Saturday, April 9, 2011

Old Time Religion

My head has been swimming in the waters of religion over the past week, it seems to go on and on, I can’t get out of this arena.  Everywhere I turn, it’s coming up, and when that happens, I know it’s time for me to dig in and deal with it.  Something I have learned on this journey to date.  Religion is a topic that is a sore spot for me, which means that I need healing in this area.  The healing is happening; it’s just taking a long time, long time.

I was born into the world of the fundamentalist variety of Evangelical Christianity.  There are so many denominations and independent churches out there that have the fundamentalist mindset, and it seems as though I have been to every single one of them in my lifetime.  And that’s not a good thing.  The narrow views, many times hateful views that are taught, (or maybe I should say, that are drilled into your mind) are so damaging.  And combined with a childhood filled with other abuses, it leaves a person in a bad spot.  Things get so twisted up inside.  Very few adults are able to see and think clearly in these environments; their sense of reasoning becomes disabled, so a child has absolutely no chance of being able to sort out what is being put into that little, innocent, naïve mind.  Everything becomes a soupy mess.

Fear is the main ingredient in the soup recipe.  If you have ever heard a fiery sermon preached on a Sunday morning in a fundamentalist church, you will know what I mean.  Fear of God, fear of the world, fear of sin, fear of everything.  And judgment is what drives that fear deep inside you.  God is a god of judgment, and sin is going to land you in the hands of that angry God.  But all have sinned.  Such a dilemma we have going on here.  Seems to be no escape.  I mean, sure, they do preach there is an ‘out’ in all of this, as in Jesus saves.  But yet, the ‘feeling’ is that we are all just one sin away from wrath.  And if you happen to be in a fundamentalist church that doesn’t believe you can ‘lose’ that salvation, you still have to appear as though you have no sin, because it is that ‘righteous’ living that is the proof you have been saved, and it is the occasional ‘unrighteous living’ that will end you up with God’s chastisement.  These churches are filled to the brim with people either in denial of their own humanity or who are in constant anxiety about it.  Lots of hiding going on.  Lots of vulnerability.  Lots of fear of being ‘seen’ as less than righteous.

When a child is taught about an angry God whose wrath is all consuming, who is waiting to hand out punishment because he always chastises those whom he loves, and then that child is subjected to the most cruel abuses, no escape from the abuses, well, things get all mixed together.  That soupy mess. The abuse becomes both the child’s own sin AND her punishment, no way out.  She is being shown how sinful she is and also being punished at the same time.  It is always her own fault.  And God is always involved in what is taking place, because he is all knowing and all powerful and filled with wrath.

I had to develop ways in my mind to deal with all of this, as it was way too terrifying and way too overwhelming for me and there was no escape. So I started splitting.  My only way of surviving it all.  It is amazing to me now, now that I understand myself after all of these years, that I was able to come up with a system in my mind that allowed me to deal with all this pressure.  I was just a child.  Innocent, soft hearted, sweet.  But I was made to believe I was a whore who was going to spend eternity in hell, eternity separated from God and from everyone I knew.  Talk about abandonment issues.  Talk about pain.  Talk about terror.  What I was made to endure physically was just the tip of the iceberg compared to what I had to endure in my soul.  AS A CHILD.

Religion is a sore spot for me.  This means that there is a wound that goes incredibly deep and I need healing.  The healing is happening, but it takes a long, long time.  And I think that God understands if I would just rather take a long break from having to think about him for a while.  I need to breathe.


  1. Oh Carla, how your words resonated with me. Resonate still. I've had 'church burn' often enough that I am very shy of organized religious groups. I'm afraid to trust, I'm afraid of the hypocrisy and the judgement.

    The burden of judgement and guilt that churches put on people instead of the message of salvation and love is a shame because instead of lifting us up it keeps us mired down, fearful and beaten. I do not believe that this 'church' that has caused us hurt is what God wants for us, for anyone.

    I tried this past year to reach out to the pastor of the church I was abused in and he avoided me. In trying to find a true pastor, a shepherd for myself, I'm finding it not in people but in God's word. Praying for you Carla and I'm sure God not only knows you need to breathe, but also knows you need fresh air away from those who poisoned it with distortions and lies.

    Bless you!

  2. Mystic Mom, it seems there are so many people who have had really abusive experiences through religion, or through the people who inhabit religion. Wolves in sheep's clothing...Problem is, hard to tell who is the wolf, the disguises can be near perfect, huh?

    I'm sorry you have had this experience as well. It is a real struggle to come out from under all the damage done. Got right into the nervous system and that's a hard thing to be rid of. Religious PTSD. Might even be a new category! Or let's say, one that has not been named.

    I can't go anywhere near a church without having an anxiety attack, and believe me, I've tried through the years, the guilt kept pushing me. But I am letting go of all of that. Some day, when my healing is complete in this area, I may carefully put my toes back in the water, I don't know. For now, I'm just not going to stress any of it, I will just rest.

    Thank you for your support!
    Hugs, Carla :)