Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Hyacinth Effect

In a lighter vein...

I am guilty of falling sway to the Hyacinth effect. Who is Hyacinth and what is her effect...We-l-l... more on Hyacinth at the end of the post.

I'm really good at coffin polishing. Sound grim? Here's one more morbid: "'re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and all the flowers bright, but six feet down it's all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh."

This is performance based religion in a nutshell. And who better than Jesus could spot its slithery, slimy symptoms? This is why he used disturbing images to describe it. He wanted his listeners to realize and realize good performance based religion is rotten through and through.

I cut my teeth on performance based religion. Appearance MATTERED!!! And boy do I mean actual appearance. As the pastor of the cult was female outward neatness scored high with her. She was obsessed with neatly pressed clothes, perfectly cleaned houses, and Emily Post deportment.

Don't get me wrong-these things are good and healthy in perspective. However, they are not possible all the time. And that's what she demanded: PERFECTION ALL THE TIME.

But enough about her. This post will be funny and the harm she inflicted isn't funny.

Back to the Hyacinth Effect. I suffer with it. And poke fun at myself for doing so. Hyacinth is a character from a British sitcom, Keeping Up Appearances, who labors mightily that her neighbors, friends, and family would recognize her to be the member of the upper-crust echelon she knows herself to be. For her pains, Hyacinth is arrested, misses a long-awaited cruise, loses the chance to talk to royalty and many others hilarious scenarios. The moral of the story: her slovenly older sister and her slutty younger sister enjoy life in so much more fullness because they don't strive to keep up an appearance (not that I am endorsing slovenliness or sluttiness...but it beats coffin-polishing by a mile)

So if you're tempted, as I am, to rush about, believing you are controlling other's opinion of you by keeping up an appearance, visualize yourself in this Hyacinth clip:

Show Me Blood

by chrisb11101 in photobucket 

 Just finished reading an insightful guest post article on Quivering Daughter's titled
Abusing Abuse?. The article describes the attitude of many to "Buck up!" The mentality is to be grateful that you weren't physically scarred. Darcy, author of the post, has this to say:

Pain is pain. It hurts, it debilitates, it affects every area of our lives. Anyone who lives with chronic physical pain can tell you this. And those who struggle with spiritual pain know all too well. May I even suggest that wounded spirits have far more profound impacts on people's lives than wounded bodies?
Powerful stuff, that. Why should we carry around a pain meter to decide if an experience is deemed painful or scarring? Are religious circles really so blase about suffering that they must be shown blood to produce a merciful attitude?

A situation that I feel illustrates this "there's no blood- so there's no wound" mentality is illustrated on the blog My Teen Mania Experience
The blogger (along with others sharing their personal experiences) petitioned the board of directors to acknowledge wounds (many emotional though I read of several physical ones as well). The board responded with, in my opinion, a cold, dismissive letter. The main concern of collective board was that the problems discussed on the blog were already corrected and that the institution had "a bright future". Not one apology for the many, many scars people bear from their experience with the institution.

I was hoping for a story book ending in this case: board of directors saying that concerns were heard, apologizing for the trauma the institution inflicted-for isn't contrition a Christian virtue?

Apparently not. Since the folks sharing their pain on My Teen Mania Experience didn't show enough theoretical blood they were dismissed as a "dust storm".

I keep hope though. I even keep hope that my spiritual abuser will see her evil and repent for it. Abusive patterns aren't broken by chance. They are broken because some speaks up and says "Hey, that's wrong! Enough is enough!"

I love what Jon Acuff has to say about hope: (Read Jon's wonderful blog Stuff Christians Like - worth your time!)
But here’s the thing about hope, it takes time. And sometimes, I think our greatest frustrations are when we try to force hope into a stage it’s just not ready for...We had to learn to live with a past that refused to stay quiet. As I’ve often said before, unless you deal with it, the past turns into a collection of knives hidden around your house. If you haven’t forgiven each other, then all the sudden you’ll see a character on a television show do what you did and you’ll get stabbed. Someone will make an offhand joke at a dinner party and you’ll get stabbed by that memory. So for us, learning to live with the past was about removing knives.
We have to talk about our hurts- as Jon said, the past doesn't stay quiet. As Darcy stated people will say things about being grateful we weren't beaten, etc. And if you are anything like me, that is your ticket to a month long cruise in guilt land.

So why talk about it? Why blog about it? Well, for the folks over at the My Teen Mania blog because a bunch of leaders decided you weren't bloody enough and de-value you even more by calling you a dust storm. So, you talk about it. According to the comments on the blog, it helps. I know it has helped me.

When I first came out of the cult I posted endlessly for a year on Wanda Mason's Ex-GAC message board. I said often I just needed to feel validated, almost as if I had to ask if it was OK to feel the pain. Wanda would always encouragingly respond back, "You are validated. You are free to share your pain here."

Thanks again so much Wanda. You didn't need to see blood to know there was pain.
To Darcy, Hillary, Recovering Alunmi, Provender, Elizabeth Esther, and all you other awesome blogs out there: Thanks for sharing your pain so others feel free to share theirs. Thanks for not requiring blood.
photo by no_namer_29 in photobucket

Further Reading:
Silent Sorrow
In Black (Velvet)