I find myself in a curious situation of late. The situation will likely not make sense to those who don’t really know our story. The story, as it were, is long and drawn out so I will offer you the 25 cent version.
Basically, we moved to Minnesota for a job in a friend’s church. Hubs was trained as a pastor but was hired as an administrator at this church. Shortly upon arriving here we realized we were in way over our heads. The church was much more conservative than we had realized and their opinions on gender roles, marriage, etc. were far to the right of where we would ever have placed ourselves, but our friend had gone through a bit of trouble to get us to Minnesota and give Hubs this opportunity, so we felt a little stuck.
Over time and through many unpleasant experiences with the people in the church and the leadership, I realized I couldn’t fake it anymore. I was not, nor will I ever be, a woman who would fit their mold. I am forthright, strong-willed, goal-driven. I don’t submit easily and our marriage is quite egalitarian. These points were all points of contention and it became a constant battle of me trying to make myself look the way they wanted me to look and behave the way women “should” behave. In the end, we decided we needed to leave. I remember a conversation I had with a Deacon at the very end where I gave him a piece of my mind. He said, “You have no right to speak to me so boldly,” and I said, “Well, actually, we are both humans and I most certainly do.” He was speechless.
Upon leaving, we didn’t want to cause any trouble for our friend, so we left quietly. However, I always felt in some way controlled by them. I think, looking back, there was definite psychological damage done, all in the name of Jesus. Ironic. After we left, I blocked everyone I could think of who attended the church from all my social media. Whenever we would see one of them when we were out and about, we’d say, “Alert, alert!,” and go off in another direction. It’s like we were living scared.
However, we recently found out that our friend is no longer the pastor there and suddenly my world has opened up. For whatever reason, I now feel completely free of that place. I think, despite my feelings about the church, I felt some sort of loyalty to our friend. With him no longer working there, I feel free of those people and the power they once had over my life. I have realized, I hate that place. I hate what it does to lives. I hate the teachings and the way it made me view God and people outside of Christianity. And realizing all this, the healing can begin. I don’t need to have hate but pity, as I have realized their theology leaves those who can’t measure up feeling stranded and hopeless. Thank goodness, we are never really stranded or hopeless.
I have unblocked all those people from my social media. I am not afraid of them anymore. I am not afraid to see them out and about. I feel like I can stand up straight knowing I make mistakes and so do they. Their judgment, which will always be there, doesn’t matter to me anymore. It suddenly feels like a distant, unpleasant memory. The only artifact of the whole thing is that we live here in Minnesota, where we moved to for a job in a place that essentially no longer exists as we knew it. I am free, and while I have always been free, now I actually feel it.