We both felt a palpable sense of relief.
I don't think we are ready to say that our previous mission agency is a bad mission agency. We would clearly state that it has some serious flaws which under the right leaders can cause it to be weak in some areas and under the wrong leaders can cause it to be damaging and harmful. Our first two years were spent under a few right leaders. Our last dozen under wrong leaders. We're wiser now and sadder.
Today, though, we lay that aside and quietly celebrate freedom. Freedom from the judgement we have lived under for 12 years. Freedom from the stress. Freedom from the quiet, underhanded attack on our marriage. Freedom from a gag order. Freedom to relax again. There will be a time I pick this story up again in the next days and sort it though in my mind and on paper as a way of leaving it and yet weaving it into my life story so I am integrated and not scattered, but today is a day for quiet relief and a quiet, but determined joy.
We have been accepted, no longer rejected.
Yesterday, we sat through the hours long psych evaluation summary. Something I was tense about even though my better judgement told me not to be tense. Ten years of two mission leaders telling me I had serious psychological issues and possibly mental illness (neither with any training whatsoever to even dabble in making such statements!) had made me tense at being assessed once again. The difference in this testing was that it was done by a professional and by a professional who was not related to and "briefed about your problems" first.
The session was actually a delight, and fun to go through. It confirmed what I had thought about myself and even answered some questions I had about who I was. For example, I am an introvert. I've known this forever. I recharge alone and dislike large gatherings with people doing small talk all at once. But I am not anti-social. I am not hard to get to know. I am warm, outgoing, funny, and love to form deep connections with people whether in the short term or longer term. My tests showed that while I was introverted in low key, reserved, quiet way, preferring space at times, and seeking intimacy and one on one with individuals, I am extroverted in that I am demonstrative, easier to know, and self-revealing. That explains me so much more than the simple label "introvert", because I will be the first person to walk up to you in a crowded room if you are alone and begin a conversation with you and really want to know about you and let you know me. The counselor said that that type of a result shows that I am quick to share my heart with others. That is me.
This report was good for us to go through piece by piece. If you hadn't lived in my twisted judging authority structure that we found ourselves under for the last twelve years, you would not be able to fully understand the relief going through this report was for me. Another time, I will actually include statements that were made about me and to me because I feel that it is important to tell this story so that we may learn together. (Just this last week, we sat around a kitchen table with another missionary in another agency who has faced a twisted situation like ours.) I believe we are not alone, and I believe that we need to be aware of the signs of unhealthy, dangerous leadership and be prepared to take proper steps to be protected.
Today, I don't want to do that. Just to sit in the quiet relief this was. To be told that I had extremely high ability to handle stress, great coping skills, a robustly healthy mental health status, and had extremely high emotional intelligence. My weakness was the risk of feeling a high sense of duty and becoming over-committed. (This I also knew!) To have on paper the professional assessment that yes, I had been abused as a child, but there were no issues of concern at all that they could see. I am not now saying this next thing to boast in any way, but simply to contrast what had been said repeatedly about me for the last twelve years. My husband's and my reports were side by side and we went through both. I scored consistently more stable, well adjusted, and at less risk factors than he did. This in the face of two leaders saying they didn't want me because of my "mental issues", "being emotional", and "her not being able to handle stress or be strong." I actually did expect to score higher than my husband. He is a first generation believer who is amazing and awesome... but he encountered Christ as a late teenager, and there were a lot of patterns and foundations that were laid in his life that are different than someone with the privilege of growing up in a home where Christ is taught. The fact that he scored as high as he did on many of these tests shows just how much God has worked in his life, and I am proud of him.
Today, we sent those reports to our home church. A church missions board who has been requiring me to get counseling for my mental issues for the last year without any independent assessment that I had any, only on the recommendation by our country office that I had them. A missions board who has treated my harshly and judgmentally for the last year and a half because they simply took communication about me behind my back without verifying it in any way or even allowing me to answer to my own defense. (The unique trick people have of accusing you not only of having serious issues, but also of being 'defensive'. There is no way to object to that accusation without by default confirming it in peoples minds because they say, "See, she IS defensive."). Now these reports go back to them. Page after page detailing my relationship with God, with others, my trust in Him, and my mental health, my personality, and the final counselor's personal assessment of me. Our new mission read it and accepted us within the hour. I pray that our church mission board reads it and feels some remorse.... not that I want an apology to take away the pain, but that they think before they act like this again. Every person deserves the chance to be heard when accusations come up against them. Not to do so is not Biblical.
So today, is a quiet day. Quiet because I am an introvert. My husband, who over the year away from a damaging leader has learned to value and defend his wife, is celebrating louder. He went out with a good friend who has stuck by us. I celebrated by smiling, sitting quietly and smiling. Later I will celebrate with friends, but there was much I had to suffer silently these last ten years here, and there is a sense in which I wanted to celebrate silently at first.
It is over. God has defended.
My life verse since all this began was Psalm 3:3 "But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head."