Let the Apologies Begin

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.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. HeIsSailing
    May 28, 2007 @ 23:42:45

    I began raising my doubts about Christianity to my home Bible Study about a year ago. Most of them were just stymied and had no comment or any idea as to how to respond to my doubts other than prayer. And I wrote earlier how most of them find it very difficult to ‘love’ us now that I have rejected Christianity.

    It is easy to hold a grudge against these folks and say, “oh yes, see how hypocritical Christianity is!”. But in reality that is a cop-out. The truth is, in the many years that I was a Christian, I did the same thing to others who left the faith before me. I distanced myself from them because I was confused as to how they could leave ‘The Truth’. The only reaction I had was to not mingle with apostates as that may cause my own faith to suffer. Christianity is an insulating shell that you dare not puncture.

    So I try not to be too hard on my old Christian friends because I sure had that same mindset. It is pretty humbling to admit that I myself also treated people with such absolute dogmatism.

    Life truly is a journey, and we pick up the good stuff as we go on and reject the rest. That is the best any of us can really do.

    Thanks for the very reflective article.

    Reply

  2. Agnostic
    May 29, 2007 @ 03:46:03

    Your blog here tugs at my heart. I well remember and I understand.

    Reply

  3. notabarbie
    May 29, 2007 @ 07:08:30

    Thanks HeIsSailing–wow, it’s been about a year for you? I guess it has been for me too…well, the questioning began long before that, but the realization of what I believed and perhaps didn’t, started a little over a year ago. Your blogs are an encouragement to me.

    Agnostic 😉 – you do understand and that helps so much. One of the good things that has come out of all this–well, besides the fact that I’m becoming free from living a lie, is the quality people I am meeting; for that I fell very lucky!

    Reply

  4. maybeitsnonsense
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 11:54:43

    wow- i really appreciate what you have shared here. i have come from a fundamentalist-pentecostal background. i totally understand that feeling of being rejected and having to answer a million questions- i feel even like i have to understand every reason in myself- but i guess really it comes down to something simple, i am not going to fake “it” anymore.

    Reply

  5. notabarbie
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 21:18:10

    maybeitsnonsense- You know, as hard as it is at times, it feels so good to be free. I look forward to the time when I won’t have to fake it at all.

    Reply

  6. samanthamj
    Aug 01, 2007 @ 06:03:21

    I just just just made a post on my blog – talking about “Jesus Camp”, etc. (www.savemenot.wordpress.com)

    At least you, unlike my mother, have realized you owe some apologies and see things differently now. My mother is still going strong at “The Call”. UGH

    I have to add you to my blogg roll there..

    Have a great day! And congrats on breakiing FREE!!!! =)
    ~smj

    Reply

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