Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Situation

Let’s fast forward to the beginning of the end.

My sister and brother-in-law moved a lot.  It created a lot of stress.  Things weren’t good.  Unfortunately, they moved around some GCMers.  What do GCMers know of my brother-in-law?  Not much.  They were around him for maybe a year or year and a half and during a very difficult part of his life too.  He lost his job, they were low on money, he was getting more and more depressed.  My sister was already stressed from the move, stressed over the job loss, stressed over the money, stressed at his depression.

During this time, I started noticing changes in my sister.  She was withdrawing from my mom because, well, why was she?  She told me.  I just remember not understanding what the fuss was about.  It was such a minor thing and more like a misunderstanding.  During this time she got a piercing and she seemed to be glad it would cause “controversy” with the family when she came home that summer.  I remember seeing it on Skype.  But with the lack of clarity, I thought it was a booger or speck of dirt.  Me being who I was at the time probably said something along the lines of, “That’s stupid. Don’t you know it will leave a permanent mark?”  So there were these little things that often left me scratching my head.  [I later learned that several GCMers encourage separation from family for minor issues, minor misunderstandings and minor disagreements.  This is also what cults do.]

Around this time, my sister would tell me what a jerk my BIL was being.  This is normal.  I must confess I would often not speak highly of my spouse either.  God has taught and continues to teach me to think about what I say about people, all people.  It is a life changer!  But what wasn’t normal was that she wasn’t doing anything about it.  She was never one to back down.  I asked her why she didn’t tell him.  I was left scratching my head as to why she never said anything about the things he would say.  It wasn’t like her.  Could it be she was told she was abused by GCMers and she couldn’t ever say anything anymore (i.e. she couldn’t be herself?)?  Was she truly scared?  Were they both so depressed, neither were acting like their typical selves?  I don’t know.  Also at the time I didn’t really give GCM any thought.  I only wondered what kind of influence GCM was during this time well after she said good-bye to us.  (Please note: There was never anything physical.  It was words that were tearing her down.)

May got bad.  She tried to get him help for his depression.  He was admitted into a hospital.  My sister would call with updates.  I know it was a hard time.  I tried to be an encourager as best I could.  Times were not easy.  She would call me at any hour.  I didn’t care.  I was there for her no matter what time of day or night.

My brother-in-law was put on medication and then released.

It just got worse though.  He had a reaction because two medicines should not have been mixed.  I never doubted the situation was scary (he threw a computer against the wall).  She tried to tell him to stop taking the one medication because it was causing him to be worse.  He went ahead and took another one (I think he would agree with me here.  He was not in his right state of mind.  He was depressed.  He was on a medicine that was causing him to be worse.  He was clearly not thinking straight.).

I told her to leave earlier than she planned to come for her annual trip home.  She would stay with my parents about two months every year because she usually lived far away.  I knew my parents would not have a problem with this.

I am sorry to say, at the time I didn’t have much compassion for my BIL.  I was only thinking of my sister.  I know he had problems and had nobody else but my sister, but at the time I just wanted her and the kids to leave instead of being around him.  Today, I would still have recommended the same thing, but I would have been a bit more concerned for my brother-in-law.  To do it all over again, maybe I would call him, see how he was doing and try to encourage him?

I do believe she left a few days early.

Oh, wait, what did my sister tell all her friends though?  Because I got this comment the other day from one of her friends, “Bottom line, if your sister/daughter tells you that she’s being abused you believe her.  Period.  You *never* tell her to love her enemy in that case.  If she turns out to be wrong, you deal with that then.  But your sister, your daughter? You believe her.  There’s simply no other sane response, unless she has a diagnosed personality disorder and has given you reason in the past to disbelieve her.  And EVEN THEN, you get her and her children the heck out of there first, THEN deal with her mental instability.  Nowhere in your sister posts have you ever hinted at previous mental instability, so I’m going to assume there was none.  So your family had NO excuse to disbelieve her.  None.  What you did to her was shameful.”

