I want you to just TRY and imagine how popular I was in high school.

Sometimes when I think back on my teenage years, when I think of the things that I wasn’t allowed to do, the things I was forced to do, I get angry and bitter and I cry. Other times, I just have to laugh.
When I look at this picture, I choose to laugh. Because it IS funny. (Is that a Sprush in your pocket? Ha! Ha! Haaaa!)
But then, I remember how it felt to be me at that age and I want to cry. I was 15 years old. While my friends were out enjoying their youth, I was being forced to cover my head and to dress like a 35 year old apostolic woman. I wasn’t allowed to do ANYTHING that most 15 year olds do. I was taught my role as a woman was to find a good husband, submit to him, have his children and make it my life work to raise them.
I wasn’t taught that I had other options. In fact, the other “options” were ungodly and would condemn me to an eternity in hell.
I like to say that I’ve moved on from my past. When people tell me that I’m bitter and that I need to grow up and move on, I point to my beautiful family and say “I have moved on.”
But have I really?
Obviously, not.
I can say that these thoughts no longer consume me. But I can’t say that what happened to me has no affect on me to this day.
I’ve spent most of my adult life feeling out of place, unable to relate to the world I live in. I lived a sheltered life in which I was not allowed to discover who I was or what I wanted to do with my life.
So, I married young, had a child at the age of 22 and continued to live a life that I was told was the one God had planned for me.
I never imagined a life in which I wasn’t going to church and serving the Lord, but somewhere along the way, the bitterness and anger consumed me and I no longer wanted anything to do with church or the things of God.
I’ve been missing church lately. Missing the peace that I would feel in my soul as I sat in the presence of God. But then, I think of The People. The Christians who made my life a living a hell and I can’t bring myself to go back.
I may still be holding on to bitterness from my past, but I do believe that I’ve tried to make the best out of my life with my husband and my children.
Maybe it’s not the life I would have chosen given a different upbringing, but it IS the life that I choose now.

68 thoughts on “I want you to just TRY and imagine how popular I was in high school.

  1. Karen Rani

    Sweetie, the joy is knowing that you can have whatever you want in your life in terms of religion – and it can be personal – so much as a prayer when you need one, whatever. It’s personal. xoxo

  2. Angella

    Oh, Yvonne. Posts like these break my heart.
    Because I know Jesus. And have a great church family. One that is not strict like the one you had. I don’t know what denomination you grew up in, or if you have the same Bible, but Jesus got MAD at people who were so legalistic. He threw tables around the temple.
    Unfortunately, we live in a world with people who are human, and not perfect, and who end up hurting people when they really have the best intentions.
    I really hope that you and your family find a church family that you can connect with. We have family in SoCal, and could hook you up.
    In my experience? A great church family is worth its weight in gold.

  3. Y

    And I should have made it clear– I do not hold God responsible for the way that people acted in his name. I love do love Jesus.
    I just can’t seem to bring myself to step back into a church (and my dad is a PASTOR).
    Maybe I will take you up on that offer for a hook up to a good church?

  4. Which Box

    Oh, y, long time lurker, first time poster. This post breaks my heart. I so admire you for breaking the mold, moving away. And yet that does’nt mean your realtinoship with God has to suffer, too. There are options that aren’t The Crazy. There are.
    Thanks for being a bright spot in the blogosphere. There are posts of yours that have made me laugh so hard I’ve cried. You are an instrument of god, just not quite you thought you’d be at 15. God is love, and fun, and laughter, and love. And that’s you.

  5. Y

    And I should have made it clear– I do not hold God responsible for the way that people acted in his name.
    I love Jesus. I think that people have acted irresponsibly in His name.
    I just can’t bring myself to go to church again. I’m starting to feel as though I’m missing out on something really great though. And I’ve not felt like that in YEARS.
    Now. I think I can not read anymore comments until after I got and fetch a box of tissue.

  6. stepmomof2

    I can totally relate to that. My parent’s made all four of us go to church every time the doors were open and I really resented them for it. Now that I’m grown and have a family of my own, I can count on one hand the times that we have went. I understand that my parents did what they thought was best at the time, but in my opinion if you are forced to do something then as soon as you get a chance you are not going to do it anymore.

  7. Pam

    You always look SO happy in your current photos. The girl in that picture looks miserable. I think you made the right choice!

  8. Becki

    We all have reasons for not wanting to go to church. I was raised in a household that didn’t talk about religion at all. When my mother died and pops remarried (six months later) they became born-again. They didn’t force it on me until I had to move back in with them after leaving my drug abusing husband. I may have liked it except for the fact that they believe divorce is an unforgivable sin and pastor constantly talked about it. I felt uncomfortable all the time. According to the church, everything I do or have done is a sin. I just try to live the best way I can raising my two sons.

