Letting Go of Bitterness & The Weekly Ramble

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The weekly ramble: where I blog like it’s 2004.

little fishkids on beach

I found this picture while trolling through my hard drive this past week. Can you even stand it? This picture was taken in September 2008, just a day or two after we moved back to California after five years in Kansas.

Our people were so little; 11, 7, 6, 4, 20 months and 4 weeks, actually! What a huge undertaking it was to pack up our big little family, leave behind two houses and mortgages, and cross the country again, hoping for a better life.

The last six years have flown by. I know that sounds cliche, but it really is true. It seems like yesterday that we stood on this new-to-us beach, trying to figure out what the heck we were doing. You see, we came back to California very broken, humbled people. Not the cocky, swaggering folk we’d been when we’d left five years prior.

I’ve alluded to the fact that our time in Kansas wasn’t a good one, but never really shared the story. We had moved there to be part of a church plant. We had no job, no ties, just some money in the bank from having sold our home in the boom of California. We thought we were going on this big adventure.

My husband eventually became the worship leader, and we dug in like nobody’s business, hosting dinners and get-togethers and summer camps. We spent hours getting ready for church each week. Church was our life.

Our emotional and physical investments weren’t exactly returned, though. Eventually, disagreements on doctrine led to our being ostracized and losing all our “friends”.

olathe living room

Obviously, I’m leaving out lots of details. We now know that what we experienced was dangerous and spiritually abusive. I thank God that we got out when we did. How we got there in the first place, I do not know. It was like our discernment took a vacation.

We woke up in 2007 when our money had started to run out and we realized what kind of deep debt we were in. Taking off the rose colored glasses, we saw our finances — and our community in a whole new light. We left the church, and we worked on our debt. But we were hurting. Badly.

I’m not sure we could have been any more down than we were. We were broken as well as broke.

A job opened up in California and against many odds, we made the crazy move, hoping that this time it would work out right.

I was talking to a friend recently about his own bad experience with people in authority abusing their power. He was feeling bitter about it, as I was about our time in Kansas. Yet, since his own struggles blew up, he’s gone on to law school and created a new career for himself and a brighter future for his family.

The words just popped out of my mouth:

But you’re in a better place now. You wouldn’t want to go back to that old job even if they changed.

And then a light bulb went on for me. I realized how our life is SO MUCH BETTER than it was six to 12 years ago. Even if the church had changed its practices, I’m so glad that we’re not there anymore!

I can let go of the bitterness because I don’t ever want it to go back to what I thought it was, let alone what it really was.

beach boys in ocean

Our real life is so much better than that. Living in California again, we get to see our families. We’re out of debt. We’ve got good jobs and an emergency fund. We have these six sweet kids who just get sweeter. Let’s face it, we have the beach!

For its part, our time in Kansas had some silver linings:

  • I made great friends like Shari, Sheila, and the Paines (folks not part of that church debacle)
  • We had two more babies – girls this time! God provided a wonderful Catholic OB who had no qualms with my having six kids.
  • We heard about Dave Ramsey and learned how to get out of debt.
  • I started writing and blogging during our time there. Who knows if I would have ever done that if we’d stayed in California?
  • I can say I lived in the frozen tundra.

While this certainly doesn’t justify bad behavior, I’m able to let the bitterness go. Finally.

And it feels good.

This was supposed to be the weekly ramble, but it became something more. I guess it was kinda a big deal for me to get to this point. I share this because I have a feeling others are struggling with bitterness and situations that aren’t working out like they expected. I get that.

I also get that it takes awhile to be able to talk about things — or even be willing to let the hurt go. It took six years for me to realize that God has worked some evils for good. While I don’t wish our experience on anyone, I can finally look at it as an incredible teaching moment for me and one that I know I’ve grown from.

You will get through the trial you’re currently in or currently healing from. Let us know how we can help you!

Meanwhile, here’s what’s been happening on Life as MOM:

Here’s what’s been happening on Good Cheap Eats:

Coming next week:

  • Easy Lunches Freezer Cooking Plan
  • Pretty Things Make Me Happy
  • Ways to Save on Graduation Gifts

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  1. My bitterness creeps in when I think about my stepbrother, stepsister, and stepmother. My father was married to my stepmother for more than 40 years. My father left a will leaving everything to my stepmother and further requesting that upon her death everything be split equally among her children and his. They stole it out from under me, which I found out two years ago when my stepmother died. Every time I think about it, I have to remind myself that I have a great life. It would have been nice to have the money my father intended for me to have, but it would not have been life altering. We consulted an attorney and while I could sue it would have been a long, expensive process. One commandment tells us not to steal and another tell us not to covet that which does not belong to us. Despite the commandments, the attorney told me that this type of bad behavior is unfortunately very common.

