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Thursday, February 22, 2007
Being Deceived? How do you know?
Just to be clear, my title comes with a little sarcasm. I wish it didn't, but I am in a hurt place. I am not sure what thoughts are attached to the idea of "deception" here, but thought it would make an interesting discussion.

I have had a rough time within my changing thought. Most of the time I am ok with all of my questions, and not having all of the answers. I also have come to a place of trying to respect others journey's with God, and not judging those connections. Unfortunately, I come from a family with very "exact" understandings of the Bible (there is no other way to read it then the way they read it "It's black and white") I try to avoid discussions at all costs, because it is just not worth it. They are not interested in what I have learned, read, and contemplated. To be honest, I understand where they are coming from, why it is hard for them to be "open" and the fears that drive that. I respect their understandings, and know that God is in their life.

What has hurt me is when discussions arise, I can't defend myself. I tend to stumble over my words, and feel very attacked. I have been flat out told that my "relationship" with God and Jesus is a deception. What I feel God is doing in my life is a lie. Why? Because I differ in thought than they do. If it was just about me, I could probably handle it, but I have children "that I am deceiving". I have been told by some family members that due to my differing ideas, they will now make sure my children "are given the TRUTH".

I have a tough time with the concept of "deception". I have gone through this battle a few times now. The whole thing is a horrible experience for me. When I get upset, I am told that God is trying to "tell me I am wrong". "I just want to believe, what I want to believe...I pick and choose." One thing that occured to me finally was, if "Satan" is deceiving me, why have I grown so much closer to God. I have been in church learning "the Truth" my whole life. Not until I opened up to other thoughts, perceptions, and ideas did my spiritual life bloom. I have encountered so many "moments" I can't explain and sure hope were of God. However, I have been told that I am just going through a "great deception". I have been told my whole life that "people think that they KNOW God", but they really don't. Of course this is based on the "beliefs" that others have had. If it didn't agree with our understanding, "it was wrong" and therefore a deception.

In struggling with this idea, I think to the passage in Mark 9:

38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.” 39 “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. 40 Anyone who is not against us is for us. 41 If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded.

I love God and Jesus. I want my children to love God and Jesus. I believe that no one will ever have the "full picture". The Bible even says so. When I look to Jesus, I do not see all of life's answers. I see that we should live a life of love, non-judgement, compassion, caring for others; the kingdom life. If that is what I hope to reflect in my life, how can that be a deception of "Satan"? Why is "deception" thrown around so much? Why don't we realize the dammage that is done within the accusations and judgements? If anything, I feel "satan" at work within the judgement and accusations more than in my journey. I understand more than ever why people reject Christianity or walk away from churches. I never in my life thought I would get to that point, but recently have felt close to it. If it weren't for the vision of my church, and a place like this to vent I would be gone. I would never turn my back on God, but I could break.

Just curious about your thoughts or experiences. It can be a very lonely, sad place to be, but hearing others opinions and thoughts usually helps.
posted by Unknown at 3:47 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 2/22/2007 05:50:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Michele, sending you a big hug. I could tell this was your story long before I saw the post name, and it made me feel happy to have a sense of knowing you, even from a distance. You deserve to have a family that honors and loves you. Simple. It is so painful when someone who is supposed to accept and cherish you for who you are is unable to because of their own situation. It just really sucks. And to bring your children into it is terrible -- what could be more of an invalidation or violation by a parent?

    I'm so sorry for what you're going through.

    I also know that you are an amazing woman on an amazing path, and you are going to find strength and beauty within yourself from God that you never knew you had. Believe that your journey is precious, because it is. And you are.

  • At 2/22/2007 07:01:00 PM, Blogger Candace

    Michele, I have been visiting this site so often (actually almost daily) since our conversation in Target several weeks back...thank you so very much for the amazing door you have opened for me!

