Monday, June 28, 2010

Mourning into Joy

Things are going really well around here, in spite of all the emotion swirling around these days. Very early in my Christian walk I learned to objectively detach from my emotions while still processing them. Emotions have important things to teach us. They should be respected and honored. But emotions should never be in charge! At least, that's how I understand my inner life and it's working for me. =)

One of the recurring emotions that has been hanging around in my heart lately is grief. I am grieving on a personal level, and I am grieving for my husband. There's more than enough sorrow to go around these days.

As I learn more and more about what it meant to a child to be left at missionary boarding school, I am at times overwhelmed. I read one survivors quote who likened it to losing your entire family in an automobile accident. Every summer the family is resurrected, only to be torn from your life again in a few short weeks.

Wow. The depth of that pain still stuns me every time I think about it.

Quickly it is followed by anger at the fundamentalist mindset that sacrificed the hearts and lives of HELPLESS INNOCENT CHILDREN in order to make themselves heroes of the faith. Zeroes of the faith is more like it. Any missionary who put their young children in boarding school is worthy only of censure and shame, imho. It is not heroic to build your ministry on the unwilling sacrifice of dependent children. And the great shock of it is: it is still happening today!

Oh dear readers, if you (like me) are financially supporting any tribal missions, ask after their policy regarding children. If they demand that parents send their children away at an early age, I implore you to cut off your support. These missionary children are meaningless to the mission boards. They are so focused on the mission of Bible translation that they have forgotten that LOVE is the main focus of Christian ministry. They are blind and hard-hearted to the suffering they cause, with few exceptions.

Find a mission that allows for home schooling. Support missionaries who have chosen a life of celibacy, whose children are grown and gone, or who have adopted children from their culture of ministry. Do not be partakers in the sacrifice of missionary children in the name of the ministry!!

(For more information, go to M K Safety Net and/or New Tribes Mission Abuse Storie. I recommend reading the books suggested at the web sites above. Also on one of the link was a dissertation paper on missionary kids that was phenomenal. I have purchased the DVD All God's Children but haven't summoned up the courage to watch it yet.)

Not only am I experiencing sorrow and anger on behalf of my husband, I am grieving the passing of the husband I thought I had married. I love the man I am married to now, don't get me wrong. In fact, I think I have deeper feelings of compassion for this man than for any other person I have ever known. My love for him is not just a pity thing either. What can I say, we have chemistry together. He turns me on. And I probably respect him more now that I know the hell he has been through than I have in years.

What I mean is that the man I married- the marathoner, captain of his soccer teams, expert rating in chess, super-star at work- that man is gone. I thought I was marrying a man with far greater emotional stability than I had. I thought he was super-spiritual, for a guy anyway. (Sorry for the sexist comment but I don't know a lot of men who really love the Lord! Peace to those of you who do!) He was a missionary kid! I thought since he was a person of excellence, he could pass that same encouragement and joy of living on to our children that we would someday have. Many times, when I was discouraged with my own personal shortcomings, I would think "At least I have married wisely and my children will have the father I never had."

But the abandonment of his early childhood was like a time-bomb, hidden away and unnoticed until the trigger came. That first trigger was the birth of our son. When our son reached the age that his daddy had been abandoned, my husband checked out on us emotionally. If only we had known what was really going on! We could have found real help so much sooner. So much suffering on my part, his part, on our children's part could have been avoided. What a waste. I am grieving that loss, too.

These are just emotions. They are important emotions, and I can't skip them or suppress them. They have to be experienced. But I will get through this time, and walk in newness of joy. Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. I believe that.

As far as my marriage goes, this new insight has changed a lot for me, and yet until the healing process is through for him, there will still be challenges. At least I know now that when he disassociates, it has nothing to do with me. He's not toning me out because he doesn't value me. He's hiding from all the pain inside. In doing that, he often misses out on all the love that's waiting in the here and now. But I know it's not personal, and that helps.

When he is irritated for seemingly no reason, or angry with me out of proportion to the reality of the situation, I know it has to do with his past and all the unresolved anger and pain. So far he seems to be getting that too. We have had three minor issues between us in the past week, but each one of them has been resolved relatively quickly. In only one incident did he regress to his primitive brain to the degree that it was blatant. But, he took some time out to pray and go over materials from that 26 week course last week, so all's well that end's well. I call that a win.

