Tell me all your thoughts on God

I’ll be honest. I’m not really sure what I believe about God most days. I grew up in a charismatic church, married a Lutheran, and then attended Baptist and Calvinist churches until we decided to leave. We’ve tried a few other churches, but our beliefs have morphed and changed. Since we experienced a lot of spiritual abuse at the hands of the leaders of our last church, it’s been hard to go back. And at this point, we are pretty much done with the church.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Over the past few months,  I will say, I’ve thought a lot about my relationship, or lack thereof, with God. I still feel as if I have one. I often will pray prayers in my head and I think about verses I’ve learned and I still try to be kind, loving, and forgiving even if I don’t know where I stand some days with my faith. I still desire to know the truth about God. I find him even more mysterious than I ever have, but I haven’t written him off as uncaring, unloving, or not hearing me. I just feel as if this journey requires me to dig my heels in and decide. It calls out to me and asks, “What is it that you really believe about me?” And that question is something I keep asking myself and fine-tuning as I go.

I am a very observant person. Growing up rather sheltered and withdrawn, I learned early on to watch not what people say, but what they don’t say. And to keep an eye on what they do. People tend to say all kinds of nice sounding things, but it’s what they do and what they don’t say that interest me.

When I tell people I don’t go to church, they automatically assume I’m going to hell. They can’t believe I’ve walked away from God. When I try to explain myself, I am faced with a lot of odd looks and strange body language as if I birthed an alien.

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The look I get when I tell people I don’t go to church. Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

I’ve noticed over the years something about Christians, especially those who religiously attend church and swear by the tradition. They say a lot of nice sounding things, but if you end up not agreeing or have doubts, they quickly turn into people that become hurtful and angry.

I’ve thought a lot about this over the past week. A friend of mine decided to attend church and then wrote an email to the pastor about some things he found that went against the scripture. The pastors reply was more or less “I don’t like what you said, so don’t come back to my church. Signed, Pastor, PHD”. Interestingly, I was out on the lake looking at God’s beauty in creation while thousands of people were sitting in pews “going to church”. I told my friend, “This is what church really is: Admiring God’s creation instead of playing dress-up and trying to impress people”.  It’s true I feel more connected to God in nature than I do sitting around his so-called people.

But after I read the Pastor’s response to my friend, the thought occurred to me that the church itself–I mean, buildings of people gathering to watch a Pastor perform every Sunday–is in and of itself Satanic. And maybe I don’t trust that word anymore either since I don’t always buy into the entire idea of Satan, but the church could be defined as something evil. It’s idolatry, really.

Got Questions defines idolatry this way:

The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God.

Exodus 20 states, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”

Yet, what is a Pastor these days? Nothing more than an idol. And when you try to point out how corrupt and evil this is, you will see the way you are treated. It’s pure evil. Most Christians I know treat their pastor as they would Jesus Christ. They see him as the messenger between God and themselves. They see him as a person who is granted some sort of special powers and has the ability to be called. This is hogwash. And it’s idolatry.

In my last church, people asked the pastor if they should get this or that car, how to parent their kid, if they should go on a special diet, if they thought certain diseases were real, how to spend their money, mental health issues, marriage problems, abuse problems, and on and on. They wouldn’t look outside the church for help because to do so was frowned upon. The Pastor was seen as the guy with the answers.

frida-bredesen-317281-unsplashTo go against the pastor is to go against Jesus himself. And to go against the pastor is to be treated as the enemy of the church. I recently read a comment about people who write posts such as this one and they said that anything that is divisive is of the devil. If that’s the case, then so is Martin Luther, Galileo, or in modern day, Rachel Denhollander.

Are Christians really demons? Are they really filled with Christ or with the power of Satan? It’s as if they can’t search the Bible, if that’s what they claim to believe, and realize that most of what they say and do is not even in the Bible! The term “Pastor” is only used once and the term “shepherd” is not defined by ruling over a group of people and having their unquestionable loyalty. I appreciated this video by Servus Christi:

Most churches are run by marketing and business efforts. Pastors go to seminary to be a tool of change in the hands of God, but money corrupts the best of us. And so does power. I don’t believe that Jesus really wanted his church to be defined by the love of money (which is the root of all kinds of evil) or by commending ourselves with titles and status. If you read scripture, you will notice how Christ sees those who are outside of prestige and popularity as the ones who will inherit the kingdom, not the proud and boastful who flaunt their professions and call themselves “Pastor, PHD”.