  9. Brandy

    Oh, Y. I am so sorry. I have lived that life as well. My Mom was so unhappy and she looked to religion to “fix” herself. We were one religion and then another and I was forced to convert and attend whether I wanted to or not. I was ‘protected’ and lived a sheltered life as well. I wasn’t allowed to do the same things my friends were and felt so alone.
    When I married my hubs, (his family had been the same way) we didn’t go to Church. And hadn’t been back until about 2 years ago. We found a Church that felt like home the minute we walked in.
    God is where ever you look and faith is something that can be felt, whether you walk into the doors of a church or not.
    Best of luck to you in your life.

  10. jess

    Stories like this make me want to cry and then rant about how people treat others, especially those within their own church family. I’m glad this hasn’t made you blame God, though. I always want to say or do more, but there is very little that can be said for other people’s actions when I can’t understand why they are like that.
    I’m still looking for a good church but have yet to find one–for a variety of reasons. No church is perfect because the humans in them aren’t, but it’d be nice to find one that is loving and kind per God’s example.
    Good luck and God bless.

  11. Marriage-101

    Most of my anti-church friends are that way because of the strict way they were raised too. It rubbed them the wrong way and they’ve written religion off as a total sham because of it. I’m glad that you haven’t, but I do understand that it’s hard to overcome those feelings and even more, it’s hard to find a good church home. Hopefully you find one that works well with your family and your beliefs.

  12. superblondgirl

    Oh, honey, our pasts fuck us up no matter what. It’s just how it is. We just do the best we can with the amount of messed-up we are and hopefully find things that make us more whole. Maybe you’ll find a church you love, or maybe you’ll find a friend to do Bible study or something with, or maybe you’ll just not do any of that stuff at all – as long as you’re happy and content, it’s all that matters at the end of the day.

  13. Danielle

    I didn’t have the same experience that you did but I have reached a point where it’s very difficult for me to even go in a church. It’s so hard to talk about with people, especially family members.
    I am doing the best that I can just by trying to find God in the world around me and do the things that I think are right.
    The hardest part for me right now is that fact that #1 son is getting older and asking more questions. I was telling him all about christianity and he was very interested. I asked him if he wanted to go to church, even just to see what it was like and he started laughing hysterically. Made me kinda sad at least it did after I stopped grinning at the kid.
    I miss the peace that I would feel but I’m starting to find it in other places. I’m trying to make more of the world holy.
    Oh…I tried to access your blog from work but the filter told me that it fell under the catogory of “tasteless.” It was the highlight of my day. Every other blog I tried to go to said it was banned because of “social networking” but you are just tasteless. Thought you should know. 🙂

  14. kel

    “Church” should just be people worshiping God together….not something scary. You might try just going to a few churches…arriving right as it starts and sitting in the very back. You can leave right as it is ending. You don’t need to talk to anyone. Just sit, enjoy the beauty, participate in the worship, and listen to God’s word. If it’s overwhelming, just leave and try again later. It might take a while, but that’s ok. It’s like driving again after a really traumatic car accident. But, if you are being drawn to God, I would try. You might find a church that you connect with and that isn’t scary. Until then, I would just go to different ones and be more of an observer. God will work on your heart to make you more comfortable. You might be surprised which types of churches you like and don’t like. I was a bit traumatized by my church upbringing, and now I go to a church that has a completely different style than my old church. If you had asked me when I was 18 or 20 if I would end up in a church like the one I go to now, I would have said NO WAY, but God changed me and my preferences. I’m really uncomfortable in churches that are too much like the one I grew up in, but I completely love my church now.

  15. Bronwen

    Reminds me of the bumper sticker “Jesus, save me from your followers.”
    My friend Melanie chooses a church every time she moves – this time, she’s a Lutheran because they have better music and she liked the people better. It had nothing to do with the actual flavor of Protestantism, but the music and the people. Hey – it works for her. She was a Methodist in the last town, by the way.

  16. Abra Leah

    I hear you. I was raised in a VERY strict religious home. My mom had this book, Turmoil in the Toybox. Look it up. It’s the Reasons why ALL toys and TV are EVIL. 🙂 One year we didn’t even do Christmas trees because of the Druids and all.
    Needless to say my sister and I rebelled all kinds of hard like. 😀
    But, I met my husband, and we kind of found our way back to God together. Now we go to a wonderful church with our toddlers and I’m so glad that I can raise them in a church that is about love, family, and relationships – not about how the Smurfs are a tool of the DEVIL. (I could never have a Ken doll, either – so all my Barbies were Lesbians.)

