Friday, June 22, 2012

#249 - Value





Editor's Comment: To ensure credit goes where it's due, the below is written  by fellow SAL blogger Glen McGee.


Last week I broke. I thought I had reached this point before. The first time breaking came a week before I left for Los Angeles when I cried my eyes out in a car with a friend. I cried harder than I ever had before. I thought that was the lowest point. It wasn't.

Last Saturday was. It was then that I found my soul torn inside out. It was then that I truly broke down.

I think too much. Overthinking about things I shouldn't. They shouldn't matter as much as they do.  I dwell on these things.  I relate to the movie Inception because the tiniest seed of an idea can land in my mind and it will grow and spread like a cancer. It's obsessive and disconcerting.

I should mention that my breakdown last week was prompted by an Instagram photo.

But let's put that into context.

My whole life, all I have ever wanted was to be valued.  I wanted to fit in. I wanted to know that I was a person people wanted around. I was always taught, however, that ‘the world’ doesn’t value anyone. It will chew you up and spit you out like a dip of Skoal. The only shot you have at finding value is to find it in the church. Because Christ values you, so will His followers. That’s what I was taught. What I was taught and what I actually learned were two drastically different things.

I took the warnings seriously:

‘The world’ will hurt me.
‘The world’ only wants me for what it can get out of me.

I pursued value in the church, but I never found it.

See, in the Apostolic movement there are is a small criteria by which value is measured:

-Are you a preacher?
-Is your father a preacher?
-Are you a musician or singer?
-Is your last name well known in the movement?
-Are you extremely good looking?
-Does your family have a lot of money?

If you didn’t answer yes to at least one of these questions I have some bad news for you. 

See, no one will tell you you're not valued. You just kind of don’t exist.

Growing up my best friend was an incredible musician. He got to be very, very well known in the UPCI. If I said his name you’d know exactly who I’m talking about. To be clear, we’re still friends, he’s a great guy, and there is no, nor has there ever been, any ill will. But I caught wind of how things were going to be early on.

He called me once, when we were roughly 14, to let me know there were some people getting together. It was kind of the ‘cool’ clique in our church. So I called someone from the youth group to see if he could pick me up. I wanted to hang out with my best friend. He obliged and came and got me. Halfway to the destination he called his sister to see if he needed to bring anything. She heard me in the background. She asked who was with him. He said it was me. She told him to take me home. And he did. I wasn’t welcome. Even though it was my youth group, we were all the same age, and they were just going to watch a movie at someone’s house, and my best friend was going, I couldn’t come. I walked back into my house confused. I was confused at what happened. I didn’t understand. I thought about it. Thought way too much about it. Figured out what happened. Concluded the obvious. I wasn't wanted.  I got sad. Became dejected. And then I wallowed in my defeat.

This was how things were from then on. Like clockwork.

My friend and I went to a camp in another state every summer. He played his instrument. Girls loved him. Everyone knew him. No one knew me. Even though we were at each others side 24/7, everyone knew me as _____’s friend. That was my identity. The only significant thing about me was that I was his friend.

I went to camps, conferences and youth rallies. I tried to blend in. No one wanted to know me. I had no value. My parents met here. They had value. Not me.

I decided to change. Tried to make myself more valuable. Taught myself the art of overcompensation. I thought, since I had no talent, no well-known name, no money, I didn’t preach, and I'm not even moderately good looking, that I could ‘wear’ my value. I became fashion obsessed. I spent my meager grocery store paycheck at the mall, every week. I grew out my hair. I took weight loss pills. I thought they'd value me then. I thought the girls would love my designer shirts. I thought guys would be impressed by my suits. 

No one did. No one noticed. I was still a loser. Valuable clothes on a valueless man.

I graduated. I gained weight. I lost the last little bit of value I had managed to hold onto.

So I changed again. This time, the setting. I changed the scene. A chance at a new identity. I changed churches. I befriended the musicians there. I became best friends with a different well-known singer. A best friend to this day. My first two years at the church I was known as ______’s friend. People came up to me. ‘Hey, where is _____?’ ‘Hey do you know where ______ went to eat?’ ‘Hey do you have ______’s number?’

My identity didn't change. Just someone else's friend. That was my value.