Of course, I’m being a little cheeky when I say that they are demons. I know most Christians are not. But I wonder about their reactions. It’s this put-up-your-dukes-and-lets-fight attitude. It’s accusations and name calling and assumptions about salvation and hell. To argue against a pastor or a church’s ideology is to be shunned and treated as Satan himself. It makes me wonder if these people are truly of Christ, or of the devil himself. Because to love Christ is to be patient, kind, and respectful. What I see is a bunch of rude, prideful people who claim they are defending the faith but really are defending their choices. To question those choices is to place doubt into their minds about the very thing they believe and put their hope in–their church and pastors. It has replaced their need for Christ, although they falsely assume they are still loving and serving Him by going to church and defending their beliefs to the death.

Of course, most Christians won’t want to hear a thing I have to say. Steven Hassan, an expert on mind control, uses the term BITE to describe how people can be sucked into cults (including pastor worship and church worship). Cults seek to manipulate our Behaviour, the Information we access, our Thoughts and Emotions. You can see a bigger version of these images here.

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Most times, it’s not this obvious or in your face. Sometimes it’s subtle and elusive, but when you step back, you can see exactly what it was. Some churches are cults by definition. Some are toxic. Some are “cultish” and exhibit some of these behaviors, but not all. In any case, why would anyone want to be associated with such things? Even if you only exhibit one thing in this entire list, it’s too much.

It’s why I can honestly say the church is evil. And I won’t be running back to the same place I escaped from. While my relationship with God still hangs in the balance, the church won’t be the place where I find him again. The church did so much damage to my thinking, my emotions, my sense of self that I can not imagine what my life would be like if I had stayed and kept enduring their lies and control.

It might look ugly right now where I’m at, but it’s my ugly. I’m free to think, be, and make my own choices which aren’t influenced by some dude with a suit and a narcissistic personality disorder. I’m not sure why Christians call themselves “free” or claim they have “freedom in Christ” when they are so wrapped up into their churches and what their leaders or pastors have deemed important. So many Christians lives consist of serving in the church, giving all their extra income to the church, and attending church. They can’t imagine life outside the walls of their church!

There is life and joy outside the walls, the people, and the events in a church building. I’m learning to enjoy the real world and each person I encounter. There is no line of who I can talk to or not talk to, where I can go and can’t go, or what opportunities I can join or not join. My calendar is not booked up with church events and my mind if not bogged down with guilt, shame, and sorrow from being manipulated by the teachings of the church.

If the Bible is lovely and pure and holy, I sure never found it in the church.

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Obsessing

The last few weeks, I noticed I had been obsessively thinking about harsh words said to me. This led to various other words said to me over the past 10 years. Since it was done by two different family members recently, my mind decided to pull up instances from other siblings and nieces and nephews as if to prove their case: I was the most unlovable human on the planet.

The thing is my family has no feelings about murdering me with words. As long as they get the final say…who cares if they break me. I thought about what would happen if I wasn’t here. Would they feel any guilt about how they demean and devalue my existence with their words? I concluded they are incapable.

I realized today that I’m still obsessing about it but can’t seem to stop. Why do so many people seem to just hate me? I thought about how I avoid a lot of things now. I don’t attend family events for obvious reasons. I don’t try new experiences. I stay close to home.

On top of it, I avoid expressing myself to most people these days. All of this started because I expressed myself after my mom died and told my siblings off. They were trying to steal money, fighting over clothing and photos, and I raised my voice and told them how rude they all were. Then after that, the insults of my mental health started. I was bipolar, didn’t take responsibility, and I should’ve known better.

So when I got invited to a wedding and didn’t go, because I was still avoiding my family and didn’t want to be ridiculed, I was insulted anyway. I was rude, insensitive, a jerk.

My older sister called me unloving and told me I needed to forgive myself. My other sister said I was unforgiving and bitter.

There’s a bunch of other crap that was said, but my main solution has been to avoid and block my family from accessing me or my kids. I ignore invites. I don’t leave my familiar places.

Each time people chose to insult me or my character, I get so hurt, I can’t handle them or thinking about them anymore so I cut all ties and try to forget them.

I don’t feel like this solution is all bad. My family is not healthy. They are extremely toxic. But where I find myself in life is not so great. I avoid and isolate myself. If I get triggered, I shut down and can’t function the rest of the day. And I obsess about what they say. Most recently, I’m a bitch, I hate everything, I’m a miserable person, and I ruin everything. Whether true or not, I feel the weight of the accusations.