  17. Incognito

    Y –
    Girlfriend, I could’ve written that post myself. Ditto…ditto…ditto. I’ve been walking in a daze of confliction the last couple of weeks. Not sure why it came up and why it has weighed so heavy on me, but I totally feel ya. Sorry you are at a crossroad, sister. I’ll shoot you an email if you wanna chat.

  18. Not The Mama

    Oh, how I can relate. I was raised in a fundamentalist church that constantly reinforced women’s roles. In many ways, I went along with it, as miserable as it made me, but I was desperate to go college. Unfortunately, my mom (and the rest of her church) taught that colleges (even Christian colleges) were “dens of iniquity” and a waste of time since the second-coming was upon us. They thought it would be a better use of my time to get married and start popping out as many babies as possible, and indoctrinating them in the church. I stayed strong, went to college, and lost my family. But I found a new life, and a new family. And I’m happier now than I ever dreamed possible then. I’m glad you also have moved on and that you found happiness in your life. I hope that you can also find peace with your feelings about missing church.

  19. Suebob

    If you want, I am sure you can find a good church.
    Here are some options:
    Unitarian-Universalist- not big on talking about God, but very big on making the world a better place.
    Unity or Religious Science – both big on God as love, not so much of the Jesus.
    United Church of Christ – more of the traditional trappings of Christianity, but very liberal and not big on the hellfire.
    There are also congregations of Methodists, Episcopals and Lutherans that keep a lot of the Christian traditions but are not so much with the hell and damnation all the time.
    Good luck if you choose to search. I love my church for the people, the singing, and the inspiration to be a better person. The God part is a side benefit.

  20. Shannon

    Ohh how these pictures bring me back. To my own childhood that is. I was raised United Pentecostal in the Bible belt. Let me tell you, I FEEL your pain. I still have my Mom breathing down my neck telling me someday something really bad will happen to me and she only hopes I can find God at that time. Who honestly says those things to someone? Just my Holy Roller mother.

  21. Sasha

    It took me a long time to differentiate God’s house from the people who run it. I realized that by not going, I allowed those people to have power and I only cheated myself.

  22. Helen

    It’s reading things like this that make me thank my God, the one MY parents taught me about, for the childhood I had, where God loved us and wanted nothing more than for us to return to Him, having parents that taught me that I had choices in life and if I chose to be a good and honest person all would be well and I would be happy. We were taught about the blessings of being good and I cannot remember ever hearing a negative side to being righteous ( or not). My God loves my son, even though he is Gay, in fact because he is gay, because I know that my God made him exactly the way he is. There is so much to be had from loving my God because HE loves us…HE made us and he knows that we are not perfect, all HE asks is that we TRY to become as good as we can be. He allows us to screw up and try again and no matter what HE just keeps loving us and hoping that we love Him too.
    Everything I read about you tells me that God thinks you are pretty amazing, you love your family, you are obedient to your parents even though they have filled you with fear and even though you are a grown woman who could choose not to listen to a word they say.
    I REALLY hope that heaven is full of people like you because Eternity is a bloody long time, imagine eternity without endless belly laughs and fun? Who’d want to be in heaven if it was all hymns and humilty?

  23. Kathy from NJ

    I know someone who went to a different church (by herself) every week. It took a long time, but she finally found one that works for her.

  24. Bunny

    My experience with church was not nearly as severe as yours, but when I was old enough to decide for myself I stopped going. But when I grew up and started a family, I realized there was something my family needed from church. There are so many incredibly wonderful church families out there. And I’m sure there is one that is right for your family. I’m sorry you grew up this way. The God that I know is full of love and life and laughter and joy. And that is also how I think about you.

  25. Amanda

    I was homeschooled until I went to college- and grew up in a really strict group that required navy skirts and white blouses and soft long flowing curls for the girls. I was lucky my parents weren’t that into it I went to college- while so many of my friends waited to be courted. UGH…while I have issues with that for sure. I ended up waiting until the “old” age of 24 to get married and we attend a much more liberal (for me) balanced church that we love. Anyway- if you saw some of the pictures of me- it would blow your mind.

  26. mbbored

    I’m so sorry that you were brought up like that and that what should be a relaxing, rejuvenating experience is only miserable and painful for you. I felt that way for a long time, hating the way so-called Christians acted. Eventually, I decided to go anyway, ignore all of them and focus on Jesus, not those who claimed to act in his name. I found a nice, low-key church that’s extremely open (lesbians couples kiss during services) and only go as often as I want to.

