“Not of My Making”

 

Not of My Making 

Join us for a Special Visit from the Author of “Not of My Making

Dr. Margaret Jones, Ph.D. will be Live at this site on May 18, 2009 to answer questions about her experiences of “Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Mainline Churches“.

This will be a great opportunity for you to ask questions from someone one who has been through what many of you have also been through.  Her book will make a fantastic addition to your library.

BaptistDeception. com has been asked to be a host on a virtual book tour for Dr. Margaret W. Jones, Ph.D.

Dr. Jones has recently published a book called Not of My Making which tells the story of how she was emotionally abused at several churches.  You can read more about the book at www.notofmymaking.com

We are hosting her on the site on May 18th. There are two ways you can ask questions. The first way is to send your original questions to me by using the contact us link at the top of this site.  I will forward those to her for her to answer as a post to the site. Another way is for you to visit the site on the day of May 18th and post a comment/question.  She will be available to answer those questions live on that day.

We hope that this will be valuable to you as you seek healing.

 

 

1.     Would you mind just giving us a brief overview of your story and bad church experiences?

 

Not of My Making: Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Churches is a personal documentary about how the abuse and neglect I suffered during my childhood left me vulnerable to the bullies in school and at church. I never learned to defend and protect myself from others. Church had always been a safe place until I was an adult. Happily married with a successful professional career, I believed I had left bullying behind when I graduated from high school. I was wrong. When my children were young I started attending church and became involved in church activities and served on some committees. My book tells how I was shunned, scapegoated and gossiped about after I expressed an opinion that was unpopular with the church leadership. They then blacklisted me making it difficult for me to find a place in another church in my community. I share this deeply personal experience with the reader in order to expose the common problem of spiritual abuse and to give comfort and inspiration to those who have been similarly abused as I have.

2.     As a Counselor, how do you compare the effects of emotional abuse from churches or spiritual sources to emotional abuse from other sources, what in your experience is the difference?

 

The effects of abuse are the same regardless of what form it takes except victims of sexual abuse are more likely to self-harm than victims of physical abuse. The severity of the symptoms depends on how close the relationship was between the victim and the perpetrator and the community’s response to it. For me what was significant was that the church had been the one safe place in my life. The betrayals and emotional abuse I experienced there destroyed the last safe place other than my home. I withdrew and became agoraphobic for a while.

3.     What has been your biggest source of support in your healing journey?

 

God, my family and my therapist.

4.     How have you coped with the spiritual abuse you experienced?

 

Seeing a therapist, writing in my journal, reading books about bullying and praying. One summer I read through the Psalms. I took up inline skating which took the edge off my anxiety.

5.     Looking back, what are some of the red flags that you will look out for in the future?

 

I am no longer naïve about friendship. More often than not people are outwardly civil but have no real interest in being loyal friends. I try not to worry about that. I concern myself more with making sure I am loving and kind. I am more aware if I am the only one initiating contact. If I am then the person really isn’t a friend and I can’t expect true support from them. I also notice how the pastor runs the church. I avoid clergy that fail to delegate responsibility and who tightly control everything that goes on in a congregation. Does church leadership make good use of people’s talents or are they a closed clique? I also notice if people gossip about others and what the leadership does about it.

6.     Have you given up on Church/Religion/God?

 

No, oddly enough I haven’t. My faith has grown. God at one point was all that I had left and I clung on tight. That is why I kept going to church until I finally found a church where I feel reasonably safe.

7.     What is your relationship with God like as a result of your experience?

 

I pray more. I listen to Christian music. I strive to live an authentic Christian life. If my therapy clients are receptive, I encourage them to develop their spirituality. I am learning how to be true to my beliefs and not to be afraid of speaking the truth as I understand it.

8.     Have you been able to forgive those who have abused you?

 

I don’t know if I have or haven’t. I am not concerned about it. There are many different definitions of forgiveness and I don’t know who is right. I never sought to harm those who harmed me. I just wanted them to sit down with me and work things out. When my adversaries told others I should forgive them while they denied having harmed me, they were placing all the responsibility for resolving our differences on me. I don’t believe most of the things said or written about forgiveness. Healing began for me when while walking a labyrinth I realized that God did not expect me to excuse my unrepentant adversaries. 

9.     What do you tell others who have given up on church and God as a result of their bad church experience?

 

In my letter to the spiritual abuse survivors I wrote,

“I urge all survivors to return. Help those sitting in the pews see the harm they are doing to the body of Christ by expelling some of its members. Bring your understanding and compassion to church. Unite with fellow survivors and build better, healthier churches that help everyone grow closer to God. You belong there. Didn’t your ancestors help build the churches and contribute to the financial support of its clergy? Why shouldn’t you go? Church is your spiritual home. Come home and make it a better place for everyone.”

The complete letter can be found at http://www.truthinministry.org/Letter_To_Spiritual_Abuse_Survivors

10.  Can you take a look at the “Common Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse Among the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination” on this page http://www.baptistdeception.com/?p=37 and share any similarities that you experienced in the churches you were in?

