At Christ Church Kirkland I learned, “I’ll love you as long as…”
For years at Christ Church Kirkland, my life decisions were heavily influenced by my mentors. Mentors or as we called them, “discipler’s”, were those more spiritual than me that I was mandated to choose within Christ Church Kirkland. I was required to meet weekly with my discipler and to share about everything going on in my life – my job, my relationships, my sins, my dreams, my questions, my life decisions. My disciplers would then report to their disciplers. Their disciplers would then report to their disciplers, and so on and so on until the head pastors of our church, Norman & Marcy Willis knew everyone’s secrets. Nothing shared was confidential, nothing shared was sacred.
Christ Church Kirkland, was birthed out of the Shepherding Movement in the 70’s.
“At the zenith of the pseudo-movement, “They had a national network of followers who formed pyramids of sheep and shepherds. Down through the pyramid went the orders, it was alleged, while up the same pyramid went the tithes.” (H.D. Hunter, Shepherding Movement).
You could be a christian, going to another church, but according to Christ Church Kirkland (CCK), if you weren’t attending our church (CCK), you weren’t as spiritual as us and you weren’t a good influence on us. Life there was “us” and “them”. “Them” being anyone not attending our church. Could be other christians or the ungodly people.
In 2004, I moved back to Washington state after living in Switzerland for two years. Myself and four other young people were chosen from CCK to start the Master’s Commission program at the JAHU church in Biel. I moved in with my mom, who is a life-long christian and has many years experience in being a church leader, and pastor’s wife. She had been living alone for quite some time and was excited to have her middle daughter sharing life together. Her and I lived just a few minutes from CCK.
One night I had a dream with my mom in it. I don’t remember any details other than there was a sense of darkness in my dream. It wasn’t a happy dream and I woke up pretty shaken by the dream. I wasn’t sure what the dream meant, but at the time at CCK, dreams were very significant, and something we shared with our disciplers. Congregants would speak from the mic on occasion during praise & worship, about their dreams and the connections they had to CCK’s future or direction.
The morning after that dream, Easter Sunday, I headed to church. I remember feeling so distraught about the dream. I was sure there was a deeper meaning. I decided to go to pre-service prayer, to get “prayed-up”, in hopes that I could understand my dream.
[Pre-service prayer. This is where people gather in a small room and spend an hour praying (pleading) that God and the Holy Spirit would ascend upon the church service in a powerful way. Typically between 20-50 people would voluntarily come an hour before the service to summon God. There was an appointed leader who gave direction of what we were to the pray for. People would gather in small groups and pray fervently until the leader would direct us to the next prayer point. From the pulpit, us congregants were urged to be at every prayer meeting in order to be the best christian we could be. I always felt a lot of pressure to attend every pre-service prayer meeting.]
Pre-service prayer ended and as I left the room, I happened to walk out next to Marcy Willis, the head pastor’s wife. (Today, some have referred to her as a “Jezebel“). She hugged me and I figured that I needed to share my dream with her. We stopped in the foyer of our church and I shared the vague details of the dream. I used words like “demonic presence” to describe the darkness that scared me. Immediately, Marcy told me that I needed to get out of my mom’s apartment as soon as possible…today. She said that “we” need to find you a place to live so you can be out of that demonic presence. She quoted a Bible verse to me and said that my dream was a clear sign that I should no longer be living with my mom…
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,” Psalm 1:1
She indicated that my mom was a scoffer/mocker. She referred to my mom as wicked and I needed to remove myself from her. Marcy hugged me and said she’d find a solution for me and that I should find her after church. I was crying. I was scared. I was convinced that my life was in danger living with my mom.
Sure enough, after church Marcy had found a family within the church who would let me move in with them. I went home immediately after church and began packing my things as quickly as I could. Being it was Easter Sunday, my mom was gone to a family gathering at my sister’s. I contacted my sister via text and vaguely cancelled. I told no one in my family for years why I left so suddenly from my mom’s house that day. CCK quickly swooped in and became my “family” for the next 7 years. I found myself isolating from anyone that was not a member of our church. I lived with church members, I worked for a church member, I socialized with church members…until one day…I turned my brain on at 36 years old and left CCK the same way I left my mom’s house that day…without explanation.
So, at 36 years old, with my mind functioning, I revisited this experience with my mom, for the first time. I told her what really happened that day. I asked her to tell me how it felt to have me do that to her. I still well up with tears to this day, thinking about my sweet mama’s response. She said that when I left, “She curled up in fetal position on her bed and wept.” To picture my mom in so much pain, that I had caused, breaks my heart. I wholeheartedly apologized for my actions to her. Often today, I will still feel the pain I cause her and remind her again that I’m so sorry for that chapter in our lives.
Christ Church Kirkland, Norman & Marcy Willis taught me how to love with conditions.
My mom and dad have taught me how to love unconditionally.