  27. AmyM

    I think everyone can relate to what you said on some level. I was raised in an abusive, dysfunctional home which (shameless plug) I write about in my blog. (/shameless plug) It was a very non-religious upbringing. I honestly always thought ‘christians’ were people like how you grew up… people who had to dress a certain way and their idea of fun was singing ‘Jesus loves me’ and going door-to-door delivering tracts. I wanted no part of it. Until I figured out that wasn’t what Christianity was all about. Then it was about being nice to everyone, being perfect, going to church and serving in the church! My husband and I went to church for almost 2 years and I always felt out of place there. I tried really hard, but never quite got it. Everyone else seemed to have been raised in stable Christian homes. Never got mixed up with the wrong crowd in high school. Remained pure until marriage. And were now living godly lives, never gave in to temptation, never lost their tempers with their children… perfect people so completely put together. I couldn’t relate to that, and I never felt comfortable showing anyone who I really was. “Reading the Bible and praying” didn’t make the pain go away and I couldn’t “forgive and forget” and pretend life was absolutely perfect. I felt like a huge failure as a ‘christian’.
    I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who feels that way. And I’ve figured out that ‘perfect’ is total bullshit. No one is perfect, no one was raised perfectly, no one lives perfectly and everyone struggles with sin. And the best way to heal from something is to deal with it… ignoring it does not make it go away. God deals with things. God gets angry. God confronts people. God is REAL.
    I don’t buy into all the legalism of wearing long dresses or not drinking alcohol. But the uber-liberalness of “live however you want to live, Salvation is guaranteed!” doesn’t sit well with me, either.
    Now I’ve rambled so much that I completely forgot my point. Other than to let you know that you aren’t the only one who feels out of place when it comes to matters like faith and worship.

  28. Cynthia

    I have been reading your blog for longer than I can remember. I just wanted to let you know that there are others out here trying to figure out how to love God, love people, follow Jesus without the constraint of the church institution which seems to have tainted what it’s all about.
    If you read my blog, you will read much of what I have been working through and how it seems I may be going back to church. We will see. But it will be a different church, I know that.
    Like you, I didn’t realize my options. I am a mom of nine children, we homeschool, I love my life. But, I do wonder what I have missed throughout the years of teaching I sat under about women’s role being subservient to men’s.
    I am questioning all of that.
    Just wanted to point you to:
    Those are both sites with teaching and podcast with Wayne Jacobsen … and it’s all about being free of the rules and living in the joy of Christ.

  29. Laura

    Wow. Look at how far you’ve come in your life! I think THAT is amazing. I pray a lot, sometimes go to a nice liberal Methodist church and sometimes I stay home and eat bagels and ride bikes. I don’t think Jesus cares what you do on Sunday morning – just live a good life. Take care.

  30. jules

    Just realize that the beautiful part of this is that now you’re free to seek God and Jesus and a church ON YOUR OWN TERMS as an adult! Let everything else go if you can-and just enjoy the journey.
    I didn’t go to church for awhile after college and leaving home. After a couple of years I decided to go church shopping and bounced around on Sundays until I found the perfect fit. Remember-it won’t be your parents’ church-it will be YOURS!

  31. Dawn

    I lived a different kind of horrible childhood, mostly because of the torture that my mother lived through. (It didn’t really help her to be a very good mom.)
    Her Dad forced her to go to church, then called her a hypocrite and abused her. She never attended church when I was a child. In fact she had great hostility towards it. She did a lot of things wrong when it comes to me, but I will forever be grateful that she told me about church and let me go when I was little. From the moment I stepped into the church, I was at peace. It was a place of refuge for me, a place to see another way of life that was so different from my home. She called me a hypocrite and didn’t always make it easy to attend, but I still went as often as I could and just absorbed all the love I felt there.
    Here we are 30 + years later, my grandfather is dead and she has finally come to a place where she is ready to go to church. It was so hard for her, but now she is able to separate what she was taught as a child from the true teachings of the church. It has given us something to share and has helped us to begin to heal some of the old wounds between us.
    I hope that you find the peace you seek and I hope you extend the opportunity to develop their own personal testimony to your children.

  32. Amy

    Don’t look for a perfect church. Church is full of people so you’ll never find it.
    You are so smart and I don’t know – confident, I guess? to recognize God calling you to Him despite all you’ve been though.
    Find a good place that makes you feel happy and comfortable. God Bless You!!

  33. Jazzy

    I am sure it has been said above, but not all Christians are created equal. I have a wonderful Church family that is an encouragement to me, not a drain on me. Both our head pastor and our youth pastor are from Southern California and I could get some recommendations if you are interested. Let me know.

