Monday, August 11, 2008

The time has come...

Many of you know my resistance to Christianity and some of you may know that I consider myself 'reformed' or 'evolved' from Christianity. What none of you know is the how and why I turned away from my church and Christianity in general. I became a born again Christian in April 1982. I was baptized in 1986 along with joining the choir of the local American Baptist church. My husband (now ex) came occasionally but I attended regularly along with taking my two children. I also went to an intense women's bible study called Bible Study Fellowship each week during the school year. At the time there were five parts to the whole series and you studied one part a year. Luckily for me we were on John the first year I started. It was wonderful. I learned a lot and I was happy. I had lots of friends. Then my husband and I bought our second house and moved 40 miles away closer to his work. I really didn't go to any church for awhile - I was working part time and trying to get acclimated. After a rough year in my marriage, a miscarriage and then a hysterectomy I decided that I wanted to foster a baby and this was when I was very much in touch with God, reading my bible and doing a lot of praying. We also started visiting some churches in town.
Finally I found what I felt was the perfect fit for us. It was our kind of church. It was hyped as the church for the average Joe and Jill. We started going in their very first month so everything was new as far as the people and general program. We met in a local Jr High school. I loved it - I loved how friendly people were, I loved how there were so many things for me to do, I loved how we would all grow together. I found a home and friends fast at this church. I was lucky enough to make a really good friend in one woman in particular - her name was Tammy and she had such a spirit of God around her - I honestly never in a million years felt that I could be as Godly. But we were fast friends. And our husbands became great friends too. We were in the 'IN' crowd at the church. We did a lot of the work and we socialized a lot with the core group. Tammy and her husband adopted two babies before I had gotten Christina so I really looked to her for guidance.

So fast forward a few years - the church was in the process of acquiring land and a building fund for our new wonderful church. I was heavily involved in the fund raising aspect of this and I was starting to have a few little twinges. I also was very involved with the women's group and bible studies - even leading one at my home and I was a part of a small group of prayer warriors with the pastor's wife. Mostly it was all good. Tammy and I were super close - we talked daily and had a lot of fun together. She and Pastor Bill were very close and she ended up doing some secretarial work for him at the church. Pastor Bill and her husband played golf together and were buddies. Everyone loved Pastor Bill - he was very charismatic. We loved our leader.

I started noticing that Bill would be at Tammy's house during the day but I really thought nothing of it because they were good friends and both very Godly. Eventually Tammy and her husband pursued their dream of buying land and a house out in the country. We would go out and visit and go swimming. Still having lots of fun. Later I started work as a Real Estate Agent and could no longer go to church on Sundays as I worked New Homes and worked weekends. Then we moved to a smaller town and left the church all together. I was starting to get sick with my RA and taking a lot of pain pills, my marriage was very stressed as my husband worked a lot of crazy hours and finally I ended up going on disability and really crashing and burning. We split up and I went to rehab. Thank god Tammy was there for me to take care of my kids. Soon after that she confided in me about how she and Pastor Bill had had a sexual relationship. She had recently told her husband and was now coming out and telling others. She needed to heal and this was the way. It lead to an investigation by the Host church - the American Baptist supported our church in a lot of ways. What happened from there was even more astonishing and painful. He denied it ever happened and she was basically scorned by many of the members of this church that we were all good friends with. I supported Tammy 100 percent - I knew enough to realize that she was a victim not a perpetrator. He took complete advantage of her - he counseled she and her husband on their marriage problems all the while telling Tammy that there was nothing sinful about their 'love' . Ugh, I tell you it was sickening. The investigation revealed that he had also been accused of this same thing several times and denied it and moved each time. This time he had a large following in the church although it did split the congregation. He continued to deny and left Tammy out to dry. I was the best friend I could possibly be. I defended her to our mutual friends - I would have walked through fire for her. She still maintained her faith and found a new church in which to heal.

After all that happened my ex and I did split up for good (nothing to do with the church) - he was seriously addicted to porn and I felt he was not going to change and I had to change in order to live so I was out. I was down, really down and I received a letter from my friend Tammy - in it she said she could not support me in my decision to divorce my husband and how it was a sin. She just could not condone it by supporting me or even really being my friend. I was devastated.

I know that this has nothing to do with my own personal relationship with a Higher Power but it was very difficult for me to separate that for awhile. In order for me to be happy, healthy and sober I had to have a relationship with a Higher Power. So I have been seeking for the past 9 years and I feel that I am in a really good place now. Through my seeking I have learned a great deal about who I am and what I believe. I didn't reject Christianity for myself based solely on the experience with my former church and pastor but in my search as well. So there you have it. I am so sorry this was so long but I felt things had to be said in order for the whole story to be told. I haven't spoken with Tammy in many years and I do think of her and wish her the best.

8 comments:

HomeSlice said...

wow linda - i only knew bits and pieces. thanks so much for sharing your story. maybe one day i'll screw up my courage and do the same.

Lisa said...

Wow! That's a lot to have happened to you in such a short time. I can't believe someone wouldn't support you with all that you went through for them. I'm sorry this all happened.

KJ said...

Oh wow Linda. I knew quite a bit of us from our talks, but to see it all laid out is just heart breaking. You were the friend you needed to be...I'm sorry that she couldn't do the same for you. That is just terribly sad. I'm so glad you continue to see a place where you can explore your spirituality..I know that's important to you!

KentuckyGal said...

One of my favorite lines from the movie "Gandhi" is where he's talking about a religious service from his youth and says that the person read back and forth from the Quran and the Hindu text (sorry, can't spell that one off the top of my head) like it didn't matter which book was being read, so long as it was God that was being worshipped.

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

Wow, Linda... I can't imagine how hard that must have been for you. I agree with Kristin and Luann (and everyone else)... You were the friend you needed to be -- you were true to yourself and that is what is important. Too bad she was so shortsighted she could not see the wonderful friend she gave up.

I agree with Luann/Ghandi too... Finding peace in your spiritual journey is so important. Faith is a deeply personal thing and differs from person to person.

I hope you find what you're looking for.

Alicia said...

It's things like this that led me away from the church as well. Not my faith, but the idea of organized religion. Sadly, hypocrisy is abundant in the majority of Christian religions. I'm so sorry you had to witness and live it first-hand.

I commend you for searching out something more, though. I haven't really been able to do that.

Lweeks said...

Yeah, I like that Ghandi line.

Sara said...

What a horrible experience for an amazing friend. I only met you once, but I felt something in you immediately. Can't describe it really. One doesn't need religion to have faith. One doesn't need false friends either. I am sad for your journey, but glad for where you've ended up.