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My Long Rambly Story


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Hi everyone! I've been on this site for almost a week now and figured it was time I introduce myself. =)

 

Like so many of you, I grew up in the church. One of my very first outings was to my parents' church's Christmas banquet where my grandpa kidnapped me at the door and proudly showed me off to all his friends...and I don't think my parents saw me again until the end of the evening. At one month old I played Jesus in the Christmas pageant. As soon as I was old enough, I found myself in Sunday School. Between there and home I was thoroughly educated on all the main Bible stories and, my dad being the kind of guy he is, many of the more obscure ones. He was always rather fond of Judges...all the really short stories. Like the guy who had 30 sons who road 30 donkeys and ruled 30 towns. “And he too saved Israel”...from a shortage of men?

 

When I was 9 and my sister was 7, my parents bought into the “Quiver-full” movement. Surgery was done, and shortly after my mom was pregnant....almost every year for the next 11 years. After a total of 9 kids, they've now changed their minds about this belief system and are done having kids. I love my siblings dearly and think they're all pretty amazing, so I'm glad they're a part of my life. Recently, though, I've read a few things about this movement and the families involved and...well...it's scary how controlling and manipulative it is. I couldn't see it when I was in it, though. I had totally bought into God deciding how many kids to have, women not working outside the home, husbands controlling all the decisions (even though that's not how my parents were. They have always worked as a team, not a hierarchy), girls should always be modest (read “frumpy”), and everything had to be prayed about so God's will was always known and done.

 

When I was about 16 my family stopped going to church. It was a joint decision between my parents and my sister and I. None of us felt it was beneficial to us as a family, considering we believed our relationship with God was the responsibility of each individual and the pastor had no role in that. We tried homechurching with a few friends for a few months, but that quickly fizzled out. About 5 years ago my parents introduced me to the teachings of Bill Johnson (founder of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in California) and Patricia King (Extreme Prophetic in Arizona). We got very much into the prophetic/drunk in the spirit/gold dust and gem stones stuff for the next few years, even spending a winter in AZ a few years ago to attend conferences and participate in street ministry and stuff.

 

Right after that winter I moved to Vancouver and was living with my grandma. I found and started attending a church that followed a lot of Bill Johnson's teachings. While there I got engaged to a young man who also attended that church. We were going to marry and become missionaries. What an exciting life! But something wasn't right. He didn't like my parents and thought they were part of a cult or something (because by this point they'd started questioning the existence of hell and the inerrancy of the Bible), and hinted that after we were married we would have minimal interaction with them. About this time my mom loaned me a book called The Misunderstood God by Darin Hufford. The whole book is based on that “Love is patient, love is kind” passage in Corinthians, and showed how the character of God as portrayed in most churches was the exact opposite. God is impatient, unkind, angry, proud, rude, etc. It was the perfect book for me at that time. It gave me the courage to look honestly at my relationship with my fiance and break it off, and it helped me allow myself the freedom to question what I'd always been told about God.

 

I thought this questioning would lead me to a better understanding of God's character and a freedom from religion. I had no idea it would lead to me actually questioning his existence. But it has. And I do. Part of me keeps hoping I'll find something to convince me that he does exist and that he is a loving and caring god who cares more about how we treat the people around us than he does about what we believe about him. Part of me wants to be completely free of all the religion and god-stuff. And all of me wishes I could know the truth about this.

 

The last year-and-a-half or so has been hard. Scary. I've cried a lot. I've spent countless nights scared that my questioning has condemned me to an eternity in hell. But I've been fortunate to have support all along the way. Neither of my parents are really christian anymore. Neither of them really believes the same as the other, and there has been NO pressure what-so-ever to believe like they do. Questions and personal opinions are encouraged and appreciated. And my best friend (who is Catholic) is great for sharing my fears and disappointments with, bouncing new ideas and theories off of...and he's always throwing new ones my way. Also, because I haven't really been in church much the last 10 or 11 years, most of my friends are not christians so I haven't generally felt the need to hide my questions or doubts. But I'm here to find a few more people who have come out of the church found their freedom.

