Sent in by Alexandra
I just wanted to say how wonderful I think this site is, and all others akin to it. It's great that there is a place for those who need support, who might be suffering from traumatic effects caused by spiritual abuse (whether done purposefully or unwittingly).
While I was still in the Christian/religious mind-set, I couldn't have made it past a few sentences on this site as it would've meant that I was entertaining evil. (I had to abstain from all appearances of evil, ya know!? And then there was dividing the word rightly, and having the Holy Spirit, and all that. Well, back then I thought I was well qualified in discerning what was and wasn't evil, in the sight of "my God".)
A bit about my lengthy mental illness (Christian neurosis):
I was born into a very poor, backwoods, uneducated family — immediate and extended — on both sides. So, you see, I knew true evil (ignorance) from the get-go, and was made to "believe" in superstitions — all sorts of superstitions. One, in fact, was that if I committed a particular "wrong" action, then it might mean I'd be responsible for someone's death. That frightened the hell out of me!
I learned things from the Baptist church, from to my father's upbringing, (he was also a member of the local Mason's lodge) and by attending several different varieties of Baptist churches. I also learned some things about the 7th Day Adventists from my mother's earlier life that she’d chosen for herself, along with some witchcraft (of the white magic variety). Now, why on earth should a little one be so confused?! I was told not to ask questions ('cuz you can go to hell and burn for using your brain/mind/logic/reason), and that I wasn't supposed to doubt. For the life of me, now, I don't understand how you can obtain wisdom without doubt.
I didn't have to suffer going to church every time the doors opened. The last time I went, I was around the age of 12. I remember always being very afraid of what I thought, because I knew that the judge in the sky knew my every thought, and that every thought and action I had on earth would be played back on some gigantic movie screen for all the souls in heaven and earth to view. I knew that the judge, my "Father", wouldn't be pleased, and I'd be punished, much, much worse than my biological father had ever punished me. And that was pretty harsh. Throughout all of my childhood and on into my younger adulthood, I was always in fear of being punished. This fear later grew into a panic disorder, which caused me great harm, not only to my mind, but in the minds of those closest to me, and it led to disease in my body, in my opinion. Not that I'm not taking responsibility for this disease, but I see it as that crazy thing called cause and effect.
About the age of 23 or so, I decided to "get right with God.” I read the entire Bible, watched certain TV preachers, but didn't care to ever step foot in a church again. I got lonely being the only kind in our little family of three, so I went in search of a "like-minded in Christ," only to meet more of the same type of people that I'd experienced in those earlier church-goin' days. After several years, I decided to disassociate myself with what was called "Christianity," thinking I understood what the "true word of God" was all about. I turned to Yahwehism. I couldn't be heaped into the category as all the rest of the so-called Christian! What with all the study I put into the literal meanings of certain Greek and Hebrew words, and with all the readings of certain "hidden" "sacred" books, and with wanting to come out of dogma, and with living in and by the spirit of the word — I had acquired some Knowledge (supernatural, that is! wink, wink) — knowledge that led me out of the "wilderness.” I could still have Jesus, my "saviour, my messiah, whose "real" name I came to know as Yahshua. Things changed, prophecies meant something else. I could "see" they meant something else. I had only exchanged one pair of lenses for another pair, and saw things wholly different, of course.
I began to keep the "true" Sabbath (but not as strict as orthodox Jews...I "reasoned" that I didn't have to because of, well, lets just say "special" circumstances), followed certain dietary "laws", worked on making myself "worthy" to keep the Pass-over, learned all the O.T. holy days, had prayer cloths, wore head dresses, etc. All the while, since I first stepped out on my own to "serve" God, I "loved" "HIM" with all my heart, mind and soul — “loved", is the extreme emotional feeling that I had. The way I understood/understand love, is that it is an action, and through such loving action (from the mind/heart), it produces the "feeling/emotion/sensation" of love: the feeling is a byproduct. But oh! that emotion in it's extremeness was delicious (I can kind of taste it now, if I try to put myself back there, but I don't wanna get sucked back in). I always referred to it as a "sweet heartache".
All this "service/devotion/love," this time around, wasn't out of fear of hell. (I'd "reasoned" that one can't die an earthly death and feel "hell fire.” You'd have to have senses to feel anything, and the "loving God" that I came to know wouldn't send ANY soul to eternal torment.) Yes! I "reasoned" that the warring, murdering God of Abraham and David, had a great plan for eternal peace, and it would all come out in the wash. Oh, and I didn't believe in the heaven most frequently depicted in the imaginations of certain believers. I thought that upon death we would just go back to the Source of All peace, and be at peace, for eternity.
I studied to show myself worthy/approved, and my husband told me that I'd study so much, that I'd study myself right out of the faith. (My husband was right!) The questions that rose with my increased knowledge of church history, the deceptions, the doubting of Paul, the tearing apart scriptures, just to make sense of something that was nonsensical… I had breakdown after breakdown… My God was a myth.
I loved God and Jesus/Yahshua so much, that when it came time to part, it felt like a living death. I had signed the divorce papers, and the gates of heaven were shut up against me.
I was depressed to the point of suicide. A lot of my depression was due to the idea of the meaninglessness of life, and I terribly regretted influencing my husband and child. Out of my extreme emotion, they wanted to believe me. They believed the lie I told them.
Since then, I’ve looked more deeply into other things that I wasn't "allowed" to look into, such as the philosophy (not religion) of Buddha and the Tao. And I enjoy peeking into quantum mechanics, and other sciences that pertain to how the brain works, physiologically and psychologically. These things I undertook, when I still had many concerns about death, and I guess I was looking for some comfort since I’d lost my "Comforter" (which was extremely traumatic...I can't stress that, enough). Then, one day, I remembered something that I’d read written by Poe, and I recalled it just before becoming fully conscious/aware from a nights sleep: death (to me) must be like the times in between dreams, that deep sleep I think is called Delta sleep, in which we do not dream. We aren't aware of anything at all, not the wind that's blowing through the trees outside, not the one who might be lying next to us, not even aware that our hearts are beating in our chests.
I don't have a bone to pick with any one of any faith, but I do see the harm done by extremism. It's poison to a person, a family, a community, a nation, a world. I wanted to blame someone or something for the horrible pain I had to go through to get to this point. I'll just blame good ol’ fashion ignorance, but I am glad I made it here, even though my travel was through hell and high water.
The one thing that I found in my "walk" with Jesus (if He ever truly lived, and if His true words were written down regarding love/compassion/charity, etc.), is that the thing was already inside me. No one had to teach me the things that just came "naturally" to me.
I'm at relative peace, now. In peace I know what bliss is, and I don't "think" that there's ever gonna be a time or place to experience this peace/bliss except right here, right now, on earth, with all its wonderful opposites. And this peace is not known by extreme emotion. It's without "feelings." It's a nice level/balance of… indifference.
We make our lives heaven or hell, here on earth. Our minds are our own adversary and our highest power. We get to choose what serves us best, as well as the betterment of mankind. Whatever is better for the evolution of the entire human race.
When I think of the word "god," it still conjures images and feelings I once entertained. And I don't much like using the word "god" when communicating with others, so as not to confuse them with any particular belief system. But I'll use that word now, in saying this: maybe we are becoming (as a whole) the God (not in a mythical, nor magical sense) that we searched for, but didn't realize was simply our own potential.
I've put down "beliefs" (limitation) in exchange for thinking (unbounded), and have some good laughs at my own expense, now. But I do still feel pain for the one who binds their own thoughts with the limitation of belief.
Thank you for letting me air this, it's been a long time coming. And I also thank you for accommodating this lengthy post.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)