I did fall into a circle of friends, a few of which I remain friends with. I voiced these fragile emotions that I had bottled inside of me. The stuff you're reading about now. These sentiments got out. My insecurity began to be preyed upon. Fellow church people posted unflattering pictures of me, knowing I was self-conscious.

A photo of me was placed side by side with one of a Sasquatch. “It’s so funny! He’s big!”

I started working out. I was mocked. Facebook groups were created. “Body By Glen – Everyone join!” There was laughter. I cried.

Years passed. People matured. They forgot the jokes. I was again forgotten.

But I wasn't ready to forget them and certainly not ready to be forgotten. So I determined things in my head:
I will show them value. I will start a career. One with value. I’ll work in the movies! They’ll have to value that. Who will make fun of me then? I’ll move to Hollywood. I’ll become an agent, like Ari Gold. No one makes fun of Ari. Ari runs Hollywood. I want to be Ari.

I went back to school. I majored in Film. I got an internship. My big break. I’m on my way! I am meeting people! Famous people. Like, hey I know that guy, he was on TV! And she’s been in movies! I’m doing it big. What’s that? Another Facebook group? Intern by Glen? Hot coffee and cold cuts are my specialty? Why? Why still? What does it take? They laughed. I cried again.

My church. My youth group. My friends. Why. Why can’t I be accepted.

I worked. I worked hard. I advanced. I got another internship. “Hey, can you pick up Jim Gaffigan from the airport?” YES! “Do you want to meet Mila Kunis?” DO I?!

I got a paid job. Hey there’s Topher Grace! And James Franco! I’m so cool! What’s that? More posts in that group? More attacks? But I’m not an intern anymore!

I worked even harder. I impressed people. I got a phone call. Transformers 3? I’ll do it!

Hey some church people are in town! I’ll take them to set! Oh crap, I forgot my badge. Can we still come in? But I know the locations manager! Sorry guys, I left it at home. Wait, you’re making fun of me again? You don’t believe me? Seriously? What does it take??

I got my next movie. This one is it. I’m gonna crush it. Oh him? That’s Sam Raimi. Yeah he knows me. Am I ‘in’ yet?

Hey friend, what does that girl think of me? The one I have a huge crush on. Oh you asked her? What did she say? Why can’t you just tell me? It’s that bad? Am I that ugly? Ouch.

I’ll go even bigger. I’ll work even harder. Do I accept the offer? Of course. Hello Los Angeles! I’m starting anew. I’ll forget all the hurt. I’ll make my own value. Master Cleanse? Sure. Raw Vegan fast? Did it. Juice diet? Yep. P90X? I'm in.

Look at the scale now! Down a hundred pounds! Yeah! I look good? Oh thanks coworkers. I’ve got a long way to go though. Oh hey friends back home. Yeah I miss you guys too. Sorry gotta go, hiking up the Hollywood Hills.

Last week I check Facebook. I see that my old youth group is working that NASCAR fundraiser I ran for them a few years back . Oh hey, that hot girl just posted a picture on instagram. Odd. The picture mentions my name. But it's a picture of that kid from IBC.  He is sticking his gut out. He is sticking his gut out and drinking a Coke. My name is on that picture. That kid is mocking me. He's pretending to be me, in the picture. But why? I don't live there. You hate me that much? What did I do?

I was still just a joke. To them, I'm worthless. Still valueless. I don't have the name, the looks, or the talent. I've got nothing for them. Please, just leave me alone.

By this point, I had nothing left. I’d spent the emotions. I had given all I have. I couldn't bring anything to the table. Couldn't find the emotions to sustain. That's when I broke.

I have more stories and examples, about myself and about others. It’s all painful to talk about, to think about, to tell. But it’s all real.

Postscript:

 Two pieces of advice...

1: For you who may feel unwanted and without value:
It’s a myth. The world will not chew you up and spit you out. The church will. It did me. You DO have value. Some self-important girl or guy with unjustifiably high standards doesn’t determine your value. If you don’t feel you have value then make your own value. You can. I did. I’ve dropped all the weight. I live in a prestigious city. I work in a prestigious industry. It’s still not acknowledged by church people, but their reality isn’t real. The ‘world’ doesn’t think like that. Ok, to some extent they do, but that’s why you have to do what makes YOU happy. Live for yourself. Live for today. This life is all you have. 60 – 80 years or so. Don’t waste it chasing the value dangled like a treat on a string. Make your own.