    I felt compelled to come out of hiding to support you in your post. Mostly becuase I completely sympathize with your struggle (although I come from a completely agnostic...or rather extraordinarily indifferent religious upbringing). One would expect to receive the most support from their family and spouses; especially in a journey such as this.

    We are in a difficult place -- we can see this beautiful way of life, yet are unable to enjoy the fullness of it. It comes in the form of self-imposed feelings of guilt or betrayal (afraid of disappointing so-and-so), and in your case even verbal accusations from your loved ones.

    I, too, often find myself alone on this path and it is difficult to shine when another (especially a loved one) does not approve of or support your choices and/or beliefs. I actually find your inability to "defend" yourself a success in it's own -- it may seem a weakness, but by not engaging in these accusational discussions, you have prevailed. In the face of opposition, you are able to maintain and uphold your faith and beliefs -- that is beautiful.

    My hopes for you are that your faith continues to flourish and that at the very least your family recognizes that your children are God's children, and because of your choices, they are learning and becoming so much more than a God-fearing child capable of spelling really long names in the Bible with almost no understanding as to what it really means to be living in the way of Jesus. You are stronger than you know!

  • At 2/22/2007 07:13:00 PM, Blogger Crystal

    Wow, I certainly know how you feel, at least to some extent. I don't have children of my own and my family doesn't make comments like that, mostly because I refuse to share my journey with them at this point, but I definitely have friends who've decided that I'm "deceived", that I "just want to believe what I want to believe and pick and choose", that I am "just trying to get away with such-and-such, and that's why I'm questioning". All of the opinions are tiresome, and sometimes the best I can do is to realize that they're making those comments out of their own fears, and that what they're doing is wrong, and that I have to figure out some way to love them anyway.

    'Course I don't exactly have that last part down to a science yet. ;)

    So the best I can tell you is that the way that they're verbally jerking you around is very, very wrong. The things that they're saying about your children (ESPECIALLY the bit about how THEY'RE going to teach YOUR kids "the right way". EXCUSE ME? Last I checked God put 'em in YOUR womb. *scowls* Oooo that burns me up!) are very, very wrong. And God has no qualms with your questions, and loves you, and is with you in this mess. And as far as I'm concerned? Thinks they're wrong too. ;) 'Course I don't know the mind of God completely, but that's my theory. I'm hedging my bets on grace on that one, teehee.

    At any rate you're not alone. I don't know if this little suggestion will help and you didn't ask for advice, but sometimes when I realize that some people can't handle my questioning and are only going to come back with those sorts of abusive responses, I stop sharing my walk with those people. I've gradually become more and more careful about who I let in to this particular journey, because it IS a vulnerable and scary one. While I don't think you should hide or close yourself off (we need community), I DO think it's okay sometimes to guard yourself a little bit. There are safe places to walk through these things... this blog being one of them. And there are just some people who aren't in a place where they can share it with you.

    Sometimes the only way that you can love someone is from a little bit of a distance. Far enough away to keep from strangling them when they say stupid things. ;)

  • At 2/22/2007 08:07:00 PM, Blogger Recovering Wino

    OK, I'm just a spectator that has been going to a few blogs, but I think this isn't so much about your family? Or maybe an event on a blog triggered feelings about your family?

    Maybe I'm off base here, but if I am on the right track, I think you misunderstood a key issue. Email me if you like.

    Keep on keeping on, Michele. I think challenging your family's faith and your beliefs are valid.

  • At 2/22/2007 08:45:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Thanks for the encouragement (and hugs), All. Candace, big surprise...thanks for the comment. I am so glad you are a part of our church community and have joined the Emerging Women blog. I appreciate the comments, and know we should get together soon. Thanks for feeling I am strong, sometimes I don't feel very strong. However, I don't give up easily, and so much of my drive is because of my kids. I hope to encourage a "healthy" following of Christ. I don't want them to "accept Christ" out of pressure or fear.

