The battle with God continues, and I am hoping the price of this will not be my faith entirely. You know you got trouble with God when most of your prayers are complaints like, "Why does everything default to bad?" and "Why don't You listen to me and show me a little bit of love?" I was warned years ago that faith can shipwreck on the Bitter Island, and it is a fear, but God's silence and seeming not to care, has worn me down.
Why am I so angry at God? It started with Aunt Scapegoat's death and seeing evil "win". I have spent 10 years trying to claw myself and husband out of a ditch with no success. Maybe it is a midlife crisis married to being worn down by 20-30 years of really bad health or seeing dreams of close Christian fellowship and other ideals dying on the vine. It is hard to explain. It's like Christian ideals hitting a wall of cold hard reality. My life did not turn out. Outside some good online friends and husband, I am almost friendless in this world The idea that "everything will work out" on top of so many broken dreams has not worked.
Already being out of the churches, I have realized many of my beliefs are very different from many evangelicals and others. They already consider me an apostate for leaving and sleeping in on Sunday morning. My renouncement of Trump has made me the "devil's child" among some Christian circles. My old pastor on Facebook seemed to infer I really was never saved, because of doubts I have shared with him. I knew my salvation was sincere years ago. That troubled me a lot! I had negative thoughts about him, wondering what could he know of my life with his boat, mission trips to Africa and 4 children and good health?
Quiverfuls, but the rest was a given in the IFB]
One thing I never fit in with a lot of Christian people. I talked about how there was the whole Stepford affect in the churches, where "perfect" people insisted I be perfect too. You know there's a problem when you never saw any divorced, childless, or disabled people in any of the IFB, or mainstream evangelical churches you visited. Many Christians seem to live in a Christian bubble. They only are friends with other Christians, and their families are Christian. In the IFB, converts were far rarer then you'd imagine but I noticed this in other mainstream evangelical churches I visited and attended too. The culture was one I never really fit in. Socioeconomically I did not fit in with most Christian families. How was I to relate to homeschooling mothers? I was a convert in, a seeker that decided Christianity was true, and this seemed to mark me for life, as "other" anyhow.
It seemed like some of them wanted to squash all originality and creativity out of me. They wanted me to "conform", I couldn't if I wanted to. All curiosity was to be suppressed. I got this repressed feeling like I was trying to be someone I really wasn't when I went to church. Even my desire to explore scripture in depth in the last church was not welcomed. Uniqueness was not tolerated. The pastors always seemed irritated by anything of depth being discussed. My husband just being who he was, offended the last one at every turn.
Sometimes I got the feeling with some Christians, they were trying to fit this idea of what they think a "Christian" should talk about, dress like and act like. It was like they had this idea in their head, and the churches definitely promoted this. Some came across as insincere, speak Christianese. Some phrases bored me like "Bless your heart" and "The Lord has placed it on my heart to tell you..." and worried me that they were just used as silencing and control mechanisms.
Culturally I didn't know the "script" or the way of life, I could never afford or emulate, and I faltered massively. While the first church was nice, my eyes didn't really open about how they saw me until later. In the other churches, I was this weirdo, they put up with. My clothes were different too. My husband refused to wear a suit to IFB church like the other men wore and didn't even own one that still fit, well you get the idea. Intellectually I seem to piss most of them off. I imagined deep conversations, close fellowship, and had dreams about having a close "church family". In the boat pastor's church , they did help some and seemed to care, that was very rare and short-lived. I would learn that church closed from severe in-fighting that Aspie me was not privy to.
I have had some negative thoughts about the Christian world lately that have bothered me. The perfect storm of spiritual abuse, the present political situation and many unanswered prayers has had me questioning God and religion quite a bit. If my relationship with God is to last, I cannot love an authoritarian God that just seeks to punish and hurt me, who I am afraid of in a bad way. My leaving fundamentalism has affected my life, and sometimes I wonder if fundamentalism was attractive to me because of my abuse history.
I worry I became a Christian in the first place via fear of death. Everyone here has read my tales of medical woes where my lungs almost wiped me out and the multiple bouts of sepsis almost ended my life very early. I was a full blown atheist, UU and a "hellbound" pagan, agnostic and atheist by the age of 17. I had "deconverted" from Catholicism in my early teens.
I became born again in my mid 30s, the Bible and God's Word really did give me solace when I was very sick. I wanted to find meaning and hope in life, truth and God. I was a strong seeker, I had spent over a decade reading and studying religions. When I was in college majoring in art education, I had a dual education at the same time. Whenever I had a spare minute, hanging out on the top floor of the college library, I read every book I could find on the religions of the world. I read everything from the Koran to the Egyptian Book of the Dead to Kabbalah writings to the Bible. My seeking was very important to my life. My husband told me when he met me, my fascination with religion intrigued him, and that normal girls didn't think about such deep issues and he liked that about me.