2:  For those in church leadership roles:
 Please, please don’t do this. 90% of my feelings of depression, isolation, worthlessness and lack of value was perpetuated by people in leadership roles. Pastors and preachers catering to the valued. Don’t do that. There are kids on the sidelines. They're watching the basketball game. They're watching the musicians practice. They’re hidden, in the corners, in the back, out of sight, out of mind. They’re face down in the carpet at the altar. The tears are falling, but they aren’t interceding. They’re begging God for value. “Please, let someone come talk to me.” They want to be noticed. They want to be accepted. Their last names aren’t well known. They don’t play, sing or preach. They don’t come from money. They don’t have many friends. They’re hurting. Some suicidal. I know, I thought about it. Came close once. Drove halfway to the bridge with tears in my eyes. Don’t let them make it the whole way. 




32 comments:

  1. I hear you. Been there, done that. Of course, I'm rebellious,the "bad" girl. I'm 35 and still seen that way. I don't fit, I've never cared about my hair, my clothes, the big names, the crowds. Youth group was one of the worst experiences of my life. I'm an extreme introvert and don't ever post online, but I've followed this blog for a very long time, and I get it. Don't know if it helps, but I wanted to tell you that I get it, all of it, and I think you're amazing.

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  2. This spoke volumes to my heart. Thank you glen for sharing such a sensitive part of yourself with us. I have similar experiences. I was nearly in tears reading this not once but three times. You have pinned this exactly. But if we read our bible, we know that Jesus embraced and used those who fit yours, mine, and many others description. He did not want what was cool, popular, and in. He took the outcasts the rejected and the lost and hurting and allowed his glory to be shown through them. Again thank you, I will share this on my fb page, and pray folks read it, repent, ask forgiveness from God, and from others. At the end of the day, this issue stems from not knowing who they are in Christ, and imposing that upon others.. God bless.

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  3. Thanks for this.

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  4. I'm so happy that you wrote this Glen and got this off your chest. I'm sorry you hurt. You are one of those people I wish I would have gotten to know better. Sadly enough I feel that there are so many others out there who, if they were as brave as you, would voice the same story, share the same anguish, and re-live the same hurt. The church, regardless of the type of religion, is supposed to be a safe haven. A fortress. An open door to walk through when there is an empty void.
    Unfortunately I removed myself out of the church spotlight a long time ago and with that have been unfriended from Facebook from numerous people, received emails from parents telling me what a bad example I had set for their kids by leaving, literally stood on the other side of a wall listening to people talk about me, and have waved at people years later if I bumped into them, only to have them turn their heads at me. I felt so guilty, even though I had studied and came to the realization that what I was in was not right and left to find a stronger foundation in my life instead of a man-made movement. I realized that guilt wasn't God. It was from the people I had craved to like me. The shadows I tried to walk in. I, like you, was so broken that I had to rebuild myself. I had no identity because I built my identity around an ideal. A vapor that somehow fitting in was worth it. You are so right. It's a myth. Years later, I have found so much contentment in simply filling my void with God on the sidelines and not the fancy formalities and glamour of the church aisle runway. There are so many genuine people who have hearts of gold in the church but there are also bullies. And no matter the setting, it's never right.
    Thank you for sharing your story. It means so much to so many people, you have no idea. I will pray for you. That you find happiness in you. In your world. And I'll also pray for those that hurt you. That they wake up one day and realize how damaging they really can be.

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  5. Thank you for this. I know how you feel. I grew up in an apostolic church also. I was overweight, had no name and no money. I was always looking for acceptance in my church. I thought something must be wrong with me. After leaving the church I realized how wrong I was. It was never me. I have found value in myself. Now when I meet someone I used to go to church with I see the look of pity in their eyes. They all believe I am going to hell just because I don’t go to church with them anymore. Even my parents think this way. I think it is such an oxymoron that the very people that are supposed to love each other and lift each other up are the very ones to make some people feel like the scum of the earth. I am so much happier with my life and how I live it now. Without them!