    Crystal, I agree that protecting the journey is important, sometimes I feel like it is a bad joke. I honestly haven't said much to my family, unfortunately there is a lot involved. I have family in a few local churches. Our church went through a big exodus. Some of those people ended up in the churches my family attend. I can't say for sure, but I think there has been some talk.

    Just little differences peak the interest. (Ex. we are trying to write our own lessons, we have changed the staffing, have no membership, and do not work at church-all staff is bi-vocational, and work mainly from home.)Just the fact that we don't "look right" begins the judgement.

    I think the sad thing is, within the battles comments are made that I have segregated myself (they even compared our church to Tom Jones culture "don't drink the Koolaid ;)"....what is not understood is that it is not the case at all, we are more in community than ever. We all have just learned to be guarded and not battle.

    Recovering, I didn't really understand your comment, and don't have an e-mail. If you want to clarify.

  • At 2/22/2007 10:31:00 PM, Blogger Cary

    Stay encouraged, Michele. I know it's hard when your family disagrees on an issue as vital to you as your faith. My own fam is of the type that equates a healthy Christian walk with staunch Republicanism, not drinking, etc., and this has caused for some uncomfortable moments. Fortunately, it's not gotten to the extent of what you're describing.

    I think you are right on to avoid getting tangled up in an argument with them where possible. (Where does this lead anyway, when you know they won't really listen?) I would like to encourage you to protect your babies, though. They've definitely crossed a major line when they threaten to teach them something contrary to what you are teaching. I would definitely let them know that if they would like to retain their privileges of interacting with your children, they'll keep their opinions to themselves where your kids are involved. It's your right as a parent to decide who has access to your children, and I wouldn't pull any punches in that arena. Hang in there, sweetie.

  • At 2/22/2007 10:59:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Michele, wow. I send another hug your way.

    This new way of faith in my life feels almost as if I'm carrying a new baby in my arms. I don't want people to touch the face. I want them to say she is beautiful and to ooh and ahh over her. When they don't, it cuts to my soul. Are they blind? Do they not see the magnificence of this creation, of this new life in me?

    Michele, you are strong. You are passionate in seeking God. I pray for you continued strength, for words at the right time, for peace in God's direction for your life. I'm so glad to know you. You've spoken many words of wisdom into my life.

  • At 2/22/2007 11:00:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Thanks Cary. I will protect my kids. Again, I understand the fear and drive to "teach my kids the Truth" but am quite offended that I would be undermined in that. I didn't say until now, that this ongoing issue is primarily with my mother. That being said, I have 3 younger sibs that are still at home. I don't agree with a lot of my mother's parenting, and I hurt for what my sibs experience right now. However, I still respect that she is there mother, and I don't undermine that. I don't threaten to teach them my views, and I wouldn't. If they want to talk when there older, fine, but I don't push it now.
    She is very controlling, and we have had our moments.

    The sad thing to me, is she has prayed for years that I would grow with God, get involved in church, and meet great people. When that began to happen, she was so happy. That was until she caught wind otherwise. We had been getting along, but that pushed us away from eachother. I hate that it is what it is. Thanks for the comment.

  • At 2/22/2007 11:06:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Thanks Amy! I only wish we could all be beyond the virtual world. I'll take what I can though. This blog has been such a blessing this year! I pray that these discussions lay low, and empower. My greatest hope within "emerging" ideas, is to learn to love, accept, and quit
    demonizing "others". Someday, maybe those concepts will just boom out, and overwhelm our world. It sure would be nice.

  • At 2/23/2007 01:37:00 AM, Blogger Irim

    Hi, Michele,

    Sending you a huge hug. Your family is bullying you, pure and simple - the way they're treating you is *wrong*, and Our Lord Himself would tell them - and you - that. Hold onto that.

