On the Way to Church

I grew up having to witness and experience the rage of another person and often.

Rage in the morning, rage in the evening, rage at supper time...we had rage almost anytime.  I felt like I was living in the twilight zone as a child.  I was made to behave, but the one who should have displayed the utmost decorum in front of me as a little girl had little propriety for us, for me, in front of me as an example of what not to do. 

Somehow this event of rage happened much "on the way to church".  A laugh from a kid out of turn, a squabble over which tape to play in the car tape player, a pair of glasses and that of the preacher's left accidentally at home...any one of these things could turn an automobile into a escort from hell on a ride to rage.

Screaming, a temper tantrum the size of Mount Rushmore and then threats and sometimes the threats were carried out later.  All over what?  And all "on the way to church".  And then when "the preacher" got out of the car to meet the people of "his" church, "all" turned to smiles, greetings and an amorous flash of personality.

Yes, it was the twilight zone.  Definitely.  *cue the music*  I liked being "at" the church where the other people were.  "My preacher" turned into a used car salesmen.  I actually liked him okay "at church".  At least he smiled, well except for when he was giving his sermon.   

Needless to say, I hated the ride to church.  Can I say that again?  I hated, loathed, despised the ride to church.  And the ride to church was three times a week.  You couldn't go hide anywhere.  You couldn't run away.  You were made to witness and experience...this, this rage. 

I cannot even express to you what those moments in the car "on the way to church" did to my psyche.  And "my preacher" was the one forcing me to witness and experience this process over and over again...week after week, year after year.

One day when I was in middle school my mother took all she could of the abuse and the ride "on the way to church" with "her preacher".  She decided that we were going to leave "his" church.  And the day she decided she was done, "her preacher" looked into my eyes and exclaimed, "Do you want to go with her or do you want come with me to church?!"  I ran to my mom and didn't answer.  I was scared to give an honest, but wrong answer because I knew what honest, wrong answers brought...rage all over again. 

My two older brothers were living on their own by that time, so me and my younger brother and older sister were taken to another church by my mom, forever more.

I remember vividly that calm first ride with mom, my brother and my sister to this new church for the first time.  It was like a taste of freedom.  We drove, we spoke, we parked on the gravel and it was if a whole weight had lifted off of us for the time being.  The pastor was so kind to us.  He was the kindest and best of men.  Soft spoken and knowing what was happening to all of us...he opened his arms to us.  The church was very small, but the people were kind and diverse.  They knew nothing of our situation and didn't need to know to show their love.  

I was in an Independent Baptist school when this was happening.  I remember word getting out in school that my mom and us kids had left my dad's church.  The knowledge was met with a self-righteous air of displeasure and questions on the part of these PK's.  The kind of "air" that I became so well-acquainted with over the years in others and in myself, much to my chagrin.  

I am not sure what would have happened to me if my mom didn't decide to have us leave "our preacher's" church.  I only know what almost happened to me. 

What almost happened to me and also what did happen to me. 

Both stemming from my road taking me to churches, many churches.  But the transformation started with mom and her decision and it ends up with me and my enlightenment. 

A road of destruction that passes over the bridge of abuse and back on to another road and this road is called the road of the religious and self-righteous.  That is the road I began to take.

And then we came home from our first trip to the new church and the new preacher.

And then we came home. 



Ann with an E said...

Oh, those car rides. Yeah, terrible memories, but only memories, and thank God we are so so so free now, huh sis? I CANNOT even begin to tell you with words how these posts are so parallel to my thoughts over the years! That morning we left Dad's church, he was mad because I didn't want to wear a skirt to church. I had gotten dressed in a very nice dressy pair of cullot looking things. I was actually very dressed up, and I had NO idea he wouldn't want me to wear what I had on. And he threw a fit about it. That was it for mom. That was the last straw. That took alot of courage on her part and I am so glad she had that courage! I will NEVER forget that silent, enjoyable, music-filled car trip to that new church. Never!

Question Everything, Find the Truth and Prove It said...

Wow, Beth. I remember those culottes and they were very fancy. And the lesson for the day for all parents is pick your battles with your kids wisely, right? Yeah, I'll never forget that first enjoyable trip to church. Never. I think that was the beginning of my life being saved or spared rather. Oh, my. For real. I am so glad you are with me, my love, along this journey. I say we go and write a book together. It think it would help other people, what do you think?