Axelle

Another pastor's kid gone wrong: The Freewill that ruined my faith.

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Hi all, 

 

First of all, thank you for your warm welcoming. Specially to Logical Fallacy and Travi for being so nice in Discord. Alright here it goes, I hope it's not too long. Be aware that some of this content may hurt some people's sentitivities.

 

Oh well, my dad has been a missionaire since he was 14. My mum became one when they married. I was raised into ministry- I started my pastoral leadership training at 8 years old so go figure. And here's soemthing you may find unusual to say in an ex christian testimony.

 

My childhood was awesome. 

 

Looking back, there is very little I am not happy about with my childhood. My mum and dad were loving, supportive, I always had my little brother with me and he was the best friend I could have. I went to kid's christian camp, I was allowed to play / hang out with as many kids as I wanted, my mum was the kid's bible Sunday teacher. My dad was my hero, I thought of him as the most perfect human being ever existing, probably the most powerful man on Earth in the eyes of God, and I wanted to be just like him in every way possible. So I behaved extroverted like him, intellectual and imaginative like him, and always tried to plan my life day to day (like him) and follow ''God's will''.  Despite of having to move to 2 different schools, since I was very little I didn't feel like that had an impact on me, plus most of my friends were of the church. We went to the beach, we had barbeques, we sang and played games, what else could I ever want? I loved my life, and my childhood, from ages 1 to 11 years old, and no matter what I will always be thankful to my parents for these years of my life. 

 

There was a moment where things got lamer, very boring and depressing- Puberty. I was no longer allowed to play with the boys at the church because my body could tempt them. EVERY DAY I would get a thorough clothes check from my mum to make sure I wasn't revealig too much of my body at school. Any time it was too hot (we are talking about Southern Spain FFS!) and I took off clothes in front of others, they'd ask me whether I was trying to seek attention from guys. I dismissed all their overwhelming protection, a careless child I was. My first years of high school, I still found kissing gross and had no idea of how sex work or wanted to know. What for? I didn't have to care, I hadn't met my future husband! But when I turned 13, since we had moved yet again to a smaller city in the countryside, I changed high school and it became impossible to hear sex jokes and puns everywhere. I wasn't living the normal high school experiences (crushes, hanging out with people on my free time, all the dumb teen stuff) so I could no longer relate to the people around me. I would refuge myself in books, prayer, and developing a core made of intellectual superiority. It became obvious to me that I didn't really have friends. But I wasn't allowed to hang out with anyone. This was weird, just because I have boobs now it means I have to be isolated? Even when my step brother came around (he is 4 years older than me), my dad would tell me off and many times yell at me because I wasn't allowed to have any physical contact with him. No hugs, no tickles ('Juego de manos, juego de marranos'), NEVER CLOSE THE DOOR when you are alone with him, better yet don't be alone with him, ''because he's a man and you're a woman, and you didn't grow up together like you and your little brother did''.My step brother complaints to this day that I have been cold and distant with him, oh well.

 

My dad would tell me that friends are bad. ''You don't need friends, your best friend is Jesus. And one day, when you marry, your husband will be the only friend you need''. Since I adored my dad, I believed it, and concluded I didn't need anyone. I think this is when I became less and less social, leaning towards introversion. If someone invited me to do something like going to the cinema, they wouldnt' allow me (age 13 to 15) because I wasn't allowed to go out unless my parents came with me. Nedless to say my social skills vanished to many extents. I was used to always being around other kids, and now I was always alone because those other kids now were seen as potential sin influencers on me. When I was 14, my dad decided to let me and my older brother go to a youth group together. I was so excited! The music was awesome, all Hillsong in Spanish by the way. Lots of people I had met as kids (and lost contact with) were there and they were as cool as usual. I felt like I gained back a part of myself I had lost when we moved to this small town. I had friends, although I still wasn't allowed to hang out with them on the ''after-youth sermon-Burger King dinners''' I could still see them in the reunions. Only my older brother was allowed to go to the cool going-out gatherings like going to the river or barbeques, and that did upset me a lot. Maybe that's how my dad realised that we were getting too attached to this youth group, and he decided to forbid us from going again. I was 15. I remember I cried for days, hiding the sadness but ''acting out'' all angry teenager-like. Further proof that I had been under those teens' influence for long enough. My older brother would get away from still meeting with them and other people from other churches, and one day he opened my eyes ''You're sheltered. You and little brother, dad over-protects you and isolates you, although he does it for your own good''. The next church my dad helped, giving pastoral training, was a congregation of Bolivian and Ecuatorian people. They were kind to us, but they didn't have a youth group. There was only one teenage girl there I could talk to. Eventually, we met a family of musicians (father, mother and 4 children, 3 boys and 1 girl) that would help with the Music Ministry, along with my older brother. 

