I found a great, experienced psychologist - 2 feet on the ground - who really helped me get things in perspective. In fact sometimes I wondered why I was paying her as it was me that was finding the solutions & reasons. She was very skilled at leading me to find the answers and I realised (just as I was walking today in fact) that she was discretly teaching me accountability & responsibility for myself - no longer to blame things on the past but to take the responsibility to change the future and be a responsible adult for my family. When I was in SMC it was easy - you went and got advice from xyz and then got on with it - a bit lazy really (not everyone was like this I hasten to add, but was my situation entirely). It was tough for me at first to be face-to-face with myself and what I wanted but I soon got the hang of it and it really helped me - it was for a period of about 18 months-2 years.
Hi again Wistongirl
And thank you again for being so open and honest about what you went through and how you dealt with the mental legacy of 23 years in Struthers. I think that insight into how you were helped might be one of the most useful things yet on the forum - particularly for people still in Struthers.
There are many people in the Struthers churches who are only able to remain there because of the pills they have been prescribed. (Don't just take our word for it – apparently Alison Speirs mentioned this fact in a sermon a few years ago.) They read on here of many people needing counselling and psychiatric help after leaving SMC and to many of us that makes perfect sense and we to different degrees experienced the same need after leaving to come face to face with ourselves.
And your story here gives people still in Struthers an insight to what it actually is that is being damaged in them by the control and the teaching to submit to people and rules, rather than to remain free and in a position to choose to live for God.
As you say it is easier in some ways to hand over responsibility, but the point to being set free is to be able to take adult responsibility for our own lives and live in a moral and responsible way. That means we live in a place where we can question ourselves and ALL others, examine our lives against biblical teaching, and be free to follow our God given conscience – even when that goes against the will of our church leader. Struthers leaders, as fallen, sinful humans, can be as selfish and self righteous as any other normal person. Wise Christian leaders would never seek to place themselves between someone and their conscience in any case.
And as we understand who we are in God we can live positively and embrace change. Then even that change can be questioned and reviewed and making the right choices leads us towards righteous living and holiness. Letting others decide for us robs us of any chance of freedom, holiness and all our choices are compromised as they are not our choices any more.
The result is what we see all around us still in Struthers. People who have surrendered to the leaders and paid what they have been told is the required price for many years. Some of these people may have the reward of approval from the leadership but none of them are showing the fruits and world changing outcomes promised by the Struthers leadership. They are having some small impact and bringing in (in some branches) a few new people and loosing others. Though this impact often seems less than is seen in many churches Struthers criticise as “lesser” or “faithless”.
As observers we see none of the evidences we are encouraged by the Struthers leadership to look for of people living the overcoming life and transforming the lives of others and whole communities in revival-like powerful ways. This is what Struthers promise their teaching will lead to. Yet it does not happen. Still the way is not allowed to be questioned. So in spite of meeting all the requirements outwardly it must be the people getting it wrong “inwardly”.
So years of repeated sermons demand endless introspection and we end up with many inside surviving only on medication.
And those who have left still confused or finally getting psychological help after long years of pain.
But a stirring in the conscience of many – and the still small voice of God still telling people to follow Him not them. A narrow way and a painful way but also a way to freedom and adulthood and responsibility. And the only place from where people can be fruitful.John 12:24
says:Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
Could it be that the grain of wheat in this picture is the (completely unbiblical) faith in the infallibility of the Struthers leadership? Is that what needs to fall to the ground and die?