When I was in counseling with my husband this past week, it followed me there. This unlovable person causing more problems, ruining everything, and being a bitch. My husband gave the impression he had to walk on eggshells around me because he has his own issues with emotions… That is, they make him uncomfortable. I’m emotional but I feel wrong for feeling. Or so I’ve been told numerous times over the years.

The counselor got it. He saw how I felt like the problem but reminded me that I was healthy for expressing emotion. He joked how my husband is probably the ticking time bomb because he tries to keep it all together.

Even his pep talk didn’t help. I still am obsessing over things. Still. And I hate it. I guess I didn’t realize how much I obsessed about it until this week. And I also didn’t realize my habitual reaction was to avoid and isolate.

Besides my recent family issues, I think the hurt stems even further for me. Growing up, I was physically and emotionally abused. My older brother terrorized me a few different times, chasing me with knives and trying to set our house on fire with us still in it. No wonder no one in our family can function as adults. I don’t think I dealt with it really.

I always thought that I had. I could do adult things and be normal, but I’m realizing how much anxiety I have as an adult. Most of it is a fear of being mistreated. I’m terrified of being rejected by new people. I always seem to be waiting for the ball to drop. I struggle to look people in the eyes when I talk, I feel like my thoughts and ideas don’t matter, and I second guess my decisions constantly. My husband says I have a low self esteem. I often don’t feel comfortable in my own skin unless I’m in my house away from people who will most likely hurt me.

Honestly, I’m a paranoid weirdo who realizes I don’t like being this way. This obsessive stuff is driving me crazy. I am seeing a therapist in a few weeks and if she can’t help me, I will switch to someone who can.

I guess I’m a bit sad too. I wish I had realized sooner what I was doing to myself. Plus thinking through all of this is hard too. Knowing that I have these big fears and my solution is to hide makes me feel regretful. What would my life had been like if I had been free to express the real me?

God, I just don’t know

My stance on God these days is, I just don’t know. He might care about me. He might not. The Bible might be true. It might be a giant lie. God might be doing something but he also might not be doing a damn thing. I just have no confidence to swing either way. I’m not done with God nor am I a believer, at least not a wholehearted one with no doubts. I’m not ready to say he doesn’t care or doesn’t exist, but to the level he is in my life, that’s up for a ton of debate. I clearly have not decided what to believe.

My entire life has hinged on this God thing. When I was growing up, I was not lovable enough unless I was doing things for God. I needed faith and a sinless life. I never really read the Bible but the church we attended pushed this “works based religion” and I believed it. I was young and brainwashed and grew up pretty angry at God.

Then I found myself in my late 20’s still trying out this God thing. I couldn’t just walk away. So I sat in churches of a different kind that told me that God loved me no matter what. That he paid for my sins. That I only needed to believe. So I read the verses and thought I knew exactly what they meant.

Later, I attended a church that took this a step further and claimed I couldn’t even take credit for my belief. God had elected me to believe and no one could snatch me from him. But I was to be so thankful and grateful that I’d only ever want to love him and serve him. So for years, I felt guilt that I couldn’t love God. It wasn’t that I didn’t try but that my love felt forced. It was an obligation. A duty.

So we switched churches and I was told more of the same but this time, I sobbed in the pastors office. “If God created me, why am I supposed to be different? Why didn’t he just make me how he wanted to begin with?” I still felt as if who I was would never be enough.

I heard stories of changed hearts, growing in grace, loving people who were abusive and cruel because “that’s what Jesus would do. ” I knew people who adopted children, took in criminals, and didn’t press charges when stabbed by a criminal. This was how a Christian lived. Do not take revenge. Give up your dreams and be an orphanage. Or go on mission trips and start up a church. I wanted to do none of it. It all made me cringe. It just wasn’t something I felt born to do. But there was guilt associated with this because the vast majority of church people felt called. Why didn’t I?

I’ve always been a bit of a lone ranger, a person who questions the culture and societal norms. I’ve never been much of a follower. This has put me in positions where I’ve been shamed for not going with the flow. I’ve been told I need to be more humble, to love more, to try to have grace for others, and to fit in. But I don’t want to. So then I am treated like I am an evil hearted person. More shame.

