My sister Karin left church when I was thirteen. She was sent to live with my dad’s sister in California. The reasons were not explained, but I figured it out by snooping and eavesdropping. Like so much of our lives in the Followers of Christ, this event was controversial and used against us.
At thirteen years old, I had girls at church throw my sister’s life and choices in my face. One girl, whose dad had admitted to multiple extramarital affairs, informed me that her parents didn’t want her to be my friend because of my sister.
When I was seventeen I worked at the Oregon City Fred Meyer. Not a lot of Followers shopped in the store for groceries because we were supposed to buy our food at the W-B Food Mart, which was owned and run by Follower men.
But one day I saw a woman from church. She had been one of my sister’s best friends. I called out to her. For the sake of privacy, I will call her Danielle, but that is not her real name.
“Hi Danielle,” I called out to her as she walked by.
But she didn’t seem to hear me.
“Danielle,” I called louder this time. But she kept going.
I called her name several times and she never turned her head to look. I assumed she had really terrible hearing and went on with my life.
But a few weeks later, my sister-in-law told me that Danielle had heard me and had shunned me because she believed I was Karin. Yeah, Karin and I did look a lot alike and our voices are so identical that I can fool her children and my dad into thinking I’m her on the phone. But, seriously, a nod or simple hello would’ve been so simple. This woman really had to have a lot of self-control to act like someone calling her name was invisible.
That spring Danielle was a softball coach for one of our church’s women’s softball teams. And guess what? She picked me to be on her team. It was her way of making up for the mistaken shunning. I hated being on Danielle’s softball team. Looking back, I wish I would’ve just said that I didn’t want to play that year after all.