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  6. "Whether life's disabilities left you outcast, bullied or teased, rejoice and love yourself today, cuz baby, you were born this way."

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  7. I appreciate the raw honesty that you've shared here, but I'd like to present a slightly different perspective.
    I grew up in church, the daughter of one of the 'big names' not in the organization but in my church. My parents are 2 of the 8 voting members that still attend our church that voted our pastor in. Pillars of the church. I've sang in the choir since I was 12 and told I sing well. Been skinny all my life and have looked pretty decent since my teens. Now my family has never been rich and my dad is not a preacher, but otherwise I should have been fairly set up to be in the 'in' crowd.
    I guess I actually was invited to most things, but our youth group was small, Everyone went everywhere. I had a good time, but always felt an outsider, still do at times. I often felt as a teen that people invited me just because they had to or it was expected. I was very introverted and use to being the 3rd wheel always tagging along on the edges of groups. I still meet people that went to the same camps I did who are surprised I went there every year for 11 years and they never remember seeing me, but do remember other girls from my youth group I was always with.
    By all accounts I Should have been and felt like I was in the 'in' crowd. But I didn't. I do believe all the reasons mentioned for 'in crowd' have some truth, but I think the main defining factor is how outgoing the person is. I have known some very overweight people that Everyone I knew loved, just because they were such great, fun people to be around. I've also known some 'in crowd' beautiful, outgoing, popular girls that were also suicidal because they felt no one cared about who they Really were, only about their looks.
    I hate that Anyone should feel alone, despised, rejected or worthless. Guess I'm just saying it's not always what's on the outside that makes us feel these things and not always what makes people treat us poorly, though it does contribute.
    Love God, love others and love YOURSELF and the people that Really matter will treat you accordingly.

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  8. "The world will not chew you up and spit you up. The church will."

    Glen...I am sorry for your pain and the terrible experiences you had as a youth. But if you think the "world" will treat you better than the church, then you haven't lived long enough in the world and you are deceived.

    No where....NO WHERE....will you find a place where people do not "spit you out". Especially in the world. It should be a lot less in the church, yes, but since the church is made up of PEOPLE, it even happens in the church, unfortunately.

    I get sick and tired of people BLAMING the church for their problems. What are you going to church for? People? Or to worship and hear about God? People will always hurt people. Even you will hurt someone. Like a previous commenter, a large amount of it is perspective.

    None of this excuses the stupid, carnal behaviour of people in the church. But at least people are still TRYING to get their lives right, and are in the right place to do so.

    I wish you all the best, Glen. But take your rose colored glasses off about the world. And for your sake get rid of your bitterness about the church. Cuz it stinks.

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  9. Oh good grief. This smacks of post-modernistic psychological "The world is to blame for my identity crisis" crap. As long as you base your identity and self-worth solely off what people thing and say about you, there is a major problem. Forgive the harshness, but there are real people with real problems in the world...At first I thought this was tongue-in-cheek nonsense, had hoped it was, but it obviously isn't. My suggestion: grow up and get over it. I have dealt with similar issues, and refuse to get hung up on people and "how they treat me".

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  10. It has nothing to do with church! It has to do with those who called themselves "Christians" who have a stinking religious spirit!!! If you don't look like them, talk like them act like them, then you aren't one of them. But Jesus wasn't one of them and today JESUS would'nt be one of them!

    Thanks for sharing Glenn. I totally understand and when I walked away from that atmosphere and truly learned what it was to really be like Christ, my life changed! I learned how to show love to those who are less fortunate than myself and to forgive those who hurt me. it's okay to walk away from "religion" but don't ever walk away from having a true relationship with Jesus Christ.
    BTW, I was around when you were born,and I loved you then. And I love you NOW! Just wanted you to know! :)

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  11. To Rosa, a Warden...

    Ma'am....I would like to point out a few things:

    Your passive encouragement is deplorable.... Stop with the meddling compliments to make yourself seem nicer than you are. Because you are not nice. And at the essence of your very message above is the precise political wishy-washy "balanced" message that speaks both good and bad and says absolutely nothing except that maybe you haven't the gull to say what you mean these days....

