August 2, 2013

Spiritual Bullies…

Category: News — admin @ 6:51 pm

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…They are afraid that any betrayal of themselves into a gentler,
warmer and more tolerant speech and gesture, will make them more
suspect to their fellows, and lay them open to the assaults, threats,
tyrannies, and domination they fear.

—Thomas Wolfe
______________

I’m not quite sure how it ever got to where it did. Or why I let it happen as it did. Because I could have stopped it at any point along the way. Could have chosen to just not speak. And I knew enough to know that it would be best to walk away, silent. But I didn’t. Probably because it roiled in me, what I knew to be true, and I wanted to tell it how it really was. And when two people like that cross paths, they mostly talk past each other, seems like. Which usually means there’s a whole lot of talking going on, and very little listening.

The emails still trickle in now and then. They’re not as plentiful as they once were. I try to answer each one, although now and then I just don’t get it done. It’s not deliberate. I just don’t get to it. And this guy’s first email seemed benign enough, except something about it didn’t seem quite right. He had read my book, of course. That’s why he emailed me. To tell me that. He liked it, he claimed. But then he went on. He lived close to a sizable Amish community somewhere in the Midwest. He knew some of the Amish people in that community, interacted with them in his line of work. Fine people, they were. And he had a question. How could he best witness to them about Jesus?

And there’s nothing wrong with that question, on its surface. It’s legit enough. Any Christian wants people to know who Jesus is. But still, there was something about the way he asked it. I sensed where he was coming from. He thinks all Amish are lost. He wanted to “save” them. And I thought. That’s pretty arrogant. To just assume that. Who does he think he is? He’s looking from an outside world into a world that does not speak his language. And because he does not understand the language, he just figures it has to be how he sees it. What he sees is a primitive group of people that needs his help. And he’s gonna give that help to them, whether they want it or not. One way or the other.

Had I known what was coming, I would most definitely have ignored him from the start. But there’s no way I could have known. So I wrote back and told him. Don’t worry so much about “witnessing” for Jesus with your talk. Don’t go preach at them. That’ll make them all suspicious. Just be who you are, be their friend. Walk with them where you can. Talk to them face to face. Never speak from above. And you’ll get to slide it in, tell them what you know, in the course of things, if that’s where your heart is. And they’ll know what you’re saying is true, because they see you living it.

And he was a little too eager, writing back. Oh, yes. That’s exactly what he wanted to do. And, oh, no. He’d never dream of speaking from above. He wanted to be a servant to them. And again, something about his tone rankled me. And I thought about it. “Christian service” comes from below, the way most people see it. Except it doesn’t, often. A lot of it comes with a good strong dose of judgment. I’m here to lift you up, you poor lost soul. You are fortunate that I showed up to save you from your sins. Now, here’s what you have to do, to know Jesus. Here’s a copy of the sinner’s prayer. And don’t forget, I’m serving you, here.

I recoil from that mindset. And recoil from such methods. Judge me all you want, but I do. And I shrink from all that serving from below. Because this is how I see it. If you consciously think you’re serving someone from below, you’re serving one person, mostly. Yourself, and your ego. Stop consciously “serving.” Just live. Talk face to face, at eye level. Right where people are. There are a lot of people out there who have never seen a Christian stop and just listen to their voices and their stories and their hearts. And hear them, right there at eye level. Not from above. Not from “below.” But right there, in their world. Right there, without judgment. And that’s what I tried to tell the guy. Just listen, and be there, if you want to “witness.” That’s what I see as the heart of Christ.

I think he was suspicious of me when he first wrote, for some reason. Probably because my book wasn’t preachy enough for him. I know he wasn’t all that impressed with my response. It made him all the more suspicious. He didn’t let on, though, not for a while. And we emailed back and forth a few more times. He seemed amiable enough, and I thought nothing of it. But he was waiting out there, lurking. Waiting to nail me, waiting for me to post something he could possibly take issue with, fuss about. And it didn’t take long. I think it was my very next blog that made him decide that I was due for some serious correction and admonition.

It was back before I left for Germany, and the blog that triggered him was the one about the prison. That day, when I went to Philly and hung out with Janice and Wilm. And where I flipped out about the dehumanizing evil that is prison. And the vile false god that is the state. Went down in there and felt it, the despair of unjust and brutal incarceration. Decried it for the evil that it was and is and will always be. And when I go down deep, emotionally like that, it always takes a few days to work my way back up out of it.

