Phil 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.
A portion of an interview conducted with me early last year is quoted in the February issue of Essence Magazine, "The First Ladies' Club" article. Unbeknownst to some, I spent 15 years married to a minister who became Pastor or Co-Pastor of churches during our marriage. To some that lifestyle is a dream come true. To me it felt as if it were a horrible joke. Confined, restrained and limited most of the marriage and ministry, in divorce my greatest emotion experienced was not loss, it was relief. I have not missed one moment of that life or my marriage. While loving the people of the church I despised the lifestyle and the demands placed upon our lives as we served God. I did not mind serving Him, in fact I counted it an honor. What I didn't like was how we were treated in that service. Or better said, how I was treated most of the time in that service. Neglected by my husband and mostly ignored by others in the church. I could not hang out with many members of the church and just be myself because, well, he was the Pastor and they couldn't see us warts and all. I had to keep up the image and keep secrets. Touch not God's anointed and do His prophets no harm rang in my ears despite all of the emotional and mental abuse I suffered in my home and in my place of worship where you're supposed to go for healing and hope. Nor could I hang out peacefully with non-members of the church because then I was categorized as conferring with the unsaved and possibly "falling into sin." It was a lonely, at times lifeless existence that stifled and almost ran me nuts. I became a robot and shut off emotionally to preserve my sanity. This was never supposed to be my childless, loveless, pretended perfection, fishbowl existence, and I felt like screaming at God for the cruel joke of it all. See, I was saved at 9 years of age and had intently studied the bible, attended worship and felt a call to write, teach women, sing praise music and praise dance ministry all on my own. Being a creative communicator with boundless energy I did not imagine God would call me to serve as the wife of a minister and place all my gifting behind him. In fact while we were dating he did not tell me he was a minister. I found out when he invited me to church with him and he sat me in the pew and I waited on him to come back to sit with me and he waltzed out to the podium and opened worship. I spent the next 15 years sitting out in the audience of too many worship services with the same sense of WTH wonderment that the man of God preaching to me was also the man who snored next to me at night.
So, Why look back at this painful part of your life now Cheryl, much less publicly after the dust of divorce has settled and you've moved on and are experiencing love in a relationship for the first time in over 20 years? Are you stuck back there? Do you want to go back there? Heavens no, but that is what I am accused of by finally speaking up. I have one reason for doing so...for the sake of helping other women, and hopefully put church folk on notice to treat their first ladies better. It is my desire to be used of God to highlight a hidden darkness in the church, I have been called to tell my reality, my truth, my story. Hopefully it will stir existing church members to be "noticers" with their own first ladies. Especially if that Pastor has divorced, remarried and the church is marching on. What happened to the former first lady? Do you pray for her? Do you know what really happened to HER or are you accepting what the man of God has said to you? The church surrounded him at our marriage's demise. None but 3 of our former church members has ever reached out to me to see how I am doing. These are the people who's lives I set ahead of my own in so many ways for years. Could they not tarry with me for a few in my own dark valley? When my life crumbled, it was as if I needed to move along to prevent any thing from touching the church. His life has marched on and he is continuing in ministry. My life is completely changed...for the better yes, but it still was a crack in my universe to leave all behind, including my church, home, family and friends. I am glancing back at my past just briefly. Regressing just a little bit for the valuable lesson and blessing to share in that regression. Regression means the act of going back to a previous place or state, return or reversion. It is a return to a former or less developed state. We all regress in our lives and in every regression there is a powerful lesson. In it, life will seem as if it took a backward turn and you went back where you've left or thought you'd progressed past. It will be unbelievable that you're HERE or THERE again just by thinking about it or speaking of it! Sometimes we end up regressing due to choices and decisions we make or we are led there by the providential hand of God for a purpose. Regression is only good to establish linear relationship between things (linear relationships are the relationships between a constant and a variable...for the Believer it is a glimpse at our God who is unmovable/unchanging while understanding we are being changed daily). Regression is also good at establishing parameters, which are measurable factors forming one that defines a system or sets the conditions of operation, value selected for the particular circumstances and in relation to which other variable quantities may be expressed. So in looking back I want you all to know I am okay with exposing what I have kept secret for so long. But, I am doing it wisely and judiciously. I am limiting the amount of time I will spend here in regression, because I am healed and whole and have forgiven all but am not so foolish as to think my experience was a solo one. Due to this article I have the privilege of knowing more than a few former first ladies with similar stories God has truly blessed me to share with them and hear of their pain and aid God in their healing. God works through people, right? Talking now is just as much a necessity for my own healing and fully walking into my future where my best years lie ahead.
Beloved, I am praying with and for you!
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