(This just in. I think it’s safe to say Christianity did not play a positive role in this poor woman’s life. There’s much in this letter for us to explore and consider, but first I thought I’d just share it with you [which, as always, I do with the author’s permission.] )
I’m one of your ‘likers’ on Facebook and I read your blog often. This whole business of forgiveness has really got me down to the point that I don’t even want to think about it, it’s so depressing.
I was raised United Pentecostal, and thus never given the option of having my own opinions or standing up for myself. Couldn’t go to movies, bowling, ‘mixed’ bathing (swimming with both girls and boys in the same pool! EGAD!), cut or color my hair, pierce my ears, go to dances, or visit another church — among other things. This led to an early marriage that turned into 16 years of hell — black eyes, a broken arm, a concussion, and being raped — because, as a Pentecostal woman, I was to be married to the same person for life. I finally grasped my freedom once and for all when I realized God loved me too much to expect me to live that life.
Thought I was okay for about 19 years; that’s what denial will do for ya. Couldn’t hold a job longer than a year, alienated friends, family, and coworkers because of the fight-or-flight reactions I had to anyone who presented a challenge or seemed, in my warped psyche, to be a threat. Love and pain were the same to me.
I quit working altogether when my blood pressure skyrocketed one morning, and my doctor told me I had to rethink the rest of my life. I entered college for the first time, late in life, and while maintaining a 4.0 GPA, I wrote a research paper on domestic violence for an English class. At Christmastime that year, I had the first of two flashbacks that would happen before the new year.
There’s so much more — continuing PTSD syptoms, agoraphobia, and the steady decline of my physical health — but the bottom line is that I despise fundamentalist Christians. I pride myself in having none as close friends. If it were just my own experiences, it might be different, but I’ve seen ghastly things happen to people as a result of fundamentalists’ willful ignorance. One of the stories, I know, would curl your toenails.
I’ve been in therapy for a few years now, and although I was finally able to forgive myself for not being able to be my own person and stand up for myself growing up, I still can’t find a shred of forgiveness for people who seem to have left their brains in a basket at the church door.
I’m glad for the people who are learning how to forgive as a result of your blog, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. Right-wing evangelicals are the bane of our country’s existence, and I worry a lot about what my granddaughter will have to deal with if things keep going the way they are. I’m living with congestive heart failure and on oxygen, so at some point not too far down the road I know the Lord will take me home. But that granddaughter’s well-being…
I’ve got to read all your blogs about your father. Maybe reading more about your own hell on earth will soften my heart, but I’m not counting on it. I still want to start buying your books as I can afford it, one at a time. But in my wildest dreams, I can’t see myself ever having any room in my heart and life for fundamentalists — Baptists, Pentecostals, whatever. I feel nothing but evil in them. Mental illness is a bitch, I guess, but I think it’s more than that in my case when it comes to Fundicans.
You don’t have to answer this email. It’s probably too depressing, even for you. I just felt the need to present the viewpoint of someone who finds it anathema to even think about cutting those people some slack. At least I don’t blame God, like some do. I know in my heart He’s the reason I’m still alive.
Thank you for doing what you do. It takes an exceptional person to reach out like that. God bless and keep you, John.