A Word of Encouragement: An Open Letter to Those Who Have Contacted Me, Commented and Cared; A Bit of a Warning Going Forward to Those Who Want to Mock or Make Light of Abuse and…Also, Grace Community Church “May” Have Let Go Another Elder
To the Abused and Struggling:
My articles began to get a bit of traction after the “Get Your House in Order” article. I honestly never imagined that that would happen. I had no plans or goals for this blog, certainly not to write little “internet” gossipy stories as they have been affectionately called. No, I just wanted a place to talk about some of the things that I had been seeing as the “pandemic” (wink wink) dragged on and I did not want to take up shadow-puppetry or growing my own herbs as my quarantine hobby. No, I have always had an interest in music, helping people, the law, righting wrongs. My whole life has been spent like Captain America…remember when Tommy Lee Jones threw the dummy grenade and the pre-serum Steve Rogers fell on it? So, I started writing about tents ($$$), burgers, pettifoggery, the past and the present shenanigans, Mularkey and tomfoolery. I didn’t get a single comment and that was fine. The topic was not sexy. It wasn’t intriguing to talk about pro hac vice hearings and North Central District-Burbank “Complaints”. I get it. It bores me, but somehow I found myself finding terrible inconsistencies in the narrative they were pushing.
Then, this wonderful thing happened. People started writing me. Amazing people. Broken people. Emotionally spent people. I was overwhelmed that they would share things so personal, so terribly troubling and that they were coming to me for help, or as a sounding board. You see, the system had failed them. Friends and family had abandoned them. We failed them.
While we were singing, “Crown Him with Many Crowns” and “In Christ Alone”, we had people in our midst that we judged because they did not have the same countenance as us, the same friends, the same clothes, cars, all of it. I can’t tell you how many times I know that I fell victim to that, especially at Grace. It’s an environment of “fear, bullying, and intimidation” that grinds people to powder if they do not conform to the perfect daughter, son, husband, wife, pastor, leader, and elder. Not only that, when faced with a problem, desperate for help, the pastors ignore you, even to the point of spreading lies about you, causing people to look at you with scorn instead of GRACE!
I cannot tell you how hard it was getting through some of these emails. I have stories, too, let’s just leave it there. It’s bad enough that my poor grammar and syntax is picked at, I won’t bear to hear someone belittle my past. I would read, walk away…collect myself, return to my desk, and read some more. I was utterly helpless to return the years, the loss, and the agonizing years that these people in their adult lives still vividly recount. I think if there was one thing I could tell these people is: You are Loved. You are Loved by a God so powerful that He can quicken hearts, raise the Dead, walk on water, and come back again. A God that sent his “only begotten Son” to show the way of life and to carry the very burdens that you do every day. He speaks through His Word the same as He ever did. Repent, yes, every day, every hour, but broken we come, but we must come. The Lord Jesus Christ is not a myth, a legend, or a prophet, but God.
I learned these things when I was 10. I would go to AWANA (oh, a fun after-school program, if you don’t know), learn verses, be with friends, then come home and get beaten by my mother. She was a domineering, self-hating, prideful woman who hated Christians, apparently. You see, my father had become a Christian years earlier and while he was off “serving” at church, my mother would yell at me, trying to cause me to “renounce” Christianity. I never did. It’s laughable really looking back that demon-possessed people could be so composed. You tend to think that they are somehow out of control and emitting “other-worldly” voice. Nope, they “embolden” people to do things that the average person wouldn’t. Oh, trust me…they know what they are doing, they just feel powerful in that state. And the cowards that they are, prey on belittling the weak and powerless (Tom Chaffin).
