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About mrspearl

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    Chicago suburbs
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    music, movies, coffee, cooking, outdoors, grandkids
  • More About Me
    Hi, I'm a first grade teacher and live with my husband, Rich. I grew up in a very strict religious pastor's home and remained enmeshed in the church until about 15 years ago. I'm still in the process of healing from all the years of strict religion.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    nope, not at this point

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  1. I moved from Texas to Illinois 10 years ago and haven’t attended church since I moved. My mom has a difficult time with that in itself. I don’t think she could handle knowing I don’t believe the Bible anymore. She doesn’t know I have a tattoo . I see my parents maybe twice a year and conversation is always superficial. I doubt conversation will ever get that deep.
  2. Very good article. Thanks for sharing. A lot of it describes my mom, except she is more subtle. Sometimes that's good and sometimes its bad. I think if she said what she's thinking to my face, at least I could respond. My mom knows I don't go to church anymore, but I don't think I can ever tell her I don't believe all the god stuff anymore. She would crumble to tiny pieces. I live in another state, so that helps. I know I need to find a healthy balance for myself. My son got married a couple of years ago. I felt uncomfortable doing all the normal celebratory things in front of my mom, mother/son dance, cocktail, and even dancing with my husband. I drank my margarita in a red Solo cup, around a corner from them. I did do what I wanted to do, so I guess that's a win.
  3. Thanks, Truthseeker, It does help me to share my story and there's no other place where people would get it. I will check out the narcissistic parent thread.
  4. Thanks for your kind words. I just recently came to realize the narcissism of both of my parents. They were, and still are, more concerned with how they were perceived by church people than even knowing their own children. It’s a tragedy that they will never know who I really am because they are so into their religion. Thankfully, I’m changing that pattern with my children and grandchildren.
  5. Thank you, Dan. My youngest son was a young teenager when I left the church and he is now 29 with two small children, a 4 year old son and a 3 month old daughter. He and my daughter-in-law are not raising my grandchildren in religion and I’m very happy about that. I hate that it took so many years for me and such a hard road to finally get out of that system, but the contrast of finally being free of it is wonderful. I’m in a place of hunger for knowledge than has always been taboo. I’m just happy I’m not still living like that. In the middle of all the chaos, I did end up getting 2 degrees. I was a dental hygienist for 16 years and now I’m in my 9th year of being a teacher.
  6. Religion stole my ability to learn how to think for myself or even know how to have an opinion. Religion gave me an overactive propensity for guilt about normal things I shouldn't feel guilty for. Religion screwed up any chance of having unconditional acceptance, love, and relationships with my parents. Religion made me think I was "less than" for the majority of my life. Free at last! Free at last! Thank my own brain that was hidden, I'm free at last!
  7. On a more serious note: It must be so difficult to communicate with them, ignoring or dealing with all the Bible/"spiritual" talk they throw your way. Yes, it really is. They’re more subtle about it than in my face, which helps somewhat. I’m working on those churchy phrases being just words I can ignore rather than triggers that bring up hurt and anger. My folks are old and dealing with health issues, so I don’t want to put anything else on them, such as telling them I have totally left their faith. They would be broken-hearted. That’s why getting support from this group is so important to me.
  8. PurpleLilac, your church history sounds similar to mine. What college did you attend? I didn’t make it college, but my siblings and my daughter attended Southwestern Assembly of God in Waxahachie. I did go one semester to Christ for the Nations in Dallas. That one was way out there!