    Ma’am, if I didn’t have the Spirit of God in me right now, I probably would be nicer. I’d probably act like things are better than they are and make an equally passive reply that defends Glen and but yet makes me look more “adult” than you by not stooping as low as you just did…

    But lady, I got nothing left to care about what people think of me…. And God’s here and while I’m sure you have a version of God in your mind, I don’t know him personally. My God, oddly enough… and this may be where you draw the line….

    My God died for me and Glen and everyone else… even you… and this is probably the hard part Rosa…. My God died for us when we were yet sinners in the world….

    Believe you me…. That’s awkward for me at times too…. And that obviously is a different God than you follow so I don’t expect you to relate…. So in the mean time…

    We who are people, the one’s not hiding themselves from the storm just so they can feel a few good emotional buzzes along the way and call it God…well… there’s a couple things we’ve learned along the way….

    1) I thank God you don’t actually represent the church.

    2) You mentioned the reason that churches may have people who say and do bad things is because, “the church is made up of PEOPLE, it even happens in the church, unfortunately.”

    Now unlike you, who seems to think that the church being composed of PEOPLE is unfortunate…. Well, we celebrate people for being people. We don’t see humanity as a necessary consequence. We remember we are human. And it’s possible you are human too, but I won’t speak for you. All that is here on earth between now and heaven are human beings though.

    And this seems to be exactly what you missed… Glen is a human being.

    And yet you… whoever Rosa is.. has seemed to somehow have forgotten your own humanity along the way…

    So it’s not surprising when I see you go and talk away Glen’s points like you did.
    Telling him that the world does not treat people better than the church. Which means you just told Glen that everything he has observed as a human being is wrong.

    You told him that his own life experience is a false one.

    And never, never will we ever hate people enough to tell them their own life experience is a false one or a lie.

    But yet that’s what you seem to feel compelled to do: Discredit people’s lives. …. You have your beliefs which is fine. But your beliefs are of such a nature that you have to invalidate any other human beings observations of reality that are different from yours.

    And keep in mind, that there were a few things in this blog post that I voiced to Glen that I didn’t necessarily agree with, but they were nothing of this sort and they never dared to question his own experience.

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  12. (cont... from above)-



    If the world has been better to him… if the people in the world have accepted him like people in the church have not…. If this is the case…. Then you or I have no right, as human beings, to invalidate someone’s story like you just did.

    It’s not enough for you to be at peace Rosa about your own religion and pray for Glen according to your beliefs…. No. It wasn’t enough to read Glen pouring out his whole heart and life story, that I can attest to you, has been just as sad as he says (I was one of those guys who made fun of him and did indeed cause him to cry on several occasions but luckily he was forgiving enough to still be my friend through the years)… it wasn’t enough for you to take Glen’s story and say ‘I’m sorry…but let me assure you God loves you.” No. You couldn’t take Glen at his word.

    But your religious perspective “seems” to require you to ignore everything about a self-confession that makes him a real, breathing human being who observes things and experiences things just like you, and instead you go on and tell him exactly that his story was a lie.. save for the fact that yes, there are (and I paraphrase the gist of your quote) ““regretfully” human beings in the church and well humans are going to do mean things and like, man… no matter what those people are trying their best and you just gotta look past their human mistakes and I assure you that they aren’t as bad as the people in the world.”

    And Glen’s message speaks for itself and if you did read it like a human being reading the post of another human being and not as a warden of God’s heavenly gates telling people how false their own life story is… you would have caught on to one consistent pattern: The people who are “trying” who do hurt people in church actually …were indeed way meaner and harsher than the people in the world that he has met.

    But don’t worry, the people who are blatantly mean... we recognize them from afar and put up with them. Because we know they are hurt too. Like us. The mean people in church we,,,, don't take them seriously.... No, the one’s who hurt the most are the people that clout their judgments and evaluations of the world in "kind speak" rhetoric that wishes "all the best" for Glen and then makes demands in the next sentence for him to take his "rose colored glasses off about the world"....and then, oh and here's the worst....

    You have the audacity to demand that he hush about the "bitterness about the church." And then you added “it stinks.”

    How hateful of people and distrusting of their own story’s do you have to be to say such things?