And over the weekend, he must have thought about it a lot. How he could tell me I’m wrong. Where he could correct me. All in love, of course. I have no idea what motivated him. Maybe he was excited that he was actually communicating with a real “writer.” And excited that he could influence me. I don’t know. I just don’t understand people who do what he did next.

His email arrived that Monday morning, about the time my head was clearing up. He had read my blog, he told me. And just that close, he had sent me a rah, rah message, saying how much he liked it. But somehow, something held him back. The spirit of the Lord. He didn’t say that, just implied it. And he couldn’t send that message. He lowered the boom instead, right out of the blue. He felt compelled to tell me what I don’t know, he wrote (paraphrasing, here). Some dark thing, lurking, that I didn’t see. He could tell, from my writing. I’m in a prison, in my head. And there’s something, somewhere, that I’m not willing to confront. He didn’t say what that something was. They never do, those who accuse you like that, in that way. There’s something you’re not willing to confront, they say with smug assurance. But they won’t tell you what that is. Just that they sense something in your spirit. It’s the principle of the thing, you see. They know, from their judgment of your spirit. But they don’t call it judgment. They call it discernment. And how can any accused person stand against the discernment of the Lord? There is no doubt in my mind that he figured he had nailed me good.

But he wasn’t done. That wasn’t his only concern, that I was imprisoned in my head. Oh, no. He had discerned something else, too. I had a heart of pride. That magazine cover I was on, the one I linked and told my readers about at the end of the blog. That was really a shallow goal, not worthy of a serious Christian (again, paraphrasing, here). When would I learn that all such things are fleeting, like dust and ashes? Stop pursuing such goals, he told me. I should put my efforts into working for the real King. Jesus. And he was praying for me, that I’d do that. Just bring it all to Him. He’ll take care of your problems, your burdens. And you won’t be in a prison, in your head. You’ll be able to face that thing you don’t want to confront. He signed off piously, then, with lots of “Christian” love and all.

And I will admit. His message triggered something inside me. And not what he was expecting. A flashback to another place, a long time ago. Followed by a hot savage wave of irritation and rage. Who in the heck did the guy think he was? Did he really think I’d just agree with him? Prison in my head? What did that mean? And the magazine cover? I made that pretty clear when I wrote it. It wasn’t something I had ever pursued. But when it came at me, I took it. With pride, sure. And a lot of gratitude and satisfaction, too. What could possibly be wrong with that?

When someone comes out of the blue like that and accuses you like that, it’s jolting. Hits you right up the side of your head. And you think about it, the accusation. A prison in my head? Who’s to say he wasn’t right? I suspect we are all imprisoned in our heads, one way or another. My restless spirit, that’s where my writing comes from. I’ve said that before, and I’ll say it again. Most writers, I think, have some sort of restlessness stirring inside. That’s what makes them write. But still, I recoiled from the flashbacks his words evoked in me. What an idiot, I thought. I mean, why would you go around admonishing someone like that? Someone you don’t even know? And all from reading one blog. I have six years’ worth of blog posts out there. Six years of production, from every imaginable emotional place. You can check a few of them out. Get a sense of who I am before you come at me like that. Yet here he was, judging me from his contrived reaction to one measly little blog. I wasn’t just irritated. I was enraged.

I could have ignored him. I should have ignored him. But I didn’t. But I did hold back. Spoke lightly. You should have sent the rah, rah email, I told him. I don’t like conflict. I spoke from where I was, in the blog. Spoke my heart. That’s how I try to write. I write from where I am, as I am. And I sent it off. Surely he would understand that, not that I owed him any explanation. But we’d communicated some now, and I figured I’d try. I was extremely naive. Now he had me where he wanted me. Got me to respond to his accusations. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen a real adult bully working at his craft. He was fixing to change all that for me. And his next “measured response” came slithering in a few days later. It was much darker.