I wish life was simple. If God was real, he makes himself utterly elusive and distant and only some have managed to hear from him, or so goes their stories. It seems a hard thing to swallow. Just read the Bible… Everything I need to know is in there. A bunch of verses that have been disputed over the ages. But I’m supposed to figure it out? And honestly, couldn’t have God made the text a little more clear? If he knew thousands or millions of people would rely on it for ages to trust in Him, why make it so difficult and a source of conflict? Didn’t he see that coming?

Let’s not forget how women are treated…nothing more than sex slaves and property. But within the pages is a story of God’s love for me. Why can’t I see it then?

And his people are reflections of him but they are horrible. Some use Christianity to hide evils. Abuse is rampant. Power trips are seen in every church you attend. Mixed in with the good stuff is a whole lot of brainwashing… Everything from sexual and spiritual abuse to theft to hiding criminal activity from the authorities. Yet this is who Christ called to represent him? It’s embarrassing.

I want to believe there’s a power that loves me. I want to believe my life doesn’t just end and that it matters what I do today for eternity. But I’m struggling to know it. To feel it deep in my bones. To live it and breath it. Maybe it’s because it’s just not true. Or maybe it’s because I’m not one of His. Or maybe the answer lies somewhere I haven’t seen yet.

If I just believe just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Goodbye Family

I don’t have much family. Most of my holidays are spent with my in-laws. It’s a lot different than how I grew up…spending time with a family of 8 kids. Now my family is basically non-existent. That is, except for my triplet sister.

I’d like to say we are best friends but we aren’t. There’s always the facade of us being close. Maybe it’s intentions. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. I guess at this point I’m tired of trying to make the relationship into something it isn’t and never will be.

I guess I hold out hope and have done so for years despite being made to feel unimportant, ignored, or belittled for expressing disappointment.

When I was 25, she got married. I was 9 months pregnant with my second child. She decided not to include any family in her wedding and planned her Disney wedding which I only saw photos of after the fact. It saddened me that I was not included. Her husband’s brother & family attended. I tried not to feel upset about it, but it hurt.

She ended up divorcing that guy which was fine by me because while she was married to him, I was the evil sister who he determined was not worth talking to. She and I rarely got along. And when we disagreed, her husband encouraged my sister to think the worst of me. I always had some evil agenda or was planning something corrupt. This from a guy who habitually lied on his taxes, made my sister support him while he collected unemployment (never looking real hard for a job), and expected by sister to do his online school work for college. When my sister miscarried her baby, he told her that the baby probably wasn’t his anyway. And then she left him.

So when my sister got engaged again, years had gone by and we’d had our ups and downs, but we mostly stayed amicable. Except when we didn’t. Then she’d accuse me of being judgmental (for not going to a family function with toxic people) or said I was bitter (for staying away) or gave me guilt trips about how I had cut off family and how unloving that was. But somehow we’d work it out and I’d forget all the mean things she said. And so she asked me to be her bridesmaid and I said yes.

But, then it began. Her new fiance dictating all the plans. She wanted his daughters in the wedding on her side so none of my daughters would be in the wedding. In fact, the only family or friend she chose was me. I commented that it was traditional to have her friends and family, not her husband-to-be’s family. But I decided not to push it. It’s her wedding.

She asked to have the wedding in my yard. I said ok. But then her new man said no. So then they decided to have the wedding 1.5 hours a way in a wooded, tick infested area by the lake. She told me to pick a dress I liked. Seemed like she didn’t even care what I wore. She told me all the people who were helping.

This pissed me off for various reasons but mostly because I had offered to help a bunch of times and she apparently didn’t want my help. She blamed it on me being too busy (which if asked, was not an issue). I was also upset because the location was where her fiance and their family could stay in cabins since they owned the cabins. I would have to rent a hotel. And it was a drive for me and with our medical bills, I wasn’t able to afford that. Plus hello. Ticks anyone? Am I gonna wear a bridesmaid dress and cover myself in DEET? Ugh, the stupidity.

When I told her I couldn’t afford it, she said I didn’t need to stay. I could just drive home. So again, I was nothing more than a guest. She didn’t care if I was apart of her day or not. As long as she got what she wanted.

After this and a bunch of other passive aggressive comments she made toward me previously (saying I didn’t support her), I snapped. I told her she was an opportunist. Then I bowed out of her wedding, although she didn’t seem to care. Just said “ok”. I told her that was hurtful and she replied “omg” because apparently I’m just so irrational with having feelings.