Maybe GCMers should stop thinking they are experts on everything and realize there is always more to the story than someone online is going to tell you?  Maybe they shouldn’t assume everybody’s (GCMers that is) family is abusive, toxic and unsafe?

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At the Beginning

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8, ESV)

With my sister being quite out spoken and with both my sister and brother-in-law always wanting to have things their way, there was tension in the marriage.  My mom would tell my sister that the marriage won’t last five years because she never backed down, never walked away.  She was a fighter.  My sister would not have been considered a meek and mild wife by a long shot.  She was also bossy to her husband.  I am sure that caused some fights too.  And just to add here, my brother-in-law is far from perfect.  He too wouldn’t back down.  Neither were or are perfect.  Neither of them have ever spoken nicely to one another.

Years later a tragedy occurred in my sister’s household.  My sister was never truly the same after that.  From that point on there was always a concern for her mental health – depression.  She would have her good times and bad, but my concern for her was always there.  I tried to be supportive of her as I knew how.  The tragedy took a further toll on the marriage.  And shortly thereafter (I do believe that is the correct time frame), she joined GCM.

Fast forward a few more years.

Now remember, my sister has a strong personality.  She is not afraid to voice her opinions.  She started having problems with family members because they said she should spank her child who was acting out of control at the time.  Well she doesn’t believe in spanking.

*Just want to add here that like all families there are going to be things that annoy you about them and vice versa.  My family (including extended family) and I have gotten annoyed with each other over certain things.  I have learned that these weren’t major issues in life.  My differences are that: differences.  To make them into horrible human beings because they see certain things differently than me would not be right of me.  It would not be right of them to think that about me.  I learned not to talk about certain things to them (I guess you could say I made a boundary.  That word has become so negative to me though as you will see later.).  When those things come up, I make jokes about it or not respond.  It really turns out not to be a big issue.  It is all in what you make it.  If you make it into a big issue, then it becomes a big issue.*

For my extended family to even suggest maybe she should spank her child, she disdained them.  She would talk to me about it.  I just didn’t see the huge issue.  Let it go.  This was while I was learning to let things go too.

This was the start of what GCM does to families.  Divides.

And it is perfectly justifiable because after all, according to some GCMers, any form of spanking is abuse (see my spanking articles Here, Here and Here for why this is not always the case.).  Anyone have any Bible verses that says that spankers are evil or that they need to be avoided or spanking should divide people?

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
(Proverbs 19:11 ESV)

Family Background

I know I need to be careful over the next several posts since I will be going into personal matters.  Please know I am not doing so with any maliciousness or hatred towards anyone.  I am not doing this to spread gossip, but to finally reveal our side of the story.  My sister had the opportunity to share her side with thousands of her online bff’s so now they will know the other side of the story.  As I write I will continually have these verses on my mind.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  2 Timothy 2:24-26, ESV

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Colossians 3:12-13, ESV

I spoke to my brother-in-law early on in the makings of this website and asked if he was comfortable with me saying certain things.  He basically said he didn’t care what I said about him.

My parents know a bit about this website, but they don’t know as much as I do about my sister.  They have not been the same since this happened and some things I reveal I do not want them to know simply because their health can not withstand it.  Anything I say about them, I do not think they will have a problem with.  From long ago conversations with them, I think they would be happy that their side is finally being told.

Here is a bit of family background before I start to introduce what happened from our perspective.

My sister was always outgoing, smart, and feisty!  She was considered the bossy one in the family.  She loves being online.  She likes being the center of attention.  She NEVER had a problem with speaking her mind.

I was considered the tactless one (something I have been trying to improve over the years).  I would often would say things before speaking and hurt people’s feelings.  I was always super shy unless I was around my family.  I am just a bit more outgoing now.  I am probably also considered the weird one, hey  I like to entertain my family.  I always did things differently than my siblings.  I love to laugh.  Unfortunately, I also laugh when I am nervous which has gotten me into trouble before.