  9. I am pretty new on the site and I have shared a little about my myself and my story. As part of my recovery, I have been journaling about my own experiences. This is kind of long, but here goes. I was born in 1960, in the small East Texas town of Overton, Texas, and into a culture of strict, God-fearing, Bible-believing Christianity. The most popular religion of the area was Southern Baptist and there was some version of that type of church on every corner. According to the church doctrine, I was born a sinner into a sinful world and without giving myself to a life of total service to God, I was doomed to burn in hell for eternity. There was always the conflicting doctrine of God is love, but yet if I didn’t follow his rules, he would send me to hell forever. At five years old, I made the walk down the aisle during special revival meetings at New London Baptist Church, shook the preacher's hand, and said the "sinner's prayer," then was baptized in the church baptistery soon afterward. I was to repeat this same ritual at least a couple more times during my childhood because I didn't feel "saved" and wondered if maybe I had been too young for it to fully take. The fear of going to hell was already a part of my young life. My elementary school years seemed pretty normal for families in the Bible belt region in the 60's. Dad worked and mom stayed home to take care of us kids. We had two sets of grandparents in the same small town of New London, Texas. My brother and sister and I played outside when we weren't in school and we all went to church together on Sunday. From the outside, it might look like a "Leave it to Beaver" family. Life took a dramatic change when I was about 11. My dad was invited to a special church meeting about the book of Revelation and the end times at an Assembly of God church, so the whole family went. At the end of the service, Dad went forward in response to the altar call and "gave his life to the Lord." We immediately began attending the Assembly of God church. The Assembly of God church services were different than we used to in the Baptist church. The music was boisterous and upbeat, whereas the Baptist church had been more reverent and structured. People clapped their hands, spoke in tongues, and prayed out loud all at the same time. As kids, we thought it was much more entertaining. The biggest doctrinal was difference was that we could lose our salvation if we sinned and neglected to ask forgiveness. The fear of hell was a daily part of life. When I was 12, my dad responded to God's call to preach the gospel. He sat me down along with my younger siblings and told us that since God had called him, He had called the entire family. He would need our cooperation to be successful as a preacher. He told us we could choose to be the happiest kids in town if we participated in this call, or we would be the most miserable kids in town if we chose to rebel against it. I don't think it was really a choice. As part of the talk, he gave us a list of all the things we could no longer do. There was a list of TV shows we could no longer watch, like The Love Boat. There was a special list for my sister and me. We weren't old enough yet for make-up, but that was on the list. We weren't allowed to wear shorts, even though we lived in a hot, humid climate. We couldn't go "mixed bathing", swimming where there were males present. We couldn't attend school social events, such as football games or school dances. No secular music, although the choices of acceptable church music were very limited. These things were "of the world" and we had to keep separate from them. Our basic role in the ministry was to be an example to other people of what good Christian children looked like. We had to be good rule followers and obedient to our parents. We had family prayer meetings every night where we all knelt around the living room furniture and prayed before going to bed. We had to stay there an acceptable length of time to prove our commitment. Another difference in doctrine between the Baptist church and the Assemblies of God was the teaching of the gift of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Immediately after joining the church, everyone in my family began seeking this experience, even my brother who was only 8. We went to the altar at the end of every church service to be prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit. We were taught speaking in tongues was our prayer language that only God understood. It was one more way of giving up our will to God’s will. I cried and prayed for months until it finally happened. I was then a part of God’s core group. As I approached my teenage years, being separate from "the world" was difficult. I loved rock and disco music of the 70's, but since it was considered sinful and taboo, I looked for secret opportunities to listen to it. Of course, when I listened to it, guilt and shame came along with it. I wasn't allowed to participate in school activities, such as football games, school dances, or school trips. My school friends had parties outside of school and they often went to the lake on weekends. I wasn't allowed to go to these either and I felt separate and left out. I loved music and as a young teenager, I couldn't wait to be in high school band. I played flute from 6th grade and excelled at it. I was allowed to be in band as long as there were no football games involved. When I was in 8th grade, the band was to play at the high school football game. I asked for permission to go and my dad gave me a huge guilt trip, but then let me make the decision. Of course, I chose to go in spite of the guilt. My first year of high school, my dad said I could be in band only if I