Dear Pastor’s Wife.. (and deep mother wounds)

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leaving Christianity / the Christian side / the godless side / the post-God side

I wrote this letter a few days ago when I had some open-ended downtime allowing for the emotions to come forth.  I haven’t mailed it yet.

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Caroline* was my pastor’s wife during the church I attended from childhood through adulthood.  A mentor during tough times, a shoulder to cry on, a gentle support in times of need, she filled a role of mother in my life that I desperately needed during my teen and young adult years.  Her husband, Curtis*, was my pastor and filled a similar role as a father figure.  I looked up to both of them deeply with heartfelt love, gratitude, and a deep deep desire to be loved by them in return.  On more than one occasion they referred to me as their daughter and I cherished our interactions and their love in my life for many years.

A pattern of sacrificial love on my end was present throughout the relationship.  Some examples: As a middle-schooler, I prayed and fasted for 1 week sporadically and 3 days entirely, nearly fainting several times, desperate for them to be “re-elected” as our pastors during a tumultuous time in our church.  As a just-graduated-from-high-schooler, I gave all of my graduation money to them *ahem* I mean the church to keep their pastoral dreams alive during an especially financially grim time for our church.  And as an engaged bride-to-be, I used a significant portion of our wedding budget to fly them out to Utah so they could officiate our wedding.

..

Dear Caroline,

What happened?

We spoke on the phone before Silver* and I left for the Philippines.  That was 3 years ago.

Our experience with our missions sending organization overseas was traumatic, to say the least, but through brief correspondence summer of 2013 via facebook with Curtis, you seem to have been aware.

We had to come back to the states, it became too toxic for us in the PI and we felt lied to and taken advantage of overseas.  It was no longer a safe environment for us.

We were back in Utah for 2.5 months and our first little girl was born.

Despite these very major life transitions (going to PI, our life there, coming back to the states, having a baby, etc.), I still never heard from you.

This was an incredible low point in my life, but you wouldn’t have known.

Life gets busy.  I trusted you still cared, somehow.  I never blamed you then for the lack of contact, painful though it was.

Months went by and I tried to reach out, eventually using every way I could.  First I called, texted, nothing.  Again.  Again nothing.  I sent you emails.  No response.  I even reached out to Curtis, emailed and sent him a message via facebook (& perhapds other ways too, I don’t remember now), asking if you switched numbers and if he’d ask you to call me.

I never heard from either of you.

Weeks later you sent me a text with a new number of yours on or near your birthday, but that was it.  Nothing addressing me, what I had been through the past year, what I was going through at the time.  No calls.  No follow-up.  Nothing.  Gone.

A couple months later, I know that my dad reached out to Curtis with the hope that he would talk to me about a faith transition I experienced.

Wounded from the lack of contact from either of you, I was still willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and open up to you to have a real conversation, though it had been over a year since we last spoke.

If missionary trauma, moving overseas and back, having a baby, and trying to contact you several different ways multiple times didn’t move you to rekindle relationship, surely a crisis of faith that all but broke my family would.

But no, not even that.

I was shocked.

More months went by and I found myself bitter, angry, and resentful.  I was clueless as to how to explain what happened in any other way than abandonment, and honestly still am.  I thought time would help me come to peace with a broken relationship with two people that I had once considered as second parents, but it has only forced my pain to emerge in unseen dysfunction in my life.

Sometimes I want to scream at you.  I felt tricked into thinking I could trust and love you and be loved and trusted.  Again, the word abandoned.  Lied to.  Broken.

My emotional, relational, and spiritual health is not your responsibility nor has it ever been.  But for you to walk in relationship with someone only to leave during an extreme time of need without any explanation whatsoever is one of the worst witnesses of Love I have ever experienced.

I write this as a step in my own journey toward healing and peace, neither expecting nor hoping for any contact in return.  I would be foolish to hope otherwise, and I honestly don’t even know what a rekindled relationship would look like at this point.

The brokenness is forgivable but the pain unforgettable, though I still hope the best in life for you and your family.

-Teal*

 

[*names changed.]

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The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.

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