I was told, “To forgive and forget”. Imagine a little twelve year old girl sitting alone with a pastor…having only just learned the words “molestation” and “incest” from haphazardly reading it in a book about menstruation being told by this pastor that she’d go to hell if she ever spoke a word. So…I didn’t.

And after that conversation that night, after my family moved onto church property, the abuse continued and worsened as my girl body became a woman body. What made matters worse on top of the fact that I was homeschool so I had to always be around my step father and he was my sunday school teacher and he was just an asshole anyway was that anytime I did something in church that wasn’t perfect, I was pulled to the side by the pastor’s wife and asked if I was acting out because of the abuse. These people are nutcases, really!

After two years of more abuse, it all came to light again. This time we wanted to go to the cops. What happened between the pastor and my family in the next conversation is horrible and I just don’t even want to repeat it. Because some of my family didn’t agree to what he told us we had to do, we were kicked out the church. I remember the first “counselor” we went too, another “christian pastor” told me that before we could begin the healing process, I would have to forgive my step father. He even invited him to the first therapy session. And the “counselor” refused to move forward in our session until I said outloud that “I forgave him”. I really don’t like thinking about that night. While it holds no power over me, its just a painful memory. It’s not even professional. I tell you about these off the cuff “christian counselors.” Man, don’t even get me started.

This is now three meetings with two pastors full of hurt and I just think a child can only take so much. Not even considering the seven years of sexual abuse by her step father who’s a deacon. But then to be betrayed by two pastors…. it leaves things broken.

Oh…and let’s not forget that eventually I did go to the police and after subtly being blamed for the duration of the abuse by the police because “i never said anything during all those years”, the case was mishandled. Long time readers know the story. The police lost our case. I was out of town. That turned into me not complying. Sexual Abuse was downgraded to Battery and Deacon Daniel Young is now a deacon at a new church…the one where his “counselor” attends and he teaches sexuality classes, serves in leadership and volunteers at the police station. They helped paint it recently. He never served a day in jail. Oh…its also a known fact that the first pastor, Gary Brown, had insiders at the police station that “lost” my case.

So…. I don’t like pastors. Plain and simple. I haven’t liked christian pastors for a LONG LONG LONG time. Church leadership. Authority whether in the church or justice system, its just bullshit to me, if I’m being honest.

I’m all for empowerment, healing, speaking out and all that centered well being. I live it every day. But I most definitely give you a side eye the moment you start talking about pastors and the anointed one and god knows what else. This all goes back to me not having Released, or as you might say, “forgiving” Pastor Gary Brown.

I suppose I just wanted someone to be held accountable. I wanted someone and not just me to say he was wrong and what he did was illegal, stupid, undermining and the cause for further abuse in my life. I wanted someone to bitch slap Pastor Brown. I wanted someone to speak up for me. As a child I wanted my voice to be heard and it was repressed by one church leader after another. Like I said, I just wanted someone to speak up for me and no one has. My family yes. And other sexual abuse advocates. And people who were later scorned by Gary Brown. But, I don’t know. I needed someone else to speak up too.

I write all of this for two reasons.

1. I owe evangelical fundamentalist conservative yet non denominational christians an apology. I just, by default, don’t trust you. And it takes me about five minutes to a year to remove the preconceived filters that blind me from seeing you just as holy and sacred as a monk, catholic, buddhist or voodoo priest. I have put you all at the bottom of the barrel. I’ve thought you crazy and blind and willing to stand behind men who do horrible things to children because “forgiving and forgetting” is more important that prosecuting criminals. You all aren’t Pastor Gary Brown or Deacon Daniel Young. Only the two of those deplorable men are.

2. Shaun King has helped me move through another phase of healing. I’ve written before about the process of healing in multiple post. I talk about how it comes in phases and its not linear. How one aspect of your life may be well and years later, you realize there’s another part that needs some fine tuning. At least for me, its that way. It took me awhile before I could be comfortable around black men. Took me awhile before I could look at “family” as something beautiful. Took me awhile to “love God” again. And so the list goes. And today, I’ve been quoted as saying that I’d actually go to church. Shaun’s church to be more specific. And not to say, I’d go to church and return to Jesus. I could never be a Christian again knowing what I know now. But, just as I’d visit another holy place and consider it sacred and special too, I could find myself walking into a church and not feeling like my safety was being threatened. That is due in part because of the tweets of Shaun King.

This post is already long enough so I’ll come back later with what exactly he said.