  34. lar

    Oh, how I feel you. I was raised in a denomination that calls itself non-denominational, and grew up to marry a youth minister. We served four churches in ten years, and the last church (where we were for four years and thought we were loved) let us go in a crushing, heartless way with no warning, no grace–just threw us out like trash because they didn’t want to pay our salaries anymore.
    I don’t think I’ll ever get over that completely, although I’ve come a long way in the two years since. We still haven’t found a new church home, though; we’ve tried, we’ve visited nearly 20 places of all denominations, but just haven’t found one that feels like home.
    One thing I do know, though; God never failed us. PEOPLE failed us, oh yes they did! And I still have a LOT of trouble trusting people. But God, He is my rock and my strength, and just sitting in a worship service is enough for me right now. Maybe soon we’ll find a place with people that we trust, but for now we enjoy sitting in the back, singing praises to the One who loves us.

  35. dana michelle

    I also believe that God misses you and is calling your name, Y. Take Angella up on her offer to hook you up with a church in your area. It may not be what you’re looking for, but if not, that’s one place less that you have to look. Then again, it might be exactly what you want.
    After reading all of the comments, I guess I have to counts my blessings that I was raised in a pretty “normal” faith (Missouri Synod Lutheran.) I think that we have a healthy balance of God’s love/God’s law. Certainly I was taught as a child to fear God, but also to love Him, and more importantly, that He loved me, imperfect as I was born and always will be.
    One of the commenters noted that she had once thought that Christianity was about being perfect. God does not expect perfection from us, because He knows that we are incapable of it. He only asks that do our human best to follow His laws. That doesn’t mean that “anything goes”, but that when we do realize our errors and want to put them behind us, there is always forgiveness. I think that’s the part of faith that you missed out on in your upbringing, and that is very sad.
    I went through a two year period in my mid-30’s where I just got lazy and stopped going to church. I had been through a bout of depression and I wasn’t happy with my life situation. I was driving clear across town to go to the chuch I was baptized and raised in, and I was just tired of the hassle. I also wasn’t really “feeling” that church anymore. Nothing bad, just nothing really good.
    I finally decided to start looking for a church nearer my home. I had tried a couple but the fit wasn’t quite right. I was taking a different route home from work one night and drove past a beautiful old church, and it turned out to be MS Lutheran. I decided right then and there that I was going to try it on Sunday.
    So I did. I took the wrong turn off the freeway and had to drive up a bunch of unfamiliar streets, but I found it and managed to drop myself into a pew a couple of minutes before the service started. The church was beautiful! Very Gothic (my kinda church 🙂 Seconds before the service began another woman sat down directly behind me.
    Well, I was feeling all kinds of guilty for having fallen away for so long, so I cried my way through most of the hymn singing. Oddly enough, when the service ended, the woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said ” I noticed that you have a really nice voice. Have you thought about joining the choir?” I told her that it was my first time visiting, and how could my tear-ridden alto have sounded “nice”? She asked me to come downstairs and meet some of the choir members. It turned out that she was the choir director’s wife. I went with her, came back for choir practice that Thursday, and the rest is history. I’ve been there 11 years now and along the way I learned to play handbells too! I can tell you that I just knew when I walked inside that morning that “this was the one”, but Carol’s invitation and the fellowship of the choir is what sealed the deal. I don’t know what I’d do without my choir family. They are a wonderful group of people.
    Start trying. You will know when it’s “the one”. Remember that you are a grown woman and you can pick what YOU want. Not all Christian faiths are as strict as the one you were raised in. Really, most of them aren’t like that at all.
    Good luck in your journey, Y. I will keep you and your beautiful family in my prayers.
    P.S. Sorry for writing a book!

  36. zdoodlebub

    Christians do suck. Often. And hard. And I can say this with certainty because I AM ONE. I also work in a church. We can be petty, small-minded and unnecessarily strict.
    But I love God. And I guess I’m lazy and undisciplined because the structure of church is the only way that I seem to get my butt in His presence. I don’t do it on my own. I wish I could be better at that. But I’m not. So I go to church. Because after years of doing it my way, I’ve finally figured out that I need His help.

  37. dana michelle

    I forgot to write this part in my post above.
    There is no doubt in my mind that God led me to that church and even the place where I sat. It has been a joke between Carol and I for years that “God placed you behind me”/ “No God placed you in front of me” depending on which one of us is doing the talking. Actully I think He made sure that both of us were right where we were supposed to be.
    Don’t forget that he works in mysterious ways. 🙂

