Dec. 5, 2006
If you believe what we were taught to believe you believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You also believe that those who take up the cross and follow him will be persecuted.
I believe these things because they are true. The extremely difficult part of leaving the church was the severe persecution I knew would follow. The OOM (Old Order Mennonites) persecute every single person who leaves their church.
They persecuted me much more severely than anyone else I have yet talked with. However, I was/am committed to follow the Way of Truth at all costs because it is the Way of Life. Every time I take one more step in the Way of Life, more fully to embrace the Truth, my family persecutes me afresh. I don't want to see the circle letter ever again. I want my last letter to be returned to me. I expect you to see that this message gets to the right people.
You referred to what Saloma said. I don't think she asked me specifically what I believe, so there was no reason to talk about it. I did not try to hide anything. At the time I identified as agnostic. Some of the kindest, most honest and respectful people I know are atheist, agnostic, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, secular humanist, etc. For the most part, the most cruel, hard-hearted, abusive people I know are OOM. That is not why I deconverted. I deconverted because I will no longer lie.
A Christian (ordained Lutheran clergy [bob Kelly]) read your letter. He said, "I think she (you) probably did the best she knew."
Then he told me about ways he has been persecuted for preaching the truth as he believes and understands it.
He also said, "She (you) doesn't seem like a person who thinks much" or "who thinks things through."
I did not tell him a single word about you. The meeting had been planned to talk about my school work. I lay your letter on his desk. When he was ready, he asked, "Is this from your sister?" I said it is. He spent quite a bit of time reading it. Then he said those things about you, based alone on what you said in that letter.
I do not accept your apology because you have not repented for judging me as a person who will go to hell. All you are sorry about is that you told me I am stupid and wrote that letter. I told you (the family, but you and Mother were the worst offenders) "No more letters or phone calls like that." I told you this in 1999. You disregarded that.
I told you yesterday on the phone that all I wanted was a sisterly relationship with you. You refused to even talk about it and suddenly you hung up on me. Hence this letter.
Don't forget to stop the circle letter from coming to me if you want to see it again. People who forbid me to share my beliefs are not worthy of my company. If you have any integrity, you will also make sure that my last letter (in family CL) is returned to me.
I've been thinking about your letter and the things you said on the phone. I am taken completely by surprise by this whole thing. Quite a while ago Saloma called and we had a very nice visit. Something seemed a bit strange about it but I never gave it a thought. We all do strange things at times.
Yesterday you referred to "how it all sounded" from Saloma. Possibly her call came after I wrote the circle letter but I have no idea. It occurs to me that possibly it happened in that order. Esther lives in Yatton for weekends.
If it did happen in that order, Elvina, did Saloma call me specifically to find out my spiritual condition and beliefs???
Another question: Joseph wrote quite a sermon in his one letter. It sounded like anyone who doesn't believe as he does will go to hell. I was really worried that my little brother is like this. I feel sorry for his children.
Malinda, and perhaps a few others, talked about Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. Since everyone else was talking about my favourite topic i.e. religion, the natural thing for me was to join the discussion.
Whether or not it went any further was simply not my concern. My concern was having an interesting discussion with my family. I was beginning to feel like there was finally a topic we all were interested in. I acknowledged that I realized that perhaps no one would at all agree with me, but so what? We can have an interesting conversation.
On the internet I'm always talking about these things with people--some of them are even more fundamentalist that Joseph's letter. I did not think any OOM were like that and I was really disturbed by Joseph's attitude. I thought he must be picking up stuff from the Dave Martins he works with. I even wrote him a letter but never got around to printing it off so I can mail it.
My Question: Did all these people write all this stuff to "make me think"??? or make me feel guilty for my beliefs??? How unfortunate that nobody addressed the issues head on! That way we could have discussed it openly and perhaps strengthened relationships.
I have nothing to feel guilty about! My peace and joy are growing stronger and deeper as I move closer to Truth--call it Jesus or whatever you will. The only people I have problems with are those who are very far away from this peace and joy and "freedom of the Lord." Normally I cut those people out of my life. If this happens to be my own family, so be it. It grieves me very deeply but there are other people in this world. Being at peace with myself is such a wonderful thing--I won't compromise it for anyone!
Sorry if this disappoints some people. But I cannot control others, but I don't have to be friends with people who are so disappointed in me. I do not want to see the circle letter again.