didn't participate in football games. During the first few months of school, band is all about practicing and performing at football games. I was so disheartened, but I didn't think I could be a part of the band without being a part of marching band. I remember looking out the window of my home economics class and watching the band practice for parades, just aching to be a part of it. By my sophomore year, my dad decided to allow me to be in band as long as it didn't interfere with church. Schools in Texas didn't normally have functions on most peoples' church days, but our church sometimes had special services that required attendance every night of the week. I remember one such meeting and true to his word, Dad required me to miss the football game to attend a Friday night "revival" service. He bragged with pride from the pulpit about how his daughter “chose God over the world". I sat in church longing to be marching in my spot on the field, while feeling guilty because I didn’t want to put God first. I participated in band my remaining years of high school and loved it. My parents never attended one event to watch me. My junior and senior years of high school my dad pastored an Assembly of God church in the tiny East Texas town of Arp. I was allowed to be in band and go to football games as long as it didn't interfere with church meetings. Although I always felt different and separate, I did enjoy activities with my church youth group. I went to summer camp every summer, which was the highlight of my year. It was closed off from the rest of the world, so no sinners to worry about. I even got to go swimming in the pool because boys and girls went separately. It was kind of like the perfect world to me. I even discovered "Christian rock music". It wasn't the same as secular music, but it was a good alternative with no guilt attached. My childhood and teenage years were only about pleasing God, pleasing my parents, being a good Christian example to church people, and avoiding hell. Any personal desires or needs were considered sinful. In fact, just the idea of wanting anything for myself would seem completely foreign. I was brought up to believe my purpose in life was to be a wife and a mother, therefore, the only reason to go to college would be to find a good Christian husband, preferably a minister. Because I was never allowed to make choices, I was not equipped to make major life choices. They were all filtered through the lens of continuing to be accepted by the church. I got married three times, enduring some form of abuse towards me and my children with each marriage until I could no longer endure it, then living with the shame of divorce until I could jump into the next one. As crazy as it sounds, it was all I knew. At 43, in bad marriage number 3, I finally came to a breaking point. I had been living the definition of insane – doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. I felt so much shame, I wrote a letter to my parents to tell them I was getting divorced a third time because I couldn’t bear to tell them to their faces. I was a worship leader in my church and although I feared losing my job, I asked for support from my pastor and his wife as I pursued divorce. This resulted in me being called into a board meeting of six men and being interrogated while I sat in tears, spilling my guts. I felt emotionally raped by these church leaders. I was so hurt by this church I just couldn’t go back. I was jobless and homeless. Although this was a tremendously hurtful experience, it was the catalyst that got me out of this religious system of abuse. I am now free and living a happy life. I have a wonderful husband who loves me unconditionally. Through a couple of books I have recently read, I am fully understanding the trauma I have suffered. I am still in the process of complete healing, but finding more peace every day.
  10. There is a church of god that is similar. It would compare to United Pentecostal, full gospel, or charismatic. They speak in tongues and have very strict rules regarding people’s personal life choices.
  11. My parents are still in the assemblies of god. It is charismatic/Pentecostal.
  12. You have to be so proud of yourself for setting the boundaries you need with your parents. I can totally relate with you. I live in a different state from mine and see them maybe twice a year, which is perfect. If they ever moved near me, we would have to have some difficult conversations. They are in their 70's and my dad is in poor health. I've resigned to never having a real relationship with them, which does make me sad. I'm at a point of setting boundaries with them to take care of my mental health. For example, I planned a short visit Easter weekend because I have a couple of days off work. I will spend Sunday with my brother, who lives near them, because I'm not going to church. Baby steps for me.
  13. Thanks so much for all the kind words. It means a lot to me. Offtheromanroad, I am doing fantastic. I'm a totally different person than I was when this event happened. The further I get from religion, the healthier and happier I become. I was able to move out of Texas to Illinois which has helped a lot. Somehow I stumbled upon Mrs. Winell's book, Leaving the Fold, and it helped me realize the depth of the trauma I experienced. I'm currently working with a therapist, as well as reading and journaling to continue my recovery. My parents are still very religious and, just in normal conversation, use so many religious phrases that trigger me. I am currently working on dealing with that. They are elderly and aren't changing, so I'm trying to find a nice balance of communication so I'm not agitated just talking to them.