This time of mourning will pass, and we will be stronger than ever. The trauma counseling is helping tremendously. As my husband heals he will be more fully available to our teens and that in turn will bring healing to their hearts as well. We are going to make it through his recovery as a couple and as a family. I see joy ahead for all of us.


  1. Grief is good. I spent long years thinking I had grieved, hoping I had done grieving, only to realize I had mostly been denying the real causes of my pain. Now I am grieving that--and it makes all the difference!

    My prayers for your husband are that he acknowledge the extent of his pain (really hard to do--especially for fundy kids who are taught to avoid all feelings) and fully experience the healing grief, so he can be the free, whole, divine creation he is.

    And I pray for you that you can be the compassionate support he needs without crossing that line into codependency. That you, too, will see your mourning as a rite of healing and not only a process on the way to joy.

    Love to you both!

  2. Your link to MKSafetyNet is broken.

  3. Fixed now, thanks for the heads up. =)

  4. My mom also thought she was marrying a giant of faith, and tried to live up to what she thought he was - and in a way, these terribly damaged people ARE giants in faith to have held on. I was telling my mom some more about your blog and she's thinking of getting trauma therapy for my dad. He's never had therapy at all, and we did not really know to look for PTSD as a cause of his problems, although we did know he was traumatized. The PTSD thing never clicked until now, though. I think trauma therapy might be very helpful to him. My poor mom has been like a psychoanalizer and therapist for the whole family for years, I would like her to get a break from that! Well, us kids are now well on the way to health, it seems, so less to worry about for her :)


  5. Oh, my!

    I should have been studying this afternoon but blew it off to read this stuff. The particular article here was the one that stabbed me most. I remember telling the in-country missionaries supervising my short term missions that "I want to be a missionary to the missionaries"--that I wanted to support the families on the field to be healthy and whole and really holy (not just having to fake it). I got blank looks or averted gazes. A couple people got up and left the room whenever I'd bring it up. Obviously (now, I missed the significance then) I had turned over a sacred rock and would have exposed the wiggling mass of grubs and maggots if I'd been allowed to continue. It was made all too clear to me that there was no mission board who would accept me for such a position--all available funding was for the "real mission".

    I also have sat here for the last two hours, dried eyed with the tears I still can't shed for the remebrance that these stories would have been our family, if my parents hadn't "failed" right from the start by ever getting accepted by a mission board. My whole childhood, they tried again and again to "follow God's call" but were turned down every time. For my family, being stateside ministers was definitely a second-place Christian life. They were not found worthy enough to make these kind of sacrifices that they wanted to make for God.

    Instead we supported financially dozens of missionaries on our tiny family budget. We sent out many care packages all over the world every Christmas. We hosted ever missionary that came to town, whether one of our "own" or families from supported by the church. The level of forced holiness at those dinners....

    Oh, now I am going to cry!

  6. You really dodged a bullet that time, Sandra. I am so glad your parents weren't sent overseas. All the hell you went through as it is already would have been magnified by the serial abandonment and grief of boarding school, even IF everyone at the school had been kind and supportive.

    (There were some kind and supportive people on staff- they weren't all broken. But then there was still the trauma of repeated, painful rejection, all in the name of God. And for those who were abused by staff and bullied by other students!? I am so glad you weren't among them.)

    L., I found our therapist at this referral site:

    I hope your dad can find some healing for all he's been through. He sounds like an awesome father and he deserves it.

    And you are right, in a way they are very strong spiritually because they survived! Great point. =)

  7. "You really dodged a bullet that time, Sandra." I did but I'm only beginning to realize that I still got caught in the crossfire even if I didn't get hit. All afternoon I could feel another layer in the fundy onion peeling away. I will be seeing my dad tomorrow and I will be sure to bring this up--for both of us will need healing on this issue. Look for a blog post to come out of it!

    " a way, these terribly damaged people ARE giants in faith to have held on." This is SO true. Only the strong survive at all, and it is to the credit of the survivor however they managed not to succumb to giving up. Realizing this truth was a major early step in my recovery from fundy-ism. That all the shame I harbored for the "failings" I had as a result from my childhood was really the flip side of scars that I should be proud of, that I had earned in the courageous battle for spiritual survival.