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Jenni

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Everything posted by Jenni

  1. My sincere thanks to those of you that responded after I last wrote. It is so incredibly helpful to hear your stories and know that I'm not alone. I did just submit my testimonial. I wasn't sure if I would because I don't have finality yet but a friend encouraged me to because of the things that led me to today. Thank you ALL again! I have found tremendous value in this space.
  2. I left my last non-denominational Christian church more than 15 years ago, after trying to be the “perfect Christian” for almost 20 years, but my journey of being in a love/hate relationship with God started in 2001. I had been married 362 days before and had just left my emotionally and physically abusive husband. I hadn't yet been hit but had been hurt in other ways and knew, the night before, that if I didn't leave, I would be hit soon. I had married this man, after a whirlwind dating experience, 8 months after we had met. I was 29, a month shy of 30, when we married, and I was sure that God had hand-picked him out just for me. I was "born again" at 16, right around the time that Love Waits was touring the country. I made a decision at one of those rallies to wait until I was married to have sex. I had fulfilled that promise to God and had waited the almost 30 years I mentioned earlier by the time we married. I was also incredibly involved in church – had led the junior high youth group, hosted bible studies, was on the worship team, played music with other women on the worship team at retreats... I was IN, 100% IN. I met my, now, ex-husband on December 31, 1999 and danced with him well into January 1, 2000. The song "It's the End of the World (As We Know It)" played at midnight and the thought that ran through my mind was that it really wasn't ever going to be the same. I was right; I just had no idea the trajectory it would ultimately have. Of course, I later attributed that thought to God telling me he brought this man into my life. We had an instant familiarity because he was friends with my pastor's stepdaughter and her husband. The two men had been friends since they were 10 so I decided that meant he must be a good guy to still be friends after all of these years. I didn't see any of the red flags because I was so certain this was "of God". Fast forward 362 days. I had left my husband and was sitting with a very good friend from my church when her husband came home. I’m not even sure if he greeted me, but the exact words he said within about a minute of his arrival were that I was "spitting on the cross of Christ" for leaving my husband. No one knew of, or bothered to ask about, the abuses, of the assault that had shattered me, of the affair, or of the child pornography I had found. No one heard him screaming at me and then throwing up, because he had become so worked up, while I laid in bed. No one else had wondered that night if or when the cops might show up because a neighbor called 911. But apparently the only thing that mattered was that I had "spit on the cross of Christ" by leaving. In that moment and in the weeks to follow, I not only lost the dream of the perfect marriage, I had now also lost my all of friends (who sided with this man who was a church deacon), and my church home of seven years. I didn’t know it then but that was the beginning of the end of my relationship with God. I attended a new church, in a new town, after my marriage fell apart. I was there for about 3 years when that also fell apart because a new building changed the focus from people to money. The pastor’s mantra became about giving more money and then saying, "If you don't like it, you can leave, and 10 others will come in your place." I didn't like it, I didn't like the in-fighting, I didn't like being devalued week after week after giving so much of myself, and I didn't let the door hit me on the ass on the way out. I had friends tell me not to stay away too long - that I needed to be back among believers, but I never really made it back. I was disillusioned, heartbroken, lacked any trust in church leaders, and couldn't understand why God would allow any of that. Where was he?? Not too many years later, I moved to Washington, DC to work for a 3-letter agency, on a child exploitation task force and saw the absolute worst of humanity on a daily basis. I worked with an amazing team of people which made the work bearable but if something will make you ask questions about a "good, loving God", it's watching kids being abused in videos and pictures. The other things that contributed to my questioning a "good, loving God", was that, while I was in DC, I ended up losing my house in the collapse of the housing market, which caused me to go bankrupt, and in the same week, found out the man I had been in love with for four years, was married. So, where was God? I thought he had plans for me, promises for me: "plans for good and not for disaster, to give (me) a future and a hope" "all you who are weary and burdened, come to me and I will give you rest" "all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm" "whatever you ask in my name, this I will do" "if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." But none of those things actually happened. Since that time, I have been what my best friend calls, an angry agnostic. I have been so mad at God and at the people that were supposed to represent him, that even the mention of someone praying for someone or hearing a song that sounds “Christian” has made me angry. But on the other hand, I haven’t been able to say that there is no God. I just keep asking, “whose God? What makes the Christian God THE God”? But then two weeks ago, when talking with that same friend, I made an off-handed remark about there being no god and it was the first time I didn’t feel any guilt, no trepidation, no worry of being struck down, no fear of being wrong. I don’t yet have an ending for this… I am just now processing it. I don’t know where I will land on any of this, but I do know that being angry hasn’t helped for the last dozen-plus years so I have let that go (with the help of an amazing therapist) and am now on a quest to figure out what faith means for me, if anything at all.
  3. Thank you ALL so much for your responses to me. They all resonate in different ways with me and are really helpful as I think through all of this. I am here because I'm trying to work it all out. I'm not at an end, I don't have any finality in this, but I do know that at this point, I can't go back to a god who can't fulfill a promise. I know my problems are first-world problems but I feel like if he really was there, he should care about me just as much as he cares about someone else who has it much worse. And it sure doesn't seems like he cares about them either. So much to process... I am working on my story to share in more depth and I so much appreciate a place like this where I can share and ask questions and clearly you all care about the folks here. Thank you for that! It matters so much to me.
  4. I lived about 20-years of my life as the "perfect christian". I followed ALL of the rules, I taught Bible Study, I was a counselor for teens at a christian camp for many years, I oversaw the junior high youth group, I was on the worship team, I helped lead retreats, I baptized some of those junior high students, I went on mission trips, I did, I did, I did, in order to please god, follow his plan, be an example, earn his favor. I just realized yesterday that I was probably attracted to Christianity, at 16-years-old, because I was a rule follower - I strived for perfection - in everything I did. And having that set of rules aligned with who I had already become. But what happens when you do all of that and god doesn't show up when you need him the most? When you've seen some of the worst of humanity, when you've lost everything, when you can't believe anymore that he is a "good, loving" god? I became very angry... I have been angry for probably a dozen years or more. I am working through this with a therapist, and as I do that, I'm on here just looking, trying to find answers, seeking to figure out what I need now. I am clear that I am not perfect, and that is okay, but what I'm not clear about is that there are all kinds of promises in the bible that require us to essentially be in a transactional relationship with god but where do turn when you figure out that you're the only one participating in the transactions?
  5. Thank you so much - I really appreciate the invite to share and am so glad I found this website just when I needed it.
  6. I know I'm late to this posting but I just found you all this past weekend and am reading through as much as I can. Margee, thank you so much for the lead on Marlene Winelle - looking up her online courses will be my next step. I hope the OP was able to find the help they were looking for. This is such a tough process...
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