 

Sorry this is so long. Kudos to anyone who bothers to read it!!!

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I thought this questioning would lead me to a better understanding of God's character and a freedom from religion. I had no idea it would lead to me actually questioning his existence. But it has. And I do. Part of me keeps hoping I'll find something to convince me that he does exist and that he is a loving and caring god who cares more about how we treat the people around us than he does about what we believe about him. Part of me wants to be completely free of all the religion and god-stuff. And all of me wishes I could know the truth about this.

 

The last year-and-a-half or so has been hard. Scary. I've cried a lot. I've spent countless nights scared that my questioning has condemned me to an eternity in hell. But I've been fortunate to have support all along the way. Neither of my parents are really christian anymore. Neither of them really believes the same as the other, and there has been NO pressure what-so-ever to believe like they do. Questions and personal opinions are encouraged and appreciated. And my best friend (who is Catholic) is great for sharing my fears and disappointments with, bouncing new ideas and theories off of...and he's always throwing new ones my way. Also, because I haven't really been in church much the last 10 or 11 years, most of my friends are not christians so I haven't generally felt the need to hide my questions or doubts. But I'm here to find a few more people who have come out of the church found their freedom.

 

Hi lilcoppertop, welcome to ex-C!

 

I'm kind of envying your story a bit because your family is open minded. Sorry to hear about your fear. It's common. It comes from the way Christianity tried to control us. It' also common for people to leave Christianity because they studied the Bible too much. My road down that path began with studding the Bible in order to be a good Christian. There are lots of good resources here so I hope you stick around.

 

 

MM

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Thanks MM =)

 

I've seen a few of those as common threads among the stories I've read on here.

 

I'm planning to stick around for a while and participating in the forums. =)

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Hey, thanks for sharing your story!

 

All I can say is commit yourself to reading the bible cover to cover, like you would read any textbook. Subject it to literary criticism. Use your common sense while reading and see if there is really a god worth serving in there.

 

 

Most of all, know you are not alone. Many of us have cried in the wee hours of the night wondering if we were condemned to hell simply for questioning what our minds could not believe.

 

Know that you are not condemned. You are free.

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Hey Lil, in school they told me "I'd rather be dead than red".....anyway, I'm not surprised you feel scared. You started out with a Christian cult. Time to just walk out there and enjoy the world. That guilt you feel is exactly what they hope you have; it's their way of controlling you and half the people who attend church. Heck that guilt worked throughout the middle ages so why give up an effective tool....er...club.

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Welcome lilcoppertop! I am new here as well and can so relate to your story. I was also kind of in the quiverfull movement. I say kind of because while I did have 8 children, we were not like some of these families you read about. I used birth control when I needed spacing and after baby 8 we decided we were done. Also, we never fell for that patriarchal crap! My husband and I are equals. I do stay at home, but that is because I want to! Also, I would have had 8 children whether I was following this movement or not. I love children and wanted a large family. I used to read the Above Rubies message board and had to get off of it because of all the abuse and crazy thinking I saw. Anyway, now I am where you are, seriously questioning if the Bible and Jesus are real at all. I say questioning, but I am pretty sure I don't believe at all anymore. It is just hard to say it with finality, you know? The people here are so wonderful and encouraging, kind of like I always wished church would be LOL

 

You are young and so lucky to be making your decisions about life with a good head on your shoulders and no cult religion telling you what you have to do! Your whole life is ahead of you :)

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Welcome, lilcoppertop! I hope I'm not out of line in saying congratulations on dodging the bullet with your fiance. Best wishes to you and all of us on our searches for truth, and I'm sure you'll find many here to help you with your fears, questions, and ideas.

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All I can say is commit yourself to reading the bible cover to cover, like you would read any textbook. Subject it to literary criticism. Use your common sense while reading and see if there is really a god worth serving in there.

 

I keep thinking I should do this...but I haven't been able to bring myself to read more than a verse or two in the last....two years? Ever since I read that Darin Hufford book, every verse I read sounded so unloving!

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Welcome, lilcoppertop! I hope I'm not out of line in saying congratulations on dodging the bullet with your fiance.