So, new friends, I know what it’s like to feel alone. I mean, abandoned and alone and scared. Feeling small, insignificant, and uneducated. My mother never took me to school. Ever. So, pre-Internet, I did the Goodwill Hunting thing and I went to Barnes and Noble or “Borders”, but most of all, I went to the library. I studied Literature, Philosophy, Music, History, Astronomy, you name it. Everything interested me. I had to know more about the world I lived in because all I had really known is getting into trouble, i.e. talking too much in class, clowning around, and abuse, neglect. For the first time in my life, I found something that I was good at. I didn’t finish high school. I only went up to Junior Year, then enrolled in Advanced College classes, then transferred early to UCLA. I was Phi Beta Kappa, got a few degrees (three more than Phil Johnson), and then entered, quite possibly, the worst job market pre-coronavirus. No joke. It was hard. Employers wanted so much experience for min. wage and that’s when I got a job at a company working with Education for Corporate BPOs (translation: I trained people from large companies how to be more American, speak English well, and interface with other American corporations). I became supervisor, manager and then, something happened. The work stopped a bit. It happens in a recession, but my job really rather tanked, so they let people go and my workload tripled, but my pay did not.
After months of this, I went online and looked into my situation. It was unbearable. The commute, the lack of respect from management, the drudgery. I learned about Employment Law. Providence! I learned that all the things, the people I hated about my company were, in fact, liable for their actions and should be fired. About a year went by, I built my case, recorded everything I saw that was illegal, and presented it to a lawyer. Flash-forward a year, I am fired, broke again, and alone. I have always said that if you haven’t been fired a few times in your life, you probably weren’t very good at your job. The case took 18 months to settle and we were able to get me and all of my co-workers the wages they were owed. It wasn’t a landmark case, but it was just the start.
Again, you are loved and we are sorry. Please, hang in there and let us show you the love of God through our actions.
To the Commenters and Insiders:
Thank you again for reading my stories, commenting on articles, and caring about some of the issues I have raised. I imagine there would always be some blowback, right? Who is really a fan of criticism? Yet, to be honest, only a small handful of people have really had anything negative to say, so for that I’m grateful. I think for the most part people see that I am not a reporter, I do not contend to be an “insider” (the heck does that even mean), and that my prose is purely conversational. If I get the facts wrong, or if I say something off-putting and you don’t like it, then know it was with a complete lack of professionalism that I write. You’d have to pay me more if I wrote like HuffPo, or WaPo, all the Po’s.
And finally, to the liars, the scoffers, the malicious and suspicious:
What to do with you. You rascals and other…Shakepearean insults that escape me at the moment. I think you need to find a hobby. How about learning to play, “Sweet Home Alabama” on popsicle sticks, or learning more than three chords on the ‘ol six-string, or how about venturing out of your house and…I don’t know go on a date? No masks, no social distancing, rockin’ it like MacArthur. Live darn it.
Or, how about instead of trying to catch me out, provoking me to retaliate to your every whim, you stop and think how your time might be better spent. I hear the Puritan Hard Drive is what the kool kids listen to. I have only heard the term “mansplaining”, but never really experienced myself until now. No, I am absolutely under no obligation to divulge my sources, documents, or insights because you got your bloomers in a bunch. Oh, I have heard it all this week.
You all have tells, you know that right? It’s in the rhythm, cadence, syntax, diction. I used to be a professor’s assistant. I knew who was writing without telling me their name. I knew my students.
So, let’s lay some ground rules:
- No one gets blocked until I feel that person is being vulgar or inappropriate, and then I’ll probably just print screen and keep the comment up for all to see.
- I do not see all the comments, and many comments I do not get notified are there. It’s a labyrinth on Medium. It is not made for discussion, certainly not threads and I apologize in advance if I haven’t or can’t answer your comment. Such is life. The articles that I have coming up are small, but interesting (the parking lot, vehicle codes — can I get a what what?!).
- I will not tolerate any coarse jesting, any comments of a mocking nature regarding victims, alleged victims. Honestly, don’t. That’s it. My little piece of the Internet here will be far more carefully watched, so that people feel welcome. You know who you are.
…but here they come to jack my style.
Is this what happened to Rich Gregory, Michael Mahoney, Andy Snider, and now, Austin Duncan? The ones like James Stitzinger and Mahoney do get their information taken off the gracechurch.org, shepherdsconference.org and tms.edu websites, but others like Kurt Gebhards and, Mr. Wonderful, Rich Gregory (who got so many people fired and then is sent to Missouri) continue to have their information remain on the main site.