    I read your post before I went to bed last night, but couldn't answer it immediately b/c it hit so close to home - first with my parents after I converted, and now with the Catholic community I'm in: I've been called "heretic", "Protestant" (yeah, that's considered negative, they can get over it), "angry feminist", you name it. One of the people I'm closest to, who is so perceptive he can say, "That's the second self-deprecating comment you've made tonight," shuts down when I talk about my religious doubts...I get "Hatred of mother Church?" and a closed door.

    Jemila wrote a better first response than I could have done, and everyone else here has said everything I'd want to say to you: you are amazing, you deserve to be loved and honoured, and keep on keeping on.

    We're all here for you.


  • At 2/23/2007 03:48:00 AM, Blogger Miz Melly

    Michele, thanks for posting this because I had an acute feeling of being alone in my own church last weekend and have been wondering if I should share it here. You articulated how I have been feeling, although I think what you have experienced is much, much more painful. Just wanted to say you are not alone. And to hang in there. May the Spirit bless you with peace and patience and your mother with insight and wisdom.

    God bless.

  • At 2/23/2007 04:11:00 AM, Blogger Helen

    "The whole thing is a horrible experience for me."

    I think this is how you know - because you know in your heart that the God you believe in is not the 'God of horrible experiences'. He's the God who is with you in them and helps you get through them.

    I don't see how other people can have the influence on your children that you do. But to the extent they try, your children will observe the different approaches of different people and they will figure out who is deceived and who isn't.

  • At 2/23/2007 06:57:00 AM, Blogger Crystal

    Aw Michele, I definitely can't blame you for wanting to have a good relationship with your Mom. Unfortunately that requires give from both sides, and it doesn't look like she's willing to do it at this point. Keep hoping and loving and being humble. She might come around. If nothing else, it does sound like she loves you and wants the best for you, even though she has a skewed way of showing it and may not know what the "best" is. Sometimes there's nothing we can do about the way people love us. ;)

    And people will talk. It's what they do best. Particularly when your faith offers a challenge to theirs (which you didn't do on purpose. But sometimes it's the way things are.)

    And a hearty Amen to Cary's comment.

  • At 2/23/2007 09:30:00 AM, Blogger Doxallo

    Michele - HUGS to you....

    I can't really add much more than whats already been said, other that to reiterate the things that DID stand out to me, and thats one thing I love about this blog - how different things really stand out to different people based on where they are and what their experiences have been.

    I haven't really been hit dead on with the rejection or judgement, but I haven't shared too much of my 'new' thoughts...I'm still letting it all percolate, AND it hasn't changed my core beliefs really. I still love God, Jesus...beleive in salvation by faith through grace. And THAT is what I cling to as the common ground.

    I did just raise the issue of 'feminine divine' or something like that - with a coworker who is christian. She has gotten used to me bringing up things from 'weird' angles over the past 5 years and so she just got this puzzled look on her face and I could see the wheels turning as she searched through her memory bank for whatever information she had that might correct this new idea or thought. (and I don't necessarily buy into all of SMK's writings in The Dance book..) but anyway, it was interesting and what I kept coming back to with her was this "but we all seem to agree that God is spirit and spirit is genderless, but everyone's okay with calling that spirit "he" so why not 'she'?" All of that to say -- what is the foundation of your faith and is there a connection there with others in your family? If so, that is what I'd come back to.

    As far as my son -- epsecially as I go through revisions in my understanding etc. -- what I teach him I preface with 'its my understanding' or 'this is what I believe God is showing me, and this is why...' and I tell him that other people have come to othe conclusions or are at a different place in their understanding.

    Because as you said, the truth is - none of us knows it all. Someone else commented about hedging their bets on grace - thats where I stand too.

    Oh, and the other thing - I believe your honesty and honest searching and open communication with your kids is the best thing you can give them as far as faith - the ability to question, to ask, and to trust that God holds them through it all.

  • At 2/23/2007 09:49:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Thanks again for all the kind words. I know I am not alone, we all experience hardships in our faith one way or another.