    Ma’am, your isolation from the world is your choice. Your apparent detachment from being able to relate to humanity is completely your gig as well…. That’s your thing…

    But in the mean time… while you are here on earth with the rest of humanity.. please remember that some people actually live a different life than you, and they may, beyond all your understanding, actually kinda like their life and love people all the more beyond your boundaries of where love is to be regulated.

    I don’t wish you a good day. I don’t wish you all the best. I wish that you would stop hating and start living.

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  13. Classic Pentecostals. If you get hurt its your own fault. Suck it up and stop playing the victim. It makes us feel guilty for being wrong, and that's impossible because we're never wrong. Thanks for proving so many assertions to be true Lynne.

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  14. Ah, so what are you planning on doing? Having a pity party about your past? Sitting down and informing the people who hurt you that you were hurt? I don't see why there is such an issue. Take a look at the life of Jesus. He was mocked and ridiculed by people, and His reaction wasn't to confront the Pharisees about how their opposition hurt His feelings, but kept on doing what He was doing. Let it go, there is nothing to do about it, and it is wrecking your life, as indicated by an entire blog post devoted to the very people who hurt you. Are they seriously that important to your life? Are you being "Christian" by posting this?

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    Replies
    1. Just sayin' - Jesus called the Pharisees a "brood of vipers" and "wolves" and other choice words. I think Glen was a lot more respectful in his dissertation than even the Bible records Jesus being. We have every right to call evil "evil."

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  15. I also don't think Jesus would be throwing around pejoratives like pity party at people who have been hurt, by the way.

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  16. Clearly have no ability to relate? Yes, I do. I was ostracized by the young people in my church for years. The person I was in a relationship with broke it off to see a close family member, nearly destroying my relationship with them altogether...they were all in church. During that time, not one person cared enough to ask me how I was doing. I was bullied by the son of someone significant, and was never made to feel overly "welcome". I didn't quit, nor do I wish to quit. Stuff happens and people are people. I have an issue with people who use a public, so-called "Apostolic" forum to relay their personal problems with people in the church and blame them for all their issues. Jesus is compassionate, yes, however, wallowing around in bitterness and self-pity weren't really his "thing".

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  17. Say what you want, Joel....you are being more harsh to me than I was to Glen (and you *hurt* my feelings), but if Glen would have written the post from the perspective of how the church can improve based on his experiences rather than blasting it (and making the world seem BETTER), then he would get more sympathy. Instead, he warns people AWAY from it! That will never get any sympathy from me....(and whether or not you believe it, I am a compassionate person). But, whatever.....it was all in the tone of it.

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  18. Jesus, is the answer... There is no other remedy. People will be people wherever you go.. In or out of the church. But the goodness of God is not based on what people do or say. We have to live for God in spite of all that. Let them talk and make fun if they want, they will be the ones to answer for it. I'm not going to tell you to suck it up or anything like that.. I know first hand these kind of things are tough to deal with. But God's word is true. If you put your delight in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart. One day... The days may turn to months and months into years but "this too shall pass"..

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  19. Sorry to hear that brother. I would like you to know that il be praying for comfort for you. Comfort that only comes from God. "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted". I've always held onto that verse. Even though all of them let you down God never does. If your not past it all. If you still want a crack at a life led by God and not by egotistical youth or a persecuting church or a hollywood to prove yourself... well my suggestion is seek God. You only need approval from Him. I think if you begin that relationship youl find that sense of belonging, not to those old "friends", not to Hollywood, but to the one who mourns for you even now. Find Jesus
    - a heartbroken Christian

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  20. After reading my blog a very close friend of mine wrote a beautiful reply. He is a student pastor of a church in Waterford, MI and is one of the most genuine, amazing people I know. I made sure to tell him when I wrote it, as I will state to readers, that I do not lump him in with the Christians I have problems with. He is an example of what they should be, and if there were more good people like him there would be far less hurting people running away from the movement like refugees. If you have a few minutes please read his response:

    http://theoculture.com/2012/07/02/the-world-will-not-chew-you-up-and-spit-you-out-the-church-will-it-did-me/

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  21. Sad post. As an Apostolic, I hate that this goes on (and go on it does).