He could see his accusations were right, from my response. That’s what he said. And he admonished me again, just like the first time. He had me trapped, he figured. Like he’s probably trapped a lot of hapless people before, in his walk through life. He had the perfect formula, to bully people. I accuse you. You don’t respond like I think you should. That makes you guilty. Because your response makes you guilty. Just think about that for a moment. Maybe you know people like that. It’s maddening, is what it is. Just maddening. And I got mad. But still, I kept my response calm. Tried to shake him off, more or less politely.

Look, I wrote back. I didn’t mind writing back and forth a few times. But we have veered off into unproductive territory, here. I don’t like tar babies. I wish you well. In other words, just go away and leave me alone, was what I was telling him. And I would have been very happy, had he just done that. But that “bully” blood was wakened and throbbing strong in him. And he felt led to respond. Again. The same tired old line. Every time, he mentioned it at least twice. He could tell he was right, because of how I responded to him. He could tell. Just bring it all to Jesus, that prison in your head. And that thing you’re not willing to confront. Bring that, too. He’ll set you free from it all. Jesus saves.

And I lashed back. You are a tar baby. It’s hopeless, to try to correspond with you. It’s just entanglement. And back he came again. Same old song, same old verse. You’re guilty because of your response to what I’m saying, that’s pretty clear. And more rote admonitions about Jesus, and how He can unlock that prison in my head, if I’d only let Him. All right, I thought. It’s been a while since I’ve done this. Flamer Bob was the last one. It’s time to block you, buddy. But not before telling you what I really think. I wrote him back in what I like to think was a controlled rage. Maybe it wasn’t so controlled. I rebuked him. Called him what he was. A spiritual bully. It won’t work against me, so quit trying. I shudder to think how many weaker souls you have wounded along the way with your incessant judgmental braying. I come from a place where people did that as I was growing up. And instantly recognized you as a bully. I rebuke you and your methods. Repent while you can. I doubt that any of his victims had ever done that before. Bristled like that, and hit right back. Oh, well. Always a first time for everything, I guess.

And then I blocked him. I may hear from him again someday. Not saying I won’t. Maybe after he reads this, because it’s a pretty sure bet that he’s lurking out there, reading my posts. But it’ll be from a different email address if I do.

And I’ve thought about it all a lot. How it happened, and why I reacted so virulently to his attack. It’s never fun to be accused like that. I don’t know why anyone would even want to do such a thing. But this far out from it, I’ll give the guy this much. I don’t know his heart. Just like he doesn’t know mine. I figure he actually thought he was doing the right thing. Witnessing for Jesus. Problem is, you can’t force such things on people with accusations, as you would in a court of law. It just doesn’t work, and it never has worked. It doesn’t matter how carefully you couch those accusations with claims of concern and “Christian love.” It’s not Christian love. I come from a world where actions like his were all too common. Where you didn’t have a voice. And where you had to take it, when someone came at you like that. Because your response made you guilty, if you didn’t. I’m fine-tuned to that kind of thing. Hyper-sensitive. And my natural visceral reaction just wipes out any chance of real communication. I recoil, and anything constructive that might actually get said gets lost because I don’t hear it. It just is what it is. It’s who I am.

I’ll stand by what I said and what I did, though. How are you supposed to respond, when people come at you, all accusing like that? When they speak the language of a “concerned Christian?” Spout all the rote words, through every step of that tired old formula. How do you respond? You can’t, not on their playing field. Not unless you have a little discernment of your own. And it’s hard, to have the strength to stand up to a spiritual bully. It really is, when you’re trapped in that hopeless place. And I’m talking now to those who are trapped and being bullied, in whatever religious setting. I know where you are, how it feels. I’m right in there, with you. Talking face to face. I know the hopelessness of it all. I know how tough it is, to be trapped in a world where you don’t have the strength to break free. Because it’s just too impossibly hard. And how they accuse you, your inquisitors, using your natural reactions and emotions as weapons to prove your guilt and break your spirit. I know all this stuff. I was there, that’s where I come from. And I took a little flashback trip to that world, just now.

And if you hear nothing else I say on this post, please hear this. You don’t have to take it, you don’t have to accept the heavy burden of those accusations. Not from anyone who would inflict guilt and impose rules as measures to define the condition of your heart. That’s not who Jesus was when He walked the earth. It’s nowhere even close. And that’s not who Jesus is now. He never was about rules and guilt. He always was about embracing flawed people like you and me. The wounded, the rejected, the oppressed, the accused, the condemned, the hopeless. He always was about love and forgiveness. It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from or where you’ve been. He will always meet you where you are, as you are. And He will always set you free to live.