  38. Da5id

    I work on a University campus. It is a pretty liberal university at that. At one of the central points on campus, as any good campus has, you will see and hear the “preachers” who preach the fire and brimstone type of religion condemning all those who do not follow THEIR god and THEIR ways to an eternal life of hell and there after. You can never have a conversation let alone debate with these people either. Because they are always right and do not even allow for dialouge because again, they are right and you are wrong, period. These people, and all people like them, are as dangerous as the fundamentalist Muslims.
    As I walk by them from time to time, I wish one of them would allow me to have a dailouge. I find it very interesting that even the more moderate religious folks continue to conform to tradition and the popm and circumstance of their religion when so many people in history have died in the name of God. They kill in he name of God. They hate in the name of God and the isolate themselves awayt from the rest of the world and relaity, in the name of God.
    I cannot relate to that. I can only say I beleive in God but have a hard time holding onto that faith when I say all of the pain and suffering around me everyday. While I do beleive in him, I have a hard time following his supposed ways. God is our father? What kind of father lets their children suffer? It makes my entire being ache when my children are upset, I want their pain to be my own as long as they don’t have to feel it. Why then, does God allow his children to suffer? I do not buy the “he is testing you, just have faith.” Because, I surely would not want my own father to “test me” at the price of great suffering and pain. So yes, I question God’s motives. Until I see otherwise, my relationship witrh God will be a strained one.
    Church? Ha! Like I said, religion is a man made institution in order to control the masses. It has nothing to do with God other than invoke his name in order to fulfil their earthly needs. So Y, don’t ever feel guilty about not going to church – would God want you feeling that way?

  39. Tiffany

    My (paternal) grandmother forced religion and church down her kid’s throats! To this day not one of her 4 children attend church, they are pretty wild in fact. My (maternal) grandmother took her children to church and had a healthy balance of religion in the home. All 3 of her kids are active in church as adults as well as most of their grandchildren. Your parent’s were doing what they thought was right, there was just no balance. Everything in moderation right? With that being said, seek, pray and find a place where you and your family can worship and be comfortable. I don’t know what I would do without my church family. We love, support and pray for each other. Worship together, and socialize with each other as well. No one should be without such a supportive network. Remember no place will be perfect because we are only human. Good luck to you on your search for a church home. I will be praying for you girl!
    I love your blog you are hilarious! You crack me up!

  40. HeidiChick

    Y, I’m so sorry.
    But thanks for writing this. I actually want to hear more. My sister has some issues and has gone of the deep end “god-squad style.” (no tv, homeschool kids, no contact w/ ungodly types- – even if that means family, girls are put on this earth to pick up mens socks etc etc…its just scary)
    Her daughters look like you do here. We worry about her and her daughters….and wonder if they will ‘come out of it’ ok….
    Reading this, makes me think there is hope, at least for the girls.

  41. Kay

    I am not going to comment on the religious aspect because I quit believing a long time ago.. but it pained my heart to see that pic of you. I know it all too well. Forced religion and fanatic values on a child does lasting damage. You can love your parents but hate their ways, believe me I know.
    Good luck to you finding what it is you need.

  42. Kyla

    “Missing the peace that I would feel in my soul as I sat in the presence of God.”
    Me, too.
    I wish that the People and the Rules didn’t do such a good job of turning people away.

  43. girlplease

    I understand. I didn’t grow up in the religious extreme as you did, but it was still controlling and abusive. For 35 years I haven’t full let it go and yes, I understand when you say it can consume you. I wish I could let it go.
    And that’s probably why I act like a total spaz; to hide the issues that are really going on. But hey, at least I can make someone laugh.

  44. Jerri Ann

    I’ve commented here before, but never often. I did want to say this…
    My mom bugs us often about going to church. I don’t get that peace you talked about when I go to church. And, the times in my life when I have gone to church regularly (when I was young and forced), I saw a lot of people at church, playing the game, and then I would see the same folks drunk or drinking (and I am a firm believer that drinking alcohol is not a problem, it is the acts that occur after drinking that are not so good), or cursing, swearing, mistreating their loved ones…and then back to church to be all pristine.
    Another example, the lady I bought the daycare from is known around town as a “good church going woman”. Several of the parents that I have lost because of the recent garbage (long story) also go to church with this woman. These people are spreading lies, bold face lies, calling other parents and telling stuff, calling and threatening to have me arrested for harassment when they are the one who has called me….and then, they all go to the same church during church times and act all innocent and sweet.
    People in our little community know all of this, but since she goes to church and I don’t, I’m the one that looks bad…..this Bible Belt business is for the birds….just because I don’t go sit in a church service everytime the doors are open says absolutely nothing about me…and in many cases, the ones who do go……are simply pretending..and what good is it to pretend to God?
    Shutting up now!