Then today, after giving me the silent treatment, I told her it was dysfunctional to avoid & ignore conflict. She responded that I insulted her. Then told me that everyone thinks I’m a dick for how I’m acting. This told me all I needed to know. She ignores the situation with me and decided to rally up the team to bitch about me. And they all think I’m wrong, based on her narrative I suppose. I’m sure she made a point to mention her failings in the argument.

Needless to say, I don’t know if I’m the toxic party here but all will be well with her and I going forward as long as we are not in each other’s life. I’ve dealt with this shit for years and today I’m done. I’m done having my name run through the mud and her telling one sided half true stories. I’m done being punished for saying I’m hurt. I’m done being an after thought. I’m done with the silent treatment and conflict avoidance. They can all have each other.

My entire family is a toxic bunch with gossips and shit stirrers and emotional abusers. The question now remains if I am also toxic and how can I get as far away from them as possible. I know I’m not completely toxic because to ask that questions shows a sign of empathy. I don’t think any of them know what that is. They are self absorbed users who get mad when you don’t think the world of them and so insecure, they punish you for pointing it out.

I thought my sister was different but I guess I was wrong. It was a lie I believed probably to hold on to the fact that I have no one left from my family of birth. I have only me. And I hate that because it feels like I’m the common problem. Maybe I’m the toxic one and they are all great people. I can’t seem to say that with a straight face.

All I know is that I sat here today wanting to die, being reminded not just of this betrayal but the thousands like it from her and my other siblings. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of being gossipped about. I’m tired of being excluded and punished. Maybe I am a drama queen or I over reacted or I make things about me. Maybe. Or maybe I am still trying to bounce back from a lifetime of pain and it’s hard to not be triggered by another knife in my back.

Defense of negative feelings

The other day, my husband told me i was abusive. It took me back because although my anger can get the best of me, I’ve never been told that before.

The comment came about after I had told him I was angry that he kept something from me. Lying by omission is still lying. And he seems the master of hiding all kinds of things from me, even rather unimportant things. So in an effort of telling him how I feel, he insisted he didn’t tell me because it involved my daughter and that he shouldn’t have to endure my abuse.

Abuse.

That’s a heavy handed word. I know what abuse is because I’ve endured it. To be fair, he later apologized and said that was the wrong word to use. He doesn’t care for conflict or negative feelings. So when he hears me get upset, he assumes it’s terrible. And then his reaction causes more anger for me.

So I wondered if maybe I was abusive.

To top it off, my kids all said they didn’t want to tell me about this incident (everyone but me knew) because I’d get mad.

So the question became am I a hot headed, volatile bitch?

Or

Are they afraid of feelings and conflict?

Well I never thought my kids were afraid of me. I’ve always prided myself on having a good relationship with them. So when they said that, I was hurt. I further questioned them and asked if I made them afraid or I was cruel or mean and they all said, “I just don’t like when I make you mad.”

I’m not saying I don’t have anger issues but it’s bull crap that I’m abusive. Maybe I act like a crazy when I’m mad because someone is a Hector projector and likes to gas light instead of deal with hard things. That’s not my problem.

Life is often riddled with conflict. Choosing to avoid it by telling me I’m abusive so I can’t express emotion is, in and of itself, abusive. I feel at times like I’m losing my damn mind.

I called my husband an asshole at one point during this debate so he said that was proof I was being abusive. I reminded him he WAS being an asshole, so not exactly proof.

It’s frustrating to try to communicate a negative feeling and then to be told you are the problem. I wonder if there’s any chance for change. Seems like I’m often defending my feelings. And I’m tired of it.

My Me Too

When I was a little girl, probably around age 8 or 9, I was playing in my yard. The neighbor boy was outside, putting up a tent. He was my older brother’s friend who was around the age of 18 or 19.  I was a curious little kid. I saw him putting up the tent and even though I was shy, I had talked with him before. His family had lived next to us for years. I have strange flash backs being in their small house, but I can’t really recall why. I remember the older couple that lived upstairs in the mother-in-law apartment that was attached. I spent hours over there, probably chatting their ears off or asking questions that annoyed them. My mom didn’t seem to mind me being gone. She seemed to trust them with her kids, or maybe was blissfully unaware.

So I crossed the sidewalk from our house and stepped into their front yard. Dennis, as this was his name, looked at me and continued putting up the tent. The conversation was small talk really. I asked why he needed a tent and he told me so he could sleep under the stars with a girl, or something like that. I thought that was weird. I really don’t remember the conversation or how it turned into what it did, but I do remember that he wanted to “show me” what he would be doing. And so then he decided to french kiss me. I honestly don’t remember if I ran away or sat there stunned. It wasn’t until years later that I actually remembered the incident, telling my sister and niece when I was a teenager and they laughed about it.