I still consider myself a Christian, but I fit less and less in the mainstream Christian world.I don't want to follow the Rick Warrens of the world with their globalist ideals, that really seem to be just colonialism under a Christian mask, or the "Be positive set" who tell me God has a plan for my life when everything seems to be crumbling, or the Republican world where I am supposed to believe that richer people are "better people". It's not working for me. I don't fit in the churches, but I know being a Christian has made me feel very alone. A lot of other Christian people are nice people don't get me wrong, but when it comes to me fitting in with them, its like chalk and cheese. I have an edge to me, most will never understand.
The Christian world for disabled people can be a very dangerous place. Religionists can make hash of disabled people's minds. They will tell us things like standing up for rights is for the evil left, and that are our health problems have risen from some kind of wickedness. In my case there will be no returning to church outside of some government funded charity and a fiction book club, I can't take it anymore. People in my situation who have faced abuse, or who have serious disabilities, or poverty problems, it's a feeding frenzy. The years of pity, false promises, demands for self improvement, conformity and the rest have just worn me out. There's too many who will run victory laps on your head just to show you off, as a broken down human with their derision. Sadly for religious narcissists, stressed, frazzled and frightened people are easier to control, the intellectual repression and denial of the true human conditions and emotions, got beyond my toleration long ago. What purpose is there for me to be in a place where I am told to constant repress my true feelings all the time? I had enough of that within my family.
Even in the non prosperity gospel churches, there is always that belief that God is blessing those whose lives are going well, and if life is going badly well that must mean God does not have favor on you or you are out of obedience or as my spiritual abusing deliverance minister told me, that I must be cursed. Can God handle my real thoughts, emotions and intellectual curiosity even if so many in the churches could not?
I believe religion is a often control matrix. I followed the path of being one of those Christians outside the system, long ago, but then I noticed I was so outside the religious reservation, I was standing outside alone. I wanted there to be a loving God you see, and still do but where is the love in all this control and threatened "beat-downs"? Being a broken down, disabled person in USA society with low-income, I don't need God's representatives beating me up too.
Spiritual seeking and intellectual inquiry, isn't very welcomed in a lot of Christian circles. Even having a discussion disputing whether the Bible speaks of "sheol" and the "grave" instead of a conscious burning eternal torment in hell, got me in trouble with some Christians online. Hell has always been a sticking point to me. At least I found some who questioned these ideas.
One thing that bothered me in the IFB, they always seemed to want us afraid. Afraid of the Apocalypse, afraid of the new world order- I do still believe a cadre of uber wealthy people do abuse a lot of power, afraid of the liberals, afraid of the world blowing up, afraid of the nuclear war. Afraid of going to hell--the big one---if you fall away and don't do God's bidding [to the legalistic ones] you will be burnt like a piece of toast on a spit.
Choose at random any political or news website for evangelical Christians, and notice how fear runs the show. Fear and control, and authoritarianism to the hilt. Trump will save us! "We need more prisons" the evangelicals demand while at the same time writing scary conspiracy stuff about how all the FEMA Camps will round us up. They don't realize how they contradict themselves, after all Jesus got put on the cross at the behest of a overweening state so their worship of power, is even more sickening. The fact most of the churches support our political oppressors, says something. They bow before the eugenics, racists, and the world caste system. If you don't kneel to this power, you are considered a heretic too. The fact the majority are following blindly after Trump, and they don't care if you question the left too. This is enough to disenfranchise many from the evangelical and Christian world. They are so afraid they chose the biggest baddest abusers and sociopaths. There's probably many Christians who see through the political lies, running for the church exits now. These recent events have me rethinking a lot about this world and how God is presented in the Christian world and how religion is used for fear and control.
I had enough to worry about from my own body and trying to stay off the streets, I think I got tired. And how do I explain the disappointment? Scripture promised me loving fellowship and kind hands to pray over me when I was sick. What did I get? Loneliness, and mean churches that made me more afraid and added to my abuse and trauma. Judgment.
[notice how you get abused and rejected and you are the demonized one instead of the abusers?]
I wrote here about my spiritual abuse at the hands of a deliverance ministry. I encountered a spiritual abuser who told me because I was so sick, and had a huge body because I had been cursed. She said it was causing my poverty and other problems. In the IFB, I had been taught I had to be holy or I would not have God's blessings. Deliverance was not frowned upon in the IFB but was promoted to a degree. Deliverance Ministries are total poison. She told me I would die, soon if I was not delivered. I am embarrassed to even have fallen for this crap, and while I thought she was a bit weird, I thought what harm can more prayer do? So I did the deliverance prayers etc, but she got weirder and weirder and more abusive. She tried to get me to go to her house out of state and stay with her, I refused. I found out later, from what people wrote online, she had actually manipulated some to go to her house and did more emotional damage to them seeking power and control. I cut her off, as she gave me her "curse" talk. I was done. The goal posts were always moving. I hung up the phone and cut her off for good.
[hereditary Illness? I guess I'm screwed]
In Christianity, I felt like nothing was ever good enough. I may have erred myself in seeking after a doctrinal purity, though I wasn't the type to abuse anyone or boss them around or act like the Church Lady on SNL. I was told God was not blessing me due to my disobedience and rebellion. I was rebuked for keeping so many non-Christian friends and told it was my bad example that was keeping my husband from being saved. I was told both directly and indirectly that God had given me health problems due to my wickedness. I was told in only good Republicans with nice homes and big families counted. Even the "saved by grace" crowd, makes constant holiness demands. I got tired.