For me, I guess, the bottom line of my little tale is this. There are a whole lot of ways for people to come at you with “spiritual” accusations, then turn on you and use your response as proof of your guilt. From openly hostile confrontation to smarmy “admonitions,” all the way across the spectrum to subtle mind games and not-so-subtle judgment. It’s all bullying. It’s all manipulation. It’s emotional abuse in the name of the One they claim to know and serve. It’s so damaging. And it’s so wrong. I reject it. I rebuke it. And I will cut off anyone who persists in doing that to me at any level.

Because I will walk free. And I will live free. You can, too.

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(30 Comments) »

  1. I can’t believe you wrote about this; just this week a customer told me, “You gotta pray for discernment, Not everyone has it, and you can’t understand God’s word without it.” They must have been listening to the same evangelist on tv. He just went on and on, with the quotes and what Jesus says, etc. I told him that I don’t need to be reminded every time you come in my restaurant, of what Jesus did for me. And they love when you get irritated, cause it feeds them more to lambast you.

    Comment by pizzalady — August 2, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

  2. By the way, love the blog. You tell it so well.

    Comment by pizzalady — August 2, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

  3. I guess that spiritual bully thought he was fighting the good fight. Little did he know that he picked a fight with a true advocate of the spiritually bullied. Keep writing from where you are, Ira. I’ll keep reading from where I am.

    Comment by Maryann — August 2, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

  4. This is good, Ira. This is really good. What a testimony you are.
    LLJ

    Comment by LLJ — August 2, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  5. I live in the South, and have many times had to listen to malarkey
    like that fellow was spewing. You do better than I–anymore if a
    person tells me they’re a Christian right away, I turn away. Those
    folks who truly are, let their demeanor and actions speak for them.
    In my mind, the rest are just praying loudly on street corners.

    Comment by Margret Raines — August 2, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

  6. Excellent post! You are right on. “Rote words” and “tired old formula” – people are taught to be this way. They perform blindly because that is what they are taught is the right thing. I know, I used to be one. Thank God I began questioning the system, which is a severe no-no. Keep at it, Ira. Keep being just who you are!

    Comment by Jenifer Woods — August 2, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

  7. Ira, I thank you so much for this blog. I have been the victim of the same thing. It tormented me for years until I finally had a very soothing talk with Jesus and He pointed out to me in His word, the TRUTH.
    Thanks for putting into words what I haven’t been able to.
    You are a very Godly person and I’m thankful for finding your book and finding your website and Blog.

    Linda

    Comment by Linda Morris — August 2, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

  8. Ohhh! You should have left him with this little word from the Lord before you let him go: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” Romans 14:4.

    Comment by Rhonda — August 2, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

  9. Oh dear. I’m feeling guilty because I told you to lighten up regarding kids. That’s a judgmental thing to say. But you’re talking about spiritual matters. Hmmm

    Ira, you’re an intelligent man who knows so many of the ins and outs of his own heart. That’s saying something! You knew exactly why you reacted to this man as you did. Because at one time you were religiously abused. I react the same way when someone is trying to use guilt to manipulate me. It just triggers something in me that makes my skin crawl.

    And with this guy accusing you of being proud, well the Amish are notorious for that, are they not? A sure fire trigger.

    Yeah it galls you, but you know who you are. A wonderful, spiritual, loved, child of God. From several of your writings it’s clear you are generous. Maybe even to a fault sometimes, but that’s just who you are. Your readers are crazy about you. I remember reading a comment by a woman you showed compassion to who was contemplating suicide. What a godly, loving thing to do.

    No, that guy was way off the mark with his analysis of you. What a shame. He’s going to miss out on some really great stories.