  14. It’s Spring of 2004. I thought I was finally in the place I was supposed to be in; God’s perfect will for my life. I was being paid $300 a week to play piano and lead worship at Living Water Church in Fort Worth, Texas with my husband, Bob, who was also part of the worship team. I had been redeemed from the guilt and shame of past divorce and choices that took me out of God’s will. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, I went early to church to prepare my song list with the band and vocalists for the upcoming church service. I lead the church people through the worship portion of the church service, then played piano and sang during the altar call part of the service, after the pastor’s sermon. The only glitch in “God’s perfect will” was that my unhealthy marriage and home life were taking a toll on me. Since my marriage to Bob in January of 1999, his untreated and uncontrolled mental illness had put me in a state of depression and hopelessness. I came to a point where I felt I could no longer continue in my present home situation, so I went to my pastor for help. He was aware of Bob’s mental condition and encouraged me to seek help from a professional counselor. He gave me the number for a Christian counseling referral service. I made an appointment for Bob and I, but never expected Bob to go with me. Sure enough, he didn’t. My new counselor was very understanding of me, but said she wasn’t able to counsel Bob and me as a couple. From what I described of Bob, she told me she didn’t feel he would be able to participate in a relationship until he received therapy on his own and took control of his mental illness. She saw how I was hurting and told me I needed to focus on taking care of myself and not expect anything from Bob without years of therapy. I felt I had to separate from Bob and get healthy myself. Although I wasn’t happy about another divorce, I felt it was necessary for my mental and emotional health. I was concerned about the security of my church position as worship leader while going through divorce and my counselor advised me to ask my pastor and his wife for support before continuing as worship leader. After I got home, I thought about who I could talk to for support. I had been in Living Water Church for a few years and thought of the church people as my extended family. I called a lady who was the leader of the church’s version of AA, a twelve-step Christian-based program for people with addictions. I knew this woman was doing community service for a drunk driving conviction and had been divorced a few times herself. I felt since she wasn’t the stereotypical church person, she would be the one I could confide in. Moments after I hung up the phone from talking to her, she called the pastor and told him everything I had said. When I told Pastor Wade of my counselor’s advice to divorce Bob, he was not happy. He said she wasn’t a Christian counselor and thought I should find a different one. That wasn’t an option for me. I felt freedom and hope just at the thought of getting out of the marriage and there was no going back. Dr. Kathy Foster had not only understood me, but affirmed me and gave me hope. I asked the pastor whether or not he would be able to support me through the divorce. He was very vague in his answer, but he wanted me to continue as worship leader. In the next couple of weeks, I began the process of separating from Bob. I couldn’t afford to keep the apartment we were in, so I began packing up to move all Kory's and my things into a storage building. I planned to stay with friends until I could get on my feet and get us a place of our own. This was a very stressful time for me and I felt very alone. I was not only going through a third divorce, but also financial uncertainty. On Wednesday night at church, Pastor Wade told me the church board wanted to meet with me the following Friday morning. They wanted to discuss my reasons for getting divorced and determine if they would allow me to continue my position as the church worship leader. I was planning to move out of my apartment the next day, Saturday, at which time my son and I would basically be homeless. It wasn’t a great time for such a meeting, but I wanted to continue my job as worship leader if at all possibly, so I agreed. I felt uneasy about the church board meeting and I had typed up a letter summarizing my years with Bob and why I felt I could no longer stay in the marriage. I also mailed a copy of the letter to my parents because I couldn’t bear the shame of telling them in person that I was getting divorced again. The church board consisted of four men. I asked another woman, Debbie Oliver, who sang with me on the worship team to attend the meeting just so I wouldn’t be the only female in the room. Friday morning, I walked into the pastor’s office with my letter in my hand. The six men, wearing suits and ties, were all sitting in a half circle with fake Christian smiles on their faces. They greeted me and offered me a donut and a cup of coffee, to which I declined. I was in the process of packing up to move, so I arrived with no makeup on and dressed for a day of working at home. My friend and supposed support person, Debbie, had not yet arrived. My pastor began the meeting by asking me to chronicle my personal life with Bob and give my reasons for wanting out of the marriage. I sobbed as I told my story and answered his questions. As I cried and sat in that chair being judged by those six men, I felt emotionally naked and vulnerable. Just when I thought it