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Rising Above


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Hi all... I joined this site awhile ago but have yet to introduced myself. Like many others though, I first want to express how grateful I am to have found a place like this - it strengthens and inspires me as I live this new life of my own.

 

so... my anti-testimony. It's ironically freeing to type that after having been trained how to give my testimony when witnessing.

 

I was raised a very conservative Seventh-day Adventist by my grandparents. My father was the only breath of air from the real world, and he was kind of Adventist and an alcoholic at that. So I had the best of both worlds dry.gif Adventism was presented to me as the Truth of course, and the failures of my dad, uncles, and brothers in way of drugs, alcohol, and poverty were shown to me as what happens when you don't follow God's will for your life - being Adventism. of course.

 

I became a rather depressed little kid after the custody battle between my grandparents and dad, my brothers leaving me to live with dad after my grandparents became somewhat abusive, and being made to stick with home schooling after I fully regretted my idea to ask my grandparents to do that. And thus my mini-rebellion began. It was all in words though, and I was always reminded how Grandma and Grandpa knew what was best for me because God had placed them in my life to guide me. So after counselling with the Assistant Pastor, I got over my preteen angst.

 

When we moved from Las Vegas, NV to Sierra Vista, AZ I began attending a small Christian private school. I regained some much needed social interaction with peers. I started to become involved in the small local church and was a delight to all with my insight and maturity in being such a good Christian 13 year old. But it was all so forced, and even in my young mind I felt like I was faking it. I was creating myself to be who I was told was the right person to be - oh wait, no, I was letting myself become more like Jesus....

Then one of my brothers came to visit after not seeing him for over a year. Knowing I wouldn't have my grandparents' approval to see him, I ran away for the weekend. Upon returning, I was overwhelmed by the idea that I had ruined my perfect life and my trust with my grandparents - I was going to be seen as a failure like everyone else in my family. So I overdosed. Life afterwards became more raw. I wasn't as concerned with presenting myself as the perfect Christian girl anymore. I was hurt and angry and wasn't afraid to show it. That was the first time I questioned God. That was the first time I let myself wonder if he really existed.

 

The following summer when I was 13, I went off to West Virginia as a student literature evangelist - going door to door with books written by the Adventist's prophetess Ellen White. It wasn't a good summer, but in the end I felt like a more solid Christian. I reaffirmed my faith and repented for doubting in the first place. I preached a sermon at 14 about my "miraculous" experiences witnessing. I began teaching the Cradle Roll Sabbath School. The next summer I was a student literature evangelist again, this time three hours away in Phoenix. For my freshman year of high school I decided to attend Thunderbird Adventist Academy. It was becoming more and more liberal and needed some young people to inspire fellow young people with faith in Jesus and following the Bible and Ellen White more closely. So I became one of five students dedicated to ministry - but all of who got more busy with school activities. We still tried though. I led a few Bible studies and was a guest speaker at a church once. Friendships were made with witnessing in mind, and the way we conducted ourselves was to be an example. One of the fellow students once called us "Super Christians" and we humbly said no - but now I use the term loosely and with irony. Yes, I was a "Super Christian."

 

Towards the end of the year I began to have some health issues and we didn't know what caused it. I would become weak and unable to move. After it happened on campus once and I was taken to the hospital, the school and my grandparents decided I should go home. I was absolutely devastated. Upon returning, my grandparents had great difficulty with me being "too independent." I didn't always agree with them anymore - such as deciding to be an Independent rather than a Republican. Their biggest issue was my close relationship with another guy in the ministry, both of us being "super christian" we were extremely careful to approach each other in purity. But my grandparents were upset because we sat too close together and talked too much on the phone and were too emotionally invested in each other. Having tasted some semblance of independence at Academy, I began to question my grandparents. No longer in a state of rebellion - being 150% Adventist and all - I started to see how my grandparents were controlling and emotionally abusive. But recognizing any such thing only furthered the troublesome summer that I was stuck in. During that summer the "special friend" and I stopped being in contact after he began to separate himself from Christianity having given in to doubts. And my own doubts began to poke at the back of my mind.

 

August 7, 2008 my dad died.

 

Before he passed away we had become rather close, my anger towards him had faded into some understanding of his alcoholism and we talked a lot. He was the one who told me he was proud of me and I knew he really meant it. By this time all three of my brothers had become schizophrenic - so I was the one kid of his who seemed to be doing well. And then he died.