My mom is a loving woman who cares deeply about her family.  People travel miles just to spend the night at my parent’s house instead of a hotel because of the inviting atmosphere.  She loves to stuff people full of food as soon as they walk in the door!  She is not perfect, but she is a great mother!  She worries herself sick over us, always has and always will.

My dad is great.  Sarcasm is his weakness.  Odd sense of humor.  He is a man who loves his family.

My parents would do anything for their children.  They would travel cross-country to be with us in our times of need, we never had to worry about financial problems, they always opened their house to us when we needed shelter.  They never turned their backs on any of us.  They love each one of us unconditionally, yes they still love my GCM sister.

My brother-in-law came from a rich family.  He has a strong work ethic which was often a pit-fall in their marriage.

We knew in our family what each of our faults were but we loved each other anyway (or so I thought).

Our Side of the Story

If two people are having a problem, then there are two sides to that problem.  I want to finally share my family’s side of the story.  I was hesitant to do so out of respect for my sister and my family even though I know my sister has no problems sharing intimate details of her life with thousands of people online.  It still seemed wrong to me.

My sister’s friend commented on my Sister post.  She said I leave tidbits out.  Yes, yes I do.  I am trying to be respectful.  It has been hard not to give our full side of the story.

I’d still prefer to keep this private, but I am getting tired of being misunderstood and demonized, and with the recent events that took place at GCM.  It is time.

 

 

A Former GCMer

This is a letter I received from a former GCMer.  She has accepted my invitation to post this on the GCM stories page.  I wanted to add a few words here.  I am thankful she wrote to me.  She does not leave out the good she received from GCM, but she does recognize some of the negatives.  I am glad she is willing to share so that others can see an insider’s view since I am definitely an outsider looking in.
Thank you.

I came across the “Expose GCM” blog after learning about another big split that recently occurred in the GCM community. I left GCM a few years ago, and have never looked back until learning this news.

I first learned about GCM while looking for different parenting advice, because what I was using wasn’t working, and the advice I was receiving wasn’t any better or helpful.

Your blog brings up a number of good points; however, I have never found GCM to be a cult – very addictive, yes; and as commenter Amy brought up, it does suck a lot of time, which I also regret.

GCM is a huge community, and frankly, with way too many forums to manage effectively. (To GCM’s credit, the mods/admins have reported to the authorities cases of abuse which were brought up on the boards.)

For the positive points of GCM: it taught me a new way of parenting and interacting with my kids, as well as introducing me to a number of good Christian authors (such as Jeff Van Vonderen, Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller, Clay & Sally Clarkson and Tim Kimmel). The concept of “positive intent” has been invaluable, and it has helped me in many situations — with my family and in other areas of my life. The concept of setting healthy boundaries has been helpful. There were a number of sound, thought-provoking discussions on Bible and theology. For these things I am very grateful.

Now for the negative points of GCM: certain human/cultural ideologies held by a number of the members were allowed to take over portions of the community, despite the Statement of Beliefs (SoB) explicitly being against many of these views. Opposing voices were often shut down in discussions of these topics, and it was that happening one too many times which was when I decided to leave the community entirely.

Other negative points include the projecting a personal experience on to everyone or everything (for example, “I have a bad relationship with my mother/family, so therefore you all have bad relationships with your mothers/families”) and the subsequent buying into it by some other members, and the constant drama and being perpetually offended coming from some members was draining. This is a failing of not only the moderators, but other members of the community to lovingly but firmly call these ladies out and say that your experience, as bad as it was, does not mean everyone else had this experience nor should you project it on to others.

There is also a fine line between exhibiting grace (where you still hold the person accountable for their actions), and permissiveness (where bad behavior is excused away under the guise of grace). When this line gets blurred, it does become frustrating. In retrospect, this also factored into my decision to leave.

