Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lenten Project: Day Eighteen

We're halfway through Lent.  Far from running out of stories to tell and things to post on this blog, I keep uncovering more, remembering more. I'm facing myself in the mirror and coming to terms with a lifetime of abuse, and it has not been as easy as I imagined.

Today I dug out all my diaries and journals, from 1998 to 2003.  They're horrifying.  Not just my recounting what happened each day (usually not positive things), but also myself, who I was.  I was not an admirable person.  True, I was a product of my upbringing, but I was also a jerk.  A selfish creature with an ego the size of an airplane.

My husband likes to look at my old pictures and say he would have liked me and had the biggest crush on me if we'd known each other in my childhood.  But I was not lovely.  I was not nice.

In spite of my enormous character flaws, a few of which I've outgrown by virtue of the simple fact that I've grown up, and a few others which have been shed since I left Fundamentalism and then Evangelicalism, the truth remains that what was done to me was not merited at all.  It was not right, it was not good, it was not of Christ.

Two months after my 18th birthday, I wrote in my diary that all I wanted was to explore this faith of my parents, to be able to express doubts without fear of punishment.  I admitted I didn't believe God existed.  I confessed it, with much shame, in a prayer I wrote in my journal. (My father, in a strange attempt to save me from my rebellion, required me to write a prayer of at least 100 words each day. He also required me to correspond with him through another journal.  I still, to this day, don't know why he didn't just talk to me face to face.  We lived in the same house, after all.)  After trying and proving some of the teachings of Fundamentalism to be false, I jumped to the conclusion that all of Fundamentalism must be false, and that God was nothing, not true, not real. (Because I was taught that Christianity is Fundamentalism, and Fundamentalism is Christianity.  Everything else was pagan.  So to reject Fundamentalism was to reject God.)

Then, a few days later, I fearfully backtracked and apologised to God.  Later I wrote that I had to conform so I could survive.  And that's really sad.  I was never encouraged to believe because God is true and real and good.  I was compelled to pretend to believe "for the sake of the ministry," and because that's what was expected of me.  Doubts were not allowed. Exploring life, trying new things, deciding for myself were not allowed.  Challenging the teachings of Fundamentalism, examining our rules and practices, and trying to understand why, were all strongly discouraged.

Since I had to do all of those in secret, my attitude was nasty.  I didn't like hiding who I was or what I was discovering.

When I read my diaries, I agree with what my sweet mother-in-law said again this weekend: That is not true Christianity.