When I was about 18 years old, I saw him again. My brother had died and my family had a gathering at their house a few months later. Dennis showed up. He was now in his late 20’s or so. He kept saying how I had grown up and kept staring at me. I felt uncomfortable and left to go talk to someone else. I never saw him again. I don’t care to.

I see stories on Twitter of girls who have been raped or assaulted. Hollywood is full of these creeps. Churches even have been called out about their cover-ups of abuse. It seems silly to talk about a neighbor boy who “only” kissed me. I don’t feel traumatized by the event, but I have felt uncomfortable around men all my life.

When the #metoo threads came out, I felt drawn to the stories. I kept reading them and was appalled by the pain in the victims voices. I felt sad for all they had lost–their dignity, their respect, jobs, and the like. My story isn’t even close to theirs.

Maybe it’s because I was a child. I didn’t have a job or family to lose. I didn’t need to be threatened because I kept silent about it for 10 years until I told a few people and their reaction caused me to continue in my silence. Even now, I find it hard to write this and not feel it is something that should be told.

Yesterday my daughter told me that a boy in her homeschool co-op was hounding her to send foot video to him. He requested it be 45 seconds long and that she rub her foot on something. He admitted to having a foot fettish. She’s a smart girl and told him no. She eventually blocked him on all her social profiles. My response was swear words and anger. You just don’t expect this in a Christian homeschool co-op, but apparently evil is everywhere. It’s at this point that I find myself wondering if I should rock the boat & say something or walk away and let the dude continue to be a pervert. For my daughter’s part, he’s been blocked from her on all social media, but he still sees my daughter on Monday’s in her writing class. This makes me sad. Should she go an entire 1/2 year dealing with his creepy stares and knowing what she knows?

She doesn’t like conflict and doesn’t want attention drawn to herself either. How do I respect her wishes yet still show her that silence isn’t the answer? It’s taken me a long time to process that too. What actions are worth raising hell over? Which ones aren’t? Is there a line? I just don’t know.

Looking back, I wish I would’ve ran and told someone about what happened to me. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered at all. I don’t know enough to say I would’ve prevented other situations from the likes of Dennis. I have no idea where he ended up or what he’s done or if he’s even alive. But it wouldn’t have been hard for people to believe me.

In other situations, like my daughter’s, I hesitate to speak up because I know that prize Christian kids will be believed over depressed teenage girls. She could be told she participated so she was wrong (which she didn’t) or she may be shamed or questioned about her part or even about her honesty. And I’m just hesitant to go there.

I wish these things were easy, but it often ends up in “he said” / “she said” and the woman is left defending herself again and again to people who don’t believe her. I am struggling to do the right thing in this scenario–and in so many other scenarios when I’ve had to deal with male bullies and not being believed. It’s like my last church experience all over again. Will I be listened to this time?

Being Katniss in a President Snow World

I have watched the Hunger Games like a zillion times now. I’ve not read the books. It’s on my to-do list for when my kids are gone and I have nothing better to do. But the movies I’ve watched and have found a little bit of a correlation to myself trying to live as a Christian.

Katniss, The Protagonist

Katniss is the protagonist in the story. After her father dies in a mining accident, Katniss becomes a mother-like figure to her sister, although her mother is still alive. She hunts for food and is a natural with a bow and arrow. When her sister, Prim, is chosen as a “tribute” for their District, Katniss takes her place, saving Prim from a certain death in what is known as “the Hunger Games”.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is where children from each district are chosen to fight each other and only one is supposed to survive. That survivor wins the hunger games. Katniss and another character, Peeta, embarass President Snow by joining forces and through a series of events too long to explain, force him to let the two of them be the winners of the games instead of just one. Throughout the movie, Katniss is defying the rules, breaking down control, and basically pissing off the leaders. She isn’t simply a rebellious person, but one who can’t conform to what she views as evil. And evil it is. When she is told to get in line, she never does. She has her own sense of what is wrong with the world and she feels its her duty to right that wrong. She doesn’t care what everyone else is doing. Instead, she can only see the world in which she is living as becoming more and more terrible, and instead of just going with it, she fights against it.

