The Things I Allowed.

No matter how badly other people behave, you have to heal by looking at yourself and how YOU are handling their actions.

One of the first questions my therapist asked me was not about my religion but about me.  She was getting me to focus on MYSELF. I had to stop talking about everything wrong in my life.  I am usually very intense about everything, and when I would come, I would talk about all of the weird things that were going on at church and in my life.  Then it finally hit me. I realize that the things that I was complaining about in life were the result of the things I allowed.

No matter how badly other people behave, you have to heal by looking at yourself and how YOU are handling their actions.

Continue reading “The Things I Allowed.”

Be Yourself

download 5Life’s journey is not always comfortable. Sometimes it’s challenging to learn about who we are, but it’s one of life’s highest goals.  

 Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote,

“to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to turn you into someone else is one of life’s greatest accomplishments.”

I’m taking a short break on this blog from talking about dysfunctional religion and the damage it can do to children only for a moment.  I just want to stop and celebrate my journey.  Recently, I got an opening to write a guest post about children in dysfunctional religious homes for the Child-Friendly Faith Project website. This organization works to help children who have suffered religious maltreatment.  I will continue to interview and research this subject and the results I see in my own religious circles.  I am glad that I’m able to help others whatever way  I can with my experience. Continue reading “Be Yourself”

Story #4 Continued – Live Interview-Story of Recovery from a Church of God childhood-Part 2

Well, we’re back with another portion of an interview conducted this year.   This is another portion of an earlier interview.  This person, who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church, talks about why it was difficult for children in this performance-based religion, the church politics that created such a system,  the disruption caused by this system to her relationship with her family, and shame-based church disciplines.  I know for me and my family, it was damaging to hear over the pulpit that there is no favoritism in God’s church and that partiality was a sin, and then to see it all around you not from the lay members but the leadership.

Approx. 16 minutes, voices have been altered.

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS CHURCH STRUCTURE

downloadI began to wonder as I looked around my church if I was in an episode of  Upstairs/Downstairs?  Is there a servant class and an upper class.  There are the ministers and then the lowly people who can only speak a certain way to the leaders etc.  We went one day when our pastor was sick to visit and one person exclaimed  in wonder and awe of his position, “how do I encourage my pastor”.    I bristled at this ( not visibly) but I thought “the same way you would anyone else who was sick”.  Somehow we’ve got it twisted that a Pastor is someone other just a man or woman who are kept by God like we are by the same Spirit.images

A reader of this blog reminded me of another essential reason abusiveness happens in our American churches, and that is an incorrect church structure. The church is supposed to be comprised of many members who make up the body of Christ. I Corinthians 12 gives us a picture of God’s church and the balance that’s supposed to happen in the body. This is the opposite of pastoral authoritarianism.  I think incorrect church structure is a breeding ground for corrupt leadership. Whenever we fail to follow scripture in any area, we’ll suffer some negative consequences. If the Pastor constitutes all the decisions and all of the leadership, then that is not the scriptural definition of the body of Christ. Continue reading “UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS CHURCH STRUCTURE”

Story #4 – Live Interview – A Story of Recovery from a Church of God Childhood – Part 1

This is a beautiful and touching story of recovery from a religious system with a damaging atmosphere.  This interview was conducted with a young lady who was saved as a child only to realize that several detrimental things from the church followed her and others into their adult lives.

  1.  She mourns very little connection with her natural blood relatives.  The church was considered her family where holidays and other times were not spent knowing her relatives.
  2. John 9:31 that God does not hear sinners’ prayers was drummed into the doctrine to such a point that often some adults from the church have trouble praying to God because they feel God will not hear them. (I want to address this later in a separate blog.  This was taught incorrectly and out of context).
  3. She remembers it as a male-dominated religion where the women and children did most of the suffering. (I remember a Joliet, IL Pastor of our group gathered young men together to apologize to them for things they endured as children, but it was an all-male meeting when overall girls suffered disproportionately more troubles to adhere to standards)
  4. She remembers the strong focus on God as a God of judgment and not much emphasis on God’s love.

approx. 15 minutes