In my last post: Spiritual abuse: Some abuse is not physical, I explained what spiritual abuse is. I have to make clear that in ‘The message’, which is an international cult, you have pastors who are really sincere and only want the best for “their” people. But in my experience, unfortunately, the majority of the pastor’s I have met were those that controlled their congregations with an iron fist. I don’t know how many times I told Johan that if our last pastor was in a leading position in the government he would do a coup and take control of the country. It may sound ridiculous but I really felt that way. He behaved like a dictator, ruling his dictatorship.
Our first encounter with that pastor was one year after we moved and started to attend his church. My mum got diagnosed with cancer and my youngest sister (she was then about 16 years old) called me in panic and asked me to come home. I am the oldest of five siblings and she needed her big sister there with her. And of course, I wanted to be with my mum too. I booked a ticket for the first flight I could afford.
Expecting me to ask the pastor for permission
I had to arrange a babysitter for the kids but that wasn’t that easy. We didn’t have any family living near us and we didn’t have any other friends than those from our little church. First I asked the wife of the elder if she could have the kids for a week. Later that evening her husband called me to talk about it. To me it was really strange when he told me over and over again that it was ok, the kids could be with them but first I had to ask the pastor. I asked him why I should ask the pastor. But he didn’t really answer the question. He just told me not to worry, to call the pastor, ask him if my kids could stay with them and it would be fine. I got really annoyed and told him I don’t need the pastor’s permission to decide where my kids were going to stay. Luckily, another really nice couple were more than willing to have the kids for a week.
When I returned to Norway the pastor got a hold of everything that was going on and called me and Johan in for a meeting. Johan and I had already decided that I was going back the week after and would take the kids with me this time so I could stay for some weeks. With mum being in the hospital and still three of my siblings living at home, they really needed me there.
Didn’t want me to travel
The pastor was really upset that I just left without asking him first. He told me in these modern days when we have the internet I didn’t need to travel home to The Netherlands. My place was with Johan and the kids. I explained to him that when my youngest sister asks me to come, and I have the possibility to travel, I go and it was up to me to decide for how long. The pastor asked Johan in front of me if he agreed on my traveling to the Netherlands as if I did something Johan didn’t agree on. In every aspect of the conversation, he tried to undermine me.
Coming nowhere in the conversation he asked me why I didn’t ask him for a solution where the kids were going to stay for the week before I traveled. I made it very clear that I didn’t need his permission for any of the decisions I make. I think when I used the word “permission” they realized how bad it really sounded. The elder tried to deny our conversation which made me lose all my respect for him. Be a man and stand by what you say! It really left this bitter taste in my mouth.
What did they actually want from me
It was kind of confusing. In one way they didn’t want you to believe that they really wanted you to ask the pastor for permission for any decision you have to make. But on the other hand, the way they were asking questions and talking to me made it clear to me that it was what they actually wanted. I know I have said it before that my character got me in a lot of trouble while being in “The Message”. I am kind of stubborn, too opinionated and outspoken for a woman (according to Message believers). And a lot of men didn’t like that. But I cornered them and they didn’t get any result they wanted while talking to me.
It was the first and last time I got called into a meeting with them. But it wasn’t the end of it. It was the beginning of a hard battle where they would try to come between me and Johan, ripping our family apart if we would let them.
To be continued…