What advice do you have for other young adults currently questioning or leaving Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideology?
Your questions are there, deep down: be honest with God and yourself and acknowledge them. God is big enough to handle your questions. Then try to find answers for those questions with the mind that God gave you. It can be a scary journey but life is much richer and more interesting when you venture out of the box that you were raised in.
If you are not sure where to start, I’d recommend choosing a college and/or just getting out on your own. Give yourself some time and space to figure out who you are apart from your family.
It gets better. Honestly, that’s the biggest thing I would say. You’re going to go through a lot of pain and heartache, but it does get better. I would also say that being able to form your own beliefs and views is important, and that if someone is trying to stop you from doing so, it’s their problem, not your problem. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and become your own person. Don’t conform to someone’s mold just to please them. Oh, and get friends who accept you for who you are and don’t place expectations on you or judge you. And, if you can, get therapy. I resisted that last one for the longest time, but it was extremely helpful.
When it comes to questioning, I can only tell you to trust your heart for once, but still use your brain. If something appears to be wrong, try to find out why. You might be the one who’s right in the matter. Just because certain things work for your parents or people in your environment doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. At the end of your life, you’ll be the one responsible for everything you did. Not your Mom and Dad, not your siblings, not your pastor or friends. You’ll have to answer to yourself why you handled things that way. If you feel like you can’t do things the way your parents tell you to do, do what’s right for yourself. It’s hard to disappoint people you love, I know that.
If you feel it’s not necessary to wear skirts all day, you’re probably right. If you feel it’s wrong to have one kid after the other, you’re probably right. If you feel like you’re in the process of marrying the wrong person, you’re most likely right. Remember that you will hurt people when you question their beliefs, but you will hurt even more if you just keep going along with something that isn’t 100% your own conviction.
Be kind with yourself. Do what works, and don’t agonize over feeling disloyal or like a bad Christian. Processing takes time. Find someone safe you can talk to as you process these things. It’s okay to grieve and be angry, but do look forward and enjoy where you are now.
Know that it’s OK. You are a valuable person with many things to contribute to this world and the people in your life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a counselor or therapist. Try out new things and let yourself figure out who you are and what you like. No one has it all figured out, so hang in there. Life gets a whole lot better.
Do not be afraid to ask questions of people outside your group. People within the PF/QF lifestyle will have a cookie cutter answer for every question, try branching out a little, you might be surprised at what you hear! If you’re just questioning the system, it can’t hurt to hear another perspective. If you’re leaving the system, you NEED to hear from other people. People make a huge effort to drag you back when you start to leave, hearing from sane people on the outside can make all the difference.
Trust yourself. You know what’s right and wrong, and it’s not what people are telling you. Who you are is not evil. You will not become a heroin-addicted psychopath if you leave your church. You can be whoever you feel like you are underneath it all. It’s your choice. It’s your life. Start living it as soon as you can. (And no, that doesn’t make you “selfish.”)
I’d advise them not to neglect examining the emotional and psychological effects of their experience. It can be so easy, when one starts on this journey, to intellectualize it all, to think it’s simply a matter of critiquing a faulty ideology and switching to a better one. While that is an important part of the process (and one that will take time and certainly look different for different people), I believe to truly reclaim your life and sense of freedom you have to do the harder work of addressing any underlying wounds and abuse that may have occurred. You don’t want to spend your life in bondage to the past as one of the walking wounded if healing is available.