    There is a popular culture in the UPCI (perhaps the Apostolic movement in general) which I feel hinders and does not help the pentecostal youth of today. I would even go so far as to question the effectiveness of compartmentalized ministries in the church, as it tends to create situations where social groups & functions get called "ministries" as long as they are organized by a church leader (I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on that).

    - Anonymous Apostolic (A.A.)

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  22. Glen I do know that you are a phenomenal teacher of the Word and that you may not have recognized it but that there were several young people that looked up to you and what you stood for. To me, that is valuable. No you are not a preacher, not a singer, but everyone has a talent to give back. Yours happens to be teaching! I'm sorry for the hurt you experienced and I hope that you can find that relationship that will always run in your DNA. St Augustine said "our hearts are restless until they rest in you Oh Lord." I wasn't privileged to grow up in the church like you did and I can tell you from personal life experience that your heart will be restless until it rests in God. Don't know where you stand in the relationship aspect but perhaps as you grow in God, your hurts will heal and you can help make the changes that need to be made in the church. Your experiences will help you be sensitive to the forgotten and a minister to them. Take care. xoxo

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  23. Hey, Glen,

    It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there like you have and share such a personal story publicly. I'm sorry you went through what you did, but I'm glad you shared it. People need to read it and reflect on their own actions. It's sickening that this happens in the church, and it should be a wake up call to people who either turn a blind eye to treatment like this or who engage in such behavior themselves.

    This experience made me think about my own experiences and made me think about the concept of value. I've always felt like a bit of a strange bird in the church. . . because of the way I grew up, my interests, my travels, my eventual educational pursuits, etc., I was never in with the in crowd. I can't say that I was ridiculed and disparaged as harshly as you were, but I remember feeling frustrated at the fact that I would never fit in. Why did God make me such a weirdo? I sometimes thought that if I had just been born and raised in one place, if I had grown up seeing everything clearly in black and white instead of feeling a need to question everything, I would be much happier. Can you imagine that? Wishing you were a little more ignorant so that everything would be more spelled out?

    Thank God I broke out of that. Not being confident in who I was brought me a lot of heartache. I thank God that I was finally able to stop wanting to fit in. To stop seeking validation from people who didn't add anything positive to my life. I know now that God had a reason for me not fitting in. I look back now and I'm glad that I never did.

    I hope that you're in a place now where you can find healing and receive strength in the knowledge that You are valued by God.

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  24. This breaks my heart because it is so true. I have seen this happen so many times. I did have a talent I could sing and I still do but that never really helped me because they already had the more popular singers that were preachers kids or were somehow connected. I was fat and my family did not have money so maybe that was why things were the way they were I don't know. I think it was because I did not have any confidence in myself and I was timid and shy. I did lose my weight and when people saw me could not belive it was me. I backslid for a few years because of all the stuff I saw and I thought if this is it then I don't need this. I am thankful that I did finally come back but when I did I decided that my realationship with God was just that just between me and him and no one else. I have managed to keep it that way. I could not ignore the pull of God and I knew I had to have that peace of God in my life. I now have two wonderful children and a wonderful husband. I feel your hurt and I hope with time you will find peace over this.

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  25. Glen, thank you for your honesty and transparency. I empathised with a lot of what you said... I was not raised in oneness churches, but spent several years in a oneness organisation with my husband and children. We now attend a non-oneness pentecostal church with an ex-oneness pastor... by the way, our theology has not changed significantly as individuals, but we are free to believe what the bible says without putting it into the paradigm of traditional oneness theology.
    I can't help but wonder,reading this blog for the second time (as well as the comments that have been added) if a lot of the problem here is that so many people perceive that there are two life choices to make when you are unhappy in a oneness apostolic church: stay in the movement that is like a disfunctional family, or go into the "wicked world" (which includes any other church or religious group, if you believe that oneness churches are the true churches and the others are all wrong). A disfunctional church culture will create disfunctional young people, and a focus on the outward appearance will lead to neglect of the inner man. Praising people for keeping up appearances, and rewarding this behaviour without discerning what is going on beneath the surface, leads to a generation of some very shallow, judgemental and hypocritical pharisees (going through the motions and keeping up appearances because they might become a somebody in the organisation. And they don't have any other place to gain approval, because the world is bad... church is good... even when its bad... :)
    I will say that we needed our time in the oneness organisation, because the deliverance, strictness and intensive teaching gave us a solid foundation which has kept us out of trouble since. Also the experience of baptism and being filled with the holy Spirit is something precious and life-changing. I am thankful for the time I spent in the oneness church, the good and the bad. I have wanted to run away from church several times because of some terrible things that people have said and done, but God has answered our prayers in his time and His way and given us a safe place.

