Friday, November 29, 2013

Not Getting Involved Often Prevents Church Bullying

Some people are likely very far from God, despite the fact church occupies a large part of their waking hours. It appears as if certain individuals, who rise to a position of prominence, and who try to run everything, don't have much else going on. They may not work and they probably have few friends. They may not be on speaking terms with their adult children.

They are undoubtedly very miserable inside. But church is a place where their personality quirks are overlooked.

Unfortunately, difficult people are also territorial. If they sense that someone else is enthusiastic, and wants to participate in parish life, they may feel threatened. This is their turf, and they don't want anyone else encroaching upon it. In a healthy environment, everybody should be able to contribute their time and talents. Not so in a dysfunctional one, where one or two lay people may rule the roost.

Much of the time, church bullying appears to be a power struggle. One way to prevent becoming a target is to not get involved in parish projects. By staying on the sidelines, you can still participate in the congregation and use the church for prayer. But you won't get caught in the fray. You can spend all your time and energy focused on God.

Flickr photo by bterrycompton

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Forgiving the Person Who Hurts You Isn't Always Easy

Even if someone hurts us deeply, we still need to forgive them. We need to do this for several reasons. The first, and the most important reason, is that Jesus readily forgives us and He expects us to do the same for others. The second is that forgiving those who've wronged us frees up our energy. One of the worst things we can do, for our body and soul, is to carry a grudge.

Forgiveness might take a little time, but we need to keep working on it. Put the situation in the hands of God and ask Him to have mercy on that person. We don't know what's in someone else's heart. If they hurt us unintentionally, then we must pardon them. If they did it deliberately, God will demand an accounting. Picture them at their particular judgement. This will help you develop mercy toward them. (It is Catholic teaching that we each will have a particular judgement immediately after our deaths. At the end of the world, there will also be a final judgement, where everyone's sins are revealed.)

If you have difficulty with forgiveness, be patient with yourself. As long as you're trying, you're moving in the right direction. Sometimes putting someone in a mental box is helpful. Imagine they are in a little box, far removed from your present life. Pray that God will change them into the person He wants them to be.

What you ultimately want is for you, and for them, to be able to enjoy being with God in Heaven for all eternity. They won't be the same person when they get there.
Flickr photo by mamamusings

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Be Careful When Discussing Your Problems at Church

In my personal encounter with a church tyrant, I see now where I went wrong. When things started to go crazy, I confided in my close friend. I told her how worried I was, and how this was hurting our family. I told her my husband was starting to lose his faith, so scandalized was he by what he had seen. She seemed sympathetic. As time went on, she was one of the few people in our community who was still approachable.

It was a very sad, confusing and trying time. We loved this particular church. It was our home away from home. We spent a lot of time there helping out, whenever we were asked, and attending the events geared toward young families. I was so grateful to have this oasis of faith, removed from the secular world.

However, I later realized the woman I confided in (always without mentioning specific names) was also, most likely, causing the trouble. How do I know this? The trouble didn't stop after we left this church. It trailed us like a demon we couldn't shake.

Then, one day, a certain situation unfolded. I could no longer ignore the obvious. That's when it dawned on me I was dealing with a very disturbed person. Once I distanced myself from her, all my various relationship issues ended.

The moral of the story is, if you are running into difficulties at church, be careful whom you confide in. It's better not to talk about it with anyone at your parish.

I've learned a lot about bullying and personality disorders. In every case, there is usually one person pulling the strings. He or she recruits others to do the dirty work, so you're not sure which direction anything is coming from.

People who like to abuse others will use any information you share with them, and they'll use it to discredit you.

Oftentimes, when they're creating chaos, they'll pretend to be your ally. Generally, we're able to see this treacherous dynamic only in hindsight.

Flickr photo top by filsinger