    Comment by francine — August 3, 2013 @ 4:33 am

  10. I just read your last blog about spiritual bullying. Last week, there was a terrible accident in my home community. 2 young parents, their son, and a friend were killed. In the midst of all the grief somebody asked the question if the victims were believers. The immediate response was very clear, “this is not the time to ask this kind of question”. I know the community is helping each other and have rallied around the stricken families in a very positive way. I think there is a time and a place to do certain things and some “christians” just aren’t very good at either one. Being a “christian” doesn’t give a person a license to be obnoxious or disrespectful and so arrogant that there is only one way to be. –Mary M

    Comment by mary maarsen — August 3, 2013 @ 5:37 am

  11. I thank you for writing on this topic; been there, experienced that. I do not witness verbally because of my own experiences. I just try to LIVE IT. Y’know…the Christians are people and still resort to their old “human nature”, not realizing that the TALK often is negated by the WALK. Keep on….

    Comment by Maggie Newman — August 3, 2013 @ 7:37 am

  12. Your writing reminds me when I walk in to a church with blue jeans, polo shirt, and blue nike sneakers and everyone seems to be staring at you. Of course all of them are dress according to the BIBLE, the women in dresses below the knees and the men with suits and ties. Max Lacado, says it so well, to dress your best for church, means to have your BEST HEART in the RIGHT form. I know that what I said above is not any better than what they are doing, “judging”. But the point I’m trying to get across is that this type of mindset is what is keeping people from going to church and learning about JESUS. You got to share the Love of JESUS in words, but if your Actions don’t lineup with the words, the people you are talking to are not going to Hear/Listen.

    Comment by Warren — August 3, 2013 @ 8:15 am

  13. This happened to me years ago when I was going through a very traumatic time; Divorce and all the awful conflict and turmoil that goes with it. What a time for a “friend” to inform me what the Bible says about the situation, etc. I too reacted in rage, how dare she heap hurt upon hurt? I have since matured and opted out of the games that “spiritual” people play. I tell them if I am wrong then my God will judge righteously. I refuse to allow anyone that much control over my emotions. I choose to walk free.

    Comment by Susan Mast — August 3, 2013 @ 9:11 am

  14. A great post, Ira.

    “New Agers” can be spiritual bullies too. One of them sat next to me at the office. She thought she knew me better than I know myself and offered her “help.” When her offer was firmly declined, she stopped speaking to me. Forever. What a blessing.

    Comment by cynthia r chase — August 3, 2013 @ 9:12 am

  15. I am afraid I would have just started trotting out that verse “judge not”. Ha! (If anyone knows me, they know I regularly grumble about the massive distortion and abuse of that verse.) But there’s probably not a lot to be gained by poking a stick in the eye of a rabid dog.

    Ira, I “get” what you are saying here. I too have a visceral reaction about the same thing. To the point I regularly examine my heart to see if there are issues I need to deal with. Bitterness can trigger similar reactions and all that. It matters a lot to me to not have bitterness in my heart so I pay attention. And there used to be bitterness there. A lot. But now that it’s gone, the reaction is still there.

    Just this past week I got involved in two separate cases of spiritual bullies. Both times something raw was unleashed in me.

    You described precisely what is going on in my own heart when I run across these bullies. I know the feeling of helplessness in the face of a bully who was doing the bullying in the very name of Jesus Christ. It’s not just something I acknowledge in my head, my heart feels it in “real time” whenever I run across it.

    Here’s where I am at with it all. Yes, examine my heart for bitterness. Always good to be aware because it’s so sneaky and so destructive. But recognize this visceral reaction is good and righteous. It reflects the heart of Christ. He had it too. He got pretty vocal about what he thought about spiritual bullies. Said it were better they had concrete blocks tied to their feet and thrown into the Hudson River than to be bullying the weak. Or something like that. Jesus reserved his strongest language for these bullies. So I would say you are in pretty good company…

    Comment by RAM — August 3, 2013 @ 9:28 am

  16. I finally got into comments. This man seems to be one of those people who feel that they need to save the saved because the work is already done for them, and then they take the credit for your relationship with God. Your relationship with Jesus is none of his business nor is the relationship of the Amish. He was trying to make you feel inferior and make himself feel superior because he was playing God. I went to a church once that would not baptize me for a year because I didn’t know the magic word was Jesus came into my ‘heart’. (A heart is and organ that pumps blood, it is the mind that matters) I was already saved but not good enough until I said the word THEY wanted to hear.

    Comment by Carol Ellmore — August 3, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

  17. God save us from tweaking each other.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It resounded and the last two paragraphs hit the ball out of the park.

