I Was A “True Believer”
I recently read an article that a friend sent me and it validated in fresh words, why I have felt more anger and depression and grief from exiting Christ Church Kirkland, than others I attended church with.
I wasn’t just a churchgoer. I wholeheartedly threw myself into every endeavor of all-things Christ Church Kirkland.
I was only 20 when I joined the Master’s Commission at CCK. Clearly, I was looking for a people or place to belong. My whole life I had grown up in the church (from 5 to 15 years old at Christian Faith Center) and learned that church was the only safe place that would ensure I lived a life worthy of God’s approval of me – the only refuge that would shield me from the evil world, assure I wouldn’t think for myself (thus be selfish), and safeguard my holy ticket into heaven.
For a brief few years in my late teens and early 20s, I wasn’t attending a church regularly and I was what some Christians called a “wanderer”. To people like Norm Willis, I was desperately in need of CCK’s help so I could learn and follow God’s plan for my life.
So, being the deeply emotional, thoughtful person I am, I abandoned my own path and jumped in with everything I had to this community. I really thought that this was the next best step for me to find God and understand what I was to do with this life. I naïvely thought that this group, this culture, this church would be a catalyst for finding God and finding Jill.
What I realize today is that since I was conditioned from the age of 5 years old to trust God in other people more than I trusted God in my own spirit, this innocent commitment to join the flock once again would painfully lengthen my resistance to the real TRUTH.
Dr. Marlene Winell writes:
Religious groups that are highly controlling, teach fear about the world and keep members sheltered and ill-equipped to function in society are harder to leave easily. The difficulty seems to be greater if the person was born and raised in the religion rather than joining as an adult convert. This is because they have no frame of reference – no other “self” or way of “being in the world.” A common personality type is a person who is deeply emotional and thoughtful and who tends to throw themselves wholeheartedly into their endeavors. “True believers” who then lose their faith feel more anger and depression and grief than those who simply went to church on Sunday…These are people who are intense and involved and caring. They hang on to the religion longer than those who simply “walk away” because they try to make it work even when they have doubts. Sometime this is out of fear, but often it is out of devotion. These are people for whom ethics, integrity and compassion matter a great deal. I find that when they get better and rebuild their lives, they are wonderfully creative and energetic about new things.
Christ Church Kirkland, like many other religious organizations, was highly controlling. I was fresh meat to CCK. They promised I would find the will of God for my life, they guaranteed a loving community, they assured me that I would be safe.
All I had to do was give my will to them. I had to release my life into their hands. They promised as my spiritual fathers and mothers, they would be the ones answering to God for me, standing on my behalf to God, and getting direct orders from God for me.
What a deal!
And a deal it was for 15 years for me. I made the deal and I accept the consequences of my decision.
The deal ate away my conscience, seared my intuition, taught me how not to think, helped me become co-dependent, brought countless days and nights of deep depression, left me more confused than calm and clear, made man more important than God, stole my freedom, crushed my spirit, made me question my worth, kidnapped my voice, silenced my sexuality, isolated me from relationships outside CCK, compelled me to be judgemental, and ultimately suppressed my body, mind and spirit.
The day I became BORN-AGAIN, was the day, I pardoned myself from this deal. I alone made the decision to burn this contract and RUN.
Dr. Minell also writes:
Leaving a religion, after total immersion, can cause a complete upheaval of a person’s construction of reality, including the self, other people, life, and the future. People unfamiliar with this situation, including therapists, have trouble appreciating the sheer terror it can create.
It did cause complete upheaval.
And for this I am WHOLEHEARTEDLY grateful.