Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaving a Cult


So today I did something that I have been putting off for a long time.  I told my parents I wasn’t ‘healed’ of something I was supposed to have been healed from nearly seven years ago.  I have been worried of telling them for awhile, just wondering what they would say or do.  But at this point in my life, I have a mantra: “I don’t care what the fuck anyone thinks” and I begin to move forward.
I’m so tired of being in the spotlight.  Fishbowl syndrome.  Everything I have said or happened to me eventually would spread through the grapevine: around to the missionary ‘family', churches, and friends and supporters.  Everyone is watching you!  So, when I was ‘healed,’ my parents took it upon themselves to repeat the ‘healing’ story over and over in churches and houses everywhere, until I had to tell them to stop, rather bluntly.  Well , seven years later, here I am, coming to grips with my illness, and hoping my family can too.  But I’m ready to deal with the consequences, if they fight me on it, or tell me that the demons have returned.
So.  I did it.  I am happier for it.  I didn’t just declare “I was never healed.” No, I explained very carefully what had happened, what the doctors said, etc.  I was pretty thorough and respectful.  Hopefully they will respect me, too.  That’s all I ask of anyone.  Mutual respect.
The reason this ‘healing’ came about was due to a difficult time in my life.  I had been ‘falling away’ from the Faith for awhile, but as a last resort I agreed to go to this certain church my mom suggested.  There, they ‘cast out the demons’ (apparently I had several hundred thousand of them in me), and declared me healed.  I was so desperate for change in my life, and for healing that I went with it.  I gave my last attempt at Christianity.  I ended up pretty much going along with the teachings of this church, including becoming a ‘deliverance minister’ (exorcist).  I believed in faith healings with a passion.  I began to follow their rules.  And then suddenly I was jolted with doubt.  I had been encouraged by my mentor to go ahead and attempt this 'deliverance’ upon a girl who had a severe physical and psychological issues.  It ended badly, and in an awful terror I realized I had crossed a line.  I began to feel pushed around, manipulated, and as though my illness still existed.  Fortunately I escaped and regained my mind.  It was actually a big reason I finally began to doubt everything and question things more vehemently.  Cults do that to you, if you escape.
However, my family still somewhat endorses that cult.  Of course they do not see it as a cult.  Anyway, I have heard it said that MK’s fall into cults very easily.  I know several other friends of mine that have been in one, or are still in one.  I believe my sister is in one at the moment, from the descriptions of what she tells me they do and say.  Interesting, I say.  Anthropologically speaking, it sort of makes sense.  The Third Culture Kid doesn’t fit in home or host country, so they seek solace in a tight community, a ‘Family’ so tightly knit that it’s almost impossible to get out of without social suicide or the threat of Hell.  But they have family, a community that replaces their missionary community and are bent on a specific purpose in life.
I have tried almost every aspect of Christianity.  I know too much to believe anymore.  I couldn’t even try to believe even if I wanted to.  And I’m the happier for it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Loneliest of the Global Nomads

 

I don’t want to be all sappy and sad all the time on here, or give the impression that I’m just an angry person.  I am pondering my confusing life, and how I landed here.  I am not confused about my anti-theist position, no.  I’m just sometimes amazed that I made it out of the mess of my life somehow.  Maybe it will make sense to someone.  Writing it down helps me anyway.  And I am curious. Curious if there are more ‘closeted’ MK’s who have not ‘come out’ of their atheistic closets.  I’m not trying to ‘push’ this on anyone. No, no. I am not  ‘missionary’ anymore, ha-ha.  Just kind of sad for those stuck in their religion.

I want to talk about the loss of my social network, brought about by leaving the Faith.  I really don’t know many other Christians, let alone MK’s who have actually given up the concept of a god (other than my dear readers, so far, who I am so glad have found this blog!).  But I was also raised in a strict evangelical home and community, so among that community of MK’s, there are few I know to be completely atheist.  Most still at least believe in the Christian god.

Almost everyone around me growing up was bent on one purpose: saving the world for Christ.  Saving them from HELL.  This was a serious ‘calling’ in their lives.  Everyone believed they were in “God’s Will” because they were rescuing souls from a literal fiery lake.  I really think this was driven into MK’s a lot further than most Christians who just went to church and sang nice songs in their home countries (there are exceptions, yes).

So yes, the community was very supportive of one another (usually) in this Purpose.  My parent’s mission organization was my family, the only one I knew, since ‘we’ had all left our own blood-related families back ‘home’ to serve god.  So in becoming an atheist, I have lost many a friend, many a “family” member.  Unfortunately, I think most of them just think I am just extremely liberal, or a ‘struggling’ Christian.  I have not blatantly announced to the world that I am an atheist.  But the ones who have, well, I am honest with.  But I feel others, that have not asked, do sense something different, in the way I talk, the fact that I don’t go to church, and don’t talk about God anymore, my overwhelming support of gay rights, etc.

As an MK, you feel isolated to begin with when you return to your home country. Your friends all your life come and go regularly, or you are the one moving constantly.  You don’t fit in to begin with, no matter where you are.  So on top of all that, when I first lost my faith, I thought I was completely alone.  I was so incredibly angry, at EVERYTHING (the Church, my parents, my missionary ‘family,’ my pastors, my teachers, my friends, my professors (Christian school), missionaries in general….the list goes on..).  I finally sat down and “googled” something like “ex-christian support groups” and found a few sites that were created as forums for those who have left their Faith.  I have made a new circle of friends..not best friends, but definitely less evangelical in nature.  But it can still be lonely.  I believe my background to have been harsher.  Stricter.  And isolated.  I feel my exit was gut-wrenching.  I’m amazed I’m still alive.

It is a lonely journey.  But it is worth it.  I believe that.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Update from the Atheist.

 

I’m back.  After a long hiatus I have returned to my dear little project blog.  I am continuing this as an experiment to see if any other MK’s out there (Missionary Kids) have experienced something similar to myself, in giving up the “Faith.”

I am encouraged to see there are some others in the same boat as me, so welcome! I am finally exploring the world free of religion and maybe others can be encouraged by my experiences and thoughts.

It is difficult to come out of religion, especially if you were a daughter/son of the ultra-spiritual missionary category.  The world is a new place.  But if you made it through, then hurray! I hope it’s a better place for you.

I promise to post often, as  I can now commit to blogging because I have a shiny new computer to tote around with me wherever travels take me.

Peace.