    Comment by Margaret — August 4, 2013 @ 10:56 am

  18. What a wonderful, Christian response to that “email bully!” Thank-you for sharing this with us.

    Comment by Jane M Goforth — August 4, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

  19. Love the way you wrote this! It resounded with me because we went through quite a bit of spiritual bullying in the process of getting kicked out of Honduras. The way I can easily recognize it now is the misuse of the word “discernment” and the way the accusations are always vague and devoid of real solutions or grace. God doesn’t work that way. I don’t think he does generalities. Anyway, thanks for posting this. Having a champion for the spiritually bullied is good. :)

    Comment by Beth — August 4, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

  20. He sounds just like the Pharisees of old. Yeah, it’s better not to engage these people in conversation, as they are a little touched in the head, imo. When your gut tells you the conversation is not for you, listen to it.

    Comment by Erin — August 6, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

  21. Your gut, not the conversation! :)

    Comment by Erin — August 6, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  22. Ira – Thanks again for your continued sharing.
    Your words brighten my mind.

    Comment by Marlene Papich Terrell — August 6, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

  23. Interesting post. I was curious, too, to read the comments of the loyal. So many encouraging pats on the back; “there, there.”

    Still, a notion wiggled about in my mind: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” (so on and so forth – you know how it goes).

    Since you post your thoughts for all to read, surely you expect to be scrutinized. Therefore, I thought you might want to consider a couple of observations:

    One: Evidently you had this guy sized up from the get-go. Why did you collaborate with him? To ultimately prove your initial impression? You know that children’s toy – the container with a lid that has openings of various shapes, with similarly shaped “blocks” that will only fit through their respective shape? Some of us create a similar apparatus about our hearts. It is much like a self-erected prison. Some of those other shapes would manage to find (reveal) empty places in the heart which the “allowed” shapes never would. The well-trained mind sees them coming, though.

    Two: In case it never dawned on you, by virtue of the fact that one posts his thoughts, ideas, beliefs (etcetera) on the internet, writes a book, or utilizes any other public method to tell what he thinks, he is exhibiting pride and is undoubtedly driven by pride. Perhaps he simply thinks his words are worthy of being read/heard, but often he carries within himself the notion that what he believes is smarter and more thoroughly thought-out than what most others believe. No matter how humbled he says he is by the public interest, or genuinely surprised by it he feels. Pride is still almost always the motiving force in his work – one way or another. Just seems wise to call it what it is.

    Anyhow, as usual, it’s none of my business, except for the fact that you made your business public knowledge. I just wonder if you can be completely sure that this “spiritual bully” wasn’t genuinely expressing love toward you. Some people are so hard, they can’t recognize love at all, even when it shows up in their inbox.

    I hope you’ll always remember “the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

    Comment by Tammy — August 13, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

  24. Wow, #23! I’m glad I don’t have a friend like you.
    I consider a person sharing their thoughts and stories about their life as a way of connecting with other human beings. We are all in different places, have experienced different things in life, have our own set of wounds, have unique personalities, perceive people and situations in different lights. I just don’t think pride has anything to do with it. It’s about being human and brave enough to say what’s getting to you. It’s humbling to do this because you just don’t know if you’re going to get slammed. People process things through writing. They just do.

    If a person writes publicly does that mean it’s ok to insult and berate them? Well, not in my book.

    When I read some of the comments I felt bad that so many people had had negative experiences with Christians. And that so many were angry and hardened by it. But, like I said, we all come from different places. People are where they are. You can’t be anyplace else.

    There is tremendous power in words, especially those from the Bible, but when used in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with the wrong motive, they can turn people away from Christ. As Christians we need to be sensitive to the cues of those we’re speaking to. But we must speak the word of God and make sure our actions are in sync.

    Comment by francine — August 14, 2013 @ 4:05 am

  25. Ira, thanks for being humble enough to share your life’s experiences with us. They really do help a lot of us see our own experiences from a new angle. And thanks for being humble enough to warn us about spiritual bullies.

    Comment by Paul — August 14, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

  26. Re: #24
    You wrote: “I’m glad I don’t have a friend like you.” –Well, no one has actually said that to me before, but the sentiment might be more prevalent than I realize. I try to be a good friend.

