(I Suffered as a WCG Minister’s Wife)
I grew up without an emotional attachment with my family. I felt like I didn’t belong and I needed to be needed. I became an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), but still felt something missing. I was ripe pickings for a cult. Suddenly, I was a member of the Worldwide Church of God, someone specially called, with inside knowledge and all the answers to spiritual questions that the Lutheran church could not answer for me.
Once in the Worldwide Church of God, I was told that I was in the “devil’s profession” (the medical field). I would have to quit, so I might as well apply to Ambassador College since I had no other close connections. I did. There I had some truly wonderful experiences. I didn’t know at the time that having every moment of every day structured and monitored–plus the lack of sleep to accomplish all that–was a mind control technique I knew nothing about.
I latched onto it “hook, line and sinker.” After two years (and since I already had a degree and was older) I was allowed to marry a senior being considered for the field ministry. What a truly blessed and humbling honor. I had met some ministers’ wives and they all scared me; that should have been a red flag. I never fit the mold; I never did stuff quite right. Everything I did was analyzed and corrected by my “loving minister husband.” I had three children in the first five years. I was incredibly lonely. Where we lived was remote. I developed alcoholism and an eating disorder and was incredibly depressed to the point of a suicide attempt. The treatment for that was a transfer to HQ. Then subsequent transfers every two to three years. I was a square peg in a round hole the entire time. I tried to show the happy face, serve and speak loyally, and keep my problems to myself. I immersed myself in the lives of my children and lived for them.
During my first year recovering from alcoholism, my husband had an affair. It was “my fault” since I wasn’t performing my wifely duties. The WCG and the visiting evangelist agreed and the solution to that problem was a transfer. I tried to be the perfect wife and mother and minister’s wife and lost myself along the way. I did what my husband told me to do: entertain, take complete care of the house and kids, attend all functions, support him totally in public, take his public criticisms, and “correct women and teen-age girls in the church.” I have too many regrets to mention. I tried to make amends as I went along.
As the WCG started to change to the New Covenant, I was thrilled and relieved. Unfortunately, my husband was a part of the group planning to split the WCG and create the United Church of God-AIA. I was blind to the end. He left. I stayed with WCG. He got severance pay, a retraining package, a year’s salary and benefits, the car, a year’s vacation pay, and all our close friends. I guess they were really his friends. I got to move to a one bedroom apartment and he gave me a small amount of money to buy some stuff.
Divorce proceedings began. I could not afford a lawyer. I was attending college to get my RN degree and working four nights a week to pay the bills. I went to my minister and asked for financial and/or legal help from the WCG, so as not to be totally screwed in the divorce. He said “we don’t do that anymore.” In essence, he said. “I have nothing to give you, hope it all works out (be warm and fed and go away).” So I did, and I got royally screwed. I stopped attending while doing my clinicals to get my RN degree.
Then I began to attend again because of friends who were special to me. (My kids never attended again. They are on their own spiritual journey.) I gradually learned Herbert Armstrong never wrote his own “inspired” writings. All the material from the Ambassador Report from the seventies was proving to be more true than rumor. In the past I had never faithfully read the “dissident” literature to find out all these things.
Here’s the point of the glass house: the minister’s family you saw sitting in the front row that looked so happy and “together” really lived a completely different life behind the closed doors at home. My kids would say, “Who’s that guy talking up there? We don’t live with him.” He was different at home. He was different as soon as we got in the car after leaving services or an activity. I don’t know how many others were like us, but I know they were out there.
I am following the recovery program as suggested by your Exit & Support Network™ website, and I am extremely thankful to have found you. My children and I are very close, though they are grown and live around the country. I am happily remarried, I am a successful psychiatric nurse, and we are moving to another state for our own fresh start. I regained my own personality, my self respect, my critical thinking skills, and my health of mind and body. I am amazed when I look back and “did not see it,” though my family and friends and Lutheran minister and others told me it was a cult. My mother said she never stopped praying that I would come out of it. After 30 years, her prayers have been answered.
By Maureen (Ex-minister’s ex-wife)