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Breaking Away with Love

By Iris ~

Here I am, 35 years old, in the swirling midst of a crisis of faith. I discovered this site several weeks ago, and it has definitely bolstered my confidence and security in my independence and freedom of thought.

However, I cannot shake the sadness and fear of losing my family. Let me explain...I was raised in a very conservative church in the Southern Bible Belt, and as soon as I reached the "age of reason," I felt a nagging in my heart that I did not agree with the fearful, shaming, guilt-ridden teachings of the church I had attended since birth, three times a week. My parents are wonderful, loving people who raised me strictly, but with much affection and love, and my dear brother (one of my best friends) is now a minister in this same religion. I feel, at once, both proud and lonely to be the one dissenter in the family.

I moved to California several years ago and it was a wonderful, freeing experience to not attend church. I can honestly say I have never been so happy in my life. I met many amazing people of all faiths and backgrounds, and California is truly my second home now. I returned to my home state a year ago, I missed my family and friends here terribly. However, once I came back, my mother began to pressure me to go to church. I went a few times, but I felt like I had taken a huge step backwards from the freedom I had felt. I have since stopped going to church completely, but the indoctrination is still present. I feel heartbroken that my family worries so much for my soul, and I must admit that I have that little voice of fear in my mind that asks, "What if they are right? What if I will be separated from my family for eternity?" I cannot imagine anything worse, and I wish I knew a way to get rid of that feeling, because I know that it is a lie...I am a good person simply because I love my fellow man, and I belong with my family in this life regardless of my different beliefs.

So here I am today, on my journey to true freedom, standing strong, resisting pressure, but still a bit fearful. It saddens me that so many of us still feel this pain that indoctrination causes. Will we ever be truly free? How can we turn off the voice?