I used to participate in singing lessons, bass and guitar lessons too. That same year in high school, my older brother introduced me to the girl who became my best friend- and still is despite the distance. So life was looking up a bit again. I still felt like an alien in my high school class, but now I had people to talk to in the breaks. All thanks to my older/ step brother, without whom my teenage years would have been a complete hell and I probably wouldn't have any friends if it wasn't for him. 

 

The amazing musical ministry we had with that family vanished the following year after they decided to start their own ministry. I no longer saw my 'new' friends, luckily I had my best friend in high school. But by age 16, I had already become a skeptical pessimist without knowing. I became fascinated with Ecclesiastes' view of the world (I still am to be fair). Everything is meaningless, people leave you and nothing is guaranteed, everything changes but there's never anything new under the sky. I bet Nietzsche loved Ecclesiastes. This is when I became the most introverted, I would often choose to spend most of my time writing about deep philosophical thoughts that pretty much differed from ''all things God works for the good of those who love him''. My musician friends leaving plus two girls from high school saying nasty things about me after I gave them my friendship made me have the loneliest 1st A-level year ever (Primero de Bachillerato). But I was about to graduate, and go to university, so I had ''bigger things'' than my social awkardness in mind. On my last year in high school / A-levels,  my dad decided he wanted to come and work in England because things in Spain weren't well economically speaking. My English was very good, I had studied English on my own and practised it with my older brother since I was 12. I had given up on high school English lessons and took charge of my own education in the language, which my English teachers noticed and encouraged me to keep learning. So when the moment came, I asked my dad to let me go to England too. 

 

I prayed, and fasted for 1 week for God's will and God's will only to be made: I was going to ask my high school's principal to let me finish my last year in April instead of June, which meant I had to take all my exams in 2 weeks. As if a miracle was happening, my school principal told me that she would allow it, but in the eyes of the City's Education Directive Board this wasn't happening because a student wasn't allowed to finish their school year ''express-mode'''. She said she was willing to take the great risk because she understood my need to find a job in London and help my family financially. So I did it, I passed all my exams in two weeks with an A+. I think I kinda became a legend amongst my teachers and the students, but that's anther story ;).

I came to London and found a job in a cleaning company, because I needed to start working as soon as possible and that's the first thing they offered me at age 17 only, decent pay and with no work experience. 

 

This part of the story is where things get really messed up. 

 

My dad hated London, I loved it. His plans of creating a ministry here and finding a good job didn't quite work out (what a shocker! Wanna make a decent living in England without bothering to learn English first!!??). I became the only person of my family who was working full time. At first, that felt like a privilege. I woke up at 5 AM, spent 2 hours a day travelling by bus to the workplace, worked for 8 to 12 h a day, spent another 2 h in the bus going back home, and went to bed at 1AM to wake up at 5 AM again. Luckily, this lasted for only about 3 months.

My dad changed. Maybe the loneliness, maybe missing home, maybe feeling like he was too good for such poor living donditions. He became hostile towards me, and made me cry almost daily. My mum and brothers were still back in Spain so it was just him and me, and the family with whom we were living. I have always been so vulnerable to WHATEVER my dad thinks of me that he didn't understand he could make me or break me with a single word or action. Really don't wanna go into detail, but here's where I started to question why was all this happening, when I had prayed and fasted for God's will to take place in my life.

My dad would travel to Spain every moth to visit my mum and the church. When that happened, I was left here alone with the family that was hosting us. 

 

One day, I got harrased and abused. Somebody insisted that God had revealed to them that I had to lose my virginity to them, and if I didn't sleep with them, I would be disobeying God. This person was one of my spiritual mentors, this wasn't something I could think ''happened by accident'' like when someone walks alone in a dark alley late night and gets abused. I got verbally harrassed for entire days, me trying to ignore it, until one day I was forced to masturbate this person. They said if I didn't, they were going to go crazy because they couldnt get off on their own, and since I was there under that roof I would probably suffer more severe consequences than this. He had tried to force himself into me, I feared for my safety, so I had no choice than giving that hand job while trying not to cry loudly.There were kids sleeping in the house. 