 

LOL! Thanks! You are not out of line at all! It's exactly how I see it. I know there was no room for questioning with him and, while the questions probably would have been DELAYED if I'd married him, they still would have come eventually when I could no longer stand to be dishonest with myself. And I'd be absolutely miserable. And he'd likely have felt betrayed. And it would have just been a horrible mess. =) So yeah, thanks for the congrats. =D

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Part of me keeps hoping I'll find something to convince me that he does exist and that he is a loving and caring god who cares more about how we treat the people around us than he does about what we believe about him. Part of me wants to be completely free of all the religion and god-stuff. And all of me wishes I could know the truth about this.

 

Hi 'lilcoppertop, and welcome to "freethoughtland"! We have been so indoctrinated with Christianity, that it feels impossible to think about a God any other way. Yet, the world in the past and today has such diverse God concepts for you to explore. Or you can explore the "no God" concept. But one question was raised when I read what I quoted above. Have you ever considered a God that was not a superman or human clone? That is, have you ever considered a God that is not a conscious, intelligent being, but is aware at a rudimentary level? One that brings forth life without dictating how that life should live, like Deists or Pantheists believe?

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Have you ever considered a God that was not a superman or human clone? That is, have you ever considered a God that is not a conscious, intelligent being, but is aware at a rudimentary level? One that brings forth life without dictating how that life should live, like Deists or Pantheists believe?

 

No....not really....not seriously.... My dad believes god is the space all the quarks or whatever move around in when you magnify atoms. Or something like that. That god is in everything. Particularly the space between things. It hasn't really appealed to me. But then, I haven't really given it a chance, either.

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No....not really....not seriously.... My dad believes god is the space all the quarks or whatever move around in when you magnify atoms. Or something like that. That god is in everything. Particularly the space between things. It hasn't really appealed to me. But then, I haven't really given it a chance, either.

 

The reason I suggested it, is due to all the reading and thinking I have done in the past. Humans tend to paint a God as being all too human. You have a lot of interesting reading ahead of you. Books abound. The only mistake I made was buying too many. I should have checked all the libraries first.GONZ9729CustomImage1539775.gif Have fun!

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No....not really....not seriously.... My dad believes god is the space all the quarks or whatever move around in when you magnify atoms. Or something like that. That god is in everything. Particularly the space between things. It hasn't really appealed to me. But then, I haven't really given it a chance, either.

 

The reason I suggested it, is due to all the reading and thinking I have done in the past. Humans tend to paint a God as being all too human. You have a lot of interesting reading ahead of you. Books abound. The only mistake I made was buying too many. I should have checked all the libraries first.GONZ9729CustomImage1539775.gif Have fun!

 

That is a good point. I kinda like the idea of a human-like god (as in, one with personality), but that's quite likely because I grew up with the idea. I intend on doing a lot of reading in the future, and am a HUGE fan of my local library system! LOL! Was just there this afternoon. I haven't really been interested in science until recently, so I think I emptied the kids astronomy section. =D Having been reading more about god and different religions in this last year, I thought I could do with a break and learn something entirely different.

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Welcome lilcoppertop! 2Honest and I can relate to your story in many aspects...we attended a full quiver church once (considered reversing my vasectomy but thankfully never got that far). We also followed Bill Johnson's teachings for awhile. It was encouraging to me to see that you still have a good relationship with your parents. We have teenagers (16 and 14) and have been worried (mostly about our 16 year old girl) about how our de-conversion will affect her.

