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#42: Idea


1. any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.
2. a thought, conception, or notion: That is an excellent idea.
3. an impression: He gave me a general idea of how he plans to run the department
4. an opinion, view, or belief: His ideas on raising children are certainly strange.
5. a plan of action; an intention: the idea of becoming an engineer.
6. a groundless supposition; fantasy.

The voice of BigBob over the past several years:

“I have an idea. Why don’t you quit working so hard for the church? Your talent and efforts are not appreciated. Why don’t you think about yourself for a change, start taking care of yourself a little bit? You work too hard all week to come home and do all the work you do for that organization.

In fact, why do you even want to continue to be a member there? They are bigoted, narrow-minded, resistant to change and your viewpoints do not line up with theirs. Worse, the pastor has not stood up and done ‘the right thing’ and is never going to. That congregation is his little kingdom and he enjoys ruling over it. You are just going to continue to be frustrated and hurt.”

The voice of God, imparted to me by the Holy Spirit, over and over during the past weeks until I simply could no longer ignore the message. It gave me an unmistakably clear idea about what I had to do:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.” (Matthew 7:6)

When someone vets an idea with which I disagree on moral, ethical, legal, and humanistic grounds, I cannot stand silent. It is not my nature. I couldn’t live with myself if I did. Nor will I tolerate being played, manipulated, maneuvered. It can happen to me once. But not twice.
So when you find yourself saying (in part) the following words to your former pastor, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the idea of making that person your former pastor had to transformed fomr just an idea into reality:

“BigBob has been watching me struggle . . . for too many years and trying to convince me to quit, but I am the kind of person who doesn’t quit because I always thought that there was good work to be done. I also believed that the intentions and spirits of those involved were true, sincere, and kind-hearted. But I saw on Tuesday night — clearly, unequivocally, and with no room for debate — that my willingness to give the benefit of the doubt over and over and over was just going to continue to make me frustrated and miserable. I could no longer do it after the Holy Spirit smacked me in the face as surely as if it had stood right in front of me and pounded a 2’x4′ over my head. It has been telling me for many months to stop casting my pearls before swine. And I have done just that.

. . . [W]e know the truth. You know what you did and I know what you did, and so will a lot of other people eventually, so you can spin it all you want, but the truth has set me free and will continue to do so. I was warned by a number of folks, but I didn’t listen because I didn’t believe the things I was told. I tried to see the good. But, ultimately, [you have] no integrity to ‘call[ ] into question.’ You played me ‘like a bass fiddle.’ Bravo! Applause! Applause! Nicely done! You are a master manipulator and I truly stand in awe of your ability to maneuver things and get your way. In the end, you got what you wanted — you always do — and [ ] Church is truly, as I was warned by a large number of folks, not God’s church, but [yours]. Your fiefdom is intact. So you won’t miss me, my talent, or my money and you sure won’t miss my unwillingness to be your puppet, rubber-stamping your every move just like the remainder of your Church Council.

[T]hings started out ok, but ultimately you have disappointed me far too many times by being unwilling to stand up for what is right, good, decent, and honorable for you to continue to be my pastor. You can attempt to deflect by dumping on me, labeling me. That’s ok. Have fun with that. But I knew Tuesday night that I could never again sit in the pew and have you preach to me.”

I summoned all of my energy to strive for a “win-win” resolution for all concerned, while the pastor shrewdly and deviously manipulated the situation, sabotaging my efforts. In the end, you just have to finally get the idea that banging your head against the wall won’t change anything and certainly won’t bring you personal fulfillment or happiness. I have no regrets about my words or actions. I did my best and am at peace knowing that. My only regret is that I was so stubbornly determined to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear that I didn’t extricate myself from that toxic congregation much sooner because I wasted a lot of time, energy and talent that I could have directed to other endeavors.

But here’s the most exciting idea I’ve had in awhile: I left not just that congregation. I have left organized religion in any form. Instead of continuing to give thousands of hours of free service to any institutional church, I am going to explore and pursue activities and ventures that bring me pleasure, satisfaction, and personal spiritual growth.

I have an idea that all of this happened because God has something wonderful in store for me. A new adventure has begun. It started with my sleeping until 10:00 a.m. on this beautiful but extremely cold Sunday morning and being able to spend some quiet time alone with the Lord, having my own little time of worship which was infinitely more satisfying than any corporate worship service I have ever attended. And during that time, the Holy Spirit gave this verse to me:

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

So I am secure with the idea that everything has and is going to continue to work out just fine so long as I strive to be open and obedient to what the Holy Spirit conveys to me.
One of my good friends said, “Have you ever noticed that, in the long run, BigBob always seems to be right about people?” Very true. So I am also going to try harder to listen to his ideas.

Sunday Scribblings


  1. megnificent!

    Wow, Janie,
    This is intense. However, I can sense your struggle to listen to your inner Spirit or conform to man’s organized religious ideas.
    I wish for you a new breath of life.
    You seem to follow your convictions, or passions. However you choose to describe it, it is the meaning in your life, and it is important that you are attuned and responsive to that.
    Ideas are powerful….

  2. I have never seen the rejection of organized religion more eloquently stated. It is not a rejection of spiritual growth or even of God. It is rather an examination of your own intensely personal spiritual health and well-being. No organized sect can possibly understand this kind of struggle.

    Congratulations on your epiphany and may it bring you peace and happiness.

  3. Bongga Mom

    I too have struggled with the inconsistency of my faith and the organized religion within which I practice that faith. I admire your courage and honesty. What a powerful read!

  4. paris parfait

    This is why organised religion has such problems – the EGOs of certain people who want power above all else – not exactly the spirit of humility usually encouraged in church. Sounds like you did the right thing. And the Jeremiah quote is written in calligraphy and framed in my hallway.

  5. I keep coming across people who seem to be being lead out of their church. Like maybe God is looking for more real and authentic ways of faith, and than sometimes that can only be acheived by leaving behind inauthetic situations. I’m sure God has great things in store for you as you try to seek Him in your life.

  6. Janie Hickok Siess, Esq.

    Kamsin: Yes, I know a lot of people like that, too. At this particular church, they kept wondering why only 20 or 30 people did everything out of a membership of 600+. They talked on and on about apathy. Finally, I came to understand why those other people refused to get involved or volunteer in any way. Also, new members came and went . . . they did not stick around. Again, I think it was a sign that something was very wrong there. Perhaps they were a lot smarter than me and figured it all out sooner.

  7. Liza's Eyeview

    “Do not be weary in doing good, for in due time you will reap the harvest”.

    This verse in somewhere in the Gospel (Matthew I think), and I got reminded by it as I was reading your post.

    God bless. Keep listening to the Holy Spirit and follow His lead.


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