was over, an African man named Brainwave stood up and began pointing his finger at me. His voice was loud and accusatory. He began asking me more questions while throwing in his personal opinions of people who are divorced, specifically women who divorce their husbands. He kept yelling “can you submit?” This continued on for a few minutes, then I was allowed to leave. My insides were completely torn up. After the meeting, one of the men came up to me and told me to please let him or his wife, Phyllis, know if they could help me in any way. I thanked him. I didn’t understand why he or anyone else in the room did nothing to help or support me. Debbie showed up late, but never said a word. Brainwave is from a totally different culture than American. As far as I know, women are abused in his culture. Why was he given so much power in that room? The next morning the pastor brought a group of teenage boys from the church to help us move. My son, Joel, drove up from Tyler, Texas to help as well. We moved all our belongings into the storage building, then came back to spend the night in a virtually empty apartment. I woke up in the early morning hours just physically and emotionally spent. Even though I had passed the test with the church board, I just had nothing left to give. I woke my preacher dad in the middle of the night to tell him about what was going on and to ask his advice. He said he felt the pastor was out of line with his interrogation meeting and it would be okay for me to take some time off from my church ministry to get through this difficult time. I immediately went to my computer and typed up a letter of resignation. I got to church Sunday morning and waited until Pastor Wade had left his office to slip my letter on his desk. I led the worship service as usual, only I cried through the whole thing. I’m sure the church people just thought I was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit. As soon as I finished my duties at the piano, I went to the car to wait for Kory and Joel, hoping the pastor would read my letter after I had gone. No such luck. As I sat waiting in my car, the pastor came up to my window and questioned me about my resignation. He asked me why I hadn’t resigned before he had helped me move. I told him I was hurt by Brainwave at the church board meeting. He said, “Why? He had every right to ask what he asked and you answered appropriately.” I asked him, “when will it be your turn to answer questions about your personal life?” He said, “that’s part of being a church leader.” I told him, “then I’m done with being a church leader.” The next day, I called my sister to come and help me load up my piano with her truck and take it to the storage building I had rented. Kory continued going to the church youth group for a while so I had to go back to the church to drop him off and pick him up. Also, the couple Kory and I moved in with continued going to Living Water Church. They told me the church never acknowledged that I had left or said anything about me. They just had someone else take my place. As I vomited up that old memory of abuse by church leaders, it brought up feelings of hurt and rage. It seems like a huge hurdle to think about forgiving those ignorant people so I can heal and move on from it. I'm hoping after I completely deal with the injustice of the whole thing, I will be able to thank them all. This is the event that finally broke the camels back. The hurt of staying was worse than the uncertainty of leaving. Even though I had no job and no home, the pain of staying was worse. The woman I am today, post-church, would never allow herself to be mistreated like the church woman I used to be. This woman is not vulnerable and refuses to be a part of any group or system that treats people like they are "less than" for any reason. I love the new freedom and life I have found since this horrendous event.
  15. Hi, I just discovered this page and am excited to dig into the articles and posts. I would love to connect with others who have a similar background to mine. I grew up as an Assemblies of God preacher's daughter in a small town in East Texas in the 70's. East Texas is a religious culture all it's own and being a preacher's daughter in a Pentecostal religion took it up a couple of notches. I played by the rules and made my parents happy until I could no longer endure my abusive marriage at 27 years old. I got divorced, which put me in a class below where I already was as a female. I still continued to stay in the church even though I always felt like a second class Christian because of being divorced. At 43, I found myself wanting out of marriage number 3 and was treated horribly by the church where I served as the worship leader. That was the last straw. I couldn't take it anymore, but the church world was all I knew. I tried going to different churches after that and found out I just couldn't tolerate it anymore. That has been about 15 years ago. I recently stumbled upon the book "Leaving the Fold" by Marlene Windell and realized why I was screwed up. I am now in the process of trying to heal from a lifetime of religious abuse. I am currently trying to find a place where I can relate with my parents and still take care of myself. They are still deeply religious and concerned about me because I no longer go to church. My mom says things constantly that are triggers for me like the churchy phraseology they use. I would love to hear others' experiences with family relationships.
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