I was 17 and I had never had a boyfriend, no proper sex ed, I hadn't even kissed a guy, I had the sexual awareness of a 13 year old. This was somebody I trusted like a family member. And it happened again, this situation and the mental torture didn't end until my whole family moved to London.

I went into a mental state that was so dark sometimes I have trouble remembering exactly what happened. I never told my family, because of reasons I don't want to disclose- But basically, this would jeopardise entire family relatioships like one of us was the abuser (I know reading it like this doesn't sound like I had a motive to hide it, but remember I am not giving you BY FAR all the facts. This is like the movie adaptation of Eragon). 

I tried to come to terms about this with God, why would this happen to me after I prayed for his will on my life? Did this have a purpose? What kind of loving God would allow me to go throught this just because he had a purpose? Was there any at all? My dad always used to say that the 'chosen' of God don't have freewill, like Jonah. He tried to scape God's calling and he ended up in a whale's stomach, to then be thrown into the coasts of Nineveh. 

 

I became obssessed with the topic of Freewill, years after this I had stopped taking prayer seriously, but was in denial of my faith crisis. I enrolled to university and studied Law, while working pretty much full time hours as a receptionist. My mum and dad had cleaning jobs that made them too tired for anything. They were no longer the happy, friendly parents I had as a child. I hated London, I hated the system, I hated religion. 

My years in university were lamer than my high school years. I made a couple of friends, but my university was heavily involved in religion- Muslim to be specific, so I had no interest on participating in most of their social stuff. Besides, I didn't have much free time due to also working. 

I came across a typology site where people discussed topics like religion and politics, where I found lots of the resources I was looking for in my study of the logical flaws in religion and freewill, the damage religion dogma causes in society (especially for women), and how Christianism was no more perfectly founded than other religions. This helped me overcome a lot of doubts and self -questioning, and I will forever be grateful to those who provided me with a safe place to talk about my doubts. 

I was no longer welcomed to raise theological questions at home. Now that I had read books like ''Jesus Interrupted'' by Bart Erhman and ''The illusion of Freewill'' by Sam Harris, I asked things I never thought about before. My dad accused me of trying to corrupt my little brother's view of christianism for saying in front of him that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written by the apostles and were more likely recollections of verbally transmitted narrations. I was so upset, I thought we were different! I thought we supported asking question! Apparently not, if those questions raise doubting the bible's validity. But the environment at home was very tense, not only due to my irreligiousity. 

My mum and dad were unhappy about their jobs, plus they couldnt continue with half of them. I again was the only person working full time in a family of 5, my brothers had no luck one due to visas, the other due to being underage. 

This situation lasted for most of my undergraduate years, and I became the ''main provideder'' and the one my mum and dad would nag the most. I didn't do anything besides working, studying and reading, yet everyday they would find reasons to nag me and tell me off. I felt like everybody was taking advantage of me and planning my life for me (I guess you're also more prone to take verbal attacks more seriously after an abusive experience).

Maybe they took their life frustrations out on me.  This lasted after I finished my degree, gathered some savings and the strenght to move out. 

My boyfriend is an atheist, and he has been a great support in my life, making me grow as an independet thinker since the moment we met.I met him in that typology site I mentioned before, and he has been the most patient, logical and understanding friend too. I pray (lol!) that he doesn't get shot by my dad or brother when I introduce him to them. 

 

I believe I have been an agnostic athesit for over a year. When I moved out, my relationship with my family improved after they accepted that children move out and it's natural (I try not to talk about religion with them as it's still a sensitive area). My mental and physical health have improved, I've talked to a counselor about my bad experiences and that has helped. I have finally come to terms with the fact that no suffering  of the innocent has a greater good purpose, ever. Not the fact that millions of children die of starvation, not the fact that 1 out of 20 children in the UK have suffered sexual abuse according to the NSPCC, not the deaths caused by Earthquakes or Tsunamis. ''God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer'' By Bart D. Ehrman was another great help for me in regards to all this. I know I still have a lot of work to do, a lot of life to live, and although I get frustrated to see how much I've missed out sometimes, I am more excited than ever to live my universally-unimportant, ephemeral and meaningless life, free from the dogma of thinking that nothing I do should come from my own wants or wishes but from the questionable Will of an an arbitrary God.

