My favorite aspect of blogging is the interaction that I get to have with readers. Someone recently asked me how I can find the time to respond to comments left on the blog, or personal emails that I receive. The real question is this… how could I not have the time to respond?
The truth is, I highly value each person who decides to leave a comment or send me a private message. The fact that a person would take the time out of their day to read what I have written & respond in some fashion always humbles me. Even if I’m not always able to respond, I am grateful for each person behind each comment. This is also true regarding the readers who are angry with me, or who disagree with me.
Some people keep their valuables in a safe. My ‘safe’ is my email inbox. Some of my most treasured possessions are emails, and other private messages, sent to me by readers & friends. Whenever a person decides to open up and share some of their heart or story with me, I treasure that.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a difficult blog that I was dreading to post. Nevertheless, I was compelled to write it. If you have not yet read that post, please read it before you continue reading the rest of this article. Here is the link:
Some of the responses that I received from that blog were quite incredible. I received an email response from a reader that blessed me immensely. This person wished to remain anonymous, yet gave me permission to share some of their story with you here today. It is a beautiful story of healing and rescue. Please take a couple of minutes and read this powerful testimony:
“…my mother began taking me to church at about a year old. When I was about 11 years old, I began to see things that really bothered me. The first thing that I remember, is being at my cousin’s home, and seeing someone walking up to the door. I asked my cousin who it was, and she shared with me that her pastors were coming over for lunch. I stared at her in shock, and exclaimed, “They are allowed to do that?!!” I had never heard of such a thing. It made me wonder why I knew nothing about my pastor. Then only weeks later, I was leaving our church and our pastor was standing by the door shaking people’s hands as they were leaving. He shook my hand and I was totally stunned. I walked out of that building feeling as though I had just touched a celebrity.
The strange thing about that feeling, was that all day long that didn’t sit well with me. Questions rose up in me. Why don’t I know my pastor? Does he know my mother? Why, after this many years of going to his church, do I feel like my pastor is to be treated like a celebrity? Why do people think he is so much holier than the rest of us?
Crazy enough, I continued going to this same church and growing more and more uncomfortable. Years went by and questions kept rising. I began to feel like there was something wrong with me, like I was a heathen or didn’t actually love God. And I thought God had to be mad at me for having these thoughts and feelings. I thought things like, “If we are truly worshiping God… Why do they have to practice worship before we worship?” and “If these people all love each other, why do only the same people sit in the same places and never talk to anyone around them?” and, “Do I really have to go to this place? I just don’t like it here.” I felt such turmoil within me, questioning my love for others and my love for God. And oh, the guilt! This led to some very rough teen years, details you’d probably rather not have to read.
I went to that church even after I got married, at the ripe old age of 18. My husband was a worship leader. He went to worship practice, and all the while I secretly thought it was all really stupid. After having a child, I began feeling very protective of my daughter when I would hear the worship music over the loud speakers. The music just felt so blasphemous. There were even times that I took my daughter out of the room because I didn’t want her to hear the words. But Still, I continued to check myself. What’s wrong with me? Why am I so judgmental and hateful? Can’t I just be ok with all of this and move forward?
Fast Forward a few years, and two more children. My husband began feeling similar things that I did regarding the church. And I felt more guilt. “Oh no, I’m rubbing off on him. I’m turning this wonderful innocent man into a sinner and a heathen like me. I’m no good for him.” More guilt and shame.
After about a year of my husband’s questioning and struggle with the church, we finally left. More guilt, for sure. And the pain increased.
For the first year being out of the church we just sort of sat back in wonder. What next God? What’s going on? Do you have an answer for all of this, because we certainly have no peace going back to that place.”
But this is where it got weirder. I was always in good health as a young woman…
Jamal, you said that some people can become physically ill being stuck in these institutions/churches. But my experience was different. I honestly believe that I just royally ticked Satan off. I believe he didn’t want me to learn and just wanted to wipe me out. As my husband and I started opening (organic church) books, things started to happen. Bad things.
I had a horrific miscarriage of our 4th child at about 20 weeks along. I was hospitalized and then hemorrhaged for 2 months following. I felt like I was dying. My hormones were not the same after that, and health issue after health issue kept coming up. I had a near-death experience that was only saved by us being in the right place at the right time, a total God thing I’m sure. Things did not look good for me, and my marriage and children suffered for it.
I was so full of fear and anxiety and my problems just kept increasing. I went to a few doctors and later a holistic doctor who actually did help me some. However, there were also things that couldn’t be explained. Tests and scans came back normal but things worsened. I kept questioning and feeling guilty, like “Oh no, I’m being punished because I don’t go to church!”
My husband and I have been 4 years out of the church now. This last year was phenomenal in areas of growth and learning. My husband went to an organic church meeting and finally things started to come together. We were told that if we wanted to be involved in something like an organic church we would need to move. Miraculously in the last year 4 families within 5-8 miles of each other are now all gathering and growing in community, and it’s beautiful. But the cool and amazing thing is this, last year my health has begun to improve in ways that just weren’t happening before. We have pursued God in ways we just never did before, and WOW, I finally KNOW that I love him! And He loves me! I am no longer afraid of making God angry, or not being good enough for him. Years and years of those fears, finally lifted!
This year has felt like a year of ‘coming back from the dead.’ I still deal with some health related issues, but at every turn God has shown me what to do. And it’s just me and Him. I am at peace, and have put my health completely in His hands. No longer by the help of doctors, but by His help and guidance alone. He has provided for me in every instance and as the months go by, I continue to improve. I am able to work out again, with only some minor dizziness. I have not worked out or been able to run in more than 3 years. I feel so blessed!
I am so amazed, and yet sometimes still confused when I look back at these past several years. All I feel that I can gather from this, is that when I was stuck in the church, satan was content. But when I, the girl who questioned everything while she was practically still a baby, stepped out boldly and said “Enough”, Satan got angry. He knows I’m up to something and he doesn’t like it.
Perhaps that is not the reason at all, like I say, I can’t know everything or why all this has happened. But it amazes me that, I now am beginning to know the True Christ, and in knowing Him, I am gaining more peace and security in him and my health is improving. I have no doubt that with God’s help, I will be freed of all these issues and will live in Joy and Peace with my family for many years to come.
Some people feel free the moment they step out of the church (institution). For me, things got worse before they got better. But oh, how much I have learned!! God is so Good!” -anonymous reader-
In the months and years ahead, I’m confident these kinds of testimonies will increase more and more.
The future is truly bright,