President Snow, The Antagonist

President Snow is the antagonist of the story. He’s the ruler of the Capitol and all of Panem. In the movie, he emotionally terrorizes Katniss. One of his signature moves was leaving behind a rose so she knew he had been there. He’s basically a psychopath but is so laid back and relaxed, he comes off as a huge creep. He wants to kill Katniss, but because she is so popular and well-liked, he instead threatens the people she loves. He is an oppressive dictator who is power hungry and will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. He seems to target Katniss because she refuses to obey the rules and she causes a following that also starts to think for themselves.

The Church Today

Today’s Christians often remind me of President Snow. I’m referring mostly to the ones who use shame, abuse, manipulation, and control to get their point across. The ones who victim blame and do little to try to understand those of us who’ve left the church. We are just simply tired of dealing with evil. It’s not that we are hurt and have to go coddle our feelings. It’s that we are tired of the games. We are tired of the roses you leave behind when we know the message behind that rose. They might not threaten us physically (although some can), but they threaten our spiritual walks when they spread lies about if God can really keep us since we left the church.

The President Snow types are the ones that seem bent on making anyone not in the church feel bad about their relationship with God. They assume that because we have left, we don’t love God and we can’t fellowship. They can only define “the church” one way and any argument in another direction brings them to conclude that we are lost and we never were saved to begin with, which is another shaming tactic to make us doubt our faith. Good thing I don’t put my faith in other people or what they say. I believe Christ has saved me and nothing, NOTHING, can separate me from Him. Not even manipulative church members and their abusive words.

Fixing a Broken System

How does one fix such a broken system? Can it be fixed? I’m reminded that Katniss didn’t try to fix the system. She fought against it. She merged with others who were on her side (and some she later learned weren’t, but that’s besides the point) and fought with all her might to take it down. There was no fixing of something so corrupt. You tear it down and start over, but not with the same rules, ideas, and thinking in place. You must rid a “society” of such things if it is to prosper. But people in the institutional church would rather guilt and shame a person for leaving because we are “tearing down the church” and “creating discord” by leaving. It’s our fault the church is dividing, causing in-fighting, and has corrupt rulers.

The Sacrifice for Truth

Katniss lost friends and loved ones in the process. In the same way, I lost people I thought were my friends. I lost relationships and my reputation, to some degree. I’m still fighting for truth. If the church is a place of love, why does it shun people when they leave? Why does it label them (incorrectly) as heathens and chalk it all up to “hurt feelings” or “you were never a Christian to begin with”? Why does it silence the hurting? Why does it use shame to make those of us who’ve chosen a different path to try to get us to see the “error of our ways”? The only error I see is inside the walls of the church where this manipulation and shaming is bred. The church system is good at rewiring a person’s brain to see anyone outside as evil and everyone inside as good. But the truth is, it’s the exact opposite! The evil exists behind well clothed pastors and their cronies who ooze nice sounding theological arguments and words, but their hearts are intent on control and conformity. That’s why every single church person who has decided I’m a heathen has said the same exact crap — it’s all regurgitated BS that’s been passed down from the pulpit to the sheeple. They can’t think for themselves and don’t want to.

Maybe it’s too hard to see anything different when you are inundated with brain washing tactics inside the church walls. It’s too hard for you to think that one can possibly live “in Christ alone, by faith alone” or that we could even be saved if we don’t submit to a pastor figure with a seminary degree. I think the only way one would see the truth is to spend some time actually reading the Bible for themselves, trying to understand God for themselves, without any man telling them how to think. Then, go speak to people who have left and see for yourself if we actually are a bunch of heathens all deceiving everyone and sending them to hell. And when you’ve walked alongside those people, then you can come back and tell me if they are hell-bound and disobeying scripture or not. But I’m afraid you will not even try because you are much too busy sitting on your high horse to come down and see what really is going on. It’s easier to sit on that horse and judge. And yet you think we should come back and ride on that horse with you. No thanks. I really have no interest in being with people who victim blame and shame in the name of Christ. I don’t want to drink from a poisoned spring.

My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. The Capitol hates me.

John 15:

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

In the future, I’ll write a more in-depth post based on the arguments that people have against not being in the institutional church, but for now, I thought the Hunger games comparison was something to think about. Here are some posts to check out about the institutional church and it’s evils.

What is the Danger of the Church System – Bryn Jones

Christianity and the Spiral of Silence – Jayson Bradley

10 Ways to Spot Spiritual Abuse – Mary Demuth