I will just conclude here: Living for learning, living a life of meaning and learning to enjoy what I live. 

 

“Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment? That's not morality, that's just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base though.”
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Axelle said:

Hi all, 

 

First of all, thank you for your warm welcoming. Specially to Logical Fallacy and Travi for being so nice in Discord. Alright here it goes, I hope it's not too long. Be aware that some of this content may hurt some people's sentitivities.

 

Hi Axelle, welcome to Ex-C.

 

I decided to read this before bed rather than wait. My pleasure  - helping our fellow Ex-C members is what we are about.

 

I am sorry about the hard times you have been through with your family, and with the abuse. I am reminded of Christopher Hitchen's when he said religion poisons humanity at the  very core of our being. It shows how people operating under religion can justify terrible things in the name of god.

 

However now that you are independent of them I have great hope for you. You have obviously done your research and have a firm grip on reality.

 

Once again, welcome. Hope to see many more posts from you.

 

LF

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Hello Axelle, very well written extimony! Unfortunately abuse seems all too common in religious circles and it's absolutely awful that someone could abuse another person and excuse this as "god's will". I also struggled with the issue of free will but it was largely the question "why do we suffer, can it be god's will?" that finally got me questioning, and once I began questioning, I was on my way out of Christianity and very quickly.

It's a long journey. I've also been out for a year and am starting to feel a degree of freedom and improvement both mentally and physically, but I know there is a lot of work to still be done. One can't just throw out the lifelong effects of religious fundamentalism overnight, unfortunately.

 

Welcome to Ex-C!

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2 hours ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

Hello Axelle, very well written extimony! Unfortunately abuse seems all too common in religious circles and it's absolutely awful that someone could abuse another person and excuse this as "god's will". I also struggled with the issue of free will but it was largely the question "why do we suffer, can it be god's will?" that finally got me questioning, and once I began questioning, I was on my way out of Christianity and very quickly.

It's a long journey. I've also been out for a year and am starting to feel a degree of freedom and improvement both mentally and physically, but I know there is a lot of work to still be done. One can't just throw out the lifelong effects of religious fundamentalism overnight, unfortunately.

 

Welcome to Ex-C!

Thank you for reading. For me, this quote Bart Ehrman used in God's Problem ''put to ease'' all those contradictive feelings about suffering:

From the brothers Karamazov.

"Listen: if everyone must suffer, in order to buy eternal harmony with their suffering, pray tell me what have children got to do with it? It’s quite incomprehensible why they should have to suffer, and why they should buy harmony with their suffering. Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? I don't want harmony. From love for humanity, I don't want it. I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. Besides, too high a price is asked for harmony; it's beyond our means to pay so much to enter on it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket, and if I am an honest man I am bound to give it back as soon as possible. And that I am doing. It's not God that I don't accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket." 

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Welcome to Ex-C, @Axelle

 

That was a very heavy extimony concerning what you went through. I am sorry you had to endure such unspeakable crap - but you did! Kudos to you!

 

Also an Ehrman fan - I am currently devouring The Triumph of Christianity. I believe this is his latest. 

 

Axelle said...

" I was raised into ministry- I started my pastoral leadership training at 8 years old"

 

Getting to children when they are so young and impressionable is such a diabolical yet effective tactic. Driving with Mrs. MOHO and her shadow lat Friday they were discussing how cults like to get to children. Even adults try to subject the little ones to political indoctrination. I mentioned that many religions make wide use of this same tactic. The car became suddenly silent. I hope they were pondering how this type of indoctrination is the whole reason for The Good News Club. 

 

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own) 

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Hi!! Other former mission kid here. Very different paths, but I'm glad that you wound up at a place where you feel more safe and comfortable. 

Freewill and predestination were also my downfall when it came to faith. I think many people start really digging once they can't reconcile it.

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Thanks for your story and I hope you are able to benefit from this site as I have... albeit gradually and somewhat immaturely.

 

I was most struck by the passive aggressiveness and narcissistic sarcasm from Christians or believers in your story. It seems to me in my experiences that Christians are always laden with these manipulative behaviors and sense of divine self worth. It really is a scary thing, now that I am seeing it from outside the faith.

 

Such behaviors come to mind: people being afraid of lightning and storms as they perceived it might be the striking of god himself. Also, a friend from church feeling guilty for buying a new car. Classic paranoia symptoms of a person gone insane from falsehoods of Christian religions.

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