You asked in one of your posts how non-Christians can be allowed on a Christian board. They are allowed to join; however, they must abide by the SoB, and it was viewed as an opportunity to witness to them, which is what we are supposed to be doing.

The deeper levels of the boards are appreciated, especially when you are dealing with more sensitive (not abusive) situations or have prayer requests — having these publicly available is not a good thing either, the privacy is needed. As far as the encouragement to lie — in my several years there, I have never seen this (but I also did not participate in every forum, including the marriage forum). Did people lie? Yes, but again, from what I have witnessed, it was their own decision to do so, and some of these lies as well as ‘fake’ people were outed.

As with anything, some of the ideas promoted within GCM can be taken to an extreme — there are toxic people out there, but it doesn’t mean that everyone or anyone who disagrees with me is toxic; there are times when healthy boundaries need to be set, but it doesn’t mean I need to set them every time or with everyone or make a big deal of it in every single situation; yes, AP is a good thing, but when the husband is being shut out in favor of the kids, or if it gets in the way of relationships or it is the starting point of looking for a church (instead of adherence to Scripture and soundness of doctrine), it has become unhealthy and an idol.

What this all comes down to is that we each are responsible for our actions — our need to develop strong discernment skills (which comes from regularly studying the Word), the time that we spend there or on any online community, what we choose to share (GCM does not require or encourage a sharing of one’s entire life or a lot of personal information), taking responsibility for our own feelings and reactions, and ultimately, knowing when it has become unhealthy and that it is time to walk away.

Bad Theology – Grace

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  2 Cornithians 2:2

I have mentioned before the lack of Jesus on the gentle Christian mothers forum pages.  There is lot of talk about personality types, how to dress according to your energy, and other such psychobabble.  One biblical term that is talked a great deal about though is grace.

What is grace?  Unmerited favor on sinners who deserve God’s wrath.

Where does grace come from? “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

Why are we given grace?  We need it!  We are all sinners who will have to pay the penalty for the sin we commit against God unless we are given undeserved favor from the Lord Himself. (2 Thes 1:5-12; Ephesians 2:4-9; Romans 5:6-9;)

Sin, Guilt, Confession

Whether you are an anti-spanker or spanker, sometimes parents respond to their child’s sin with sin themselves.  Sin in response to sin, what do you do with that?  How do GCMers respond when they confess to the other members that they weren’t nice to their child (more like confess they had “big feelings” over their child’s “big feelings”)?  A lot of times the advice is, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Give yourself grace.”  Jesus is not mentioned.   The Christian should know that when we are feeling guilty over our parenting, we have a wonderful Savior who died for our sins. Instead of remaining in the sin and guilt, confess the sin.  Humble yourself before God and your child; confess your sin to God,       confess your sin to your child.  Point your child to Jesus’ work on the cross for the forgiveness of your sin and your child’s sin.  Go back to the gospel.  This is what the Christian who sinned needs to be reminded of when guilt stricken.

Always pointing people to grace without the mention of Christ is pointing people to themselves.  It is the work of Christ that is so amazing.  What is grace without Christ?  It might be fine for non-Christians to give that advice to other non-Christians.  What do they know about the need for repentance?  What do they know of the freedom that comes through Christ Jesus our Lord?  But the believer has forgiveness through Christ and His grace!  We need to hear it.  We need to be pointed back to Christ and not to ourselves.

“The gospel news of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is summed up with three words—ransomed, redeemed, and reconciled. Those whom Christ has ransomed by His atonement on the cross He has redeemed and, therefore, reconciled them to Himself intimately and eternally.” — Harry Reeder

Cheap Grace

Grace is often reduced to what Dietrick Bonhoeffer referred to as “cheap grace”.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance…cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship (Source)

Vanessa, from Hearts on Guard, said this about cheap grace.

