Kate recently wrote a post called “My Story: Questioning.” In it she wrote a touching and almost poetic account of her own journey from a Christian homeschool past to a more open future. Her story is well worth reading. I want to excerpt the beginning of it for you and then send you over to Kate’s blog to read the rest. Kate, as you may remember, grew up with my in the homeschool community years ago, my childhood friend. I lost her when I left all that behind, but in recent years I have gained her back again in an unforeseen way, and the result has been beautiful.
This is a long post, but it’s something I’ve been working on for awhile. In some ways this is more for me than anything–it’s helpful and encouraging to look back on how I started to leave the beliefs I grew up with and see how much I’ve changed. These are just a few of the many little moments that added up to a massive change in who I was.
Click, click, click, I went from one blog post to the next, captivated. It was one in the morning. I’d been reading stories on the internet for hours. And I was overwhelmed with what I was uncovering.
Stories of people talking about homeschooling, patriarchy, and using terms like spiritual abuse, brainwashing, and cult.
It was horrendous, and at the same time a relief, like finding my people. The puzzle pieces were falling into place. I wasn’t alone. There were stories and stories of heartbreak, abuse, manipulation—stories that made my life look normal in comparison.
I wasn’t the only one bothered and affected by this culture, by these beliefs.
It had started simply enough— brainstorming a list of topics for my high school research paper. I was tired of the typical topics that my peers chose. No, I didn’t want to do homosexuality. No, I didn’t want to do global warming. No, I didn’t want to do creationism/evolution. I wanted to research something I was actually really curious about.
I’d been thinking a lot about my experience with Gothard’s* teachings, and I couldn’t ignore the feeling inside that felt so repulsed by it. I really just wanted an excuse to sit on the internet and try to dig up dirt on Gothard to validate how I felt about IBLP. But I didn’t think I’d find enough information on Gothard, so I turned to a slightly wider topic—the courtship movement.
(*my experience with Gothard’s teachings will be a seperate post)
I clicked to the next blog to read her story. As I read, it started to sound vaguely familiar. Like I knew this person. No, it couldn’t be. Could Libby Anne be…?
When I first stumbled upon Libby Anne’s blog, I was shocked. I had thought she was a Catholic (which in my mind, was not equivalent with Christian), but now I was reading her saying things like she supported abortion.
This was one of my best friends growing up, and I hadn’t had any contact with her in years, so I was pretty shocked to find out what she really believed.
Obviously, like any good evangelical, I wanted to save her immediately. But what could I say, what could I do?
I thought about it more, and I began to realize I simply couldn’t paint her as the rebellious prodigal anymore—the story her parents had told me. She had tried to do things “right.” She had tried to cling to her faith. She simply hadn’t abandoned it all to spite her parents or because she wanted to live a sinful, heathen lifestyle.
Maybe she wasn’t this big, evil, rebellious daughter—the boogeyman of our homeschool circle—her family had made her out to be. Maybe she had reasons, a story. And I started to wonder why everyone I knew had cut off all contact with her—held her at an arm’s length.
Was that right, I wondered?
I called my brother. We always talked about these kinds of things, him and I. I was trying to process the entire blackhole that had just opened in my imagination. The questions that had begun pouring in. Questions about the bible, questions about Christianity, questions about God.
Somehow the conversation came around to evolution. “But how can you believe that the Bible is true if the creation story isn’t literal?” I said, aghast.
“Surely, Kate,” he replied, “you’re not basing your faith on the story having to be a literal 6 day creation, are you? If anything, it’s much more beautiful and complex than that.”
I was stunned. Up until that point, I had never separated the two. I didn’t know that they could be separated. What was my good, Christian brothersaying?!
“That dichotomy doesn’t have to exist, Kate.” He reassured.
I was silent, forced to confront myself. I had been basing my faith in Jesus on the fact of the creation story being literal.
I had never been presented a different option.