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JoyChristina5

Has Anyone Else Experienced The "walk To Emmaus"

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Like many here, Christianity was a part of my daily life from birth. My mom is a fundamentalist Christian and self-proclaimed Jesus Freak. She is also bi-polar, which layers visions and depression on top of religion, which makes her almost completely unbearable. I "asked Jesus into my heart" when I was 7, at an Assembly of God grade school. I memorized bible verses for school and at home, and was routinely spanked in both locations if I failed to memorize my lessons, which was explained as "better to learn now than spend eternity in hell". I survived a Baptist Junior High and Catholic High School. When my sister died and I was 15, my mom sent me to one of those renewal meeting (Road to Emmaus - Chrysalis). Does Anyone else here have an experience with these? I was 15, impressionable, my parents were recently divorced and I lost my sister to hepatitis and my mom was afraid my soul was lost, so I was sent to a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere where they deprive teenagers of sleep and have them listen to Christian testimonies, and sing along with guitar music and write down their sins and nail them to a cross. By the end of 4 days with no sleep and constant manipulation and chanting about being part of the body of Christ, you'd give your heart and soul to a squirrel if someone set the idea to music while holding hands in a circle. That aside, I continued in my "faith". I even chose a Christian college and danced professionally with an evangelical dance company for 4 years, while the owners took hefty salaries and treated trained performers as missionaries who needed to raise our own support. I did all of these things to please an invisible deity and keep my mother quiet. I married someone else from the performance troop. A Christian man who treated my body as his own. His view was that the man was the head of household and, if I expected fidelity from him, I had better do absolutely anything he asked, and be happy about it. The most horrendous 10 years of my life until he cheated with a younger woman and ran off to another state before even bothering to divorce me. And there I sat. Praying for healing in my marriage, secretly hoping that God was of better character than the old testament God and would give me a reprieve from that hell. And it was somewhere in my grief over a broken marriage that I realized that if a being cruel enough to perpetrate these horrors on his creation did exist, I was certainly not going to worship him. And there my journey began. I started to live, really live my life in the present. Be kind to people, for my own well-being and theirs, and not for future heavens, but because it's right to be good to others. And sometimes it comes back to you and sometimes it doesn't, but there's amazing freedom in living in the present. Now, years later, I am living with/dating an atheist who was once a youth music pastor. It's amazing to me how many friends have abandoned me because of my beliefs. I haven't bothered to speak to my mom about it because I know there is no reasoning with her mental illness. I just find the hypocrysy astounding. We used to sing a song as kids "They will know we are Christians by Our Love"...couldn't be farther from the truth. Hatred of women, disdain for our president, disrespect for the rights of the less fortunate, cruelty to minority groups...it makes me sick that I used to spread the gospel of these people. Now, compassion for all, tolerance for things I don't understand yet and a shield against oppression and violence by religious fanatics. I will not waste another minute of this one precious life.

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Welcome to ex-C. When I started to have doubts about Christianity my mom sent me to a different camp. They got me back into church by telling me stories about what it is like to be attacked by demons. Things like a guy screaming while his friends watch bite marks appear on his body from some invisible force and they are all powerless to resist. I must have been 9 or 10. So similar tactics but a different organization. I'm glad you found your way out of slavery. Welcome.

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Joy -- That camp sounds as if it used every classic brainwashing technique in the book. And the whole rest of your life prepared you to be especially vulnerable to that manipulation.

 

It's really a wonder you got yourself out. But as a dancer no doubt you have a creative soul and a sense of being in touch with yourself, even if that was hidden deep, deep, deep for many years.

 

Welcome to ex-c and thank you for sharing your journey.

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You mean you actually danced? Then you must not have been a True ChristianTM! [/sarcasm]

 

Joking aside, I'm sorry to hear about the hell you've been through, but I'm glad that you've broken free and love living a good, compassionate life now. Enjoy the journey ahead of you.

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You must be an incredibly strong, intelligent and big hearted woman Joy to have come through all that trauma and have the clarity and attitude you display, without the usual bitterness many people experience. I am so glad you found a way out of the oppression to a place where you can be yourself.

 

And there I sat. Praying for healing in my marriage, secretly hoping that God was of better character than the old testament God and would give me a reprieve from that hell. And it was somewhere in my grief over a broken marriage that I realized that if a being cruel enough to perpetrate these horrors on his creation did exist, I was certainly not going to worship him. And there my journey began. I started to live, really live my life in the present. Be kind to people, for my own well-being and theirs, and not for future heavens, but because it's right to be good to others. And sometimes it comes back to you and sometimes it doesn't, but there's amazing freedom in living in the present.

 

The realization that if God was real he was a total bastard is what set me on my path out of christianity too and I also am beginning to be able to be more present in the moment and have much more compassion for everyone. The freedom is awesome!! Thanks for sharing your story Joy. yellow.gif

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JoyChristina says:

I was sent to a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere where they deprive teenagers of sleep and have them listen to Christian testimonies, and sing along with guitar music and write down their sins and nail them to a cross. By the end of 4 days with no sleep and constant manipulation and chanting about being part of the body of Christ, you'd give your heart and soul to a squirrel if someone set the idea to music while holding hands in a circle.

 

I went to something similar called "Cursillio" in the mid 1990s. First they drive you there so you don't have any transportation. That way you are not free to get the hell out if you don't like it. Then its nonstop love bombing, singing and people giving speeches about Jesus for the weekend, but what seems like a week. At the end there is some kind of big dinner where other former attendees serve you like wait staff. They also bring you letters from your friends, parents, etc., give you cute little craft stuff people make - a bunch of junk. It is pure coercion and emotional manipulation. I got a letter from my parents who live a thousand miles away and yes, it made me cry (that is what they were after). I stayed the whole time, but I do remember speaking to one of the leaders and saying how I didn't like how things were going. This is because I was an adult who realized the techniques being used.

 

Then after this weekend is over you form groups and continue to meet. It was considered a big honor to go back and serve in one of these these things. I never did and I never understood why it was so great. In fact, later I was made to feel by some in this church like I hadn't done my part.

 

This was a really big deal in the Episcopal Church I went to. The church basically revolved around this activity. I was only going a few weeks before I got the invitation to go and thereafter constant pressure to do so. In a way, though I am glad I went, and it was all good, because it was just one more thing that eventually convinced me that Christianity is a sham. I stayed at that church about 5 years and then I left because of this and a few other reasons.

 

If something is true, why the continual need for reinforcement? Its quite suspicious. Why this idea that everyone is broken in some way and needs a therapy group? Its like these people are educated into learned helplessness so they need to have Jeebus. Why can't everyone be who they are and not what someone else wants them to be?

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Welcome to Ex-C. I'm sorry you had to go through all that.

 

My step father tried to drag me to some Christian retreat once. From what he told me about it, it was going to be a lot like that, but it was for men only. I ran away to avoid going. To make a long story short, he found me, but I still managed to get out of it.

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JoyChristina, welcome to ex-C and thank you for sharing your story. I don't come from an evangelical background so I can't entirely relate, but it sounds like you've been through some pretty brutal experiences. However, in spite of the horrors and pain you faced, you show real courage in being able to remain so understanding and compassionate.

Wishing you the very best and much support as you continue this journey! Hugs!

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