  45. Lotus Carroll

    I was raised an atheist. My parents told me I could believe whatever I wanted to, but then mocked people who loved God.
    Thankfully, He still pulled me to Him somehow. I saw him in the beauty of Nature… something my parents DID teach me to see.
    Every church I ever tried to attend/visit from childhood on disgusted me. The air of superiority, the fear, the punishment, the mocking, the utter hypocrisy.
    I was blessed to be introduced to a non-denominal church started by a hippie movement in California many years ago, The Vineyard, while I was living in TX several years ago. Was like no other church I’ve been in, and I was comfortable from the first time.
    Moved to TN and found another Vineyard. Stepping into it, I felt just as I had in the other. These people love God with all their hearts, and they preach the love of God, NOT hellfire and damnation.
    I urge you to seek out a Vineyard church. Give it a shot. I can’t say enough about the value I place on my chance at finding these places to feel the peace and love of God with his children who worship him without being hate mongers and hypocrits.

  46. mandy

    I have to say this moved me so much. I know the last thing your parents thought of was turning your heart forever away from God through the depravation of a childhood and strict upringing in that church. I know you know this, but there are so many churches out there! They are not all so legalistic. I myself found a wonderful church, ans Assembly of God, where I found that peace you mentioned. The people were wonderful and it was not legalistic like that. Since moving and marrying a methodist who was brought up too traditional to accept the type of church I loved, we started going to a Baptist church. We are in a small country church now, but it is wonderful. (I miss my Assembly of God though) There is a place for you, for your family. Where you can teach them about the love if God, without souring their childhoods with it.
    People are everywhere. People are flawed. No church could be perfect, but you can find a balance. A church that is not legalistic, teaching the law of Man and condemning those who don’t conform. I wish the best for you. It sounds like you are craving that peace again, I know you’ll find it.

  47. Renee

    Wow, this brings back so much for so many people. Thank you for this honest-to-G-d post. I’m not religious, but spiritual, but as you, would welcome being part of a spiritual community. Yes, there’s too many in religions who use their self-righteousness to bash on other people. Sometimes it’s right in your face, sometimes it’s snide holier-than-thou putdowns. I’m not sure that some of those people actually have good intentions–they just found a way to excuse their ugly behavior. But those people aren’t about G-d or love.
    The best to you in your journey and hope that you find the spiritual community that you seek. Blessings to you.

  48. mothergoosemouse

    Having been a heathen all my life, I have no idea how you must feel with respect to the guilt and bitterness.
    But longing for community? I think we can all identify with that. It’s been one of my greatest struggles since moving to CO, feeling as if I fit in somewhere besides my own house.

  49. Momish

    This is my first time at your blog, so I don’t “know” you to really comment too deeply. I just want to share with you that I struggle all the time with my religion, my desire for a cohesive community, my morality, going to church and the like. Even though I did not grow up in a strict Christian household. It is a dilemma for some of us no matter what our history.
    I think it is the mistrust in myself that I might actually know and feel truth, even though I am not “the authority”. I want to find my own inner peace (and religious backbone) as well, so my hopes and best wishes are with you along your quest.

  50. motherbumper

    Wow, I just jumped over here by falling through a rabbit hole of links and boy could I relate to this post. I’m so glad I found you. Church was “ruined” for me because of the restrictions, threats, and forcing used by family but I know miss it – it being the things it really means to me which include peace, unconditional love (emphasis on unconditional), and joy. Thanks for sharing something so personal.

  51. Willie

    Delurking to say that I can really relate to your post. I grew up in the Pentecostal religion. We went to church every day, except Fridays, and twice on Sundays (morning and evening). In fact, much of my family are still members there. I left the church as soon as I was old enough to stand up to my mother and refuse to go anymore. At 16 I dressed like an old woman and couldn’t do any of the things a teenager is supposed to be doing, no makeup, could not were pants, or shorts, or jewelry; nothing that could be considered vanity. I could not listen to popular music, or watch t.v., or movies; anything having to do with the world was considered ungodly and a sin. It was oppressive, smothering, the people were self-righteous, judgemental and hypocritical. (Can you tell I’m bitter and still bear the scars). To this day I do not trust organized religion. I still believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. But I will never allow myself to be in a position where I entrust my spiritual guidance to another person. I was suprised by this post. It feels weird to know you had a similar upbringing. I don’t feel like such a freak now. Thanks for sharing it.

  52. Dawn

    Y — I grew up in a faith tradition, although not as strict as yours, had that same feeling that the road to hell was just a big giant oiled slip-and-slide, and if you took one step too close (dancing! wearing a two-piece! watching 3s Company!) — you would start sliding and not stop until you hit the lake of fire.
    I am glad to have abandoned fear-based faith and replaced it with a grace-based relationship with Jesus. I feel blessed to have found a community of believers to share that with. Because the peace that comes in sitting in the presence of the Lord is important to me, too — even more so now that I can sit there and feel nothing but grace.
    If you need that, I am praying you will find it, too. I know those communities of faith exist. Mostly, I am praying that God gives you a certainty in your heart that wherever you are on your spiritual journey, He is ok with you. I think his heart breaks to see that 15-year-old Yvonne, too. And more than anything, he wants the 30-something Yvonne to know how much He loves and values her.