I just had no idea how much hurt I still felt until I started seeing Shaun’s tweets. Well, it wasn’t really hurt. It’s more accurate to say I was sore. There was a sore spot regarding christian churches and pastors and its been sore for so long, I didn’t even realize I was holding tension there. And Shaun started speaking words of healing…. harsh, critical, life giving words about holding people accountable and standing up for children and speaking out about how the church mishandles issues of abuse…and those words were a soothing balm on my soreness. My muscles started relaxing.

I suppose for me, the missing piece was that I wanted to hear another christian leader give voice to this bullshit. It wasn’t needed and its not necessary but for me personally, I felt validated and heard. And if I can start tallying the “good christian pastors” instead of collecting experiences from the abusive ones, then that’s a great thing.

Tomorrow, I’ll post his tweets. I copied them all. Reversed the order. Highlighted my favorites. Went to his churches website and have been reading his blog. Yeah, that’s a lot. Seriously, Sheena retweeting a pastor…. hell froze over for that to happen!

Or I grew up. I released a soreness in my self and I let his words breathe life back into that part of me.

Thank you Shaun from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the situation you referenced but for me personally what you said made a difference. And it goes to show you, that god can be found anywhere. You don’t have to put on a dress and fancy hat and find some pretty church to attend at 11:30 am on sunday morning. God can be found in a tweet.

And too add to that…god wasn’t found because he was tweeting scriptures and telling people they needed to “get saved” and all that nonsense. Shaun simply spoke up for sexual abuse victims and called the church to action. That’s how god was found in a tweet for me. I like finding god in unexpectedly placed. It’s always perfect timing.

Stay tuned for more!!!

Find Shaun here… OR

His wife wrote a post here –>Taking a Stand Against a Child Molesting Pastor

SLY Articles of Note

Elder Daniel Young: The Resume You’ll Never Find

When The Swing Goes to the Far Left

My Name Is…. Sheena LaShay

Taking Control of the Healing Process

The Least of These Things: Surviving vs Thriving

Deciding to Heal means Getting Over Yourself

photo credit 1

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Showing 6 comments
  • Christie

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. I’m surprised you didn’t burn the church down. That woulda been my thought.

    I haven’t been to church in years but for different reasons. I started not to get anything out of it. Some pastors wanna preach their opinions instead of the word. Also, there are a lot of folks with serious issues in church. I know you’re supposed to come as you are and whatnot but church leaders aren’t equipped to deal with certain issues. They’re not psychiatrists or therapists. And when folks have serious issues, forgive and forget ain’t cutting it.

    I still call myself a Christian but I give a serious side eye to the bible thumper types. They usually have issues and are hiding something. Heck, I give the side eye to my sister and her hubby who are so called ministers. They have issues and he has a wandering eye. And I don’t care to step foot in or around their church. I think their whole congregation has issues. People breaking down crying on the floor issues.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to be long winded. I just wanted to say, I feel ya, girl.

  • Rainbow

    I was very moved by this, Sheena. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. They betrayed you so completely that you couldn’t be expected to think “oh well, they’re not all like that….” I’m just so glad that the love and righteousness of Shaun King is helping you heal this part of the past.

    Abuse forces us to see into the dark side of human nature. It can make us crazy when we know, as children, that something’s damaging, but the adults around us act as if it’s not and we’re the ones with the problem. If we resist our anger then we turn into their puppets.

    That’s what I did for 38 years. I was emotionally abused by both of my parents constantly. I only started to heal when the anger came out physically. It was like spasms or seizures, not painful but I couldn’t control them. I was angry for a long time. Then I got to the point where I wanted to release the anger because it was interfering with my life. It was really tough because it was like the anger was my way of saying “I’m not your puppet anymore.”

    I’m learning now that following my heart, which means living a life that’s far different from the one my controlling family wanted me to live, is the most powerful way of saying “I’m not your puppet anymore.”

    Thank you for so openly sharing your experiences because I know it’s really, really tough to do that.

    Stay strong!

  • Heather

    You are such an inspiration! Your voice needed to be heard . Thanks for sharing

pingbacks / trackbacks
  • […] (to read part one, CLICK HERE) […]

  • […] realize I hadn’t forgiven the pastor. Then eventually I did, thanks to Shaun King. (You can read about the healing moment here.)  I thought maybe dating that fugitive investigator would help. It did. He provided me with […]

  • […] find the links to various blog posts on healing or support and find it so helpful! Twitter is also how I met Shaun King. Because of him I was open to going to church again, apologized to christians and I actually read […]

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