“Grace is cheapened, sugar-coated, spread around with happy platitudes and warm-fuzzy pictures and songs. Declarations of our awesomeness, holiness and righteousness ring out, and any call for repentance, any mention of our old Adam is hushed and called displeasing to God.”
Look at Paul’s writings.  He encourages churches.  How?  Not by giving meaningless platitudes, but by always pointing them to their Lord and Savior.  I recommend anyone who is reading this, spend time in the books that Paul wrote.  See how he always mentions Christ.  When Paul mentions sin, Christ is mentioned.  When he mentions grace, Christ is mentioned.  The following few verses don’t even wait a few lines to link grace with Christ.  Romans 3:24; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:1.  Let us encourage one another like Paul.  Let us not leave out Christ!

Not a License to Sin

Some GCMers cheapen grace by using it as an excuse to sin.  I will not say anything more on it in this post, but refer you to my post entitled Legalism.  God’s word says:

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Jude 4

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14

A great song about grace and Christ by Sovereign Grace Music.
Now Why This Fear?

Lyrics:
Now why this fear and unbelief?
Has not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for us?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for the debt of sin
Now canceled at the cross?Jesus, all my trust is in Your blood
Jesus, You’ve rescued us
Through Your great love

Complete atonement You have made
And by Your death have fully paid
The debt Your people owed
No wrath remains for us to face
We’re sheltered by Your saving grace
And sprinkled with Your blood

How sweet the sound of saving grace
How sweet the sound of saving grace
Christ died for me

Be still my soul and know this peace
The merits of your great high priest
Have bought your liberty
Rely then on His precious blood
Don’t fear your banishment from God
Since Jesus sets you free

Sister

Sister, I am writing this to you.  Although I don’t know if you have read any of the e-mails I have sent you in past, I am pretty sure you have read this blog.  There is one thing that I have thought a lot about and I want you to know.

I know you probably want me in hell.   I assume that is what your intention was.  You might think I am angry.  I am not.  My response was tears for you.  It is still hard to believe that I lost my best friend and that you would want us (your family) dead and in hell. If I am wrong about you thinking that, I am sorry.

So with knowing (or at least believing that is how it is) the above, I can still write what I am about to write.  Over the past two 1/2  years I have thought of this on and off.  If you decide you have had enough of being a victim and walk away from your current friends or if your friends one day decide that you are toxic and you find yourself alone and you needed help, would I drop everything to go be with you and help you (I realize that the chances of you calling me are slim.  I know you wouldn’t want my “toxicity” around.  But one day you might become that desperate or you might even realize we were never toxic.)?  Without a doubt, the answer is always yes.  So I want you to know, you are never alone in this world.  If you need me, I am just a phone call away.  I promise I will not bring up any of the awful past or hurt.  I will be there to serve you.  If you get cancer and need someone to clean up your vomit, I will do so.  If you have gaping wounds of ooze, I will change your bandages (please don’t read into this that I want those things to happen to you, because I don’t.  My prayers for you are all for good.).

Will it be awkward?  Probably.  You hate my guts and I know you hate my guts (I am assuming you hate my guts because my understanding is you would be happy with me in hell).  I don’t imagine we will sit and laugh hysterically like we used to when we would get strange glances from our family.  We probably won’t have anything to talk about.  To fill the silence we could play Trivial Pursuit.  And if it’s the 80’s version, song might break forth!  I can go to the store and buy you the blueberries you like.  Whatever is needed, I will be there for you.

You may scoff at this today and perhaps tomorrow.  But if the day should arise, I don’t want any of the past to hinder you from contacting me.  I will never turn my back on you.  You never have to be alone.  I love you.

May God bless you with every good gift from above.

With much love,

Your Family Member Always

P.S. After writing this, I thought I would ask the other three what they thought about stopping everything to help you if you ever needed it (I thought I knew the answer but I didn’t want to put words in their mouths).  Mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Of course”.  She will never stop loving you.  We are all here for you if ever you should need us.