  53. PK

    I still have such a hard time getting anywhere near a church that reminds me of the hypocritical/restrictive ones of my youth. Say, for a wedding or something–even though I know I’m just there in a building for an event that has no bearing on me personally, I physically react as though to an attack. It’s interesting. So I get that feeling you’re talking about. I agree with the first commentor. The great thing is that you can choose how to comfort your spirit. Maybe it’s finding a church that is quite different from the one you grew up in, in attitude or denomination. Or maybe it’s just taking time to yourself to contemplate or meditate. Or maybe it’s finding some friends who feel the same way you do and make your own community, just some friends sustaining each other. Whatever you decide, it’s obvious your heart is full of love for your family, and that seems pretty much like God to me.

  54. alayna

    Y – I don’t know if I’ve ever commented before, but I had to on this one. I’m sorry your parents raised you like that – I know they sincerely thought they were doing the best thing for you, but they were sincerely wrong. I think a lot of what people do in the name of God is so wrong, and I’m glad you realize it’s not His fault, but it still sucks! If I could give you any advice, I’d say try and visit some churches that are very different from what you were raised in. The people in my church are normal people who drink beer, dance, and love God passionately. Thankfully, those things are not mutually exclusive. These are also the same people who showed up to clean my house when I was so sick with my last pregnancy, and we were living in filth! I don’t know what I would do without my church family. Find a church that accepts you the way you are – you are a beautiful person that is full of life and fun and any church would be thrilled to have you as one of their members. Seriously. I think God is calling you back to him, quietly. And, don’t worry, if you don’t listen this time, He’ll keep calling. God is cool like that – he doesn’t give up on us. Hang in there.

  55. Mom101

    Oh Y, this is so painful and sweet and honest. I can’t say I’m totally feeling the “God is speaking to you” commenters above, but I do think that you might find what you’re looking for at a Unitarian church.
    No more advice. Just that I hope you find what you’re looking for. (Cue U2)

  56. lildb

    man, do I get it. I was raised similarly, by evangelical fundies, who mock women who would actually choose to work outside of the home, but who also enforced the you-will-attend-church-so-long-as-ye-shall-dwell-herein (and not just on Sunday mornings, either – ohhh, no – Sunday nights! and Wednesday nights, too! Awana! Because school homework does not master you well enough! We’ll add to it! Jesus homework to boot! And also church on Fridays! And sometimes on Tuesdays! Church-Church-y-Church-Church! Hubba Hubba! etc.)
    mmm-hmmm. This experience is not an easy one to leave behind sans resentment.
    I get it.

  57. faithsalutes

    you are allowed to be bitter. but you are also allowed to forgive. forgiving is fucking hard.
    church is hard, people are hard, but your are His…always. Your blog is fantastic.

  58. Tracey

    Ok I have to say it I HATE RELIGION!!!!! because its not about religion, the real thing is RELATIONSHIP!! And I have to say I have a great one with Jesus , he is my best friend I can talk to him anywhere, anytime, about anything. I would have been one of his groupies. He will accept me with all my flaws , I’m just a cracked pot, but Jesus, thats who he came for . And when I hear those perfect holier than thou people talking about religion. I definately gotta let know it has nothing to do with religion. I pray you find your way back to the cool , Loving , non judgemental Jesus Christ , if the world would live the way he did , we would all get along.

  59. Da5id

    Of all of the worldly people in human history, Ghandi said it best “God has no religion”
    I also like what he said about Christians “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
    He also said that if Christians actually followed the true path of christianity to its core, than the word would be a much better place.

  60. Catherine

    Hey there…this is my first time visiting, and I just wanted to say – I’m so sorry for what you experienced. I’ve been blogging lately about God, and how we view him…and its so discouraging when it goes so wrong…

  61. JCK

    Wow, you’re story is something. Thanks for sharing. I wrote about my faith recently. It is an interesting journey, isn’t it?

  62. Angel

    I haven’t had an experience even close to what you’ve had….but yeah, I understand. I identify myself as a Christian, but I am unhappy with organized religion (“Conservatives” have really ruined it for me).
    If you are longing for more, keep looking. There are some good Christian/non-denominational/Unitarian churches out there. But don’t feel pressured to go if you don’t want to. God knows how I feel about Him (and His Son), and the location doesn’t matter 😉 I feel closer to God when outdoors than in the most lavish sanctuary.
    I was raised “traditional” Christian and I’ve worked to undo alot of that–and raise my kids to be way more loving and accepting that I was.
    ((((Big hugs)))))

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