    Irim you "angry feminist" ;) Right there with you. My mother knew I went to a lecture to hear a Jewish Bible Scholar with a feminist perspective and she said "OH, I can only imagine what a feminist's opinion would be...I am sure she picked out what SHE wanted to." My response was, "Well, thank God for women like her. If it weren't for strong women, you would not be where you are." I also said, "If you believe in the literal translations, and don't pick and choose yourself, then you better cover your head, not speak in church, and submit to your husband, never speaking against him. That is the way women were treated. Your way of practicing your faith has evolved greatly, with much influence through the centuries."

    It is always facinating how those who come against you always have perfectly good (at least in their minds) defenses for the changes that have occured, but when other changes occur it's heretical.

    Miz Melly,
    Sorry you are feeling alone at your church. It is so sad to me, that a place that should be filled with love, acceptance, and understanding, especially humbleness....seems to be where so much judgement, division, and arrogance resides. Big hug to you too.

    Thanks for the words. I have a good relationship with my children, and I am ok with not having all of the answers. I try really hard to be honest when my daughter has questions, but age appropriate. I know the influences will be hard, however, I am grateful to be in a church where we support different thoughts and acceptance for where people are at. I hope that kind of influence will be great for my kids. I feel blessed for the changes that have come, before my kids were taught a different way.

  • At 2/23/2007 09:59:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Great comments. I do have things I hold to. The reason this has been the hardest, is the "family" that taught me faith is who will have great issues with my thought. The flip side to that is the other parts of my family that didn't want to have anything to do with "Christianity"- especially because of similar attacks, have really opened up to me. I have had awesome conversations with many family members who ran years ago.
    That in itself feels like an encouragement from God. About the time I think I am crazy, I encounter situations that seem to come directly from God.

  • At 2/23/2007 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Doxallo


    I can't really imagine what it feels like to have family feel so 'against' you or judgemental like that - perhaps thats why I keep so much of mine close to the vest. It won't change their thoughts and will only hurt them/cause strife...so for now, I'm sort of quiet. lol

    I love that God IS using your life to minister to OTHER family members, that is SUCH an encouragement. And you know what? In part - thats what its all about - bringing the kingdom to those who don't see it or can't quite 'get in' with people like your mom leading the way. You're a leader, whether you know it or not! And I personally don't for one minute beleive you are leading them down a path of deception. Keep seeking God first and the rest will shake out in the end.....

    I'm sorry its painful. (BTW: Did you read SMKs book back for the blog book discussion?)

  • At 2/23/2007 11:45:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    I saw the discussion in the back. We are in the early stages of forming a women's group at church called "Feminine Perspectives". I have even given this blog as a resource of what we would like to do. We have had a couple of meetings discussing where to go with it. Right now it is fairly open. I would like to read SMK's book eventually as a group. We are hoping to have a movie/discussion night soon. I think we are going to watch "Mona Lisa Smile". I think it is a good movie to discuss "tradition", changes that occur, and the parallels with religion etc. I am excited to see what will come. The women I have met with are awesome, and I think so far it will be alot like our blog here.

  • At 2/23/2007 12:17:00 PM, Blogger Doxallo

    That's sounds wonderful Michele! I am just starting SMKs book and was wondering if anyone wanted to do a more dissected discussion - I'd love to be able to toss around ideas almost going page to page....lol. I need to go back and read that thread - don't want to get this one sidetracked though. (might email you)

  • At 2/23/2007 01:19:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    E-mail me if you would like. I don't mind discussing it more.

  • At 2/23/2007 06:08:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    I'm so sorry that you're going through this - that anyone has to go through this.

    We were forced out of our jobs at our old church because of the emerging conversation, but the hardest has been interacting with our families. They aren't openly judgemental, but we try not to get into arguments with them. But basically that means that I can't really be myself or express what I think is true around my family. It makes the relationship very weird.

