|This is a scarf I was knitting while attending |
BGBC and with the ladies of my knitting group.
I think one of the fascinating things about spiritually abusive environments is that abusers are so masterful, sometimes they don't even need to use words to induce guilt in their people.
Our family had attended a church for six years prior to BGBC and at that church, I started knitting with a friend which formed into a knitting group. We met together once a week at various locations to knit/crochet, had coffee/tea a nice time of fellowship. We kept up with each other's families, shared prayer requests, discussed what we were learning from the Bible, sermons, etc. It was an enjoyable and relaxing time. I still attended this knitting group after we left that church and was now attending BGBC. At that point, the knitting group had extended to ladies outside the church and so it really wasn't a closed group - just a sweet group of ladies who wanted to knit and encourage each other.
What's interesting is that when I was attending BGBC, I felt guilty each time I went. Why did I feel guilty? What is wrong with knitting with friends? What is wrong with uplifting conversation and prayer? My pastor had never said that ladies shouldn't attend knitting groups. I was keenly aware that there were no ladies Bible studies at this church and also remembered that the only gatherings of ladies that I recalled were for baby showers or bridal showers. I had heard he didn't like ladies Bible studies because ladies like to gossip. So, I guess I naturally assumed that this meeting of knitting ladies would not meet his approval. However, I felt a strong allegiance to this group because I started the group a couple years earlier. These ladies were still my good friends and so I continued to meet despite that weird feeling of guilt. But it really bothered me that I couldn't shake that guilty feeling when I knew there was nothing wrong with what I was doing.
Later, I did find out that my former pastor did know about me meeting with my knitting friends (insert creepy music here: how did he find out? did he seek this out? did someone "tattle"? why was this important to him?). He was also displeased that I was attending this group and mentioned it to my friend who was on staff, although it was never once mentioned it to me.
I think narcissists are masterful manipulators. Even though my pastor did not say a word to me about my knitting group, I most definitely felt his scorn. Below is comment from Pastor Ken from a while back where he discusses the narcissist and how they have difficulty with people participating in activities outside the church and explains really well why I felt the guilt. You see, me meeting with my girlfriends, using knitting needles in our hands, manipulating sheep fiber truly was a threat to the wolf.
Another piece of the puzzle might have to do with the core disorder of many abusive leaders: narcissism.
A narcissistic leader manages and orders those in his sphere of influence around the primary purpose of meeting the narcissist's needs and desires.
Any expenditure of energy or affection by a member that flows outside the world of the narcissist (such as time spent with outside family, friends, birthday parties, family gatherings that sometimes occur on Sundays (!), the loving acceptance of those "outsiders" who hold different religious, political, or ethical beliefs, etc.) or the narcissist's church, towards others, and not towards the narcissist, is viewed as a loss and threat by the narcissist.
Therefore, the normal, healthy social investments of affection, time, money, socialization, etc., towards "outsiders" are strongly discouraged, if not disallowed. Of course, not all abusive leaders are narcissists and False Teachers, but I think a great many of them are. Also, not all abusive leaders are False Teachers -- some are at the least just bad pastors who shouldn't have gone into ministry, and at the worst, very insecure bullies who have followed a path of least resistance into a religious profession, where they can act out their bullying nature on unsuspecting, uninformed church folk. There's my two-cents!