It Wasn’t About You: It was About a System
What is a System:
“An organized, purposeful structure that consists of interrelated and interdependent elements (components, entities, factors, members, parts etc.). These elements continually influence one another (directly or indirectly) to maintain their activity and the existence of the system, in order to achieve the goal of the system.” Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/system.html
Part of the Body?
I was an important part of the body. I was called “brother”, I had a role and a position that was esteemed to be important. We claimed to believe that the lowest and quietest among us was just as important as the highest and loudest. The body had visible parts and invisible parts, jointly fit together – and none could function healthily without the sum of the whole.
So I admit, it hurt at first – to be so easily and quickly dismissed. Apparently, in the end, I was nothing more than a cancer or a malignant growth. I was replaced, like everyone will eventually be – come death or change. The “body” lives on. According to the Message, the “body” are people who believe William Branham’s teaching and accept the end-time message. So the system cannot acknowledge any other spiritual option – no matter how much they claim to be “Christian”.
It’s not being self-depreciating or self-pitying to say it that way – I stopped feeling sorry for myself when I developed perspective and learned that this is common to extreme “us versus them” groups. Nor is it implying that the people in the church didn’t love or care for me; I believe they did. But that fact is – “the system”, or “the cause” of the message is the only necessary imperative. In any high demand system (that cannot be self-critical) – a regime, political or religious – it’s not about the people; it’s about the system.
This is a piece of understanding that’s helped me know why people behave as they do when someone questions or leaves an inclosed, inward focused group. The concern goes where it needs to for the preservation of the status quo; the church must go on. If any part is not in unison, there must be a severing. “Forget them and move forward”. And it does, just as it will continue to do for as long as people are trapped.
The Complication of Family vs. the System
The difficulty is when it involves family. The system says “cut them away” – and the family member sits in conflict. How does a mother watch her daughter get spit out and rejected by a system that demands it? How does a father treat his son who the system now disowns?
Some families can navigate it better than others. In the best cases, the members choose to love each other in natural ways. They choose to set “the system” in a different box, and in order to maintain relationships, they develop a new way of relating to one another. There will ALWAYS be a phase of readjusting to the new relationship; it won’t be easy to know where the lines and boundaries are for what can or cannot be safely discussed. But families that don’t want to see their loved one’s disappear will find a way to stay connected – even if they have to ignore the voice of “the system” warning them to not get too close. I’ve seen some families do this well. And I’ve seen some who manage to limp along – but at least they’re limping along together.
Unfortunately for some – the severing is absolute. I’ve talked to many people who have effectively been disowned and entirely cut off.Parents no longer talk to children. Grandparents no longer take interest in grandchildren. Siblings no longer communicate with siblings. No more Christmas gifts, no more Thanksgiving dinner invitations, no more birthday phone calls. Months (and even years) can pass without a phone call. The system demands it.
Regardless of the scenario, the “system” creates a tension that will forever perpetuate beneath the surface. Plainly said – the elephants in the room are gigantic and never go away; things will never be the same. There may be an ability to talk on a superficial level; but don’t talk about “the system”.
Don’t Take It Personally
It had nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with you. I was just another person that was part of the system – and so were you. You helped give it legitimacy because you were there to carry it along while you were there. And when you left – the mourning was brief…for the system. There was no eulogy or memorial for your role. You were now null and void. In a system, the parts are always replaceable. That isn’t to say there weren’t people who hurt to see you go. But the system demanded that they not care; the survival of the group was at stake.
It says in Luke 15:4, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?“. Sometimes a system has an entirely different way. It’s much easier to say the 1 was never a part of the 99. And the 99 immediately becomes the 100 again. Sometimes the system immediately changes the locks – and wants nothing to do with the 1.
There were already generations that came and went before. There will be generations that will come and go after. So long as there are enough replacements to fill the void – someone else to pick up the mantle and praise the name of Branham – it will preserve itself. So long as another child is born to be subject to the requirement of the church. So long as another person is brought to repentant obedience, the message will go on.
So if you’ve left, and you’ve experienced the reality that you didn’t matter – don’t take it personally. The life of the group depends on the ones still remaining, not the ones leaving. Which is why no one really chased after you. When you were a part of it, you probably didn’t chase the ones who left before you either. It wasn’t about you or them; it was about the system. In the end – we all have to choose if the system is right.
It stinks. These are hard realities.