She sat across the counter from me in our kitchen, looking pensive. “Mom, you should watch Jesus Camp.”
My oldest daughter isn’t much of a talker and I was curious, “really, why?”
She continued, “I watched it last night and it made me angry.”
“It did?” I asked. “Well, I don’t want to get angry.”
“No, really mom, the kids in that movie, I was one of them.”
Well, now her words grabbed my attention and I rented it the next day. She was right; it did make me angry. I was confused though, because she had not been raised in a charismatic church; in fact, quite the opposite.
The next time we got together, asked her about it. Her answer stunned me. It wasn’t our church that had manipulated her that way. It was the “Christian” school that she had attended for two years. They went to camp every year. It was mandatory and it was at that school where the manipulation took place. I asked her why she hadn’t told me about it. She said that she felt like she couldn’t, that she thought it was the way it was supposed to be. She said that even at our church, the fear of questioning the “powers that be” and of apostasy and hell were always what kept her quiet. I told her I was sorry for that. She said she wasn’t angry with me; she didn’t blame me–she forgave me. It didn’t matter, I blamed myself. It got me thinking. I owe a lot of people an apology.
Who do I start with? The list is a mile long.
First, there are my children. I home schooled all of them and I need to apologize to them for not taking that opportunity to teach them to truly be thinkers. I’m sorry that I taught them that scientific theory that contradicted the creation story from the Bible was idiocy. The history I taught them was questionable at best and instead of teaching them to be open minded, I taught them to be closed minded and judgmental. I’m working on undoing that now.
Secondly, there are the women who attended my Bible studies. I taught many women and for what ever reason they took everything I said at face value; no questions asked. I want to apologize for not sharing my doubts and weaknesses. I’m sorry I didn’t give them better answers to their troubles then to just pray more and read the Word more and, yes, submit more. I’m sorry I didn’t just listen and be a friend rather than feed them dogma.
I’m sorry for the friendships I rejected because they didn’t believe in Jesus and for the people I judged and looked down on because they “just didn’t get it,” and for the way I blindly followed a political party line without thinking, just because it was the “Christian” thing to do. Worse than that, I scoffed those who didn’t.
How do I live with myself? I could wallow in self-pity for years, but that isn’t me. I truly believe that in time, I will have occasion to undo some of the damage I am responsible for and I will have the courage to take those opportunities.
Right now, though, I’m gradually coming out of the de-conversion closet. So far, every time I get the door opened just a crack, it gets slammed on my fingers, but because of the encouragement of others who have gone before me, I will continue to open it more and more and I will come out completely. I know I will be better for it. I do look forward to the day I won’t have to explain myself and can just live my life in peace. Those who come from a fundamentalist background will understand what I mean. For those who don’t, when you leave an Evangelical/fundamentalist community, they want answers as to why and, of course, none of the answers satisfy. I know they will eventually give up and most will cut off ties with me. I know that, because I did it. I’m sorry for that too.