If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone
~ Paul, Romans 12:18
Ten years ago, shortly after I married my wife, Kelly, I made the observation to her that there are those who are seriously addicted to drama. At first, she didn’t believe that this was actually possible, but over time, we have encountered several people that have proven this theory true. I told her back then that drama is a toxin that prevents joy. We concluded that in order to live our lives to the fullest, one of our priorities should be to continuously eliminate sources of perpetual drama from our lives as they are revealed.
Obviously we aren’t going to ditch a friend just because they have had something dramatic and unexpected happen. It’s obvious, though, when every little molehill is turned into a mountain of an ordeal that you can tell you may be dealing with a drama addiction. Kelly and I have both had a lot of crazy, unexpected events happen in our lives which have caused us drama; we don't thrive on it though. Instead we try our best to roll with the punches, learn and grow from it, then move on. What had happened recently though was way more intense than anything we had experienced before.
The reason is that this time, the source was the pastor of the church we had been trying to make our home church over the last five and a half years. Of course it didn’t start out bad. Past church experiences had prepared us to be cautious. We expected it to be bad, but when it wasn’t, we opened our hearts to the people there. We were all in with everything we did there; we did it with all our hearts. We got involved, we formed friendships, we reached out to others in the church who needed help. We were even friends with this particular pastor.
One woman, who we had helped regularly for over a year, eventually became a source of perpetual drama in our lives. We took the advice of our pastor who had just finished a series on drama addicts or “Crazymakers,” as he called them, and how to deal with them. She didn’t like that we were establishing boundaries in our friendship, so she went to the pastor, who has known her for many years. After hearing her story, he rebuked us for our treatment of her, without talking to us about the situation first. We were stunned as we were following his outline in the Crazymakers Series.
We figured that we would roll with the blow like we had in the past, before coming to this church. After much thought and prayer we decided that we shouldn’t make a big deal or even talk about the situation with her to anyone, and continue on as though everything was normal. We thought that after two and a half years, people would know us well enough, that our character and integrity would speak for itself, even if she continued in her habit of gossiping.
She did gossip about us. Afterwards, we began to notice our pastor starting to doubt our intentions, our motivations... the why behind everything we do. Everything we did, from there on out, was suspect for ulterior motives. The attitude was reflected in the actions and attitudes of others in the church toward us as well. I was being asked to step down from ministries I was involved in. We were losing heart. Later, I was accused of worrying too much about what others thought about me; a ridiculous claim as I couldn’t be effectively involved in any new ministries when everything I do or say is skewed by skepticism.
Our pastor’s low view of us shown through several times since then. Whenever I would talk to him, it seemed as though he would almost go out of his way to misinterpret what I was trying to say. I felt unable to communicate effectively with him, and eventually I stopped even trying. Nine days after our fire, he told me that we were taking advantage of people by accepting donations. Evidently he did not realize that Kelly and I weren’t even involved with the donations; volunteers from the church were. His attitude towards us has even been projected onto our children. With Michael’s dedication, the baby born the day of the fire, we had invited family and friends. Our pastor normally makes a big production out of child dedications, but for Michael, he had us introduce ourselves and then said a short little prayer, and then sent us off.
This proved true once again just recently, where a leader of a ministry, which Kelly brought to our church, decided to lie and gossip about Kelly to several people, including our pastor. He again, didn’t bother to talk to us to gain a better understanding, but allowed her to apply an unjust discipline against Kelly. Our pastor again allowed his skewed perception of our motives to be cast onto others, affecting our lives in a negative, drama-filled fashion.
I’ve seen the perpetual drama machine for over a year, and Kelly has just recognised the pattern too. It is one of the hardest decisions that we have had to make, but we have decided that after two and a half years of this, we are leaving our church. The decision has been liberating, but still hurts deeply, like leaving an abusive lover. There were so many wonderful memories, but too many painful ones that keep coming to mind, especially when we hear the pastor speak these wonderful things that we know, from experience, to be hollow; hollow as his actions show that he doesn’t believe his own words. It also hurts to watch others take in everything he says as wise or inspirational, as when we lived by them, he began to doubt who we really are. I think the worst part is trying to not lie to our friends when they talk about how wonderful the messages are, but at the same time, not going into the reasons why we don't feel the same.
If I placed my faith in this man over Jesus, I may have turned my back on God as most who are hurt by hypocrisy in the church do. My faith in Jesus still remains strong throughout this though. I'm not trying to smear our former pastor. This post is partially written as an explanation as to why we decided to leave but more as an example of how to deal with drama that is repeatedly forced into your lives by others. Eliminating perpetual drama can cause a lot of pain, as in this example, but once it has been exercised, the results are so much more freeing than you ever thought possible.