 

My grief enveloped me in a shadow that I used to isolate myself from others. My grandparents leaned on each other, and something of a family reunion filled the house - I cried alone. My dad was cremated and his ashes placed in an urn designed by my grandparents - complete with a reference to being their first born son and angels writing peace. My dad's memorial service was small and filled with hymns and prayers, also designed by my grandparents. Not only did they mourn the loss of the son they loved - they mourned the loss of the son they had prayed he would become, the one they had raised him telling him to be.

 

In my isolation, I started talking to my friend again. I let my doubts surface and I shared with him how I was beginning to question Christianity. By the time of my dad's memorial I didn't believe I was a Christian anymore, but I wasn't sure. The pastor I had grown up with and who was close to our family came for the service. I spoke with him about the difficulties with my grandparents and the questions I was having - and for the first time, I didn't feel condemned. Once all the family left my grandparents became even more overbearing. So I ran away to my friend's. Indulged my questions with research.

 

Then I was forced to return. Naturally my grandparents were all the more controlling, now having evidence of my going down the wrong path. My doubts and questions subsided and I became a liberal Christian. I wore jewelry and listened to rock music and watched movies and had boyfriends (and a couple of girlfriends) - and continued to disappoint my grandparents. Time passed. I also learned that my health problems were most likely "psychosomatic nonepileptic seizures" and fibromyalgia - basically I've surmised that it's all the my past emotional issues trying to make themselves known despite being buried deep within my mind.

 

When I turned 18 I was kicked out for being too rebellious and I began living with a friend from school. I was trying to reignite my relationship with God by following his word more closely - because I could feel my faith slipping away. I kept reaching for it but felt as if I was grabbing for nothing. I was very careful to avoid philosophy and psychology that had once led me to not believe in God before. Then I met a guy. We were getting to know each other and I asked if he believed in God. He said no. He asked if I did. My first answer was no. But I said yes.

 

That weekend I decided I was done. I stopped trying to reason away my reasoning and I let go of my imaginary friend.

 

It's been a process since then. At first it was difficult. I had formed much of my identity in being a Christian. I had to re-create myself. Also, life brought me back to my grandparents' one acre property to avoid being homeless - and I lived in my dad's old van. I performed in my grandma's Christmas Concert at church and haven't returned to church since then. I told my grandparents that I was agnostic and bisexual. They told me I wasn't.

 

Now I'm living with some room mates and going to college. I went to a Unitarian Universalist church for awhile in Sierra Vista - and loved being among people who were open and loving to all. I'm still shedding the skin that suffocated me for so long. It wasn't until yesterday that I told my grandparents if they wanted to remain in my life they needed to change their attitude so they weren't telling me how bad my choices are every time I call them. I still find myself thinking I need to become a specific person and follow a specific path in life - it's taking me some effort to remember that I am who I choose to be right now, and that life is what I make of it right now. There's so much of me that has never been allowed to breathe until now, and I'm finding the journey to be both wonderful and scary. So I'm here. :) And so very relieved to know I'm not alone in this journey.

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Well done on your escape, honeybee. Hope you enjoy the forum. We're a bit of a rude and nutty lot. But usually only to Christians who come on this site who foolishly try to gather escapees back into their suffocating fold.

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Mmmhmmm Honeybee! (Sorry I had to go with the Gaga/Beyonce reference) Glad to see you escaped your grandparents and the religious fold. I had no idea being a Seventh-day Adventist was so restrictive (no jewelry or watching movies? Eeek!). And here I thought being gay and raised Baptist was hard. Anywho, welcome to Ex-C.

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Welcome honeybee!

I'm inspired that you were able to overcome the oppressive chains of religious fanaticism in the midst of so much heartache and tragedy.

Your extimonial encourages me to want to go out and live life to the fullest! I hope you will do the same.

We're breathing freely now.

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Welcome HB,Great work on reasoning you way out of the cult,join in on the discussions and express yourself openly.This site has a great group of supportive and grounded admins.The rainbow gang is off the chain cool! :grin: Venting is encouraged and we like being sounding boards for it.

Good luck in your journey :grin:

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Welcome to the forums, honeybee, and I hope you'll continue to find this site a safe harbor.

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  • 2 weeks later...

From one ex-SDA to another, welcome! What are you studying in college?

 

Currently I'm majoring in Music. But it's open to change. It's nice to meet others who have left the "remnant." :)

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Hi honeybee! I did my time with the SDAs or as I call them: Sadventists. The more conservative they are, the more humorless, and smug they become, hence the label. The self-supporting ones are especially sad.

 

I also majored in music. You have to really love it, because you'll be constantly hustling for work after graduation. It's great that you got out while you're young. It would have been more of a setback for you if you were older. Enjoy your new life and the site!

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