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<p> </p>

<div>Hi lilcoppertop! Nice to meet a fellow redhead (well mine is from a bottle but I wish it was natural!). I am new here, too. This site has been a big help to me and my husband the past few weeks. You and I have a lot in common in regard to our religious experience. My husband and I ended up in a "full quiver" church for a couple of years about 8 years ago. Most families in the church had 6 or more children and home-schooled (we were HS'rs, too). On the surface it seemed so nice and sweet, all the kids were so well-behaved and all. Some of the families were more "mainstream" like your parents - they weren't into all the fundamentalist stuff. But others were SO out there.</div>

<div> </div>

<div>On the surface they all seemed happy. But it became clear to me that the women in the church were actually miserable. They didn't warm up to me b/c I wasn't homely like they were (and only had 2 kids!). But I remember talking to one of the ladies one day, she was exhausted and had just had her 10th child. She said she hoped God was "done giving them children". The ladies had a Yahoo Group message board and one day a lot of them were discussing how they should boycott Target b/c of their hiring policy regarding homosexuals. They said they didn't want to take their children into a store where they had to be worried about the cashiers being gay. They didn't want to "expose their children to that." Gag! <img alt=":twitch:" class="bbc_emoticon" src="http://www.ex-christian.net//public/style_emoticons/default/Wendytwitch.gif" title=":twitch:" /> So between that and looking into the teachings and organizations they were involved in (Bill Gothard, Above Rubies, etc), we knew it was time to get outta there! That's just one of our many strange church experiences.</div>

<div> </div>

<div>Another of which is the Charismatic/supernatural movement. You and I also have the Bill Johnson thing in common! I was introduced to his ministry by our current pastor. I mainlined teachings from Bethel church for the past 2 1/2 years and also went to their conferences when they came to our area. I wasn't into it b/c of the celebrity of the leaders. I was just searching for something REAL - I wanted to see people who were actually experiencing the life the Bible talked about. I wanted God (at least the form of God I'd created in my head) to be who he said he was. (I ignored the bad stuff about him in the Bible.) In my mind he was a loving, caring father and I just knew I was important to him. So all the teachings on miracles and stuff enticed me b/c that's the god I saw in the Bible. I saw Jesus loving and healing everyone he came in contact with. I needed him to be that for ME. I thought if I could just learn enough and believe it enough I'd live a "supernatural life". But in the end that belief is what drove me nearly insane (see my "Coming Clean" posts). </div>

<div> </div>

<div>I'm really glad you saw through all of this stuff before getting any more involved. I admire your courage and willingness to think for yourself and listen to yourself. That's something I'm getting better at every day now. :) And I totally understand how hard it is to say what you believe (or don't believe) with finality. I am there, too. It still seems very surreal to me. But for me it is still very fresh, I just had my wake-up call a couple of months ago!</div>

<div> </div>

<div>I'm glad you are here! </div>

<div> </div>

<div>2H</div>

 

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No....not really....not seriously.... My dad believes god is the space all the quarks or whatever move around in when you magnify atoms. Or something like that. That god is in everything. Particularly the space between things. It hasn't really appealed to me. But then, I haven't really given it a chance, either.

 

The reason I suggested it, is due to all the reading and thinking I have done in the past. Humans tend to paint a God as being all too human. You have a lot of interesting reading ahead of you. Books abound. The only mistake I made was buying too many. I should have checked all the libraries first.GONZ9729CustomImage1539775.gif Have fun!

 

That is a good point. I kinda like the idea of a human-like god (as in, one with personality), but that's quite likely because I grew up with the idea. I intend on doing a lot of reading in the future, and am a HUGE fan of my local library system! LOL! Was just there this afternoon. I haven't really been interested in science until recently, so I think I emptied the kids astronomy section. =D Having been reading more about god and different religions in this last year, I thought I could do with a break and learn something entirely different.

 

Nothing like a little meditation to figure out what's best for you. Problem with modern society in general is people don't do enough of that. There's something to be said for just having quiet time looking at stars, enjoying nature, etc. Reading may do it for you, but if not, try some stargazing....

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Welcome lilcoppertop! 2Honest and I can relate to your story in many aspects...we attended a full quiver church once (considered reversing my vasectomy but thankfully never got that far). We also followed Bill Johnson's teachings for awhile. It was encouraging to me to see that you still have a good relationship with your parents. We have teenagers (16 and 14) and have been worried (mostly about our 16 year old girl) about how our de-conversion will affect her.

 

I hope your kids will be fine with this. I take it they don't know yet? Hopefully relationship will be more important to them than religion, especially if they don't deconvert. Dang christian upbringing still pops up and I almost typed "I'll pray for you" even though I know very well I won't! LOL! Funny how that happens!