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  26. Glen I find it sad that you have placed more emphasis on the acceptance of your peers vs the acceptance of God. Because in the end who's acceptance will really matter?

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  27. That point has been raised before in regards to this article and my response is this:
    I'm 27 years old and have learned, now, that I don't care about the acceptance from either of them. However, I find it interesting that Apostolic apologists will always point the finger at the hurt. It's one of the few groups in the world that shoots the wounded, i.e "it's your fault if you get hurt, you wanted the wrong things."
    Yes, a man in his 20's should know better, and I now do. However, try telling a 14 or 15 year old kid whose acceptance they should be seeking and see if it makes a difference. They can see their peers. They can see the Wayne Francis' and Jonthan Powell's, propped up on stage in their flashy clothes and shouting sermons. They can't see God. They may be able to fake it for a while after a big hype em up sermon, but it won't last, and I find it incredibly sad, sick and disgusting that rather than admit that the UPC fosters this glorification of the desirable and casts all others away, people will go so far as to say "well if you get hurt, even though you may be a teenager with self esteem problems it's still you're fault so don't rain on our parade."
    Again, I don't care anymore. I see Pentecostalism as a dwarfed child of what once could have been great. However, it continues to suck all it can get out of those gullible enough to feed their lives into it, only to spit them out when they're no longer worth anything to it. Think and say what you want, but that is exactly what it did to me.
    I do believe in God, and I believe I'm accepted by Him. However I and the apostolics aren't serving the same God.

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  28. Glen, thank you for your honesty. I know, from personal experience, that this kind of transparency is not easy. I am 43 years old and I still have trouble being honest about what I think and what I feel.
    I wanted to share with you the flip side of your story, I did grow up in a pastors home and my dad became something of a "name" as I grew up. My experience, while nowhere close to what yours is, was disheartening. I knew that my standing and popularity was tied to my connections, and had a hard time trusting people. As an adult, it began to sicken me when I saw people treat me differently when they found out who I was.
    It has been so freeing as an adult to make friendships with people who either don't know, or don't care about my family connections. It's not a pretty story, from either side of the spectrum.
    I understand that in every social circle, there will be variations of this situation, but for it to be accepted and perpetuated in "the church", is a tragedy.

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  29. Totally true, have struggled with this myself. Even trying to have a ministry I have had more sucess ministering to the Methodists and Baptists while my own want nothing of me. I hate the vanity and pride but have to say have never felt as close to God than in this truth. So i deal with the people and focus on God. But we are human and words and actions hurt. Wrote a song all about this. For people who think it doesnt matter that people are treated as nothing you need a wakeup call. Teen suicide is so high right now, and for apostolics to act so high and mighty in the in crowd is so against Jesus's teachings. I would hate to be the cause of someones pain and feelings of no self worth.

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  30. I had the name. It still did not matter. Much love to you the one whom I watched from a baby to an almost man. You do matter and you always have.

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  31. I'm just now stumbling onto this, but I am embarrassed that you have read my thoughts and my heart and published them here for all to see.

    Many parallels between my life and yours (though they're about 20 years apart), except I was not "raised in the church." I was recruited into it in high school by some of those who were the IN CROWD. As an introvert, I never enjoyed any of the camps or conferences, because I was not a musician or preacher, and I didn't come from a family that was well known "in Pentecost." But just like you, I did try tirelessly - to the detriment of my credit rating and exhausting of my own grocery store income - to overcompensate and try to be noticed and matter to someone. In the end, I just was "Jeff's friend" or "Gary's friend" and that was the extent of my value. My wife, who grew up in it, was very popular, so now (or at least until we left the orgs altogether) I'm known only as her husband.

    Thank you for exposing yourself in such a profound way. From one who has gone before you by about 20 years, I will tell you that it takes work to lay it down, but you can find your value in Christ and not in those who profess to be His.

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