 

The abuse I experienced was more subtle than what you describe in “Common Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse.” However, three of the ministers I encountered breach confidentiality in order to maintain control and keep up appearances without regard of the impact on me. There were also unspoken rules about the expression of anger. In the Unitarian Universalist churches there was hidden dogma concerning gay rights as well as an anti-Christian bias.  At the Lutheran church scripture was used to chastise me and to justify my expulsion. I was told I shouldn’t take communion until I had reconciled with others who, by the way, were refusing to meet with me. I was also told I should forgive them even though they denied having sinned against me. Matthew 18: 15-17 was used to forced me out of the church.

11.  Can you share your thoughts on how unchurched parents can address the issue of spiritual abuse with their children who attend church?  It seems like it would be difficult for parents who don’t go to church to protect their children who do go to church given the messages that churches tell about people who don’t go to church.

 

I don’t know how to answer this since I attend church and am in the opposite position. I encourage my adult children to find a church that preaches real or classic Christianity and to avoid churches with pastors or church leadership that abuse their power. If I had minor children, I would attend church with them. I would never let them go alone.

12.  Did you experience a prejudice against women and minors in the churches that abused you?

 

I suspect some of the problem was that I didn’t fit the stereotype of a good woman. I am a well educated woman with a career outside my home. I am not and never was a girly girl. I prefer serious conversations about politics, religion, the economy etc than attending a craft group. In addition to breaking the stereotype of a good woman, I married a black man. So I think race had something to do with it too. Nothing was ever said outright except for one woman who told me I was never home for my foster son. She failed to notice that I was the one who took him shopping for his clothes and took him to the doctor and dentist. I was the one who made sure he got up in the morning and got off to school on time and met with his teachers. I tutored him on the weekends. When I wasn’t with him another family member was with him. He was included in all family activities and events. 

14 Responses to “ “Not of My Making” ”

  1. david says:

    If you had a choice whether or not to go through the same stuff, would you change anything or would you still go through it because of the knowledge you’ve gained?

  2. Margaret W Jones says:

    I don’t know what has happened but I have been waiting since this morning for Steve to post my answers to several questions about Not of My Making. Perhaps he expected me to introduce myself. I wasn’t sure so I waited. But if anyone has any questions I am here today.

  3. Sean says:

    Would you mind telling a little bit about any PTSD type symptoms you may have? How does this affect your ability to read the Bible? In other words, are certain passages of the Bible difficult for you to read? Do they bring up memories of your abuse?

  4. Lynn says:

    In Question 5 you talk a little bit about relationships. Can you talk about how your trust in people has been affected and how you’ve managed to over come mistrust?

  5. Margaret W Jones says:

    @david
    I would have selected the churches I belonged to more carefully paying more attention to church politics and how they treated people who disagreed with leadership. But of course to have done that I would need the knowledge I have gained through my experiences. There are people who appear to have this knowledge and who don’t get caught the way I did. Perhaps they learned it in school or from their parents.

  6. Margaret W Jones says:

    @Sean
    No I don’t recall the Bible ever trigger PTSD symptoms, at least not during the church conflicts. Instead, it was a rock to hold on to and gain comfort. Since Immanuel, however, I have trouble with Matthew 18: 15-17 and a couple of other passages. That is why in tonight’s bible study we are doing Matthew. I am trying to work through it.

  7. Margaret W Jones says:

    @Lynn
    I am slow to trust others. I am trying to be more neutral. I don’t think it is an entirely bad thing. Trust is something you earn and don’t have a right to. To say someone has a trust problem puts the burden on them when I think it should be the other way around. I think it is wise to let people prove themselves with you slowly.

  8. Bill says:

    I know you have written a book, but would you mind sharing what books have been influential in your personal healing and recovery?

  9. Margaret W Jones says:

    @Bill
    In my book I share what I was reading as I healed and my reactions to each one. There is a reference list in the back of Not of My Making. The books that stand out in my memory are The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, Sexual Violence by Marie Marshal Fortune, Michael Thompson’s book on the social lives of children, Barbara Coloroso’s The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander.

  10. Site Admin says:

    Just wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU to Dr. Jones for taking the time to come and answer questions and share her new book. This stop on her book tour didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had hoped (my fault about that), but I’m really glad that we had several questions and this information is now a permanent part of this site. I’m looking forward to finding out how many people have been helped because of this book. What an AWESOME opportunity this has been. Thanks again!!!

  11. david says:

    Thanks for having this on your webpage and thanks to the author for coming here as well replying to me. I haven’t checked out the book yet, but hopefully I can find it and read it in the near future.

  12. Stil an IFB says:

    it seems like this is a pretty good page for some people that wants to cry. we hear one side of the story. let;s everyone feel sorry and tell them they are right. after all it is pure gospel to hear one side. why don’t you grow up. admit the truth that you love your sin and hate authority from anyone. you are trying to find any way possible to justify your sin. what spiritual growth has truly taken placed since your bitterness.
    Still an IFB

  13. David says:

    This site, voicesforchrist.org has been a great help and is easy to see why there is so many problems in the IFB churches the pastor has all the parts of the body. Click on voices then scoll down to JB Nicholson Look for the message (The Body) it great you can find it on youtube if you want to watch it.
    Like to hear your comments.

  14. Kathleen says:

    I have just found this site and find it very interesting. I stopped going to an IFB church 5 years ago because of the legalism and unloving attitude everyone there had. This is to Still an IFB. You sir are a very judgmental and hateful person. I do not see the love of God anywhere in your statement only defensiveness. Maybe the truth that is told on this website hits too close to home for you to handle.



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