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I hope your kids will be fine with this. I take it they don't know yet? Hopefully relationship will be more important to them than religion, especially if they don't deconvert. Dang christian upbringing still pops up and I almost typed "I'll pray for you" even though I know very well I won't! LOL! Funny how that happens!

The kids don't know yet. We think they will be fine. We have never forced them into religion. Never forced family bible studies, etc. Our 14 year old son is a freethinker so no problems there I think. Our 16 year old daughter is much more of a performer, but she has never really been into church other than the acceptance aspect of it. I think she will do good too, just not sure when/how to discuss with her. I get what you are saying with the "I'll pray for you"...30+ years for me is tough to change :)

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I haven't really been interested in science until recently, so I think I emptied the kids astronomy section. =D

 

There are threads on the site in which I have learned quite a bit about science. Take a break from the library and browse through them. The discussions are interesting and even intense (in the lion's den).

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On the surface they all seemed happy. But it became clear to me that the women in the church were actually miserable. They didn't warm up to me b/c I wasn't homely like they were (and only had 2 kids!).

 

Appearance is such an important thing in that world. It's not JUST about "letting God plan your family", it's about being completely different from the rest of the world. Something my mom was talking about a while ago is the difference between being pro something or anti something. For example, is a person pro-life? Or anti-abortion? The result may be the same, but the mindset is different. And looking back at the quiverful movement, I think most people are/were against the world more than they were pro-purity or pro-God....but that's just my perspective. Anyway, whatever they were/are in that respect, they ARE so extreme it scares me.

 

The ladies had a Yahoo Group message board and one day a lot of them were discussing how they should boycott Target b/c of their hiring policy regarding homosexuals. They said they didn't want to take their children into a store where they had to be worried about the cashiers being gay. They didn't want to "expose their children to that." Gag!

 

Right. Because the gay cashier might start hitting on one of their kids or something....or is it catching?!?!?! Even back when I believed homosexuality was wrong, that "OMG! I think he's gay! Don't let the kids see!" attitude really bothered me. It really is like people think it's some contagious disease or something.

 

So between that and looking into the teachings and organizations they were involved in (Bill Gothard, Above Rubies, etc), we knew it was time to get outta there!

 

I cringe whenever I hear those two names! My family was never into ATI. We had several friends who were involved, however, and some of what they told us sounded very cult-like even at the time. Later I found it very interesting to discover a support group for kids recovering from growing up in ATI on Facebook.

 

And Above Rubies....my mom used to read that all the time. Even got several copies of each mag so she could give them away to people she thought might be encouraged by them.

 

I was just searching for something REAL - I wanted to see people who were actually experiencing the life the Bible talked about. I wanted God (at least the form of God I'd created in my head) to be who he said he was. (I ignored the bad stuff about him in the Bible.) In my mind he was a loving, caring father and I just knew I was important to him. So all the teachings on miracles and stuff enticed me b/c that's the god I saw in the Bible. I saw Jesus loving and healing everyone he came in contact with. I needed him to be that for ME. I thought if I could just learn enough and believe it enough I'd live a "supernatural life".

 

That is EXACTLY how I fell for Bill Johnson's teachings too! And in Arizona when I got to know some of the people with Extreme Prophetic, I thought I'd found people who were living the "supernatural life". But really, during the winter I hung out there with them doing street ministry and praying for people and going to at least one meeting or conference a week, I never saw one miracle.

 

I think my disillusionment with this last group makes me the saddest. Some of the people I met there (and am still friends with) are some of the most sincere, loving and caring people I've ever met. It's sad to think their happiness is based on lies.

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Nothing like a little meditation to figure out what's best for you. Problem with modern society in general is people don't do enough of that. There's something to be said for just having quiet time looking at stars, enjoying nature, etc. Reading may do it for you, but if not, try some stargazing....

 

Hmm...VERY good idea! I know sometimes reading can get in the way of learning and understanding...I just frequently forget to sit and think. Or just BE. Thank you very much for this suggestion!

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