My most healthy approach to life, may be just holding on to the ideals that led me to Christianity in the first place but I can't have anything to do with the mainstream or evangelical Christian world anymore.. I already spent over 12 years in the very liberal Unitarian Universalist Association, which by the way is a place many seekers end up.
Religion for me became a bad thing. I got tired of being made afraid. The goal posts were always moving. The promises for my life never turned out. My own prayer life has become shambles, as I feel like I am speaking to empty space and God does not answer. I realize now that my abusive background has impacted my religious yearnings, and my own relationship with God. With God, I got into this mode of being the endless "pleaser", in my mind wrongly or rightly He became just another narcissist that I was never "good enough for". So many of His representatives focused on my shortcomings, I got burned out.
I care about love, justice and freedom. Maybe God will have mercy for that. A lot of the Christian world scares me and with the march of Trump and his men, the blatant growing brutality in the mainstream evangelical and Dominionist world is making itself known. Some of the Christians will claim those against the right are for the "natural order", they will teach us false obedience while twisting Romans 13. They stress obedience and authority and they worship a "god" in my own mind that has grown more brutal. The worship of power and the uber rich, goes with their slavish devotion to the hierarchical political and religious system. They are the Pharisees of the modern day.
Catholicism,anxiety, depression and coming out of a narcissistic abusive household was a very, very bad mix. Try getting slapped around eating a bologna sandwich during Lent because it's Friday in March and you forgot. It was just freaking psychotic. Beatings, screaming, cussing and then Mass and religious displays, I know all of this formed some weird stuff in my mind. When I became an atheist as a young person, I was called a heathen and condemned. I was HATED for not conforming and that has affected me lifelong. You know life has gone crazy when your mother finds an atheist/freethought/humanist pamphlet in your college book bag, and chases you through the house to hit you. The false piety among all the evil, was a joke. Why would I put up with Christians trying to make me conform and silencing me now when I have put up with some much spiritual abuse earlier? The family is long gone due to my no contact, but I have no interest in people who will condemn me for inquiry and my own beliefs.
I do wonder if my spiritual and other abuse played a role in me in me going into fundamentalist Christianity. I know I was attracted to a world that seemed more special and holy then this one, and imagined loving and caring people who lived out their values, instead of people wearing masks and making demands. There has to be some conflation with my going no contact from abusers several years ago, and questioning some spiritual and religions edicts and taking a look at my religious journey.
I have realized a la Paul Walker, I have a very unhealthy fawn, flight or freeze approach to God. As I got deeper into fundamentalist Christianity, I realized there were overlaps with my childhood abuse and my severe anxiety disorders and C-PTSD [I was diagnosed with PTSD by several therapists in my past]. I don't know where the future lies with my relationship with God and still consider myself a Christian now, although I am in a place of examination and doubt, but I know I can't do the fundamentalist fear thing anymore. I don't know if my faith will survive and I will remain an alternative "out of the church system" Christian or what the future will hold.
I have had troubling thoughts about God seeming like one of my abusers, with threats of hell for those who refuse to do His bidding, and demands for perfection and holiness. Even in the salvation by grace system, there still remain expectations of holiness and freedom from sin. I was never loved by my parents and I do not feel loved by God right now, some may say this is due to my own sin, but those kind of people I need to avoid right now, if I am to find God's love once again. There is an abuse trap people can fall into where they seek to "please" God in finding that worthiness their families denied them. Legions of demanding "church ladies" who promised me good health, miracles and more based on "performance", were just a continuation of my earlier abuse in life for "not being enough". Religion and churches can prey on broken people who seek wholeness, but some of them destroy us more and become proxies for our former abusers.
As a past scapegoat, I have been refusing all abuse in my life. This means doing away with direct and indirect spiritual abuse too. This has changed the religious terrain. It has taken me out of fundamentalism. All the bowing and scraping and saying "Please love me", and "seeking approval", I ditched all the abusers I was "never good enough for" and is this spilling out to God? It definitely spilled out to the IFB. So wonder I got the idea that life was all about performance and following rules. So I fell for the idea of religious rules outlining a certainty, trying so desperate HARD to obtain a what was deemed a "PROPER" life and trying to find a place to "fit in" and I never found it.
The biblical Tribulation is no big deal when I had my fear up to the gills in the PTSD horror house I grew up in and took with me into adulthood. I can't have a good relationship with God when I see Him the same as my abusers where nothing is ever good enough and I wonder why my life has been left in the ditch. I do know this, I can't believe in a cruel "god" anymore. I'm out of the IFB forever. I'm done with gaslighting, mindcontrol and being told what to think and feel anymore. It is time to recover from bad religion.
Update: I deconverted in 2017 and no longer consider myself a Christian. I returned to the UU and am a far happier person. Changing my religion changed my life for far better. I am glad I escaped the gaslighting and trauma programming mill.