    You wrote: “If a person writes publicly does that mean it’s ok to insult and berate them?” –I don’t know that it’s ever okay to purposely insult and berate someone. Does it change the rules if they publicly insulted and berated someone themselves?

    You wrote: “People are where they are. You can’t be anyplace else.” –You don’t have to stay there. Change is painful; not for the faint of heart.

    You wrote: “But we must speak the word of God and make sure our actions are in sync.” –Couldn’t agree more.

    As I look back over my life, I can see that in virtually every admonition or criticism I ever received from anyone, there was at least some truth in the words. A little painful self examination has always revealed this to be so.

    What I wrote (presently #23) was prompted because I believed that the so-called “spiritual bully” likely had good intentions. He likely believed he “knew” Ira from hearing the details of his life and his thoughts. He likely believed that, through their short-lived correspondence, he had developed a relationship with him. Problem was, as evidenced by the post, the relationship was one-sided all along. Apparently, Ira waited for “sb” to reveal his afore-supposed intentions, and then he severed the relationship that never was. And that’s his right. It just seems far more humane to politely end the correspondence. SB probably finds the August 2nd entry humiliating, while his ability to respond (or even apologize) has been blocked. Even if nobody knows his identity, he does, and he’s probably hurt by Ira’s description of their interactions. Being “put off” by overzealous reachers/preachers is understandable; I’ve run from my share of them. I just thought this was a little too personal, if not hurtful.

    And I never intended to post these thoughts publicly – Ira can explain that, if he wants.

    Comment by Tammy — August 16, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

  27. I’m a bit late coming to this one but man did it stir some emotions.

    You’re right about one thing Ira. We don’t have to accept it. We don’t have to accept anything offered to us either good or bad.

    The problem is there’s always something driving us and part of my journey has been to learn my drives, why I accept what I do (both good and bad). Along the way I’ve also tried to learn why I offer what I do (both good and bad).

    It’s hard enough figuring myself out and so I’m surprised (not really) to think I can figure these things out in the next guy. Still I find myself trying and have to remind myself again from whence I’ve come.

    Thanks for another thought and emotion provoking article.

    Comment by Eric — August 16, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

  28. Really loved your description of what Jesus was all about in the second to last paragraph of your post. I have met up with spiritual bullies in my time, also. The paragraph I just mentioned is a great comeback. Thanks for your post.

    Comment by Rosanna — August 16, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

  29. Tammy,
    (Sorry Ira, don’t mean to talk over you).

    Thank you for explaining matters. I’m sure you are a good friend and a person who cares about others. I apologize for my brash statement. It was unkind. You may be right in several of your responses to what I wrote. We all come from different places, different spaces… I respect that.

    As far as being loyal to Ira… There may be a bit of confusion with coddling him and supporting him. People relate to what he writes and respond to it. I think 99.9% of Ira’s readers truly care about him. Enough to lovingly correct him if the need be. I’ve nailed him a few times because he’s a comfortable person to nail. He never responds. HeHe!

    I still don’t think pride has anything to do with Ira’s writing. It’s obvious he writes from the heart and I find him to be a humble man indeed. And I mean that, I’m not coddling.

    No hard feelings? Be blessed and be happy.

    Comment by Francine — August 16, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

  30. Dear Francine,

    Of course, no hard feelings. I anticipated far worse, really.

    You wrote: “People relate to what he writes and respond to it. I think 99.9% of Ira’s readers truly care about him.” –A fascinating phenomenon, don’t you think? I wonder what percentage of his posters actually knows him. Once I was near enough to one of his signings that I considered going, but then began to question my motives. I don’t care anything about signed books. When I read a good one, I pass it on to someone who would also enjoy it, the very fate of my copy of Ira’s book.

    You wrote: “I still don’t think pride has anything to do with Ira’s writing.” – You might be absolutely correct about that and I might be projecting my own internal battle onto the rest of humanity. I have the sense that pride is the motivating force in most of what I do and say. Even this, explaining myself.

    Still, I hope Ira will give his bully an opportunity to give an answer. Let him apologize; let him hurl insults, whatever. Somebody grows.

    And you, Francine. How good it would be to have a passionate person like you in my corner. Surely Ira counts himself blessed by your loyalty.

    Sincerely,
    Tammy

    Comment by Tammy — August 17, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

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