Abuse of power. Oppression. Misery. Hitler. Stalin.
1 a: a person granted absolute emergency power; especially : one appointed by the senate of ancient Rome
b: one holding complete autocratic control
c: one ruling absolutely and often oppressively
Google search “dictator”: 1: a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained power by force.
I have been called “a dictator.” I don’t write this to shame anyone – I, too, am a sinner, having said unkind words to others. I am writing mostly to talk some sense to myself, to convince and remind myself… that I am not a dictator.
I have an odd thing with people describing me or attributing characteristics/ adjectives to me. It’s not so much that I can’t take a compliment as it is that I have to process any descriptor, positive or negative (or neutral, if that’s possible), though yes, I do tend to have more skepticism for what seems to be a compliment – I’ve had bad experiences. I know that I am capable of evil, so being called “a dictator,”… well… it has caused me great difficulty.
What has made it worse has been not having anyone close to me refute the claim. I couldn’t do it for myself. So to have no one come to my defense on this, and my nature of processing this stuff, my beliefs on such matters, I can easily start to believe that maybe it’s true. Maybe my accuser(s) were pointing out something in my blind spot.
The context is that years ago, I became the leader of a new-ishly forming ministry for young adults. I had two assistant leaders. Conflict broke out between me and some of the young adults, along with one of the assistant leaders [AsstL]. It was during a meeting with the AsstLs that the one AsstL said that I was being called “a dictator.”
I went home that night and cried in pain and in anger.
To this day, I tear up whenever it comes to mind. I’m tearing up right as I type this.
Later, I think I told some friends, ones far removed from the conflict, that I was called such. No one told me that it couldn’t be true. They didn’t confirm it, but they didn’t refute it either. They may have been thinking that it couldn’t be true of me, yet… sometimes, some things ought to be said directly and out loud to the person who needs to hear it, good or bad. At least, that’s how I think.
I wanted to hear it from someone who knew me.
And I’m not used to wanting, or asking for what I want. Like so many other things, I keep it to myself. I don’t blame my friends for not knowing what I wanted because they couldn’t know. It’s also not that I just wanted to hear what I wanted to hear just to “feel good” – I can’t stand that. I wanted to hear the truth, painful or not.
Apparently, I wanted that but didn’t need it so much. God brought me relief from a different outside source just about a year ago. In a desire to be obedient to God in regards to preparations for re-churching, I met with the senior pastor of the church. It was private, so I don’t want to say much, but I brought up the “dictator” accusation, and stopped. I could barely get out the word and teared up.
The pastor basically said what I had considered but had needed a confirmation: I am not a dictator. He didn’t need to know any more about me to know that much. Dictators don’t hurt to be called such. Dictators don’t care so much about what other people think or say of them.
It was like I could finally breathe again.
(Myself speaking here) Jenn, you know what else? A dictator wouldn’t have walked away from the whole thing, ministry and all. A good leader should have stuck in, but a dictator doesn’t walk away. A dictator usually isn’t miserable in the situation.
I’d still like to hear it from someone who knows me, but it’s better now. It’s okay if I never get it.
It still hurts that “dictator” was said at all, but now I can recognize the truth over it.
My heart has been acknowledged.
Again, though a lot of time has passed, I am working out the conflict still; I am not currently in the conflict directly but managing the effects, the aftershocks. I sense that I am supposed to write about it. Maybe someone else has been hurt by the church or by Christians and is reading this. Maybe it was a very different experience but one is looking for the possibility of healing. I don’t know the exact why of sharing this, yet I hope that it is for the Good, that something good might come from this being brought into the light.
I’ve referenced this experience in posts before but I haven’t really addressed it directly. Part of the difficulty in writing about it was that there were a bunch of things about it, making it complex, a range of issues and details. In order to distinguish this conflict from any other conflicts, it is with irony that I refer to it from here on as “The Dictator Conflict Chronicles” [DCC].
I wish I meant “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader” or “Department of Community Correction” (wait…) or “Disturbed and Confused Council” (yes…) instead. “Chronicles” usually means “in order”, in a way, yet I probably won’t be writing in order of how it happened; think of it more like I’m writing in the order that I need to share it as I continue to work it out. I’ll probably be jumping around, but hopefully I can present clearer than I have in the past.
I pray that the light shall cleanse the wounds. May God be glorified through this experience. May the Spirit guide my words and purposes.
“The light shines in the darkness,
And the darkness can never extinguish it.”
Thank you for reading! You are welcome to leave a comment and/or question(s) in the section below :)
DCC stands for “The Dictator Conflict Chronicles.” The series regards a certain experience I had with a group of persons, from my perspective, as I work out whatever I need to work out. I do not intend further or new harm. Please forgive me, as some of it may be raw honesty from me.