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House of Mirrors - First Time Caller - 05-23-2017

A friend recently told me about a blog called "Spiritual Sounding Board."  I don't read it often, because it tends to be pretty heavy stuff.  But the latest post was just beautifully written.  I don't know that it needs any commentary, and don't really know what to say anyway, except that it is so profoundly true.

https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2017/05/22/new-blog-series-spiritual-abuse-in-the-church-a-guide-to-recognition-and-recovery-by-pastor-ken-garrett/

As the "fog" continues to clear, 5 months out from leaving, I feel increasingly ambivalent about all things churchy, and haven't even attended with my husband and kids since Easter.  And I really feel no guilt, besides knowing that I'm disappointing my family.  It's just where I am.  But the above article was comforting to me as I try to make sense of what's real and what's not.  Posting it here in the hopes it will be meaningful to someone else too.


RE: House of Mirrors - ready_to_leave - 05-25-2017

I hear you about being ambivalent about church. We've been out of the IFB church for two years and I still have a hard time with going to church. Even though our current church is the polar opposite, I hardly ever go. I'm so paranoid about getting sucked into another situation where I lose control of my own thoughts again.My kids are way more involved than my husband and I and of the two of us (my husband) I'm even less involved than he is .


RE: House of Mirrors - Josh - 05-29-2017

I'm still going to a Southern Baptist church that is firmly in the conservative evangelical camp, but ambivalence permeates my feelings about the church. In a sizable and still growing number of areas, I have moved toward beliefs that no longer align with what the church teaches. The conflict that would probably explode if someone caught wind of my being gay only adds stress upon stress. It's hard to picture what my future church involvement (or lack thereof) will look like when I eventually disentangle myself from my present circumstances.


RE: House of Mirrors - Miss TTU Runner-Up - 05-29-2017

It took me a long time to get past that feeling. It eventually happened, maybe because I just wasn't willing to completely give up on church. No judgement on those who have--that was just my experience. Five months is not very long. Be patient with yourself.


RE: House of Mirrors - First Time Caller - 05-31-2017

I guess I've come to the conclusion that churches are often very much the same. The music may be different, the "rules" may be different. But there is just something that feels the same. Sing a song, announcements, sing a song, offering, sermon... leaving feeling like I need to do more or be more.

I just can't seem to get into it lately. Small churches seem to be too controlling. Big churches feel isolating. I'm not sure what I'm looking for. My husband and kids are still attending the huge charismatic church. They seem to like it. I'm not sure what my problem is, but I would rather stay home and enjoy some alone time.

I guess I'm just wondering if we have it all wrong. Is church supposed to be "that?" When you read about the church in the New Testament, it's not about services. I'm not sure what it's about, but it doesn't seem to look like anything that is available today.


RE: House of Mirrors - WalrusWrangler - 05-31-2017

The blog articulated well what I felt when leaving fundamentalism. It took leaving one house of mirrors for another, more grotesque one for me to finally seek reality. The first house of mirrors was comforting, since I grew up there. The second was similar enough to the first to offer a modicum of comfort, but too many of the mirrors were off in a way that made me dizzy and sick. I was stuck in the uncanny valley. I finally checked out mentally and embarked to discover what was real. A good chunk of that journey happened while still attending the IFB church, but although I was there in body I was not there in mind or spirit. I finally left physically after several months of seeking truth. My disorientation lasted some time after I escaped, though. It still comes back occasionally. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I now have an anchor point to discern the truth from the distortion of mirrors.


RE: House of Mirrors - First Time Caller - 05-31-2017

(05-31-2017, 11:41 AM)WalrusWrangler Wrote: The blog articulated well what I felt when leaving fundamentalism. It took leaving one house of mirrors for another, more grotesque one for me to finally seek reality. The first house of mirrors was comforting, since I grew up there. The second was similar enough to the first to offer a modicum of comfort, but too many of the mirrors were off in a way that made me dizzy and sick. I was stuck in the uncanny valley. I finally checked out mentally and embarked to discover what was real. A good chunk of that journey happened while still attending the IFB church, but although I was there in body I was not there in mind or spirit. I finally left physically after several months of seeking truth. My disorientation lasted some time after I escaped, though. It still comes back occasionally. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I now have an anchor point to discern the truth from the distortion of mirrors.

Do you mind if I ask what the "anchor point" was?


RE: House of Mirrors - WalrusWrangler - 05-31-2017

(05-31-2017, 12:19 PM)First Time Caller Wrote: Do you mind if I ask what the "anchor point" was?

I meant it as real reality versus the distorted reality of the IFB's house of mirrors. I spent so long in the house of mirrors that I thought it was real reality, but once I managed to step outside of it, both mentally and physically, I slowly learned what was real versus what was distorted. Now what's distorted stands out clearly to me since I've spent time in real reality. 

Two main things serve as the anchor points to me. The first is the Bible, as written, versus as twisted by the IFB. So many of the things I believed because they essentially brainwashed me seem so ludicrous now that I can read the scriptures with a clear head. I used to have a difficult time separating a passage of scripture from the distorted interpretation of my old church. Now I see that kind of sloppy handling of the text as the funhouse mirror that it is. (Not to say that I understand everything in the Bible, though. I'm sure I still get things wrong. But seeing scripture as written, even when it's confusing, is better than looking at a distortion that makes sense, even when it's flagrantly wrong.)

The second is the world. I've been in secular college, in a secular job, in a contemporary church, in a bar, and in other places the IFB painted in a bad light. I can no longer reconcile their distorted depictions of these places, non-IFB people, and the world at large to my experience. There are problems with all of these things, sure, but they aren't at all like what the IFB taught. They were selling falsehood about reality. 

I didn't find my anchor point overnight. It took a lot of time and effort, a lot of asking, "Real or not real?" a la The Hunger Games. I had help and I had hindrances. Honestly, the anchor point wasn't so much a point as it was a whole series of points. To start out I knew that the IFB was wrong about a few passages of scripture. That was my initial anchor point. They are wrong here, and if they try to convince me otherwise, I can dispel their arguments with confidence. That one crack in their facade was enough to get me to examine more. 

The questioning and search for answers took a couple years for me. I don't have all the answers to everything, but I know enough to know that the IFB doesn't have the answers. I can more easily see when something is patently wrong, even when I don't know what exactly is right. The ability to ask honest questions and be ok with not having the answers right away went a long way toward developing my anchor against the IFB.


RE: House of Mirrors - First Time Caller - 06-02-2017

"Real or not real."  Yes.  Except Katniss isn't sitting next to you helping confirm reality for you.

I have been "here" for almost a year.  And even in that short time, when it's so quiet here, I DO see the slippery slope that we were warned about.  I see that most here eventually lost God somewhere along the way.  

I don't want that for myself.  I have little else besides God to hold on to.  But He often feels so far away, like he's slipping through my fingers. I have given up on him before, but somehow he didn't let go of me. I am not sure how long that will last.


RE: House of Mirrors - Josh - 06-02-2017

I don't know if it would be helpful to you, FTC, or to anyone else, but I listened to this interview with Richard Rohr earlier today, and what he says was relevant to parts of my journey.

https://thebiblefornormalpeople.podbean.com/e/episode-2-richard-rohr-a-contemplative-look-at-the-bible/