I could start ranting and raving right off the bat with just the thoughts the simple post title itself stirs up, but I want to make it clear and not hide who I once was and who I fight daily not to be.
I, me, myself and I, was the ultra-religious person hurting others with my thoughts, beliefs and ideas, "built on the bible" beliefs, but really it was almost wholly my flavor or someone else's flavor of God, His word, etc. Their own flavor of His love, Christ's love and how far it extended.
I was the one. In some way or another I did the things that I am about to describe to you here. And little by little my intention is to make things right with the people that I have wounded and go back and attempt a sorry clean-up to the stinging mess that I have left in my long trail behind me. As I can, I am denouncing, renewing, and asking for forgiveness from a long line of people. I have achieved some of this process, but have much more to go and daily, daily, daily I need help from the true, loving, benevolent God to refute within me the sick habit of proping myself up above others. Yes, some good ground has been covered, but I have so much more to go.
And here I am still connected with many people from my past, most of them coming out and stepping away from what they have known. Some have jumped off the proverbial cliff in comparison with how they used to live the ultra-religious life. And in many cases, there couldn't be a better life drop, literally falling to life, as fast as the speed of light, the light of the true, loving Christ.
I recently went to a wedding reception of an older woman who I attended church with for almost ten years. This lady was also a dean at PCC for many years before coming(or during) to the IFB church we mutually attended. She spent many years being in church and working at the college, serving the youth in the church, being a pair of hands in whatever capacity she could. Even though that was true, this woman always struck me as being very different than her counterparts in the church. She wasn't married, didn't have children and held a job and lived on her own for years. A woman like that attending a church where most of the women stayed at home with many children, homeschooled, wore long skirts, were keepers at home, etc. She was out of the box. She seemed rather unrattled by those conforming to the religious trends, she was independent from the influence it. I never really knew her deeply in a full relationship, but I at least know that she has done "a lot for God" in the IFB circles and knew a lot of people and was a very dedicated person to helping people. I had lost touch with her, but would see her around town and she was always warm and friendly with me. That spoke volumes to me.
So she invited me to come to her wedding reception.
I came. It was held at a small, country Assembly of God church. And I thought, hmmm, I wonder why she didn't hold it at the church she was attending. So, in the span of five minutes of walking in the door, I finally realized that she had married an Assembly of God pastor and he was the pastor of that particular country church. The building was filled with his family and friends and I saw some of the ones there for her and I didn't see the people from her church or the college she worked so many years for. I asked her if she inivited them and she said she did.
Where in the world were they?
SO, now I am making a bit of an assumption as I write, but really, it's not a far cry from the truth, I believe.
A conscientious, Spirit-filled, kind, giving woman married an Assembly of God pastor, who seemed like a great, kind, humble guy. And to that I say, wonderful! Yay for her! This is what I can say now, but certainly couldn't say five years ago. But truly, this is quite a leap from being in an IFB college and church for SO many years and I must say that the majority of the people and especially leadership from her former church/college she worked for certainly did not approve of her choice. None of them were there, except for former members of the church and maybe one or two who dared to show up. And the saddest thing? The pastor of her former church was a mere ten minutes up the road from this small, country church. Oh, I know, maybe he was in the hospital or ER with one of his kids, etc. I'll give them that.
She was getting married to a great guy for crying out loud after all these many years of being sinlge and where were all these people who were her "friends", her "church family", those who have known her ALL those years over at PCC?
I'll tell you where they were. Their love only extended so far. Their friendship only extended as far as the close-minded, ultra-religious life would let them. Sure, some couldn't make it for various reasons. But so many couldn't make it? SO MANY? The people you have known and loved your whole life, the people you have dedicated yourself to helping and nuturing and supporting.
And it hurts and it wounds and it tears at the hearts of the people it is directed towards and those who wound and hurt do so in their righteous indignation and full of some sick satisfaction or out of total ignorance that they are doing something good and right. The aftermath, no matter the motivation, is sadly still the same.
It reminds me of the time my parents would not attend the baptism of their infant grandson.
And the religion has done it's damage and my brother and his wife haven't forgotten that to this day.
It reminds me of the times that I, me, I would not bother to engage myself with another because they were not like I was, because they did not think like I did or would not fall to my side on a matter. ALL the times.
And these things, this disengagement from the whole of society, except for those like yourself, for fear of mixing in or giving approval of or for the building of your ever-growing, self-righteous plank, this ultra-religious thinking won't help anyone, it only hurts. Trust me, I have tried it. Most people will run away from you and the ones who stick around will live in your mutual bubble that grows and with its growth, the threat to pop and leave ruin in its wake ever increases.
And then a new bubble is made with new people to put in it, only to pop and leave ruin again. And some could spend their whole life helping the people left behind in in the ultra-religious, unloving, spiritually fruitless aftermath. Their. Whole. Life.
Yeah, where were they? I want to know. Here is a woman who has always been there for them, where were they on this very special day?
And where will they be in the coming months and years? Encouraged by the "leadership", as I have been in the past, not to enter into a relationship with those not like themselves and thereby, throwing their freethinking brain into the trash.