  2. I had a good laugh with you calling Kansas the frozen tundra! I live in Minnesota – we’re just getting into spring here with temps in the 60’s & 70’s! I can totally see how, after living in California, Kansas is the frozen tundra, though!

    We went through this same type of thing at our former church too – severe abuse of power and control by the now former Senior Pastor (he left for another congregation since then). The hurt is still there but thankfully the Lord has lead us to a really, really good place and many of the most important friendships have remained. There are still days when it hurts and walking into that church building on rare occasion make me physically want to throw up, but at least those days are fewer and far between. We’ve found out since that the Pastor there has had the same pattern of behavior at every church he’s been at. We’ll just have to see where the future leads him too!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. You definitely aren’t alone!


    • Well, yes, all things are relative. 😉 So sorry that you’ve had similar struggles. It really stinks. The Church is supposed to be above that kind of thing. Sigh. Glad that things are better!

  3. wow, how brave you were to move to Kansas in the first place. Thank you for sharing your story. I went thru something which started about 2 years ago, that completely upended my world. I am still trying to figure things out, and I tell myself that I will! But hearing your story reminds me that so many people have incredible challenges to get thru in life; I am not alone in this, and I will not feel sorry for myself.

  4. What a sweet and heartfelt post. And, unfortunately, how many of us can relate to spiritual abuses that you describe. That said, I’m with you – God has also brought my family to a better place – a place we may never have ventured into, had it not been for the hard one. Happy Mother’s Day, and Happy Blog-iversary! 🙂

  5. I am so happy for your newfound freedom 🙂 Remember, you also learned things about yourselves during that difficult experience. That you could stand up for what you believed was right. That you could maintain and protect your children and each other in difficult circumstances, and against a crowd. These are important lessons too. It’s a journey – I’m glad you’ve found the abiity to accept this part of yours with grace.

  6. Thank you for sharing some of your story!!! We have been burned while trying to plant a church a few years ago. I am not sure if my husband ,especially, has gotten over it. Sad. So thankful that while these situations threatin to overtake us God will not/has not left us!! HE is a sweet kind Father. You are not alone in many ways!! Lord bless you and your family!!! Thank you for sharing your heart with us and wanting to help us with your blog!!

  7. Thank you for sharing this! We’ve gone through a journey that has turned our world upside down. It’s been years of struggle, but through it all the Lord has been faithful and will see us through to the other side.

  8. Cheri A says:

    It was really interesting to read this today. I’m sorry that your family had to go through that, but I’m so glad that this blog is here for me to read when I have the time to do so. I also had to laugh at the “frozen tundra” comment because I live in Minnesota. Actually, I’ve been trying to let go of my frustrations of being stuck here in Minnesota so far away from my family and really don’t like it here much at all. I think it’s time for me to give that up. It’s been years!

    And I have also been hanging onto a grudge about a huge wrong done to my daughter by a coach for a year now. But she’s in a better place now, and I wouldn’t want her to go back to that other team ever. Shes’ moved on, but I have not. It’s that mama bear in me, I guess. I actually was just talking to my friend about this and told her I’m done with this grudge with this person, and I’m giving it up. What time and validation it is to read this post today! Thank you!!

    • My parents are Minnesotans. I spent every summer eaten alive by mosquitos on our visits there. But my parents aren’t snow people so we never went in the winter. I am a California girl. 🙂

      Glad that the post was helpful to you. Better to let that coach go….

  9. It’s sad that there is so much hurt caused by spiritual leaders. We were in a situation that was getting words and worse, but we were not wanting to give up our ministry. Long story, but we did get out. I read something that really encouraged me in Beth Moore’s book “A Heart Like His.” I forget the exact words, but she said that anytime we come out of a crisis with our daily intact, we are victors. We held onto that truth through the tough parts, and knew that we were doing the right thing. Ultimately, God is in control, and He will guide our steps from here. 🙂

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