  • At 2/23/2007 06:18:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    I admire you and Mike. I know you both have been involved in so many things. You are bright, have done a lot of research and been pulled into battles. I am very thankful that you created this blog, and I am sure I speak for many of us, that it is a huge blessing in our life. Thanks for being so strong.

  • At 2/23/2007 07:49:00 PM, Anonymous Linda


    My parents thought my family was joining a cult when we left our church to help plant a missional church that sounds a lot like yours. It was painful, and as much as I didn't want to, I made myself talk to them about our relationship with each other and how we could continue loving each other even though they didn't agree with my faith choices. While I recognize that your parents are entirely different people, my parents responded just a little bit positively to it initially. Over time, they gradually became more accepting, and now they actually contribute in small ways to our church even though they live 2000 miles away. I know they will never really understand my faith because they are of a different era where such things look very strange to them. But I'm okay with that as long as we can continue to love and support each other as human beings.

    Also, I'm very guarded about what I tell them. Perhaps it is partly because I don't want the trouble of having to explain, but I think mostly, I'm trying to be sensitive to these people who gave me my basis for knowing who Jesus is. I know that most people from their generation are just never going to get it. So I feel it's kinder for me not to push them where they can't go. I know this isn't your story, but I wanted to encourage you to see that things may not always be as bad as they are at this moment.

    The church we left talked about us, too, and out of respect for the leadership, we shut our mouths and did our best not to badmouth them in return. As a consequence, we lost friends, mentors, and people we loved - people whom we were never able to explain our reasons for leaving. I was so angry at the time. While time doesn't heal all wounds, it does give God a chance to staunch the bleeding. It has helped tremendously that God provided us with a community that understands the word "love" better than any we have ever known. If I had it to do all over again, I would endure the pain just to be a part of our community and the mission that God has placed us within.

    Again, I know this is my story, not yours, but things very seldom stay the same and sometimes get much better. :-) It's just hard to wait, knowing when to speak up and when to shut up that is so difficult in the meantime. The mercy and peace of God to you.

  • At 2/23/2007 08:37:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    It helps to hear your story. I know it won't always be this way...and as I said before, it is good I am in a community that feels this way already. It has not been the easiest change to go through, however, I can't imagine starting fresh. I respect the courage. I didn't have to leave
    my church (they left us heehee). I don't know how well I would fair if I was on my own in this. So if anyone is in that mode, I would tell them to press on (as all of you have said to me). It is frustrating, hard, sad, etc. but I have also experienced things that have been so powerful. My spiritual life was nothing beyond "routine" until the "emerging thought" entered my world.

  • At 2/24/2007 10:03:00 AM, Blogger sylvia skinner

    I actually find your inability to "defend" yourself a success in it's own -- it may seem a weakness, but by not engaging in these accusational discussions, you have prevailed. In the face of opposition, you are able to maintain and uphold your faith and beliefs -- this is beautiful and speaks profoundly of the way Jesus always chose love over arguments--even at his final hour.

    Michelle - this comment from Candace is so profound and beautiful. Thank you, Candace, this is what I wanted to say, but you said it so much better! Amazing, isn't it? I believe this speaks for itself of the beauty of this journey. There is no room on the "other" path for any of the love and acceptance you have received in these comments from this supportive community. So, it begs the question...who is deceived???

    BTW - Hello to all of you. I have not posted in a very long time. I have checked in occasionally, but I started my MBA a month ago and my computer time has been all class work--yuk! The irony? My entire cohort group (I am going to University of Phoenix) consists of men. Yep, that's right girls, all MEN! I think God is chuckling at me :)

    Love you all and miss the great stuff. I am confident you will all still be here when I'm done.


  • At 2/24/2007 10:29:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Hi Sylvia, congrats on going for your MBA! Prayers with you. And yes, we'll be here :)

  • At 2/24/2007 08:41:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Thanks Syl,
    I know you are busy, and have been an encouragement along the way. I hope to see you soon. If you haven't met Candace yet, let me know, I'll introduce you! Great people should meet! ;)


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