7/03/2011 | Share this article:By factmeetsfiction ~
I’m a newbie here at Ex-christian.net. I’ve enjoyed . . . devoured, really . . . the many testimonials –– I appreciate the brutal, gut-wrenching honesty.
On one hand, I didn’t really grow up in the church. My family had been caught up in the fallout of a legalistic Baptist church many years before I was born . . . and had walked away. At the same time . . . they never got rid of the church that was already in them.
So my childhood was filled many ritual burnings of toys, dolls, CDs, and jewelry with crystals in them. There’s nothing like being eight and watching the flames in our living room fireplace lick the face off a Cabbage Patch kid –– expunging demons.
In many ways . . . I just accepted that these burnings was more-or-less normal –– what else could I have thought . . . I was eight? But I didn’t talk about it . . . or the beatings with the rod . . .
My real experiences with the church, Christianity, and you know who happened after I went to college and was “born again.”
I went to a magical church and experienced the baptism of the ghost.
I confess . . .
I. DRANK. THE. KOOL AID.
And honestly, it was good. Absurd as it sounds now, there really was something inviting about a magical church. Romantic, even. Floating with the ghost. Communing with you know who.
But eventually . . . the magic ran out. The romance ended. The Kool Aid spoiled.
I was fresh out of college –– committed to saving souls, casting out demons, and tongue-talking all my problems away. Claiming promises. Walking with you know who. Raising the dead.
And then tragedy struck.
The mom of a close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and given a week to live. It was all so sudden. I drove my friend home so he could be with his mom during her last few days –– he didn’t have a car. We wept together. Hurt together. Watched together as his mom was slowly drifting from this life.
We anointed her and prayed for you know who to heal her body. I think she appreciated that . . . and that helps to remember . . . but she was ready to die.
But I wasn’t. And I just couldn’t let her go. I refused to let this tragedy hurt this family. Not on MY watch. Not when I have you know who on my side. In my court. On my team. And we continued to pray ¬¬–– full of faith and hope and that you know who was going to heal her.
But she died.
However, to me, it didn’t matter . . . because you know who had told me that he wanted to raise her from the dead –– and I believed. Even worse, I got my friend to believe . . .
My friend officiated at the funeral. And when he got up to preach, instead of talking about his mom, saying good-bye, and celebrating her life . . . he pointed at his mom’s lifeless body and commanded her, in Jesus name, to get up and live.
The sanctuary was silent.
But my friend’s mom didn’t move.
He commanded again. No movement.
He kept commanding and commanding and commanding. Frenzied. Frantic.
Finally, thankfully, some of his extended family pulled him off the stage and into a back room . . . though you could still hear him screaming. Crying. Moaning.
I can’t imagine how hurt –– devastated –– my friend was . . . we haven’t spoken since he told me he hated me . . . that I was a fraud, a phony . . . and kicked me out of the church.
In my heart, this hurt . . . but I didn’t really believe that I was wrong. Rather, my friend . . . and his family . . . didn’t have enough faith. You know who didn’t show up in power because of THEM. NOT ME. I BELIEVED.
But deep down inside, I think [hope, really] that I knew that my friend was right . . . that I deserved his hatred, his anger –– every bit of it. Because I know that I still deserve it. I deserve every bit of the shame and guilt I feel.
And even though my faith was shaken . . . I wasn’t done believing . . . yet.
Almost a year later –– to the day –– I got married. My family was quiet about the marriage. No celebrations. They weren’t involved with the planning, and really didn’t have anything to do with my lovely lady.
And then it happened . . .
The wedding day arrived. Everything was ready. And I wanted to have brunch with my family before the ceremony that evening. I’d made the reservations for all of us, but only my dad showed up.
I knew that something was going on. Even though my dad just shrugged it all off . . . saying that my mom didn’t feel good. Before we parted ways, my dad told me that my mom wanted to talk to me before I left to run my errands and get ready.
So I made my way up to the room where my parents were staying and my dad let me in and then walked off. The room was dark and cold. I walked in and my mom –– who wasn’t a slight woman at the time –– was sitting at the foot of the bed in nothing but a t-shirt and underwear.
She met me with a cold glare and said that you know who had visited her in the night a told her that it was not his will for me and my girl to get married. And that if I did, I would be in rebellion to you know who and therefore not covered by his umbrella of protection.
Further . . . she said that if we proceeded with the wedding, then she was going to leave my dad –– not divorce him [because that’s wrong], but leave him because he didn’t agree with her. In her eyes, he didn’t believe you know who.
My mind, heart, and faith were scrambling . . . confused . . . broken. Why would you know who say that? The hurt was overwhelming . . . at the same time, I began feeling angry. I could barely see past it. And I couldn’t respond. I just walked out.
Even as I walked in the parking lot, my mom screamed from the balcony of their room for all the world to hear ¬¬–– still in just a t-shirt and underwear –– that you know who hates rebellion . . . it’s witchcraft in his eyes. That he’d bring me back. He’d hurt me. And she couldn’t bear to watch.
After the ceremony and reception, before boarding our plane for our honeymoon, I got a call on my cell phone. It was my dad . . . he was crying so hard, it was almost impossible to understand him. My mom had tried to kill herself . . . and they were at the hospital now –– reviving her. I told him I was sorry, and that I’d talk to him in a week . . .
I was devastated for most of the next year. Depressed. And, honestly . . . I was scared of you know who. Terrified. I feared that you know who would strike me down, that I’d get cancer, that he’d kill my wife –– all because I was in rebellion.
As the years passed, the fear subsided gradually . . . enough to where I could function. And my thoughts turned to faith again. The desire for the romance, the magic I once experienced was compelling. I’d always been interested in biblical studies, my undergraduate degree is in biblical greek.
And in my last attempt to salvage what faith I had left, I pursed an MA in biblical exegesis.
I REALLY tried.
But it just never worked.
You know who was just never there . . . I was empty.
At the same time, biblical authority, inerrancy, and inspiration were unraveling before my eyes as I read, researched, and wrote papers on the topic.
My faith slowly slipped away . . .
During my last semester, I did a research paper on you know who and the divine warrior myth in the hebrew bible. And my eyes were opened to the absolute horrifying nature of you know who. Violence. Bloodshed. And his complete lack of compassion and mercy for the sake of his name and renown . . . slaughtering men, women, babies, cattle. It all made me sick.
My wife was pregnant during this time . . . we lost our baby in the first week of the second trimester . . .
There was too close of a connection . . . the rage in my head couldn’t be restrained. GOD KILLED MY BABY.
Life, then, was really more about survival. Days crept by. I was a zombie, and always surprised when I made it through the night.
But the longer I stayed away from you know who, the easier it got. Not the pain. Not the hurt. But dealing with it. Even today, I have more comfort and hope knowing that you know who isn’t real and that I’m in control of my own life . . . and that there’s not this all knowing being with a chip on his shoulder out to get me.
The guilt and shame for what I’ve done . . . who I’ve been . . . on behalf of you know who is what I’m dealing with now. There’s no salve for my stupidity. My callousness. I have no excuse for every empty promise I’ve given to so many who were hurting, sick, and dying. And I live with it every day. I dream about it every night. It’s incapacitating at times.
In some ways, I think that I embrace the pain . . . that I need it –– like it’s not right for me to try and let it go. Forget. Move on. Get over it.
I’m fucked up, I suppose . . . but at least I know that, in the end, I’m not fucked.
Filed Under: Testimonials