Remember When Dreams Faded…

I watched a darling three year old the other day, and had an absolute blast with her. There is something rejuvenating interacting with an innocent child and there is something refreshing watching their joy at the simple things in life. A lot of memories from my own childhood came back as I watched and listen to her prattle on about favorite things as she shared her little life with me.

As I watched her make up playmates and give her toys voices, I realized I have no memories of doing that. I frantically tried to remember any time I might have made up scenarios for my dolls or played with imaginative playmates, but I only had foggy memories. By the time I had reached 10, I was already an “adult” and had lost any desire to make my dolls my playmates. My siblings and I built forts and made up towns in our basement. That only happened though when all of us got along…which usually wasn’t very often. But when we did get along, the stories about the towns we came up with were quite elaborate. That all stopped when I was 12 though. Every once and a while I would be convinced by my brother to build the Lego houses I was quite known for. He still, at 20, reminds me of those several story houses I used to build.

At 12, I was in charge of meals, cleaning, laundry, raising my two youngest siblings, and I was supposed to still be doing my school work. Somehow I fell off the school radar around the time Mom got breast cancer, and then I was in charge of grocery shopping as well. I remember feeling like everything I did didn’t matter when families brought over meals for us. I used to silently question whether or not I was good enough to cook for my family. I used to be mad at the families who provided meals for us because I felt like everyone was doubting my ability to take care of the house or the meals. I was trapped between wanting to be affirmed for the work I did, and wanting to not have so much responsibility.

Someone was babysitting us one time and I broke down in sudden tears because she wasn’t letting me do my job and she was letting the kids be kids as they raced around the house, was loud, and played lots of games. I rarely cried, but when I did it was because I couldn’t take it anymore and a LOT had built up. She comforted me by telling me that I should let my siblings be kids and that I was just a kid and needed to act like one. I couldn’t explain to her how and why I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t make her understand why I wasn’t a kid, and I couldn’t explain the problems that wracked my family. That is when I realized that I wasn’t a child anymore and from 12 years old and on, I was an old spirit in a young confused body.

My biggest problem with large families raised in a Patriarchy/Quiverfull mindset is the weight that is put on the oldest daughter. I have read articles, and heard parents talk, about how they don’t believe in teenagers, or even that their children can’t handle the heavy theology or ideas that the parents start inducting them into at a very early age. The parents treat their children as if their children are already adults, but then lose it when a child acts like a child and the parents come down harder with the discipline. Because of being treated like an adult by my parents, it always was hugely confusing when I got in trouble for something I didn’t think I’d get in trouble for. Or something I didn’t think I should get in trouble for.

I hear a lot of parents wanting to raise their children to make good, wise decisions [on their own], but I barely see parents, especially P/Q parents, allowing their children to do that. My husband and I have had a lot of discussions about what we will or won’t allow our children to do. Even though I grew up with more maturity than most people my age, and I don’t regret having that, I don’t want my children to feel like they can’t act their age.  I don’t want to see my children frozen in a state of responsibility that makes it hard for them to imagine, create, or be risk-takers in their endeavors.  I am stuck right now feeling unsure of what my “gifts” are.  I was so concerned about shouldering my responsibilities that I never had time to really grow creatively or let my imagination blossom.

If parents are so concerned with teaching their children to make good decisions, then why are there so many grown up children fighting to make those good decisions as their parents beat them down and still try to make decisions for them. A friend told me a few months ago that even though parents are usually wiser than us kids, even they don’t know what is best for us all of the time. Even though I knew this, I hadn’t ever put it into words.  This is what frustrated me the most in my relationship with my husband, prior to marriage.

When I met my husband, I was in that unknown stage between being a child and a young adult, able to make her own decisions. I hadn’t pushed my parents [yet] into letting me make my own decisions. The decisions I had made myself were, more often than not, the decisions they wanted me to make. The frustration, the confusion, and the pain of not feeling like my parents trusted me was dizzying as I made decisions (with my now husband) like I had been taught, but was not allowed the freedom to make them. More on our relationship story later though.

I still find myself wringing my hands in frustration and confusion as I try to figure out what I am good at. I feel a great sense of loss looking back and feeling the numbness my 12 year old self felt when realizing I could never be, nor was I, a care free girl. I have broken out of the added weight of feeling responsible to raise my siblings, or to be the oldest child to set the example for my younger siblings. But I still feel lost. I still don’t know what my gifts are, or what I should pursue now.

I am good with kids because I am the oldest of 9, and have nannied for over 3 years on top of having raised most of my siblings. I have played the piano for 12 years and am good at it because it was my dad’s dream for me, and yet it carries some harsh memories because of his disappointment when his dream crumbled because I couldn’t play anymore. I am a historically accurate seamstress because the only way we were going to be able to do reenacting was if I made the clothes myself. I took voice lessons for 1 1/2 years because I wanted to, but had to stop when Mom couldn’t afford to drive me to lessons each week since i wasn’t taking piano lessons at the same place anymore. I sometimes wonder if the reason why I couldn’t take voice lessons anymore was because I could no longer follow my dad’s dream with the piano. I love to write because this is the only outlet I have left for the emotions that erupt from my heart and mind at times. But am I good at writing, singing, sewing, playing the piano, taking care of other’s children? I think I am, but those are all connected to the grave responsibilities I was placed under as a child.

Playing the piano became my dream when I discovered I had a natural talent for music. But that crumbled when I developed FM, carpal tunnel, and tendinitis. Singing was amazing, and I was slowly discovering bravery and confidence when that had to stop because I couldn’t play the piano anymore. I took sign language for 4 years and loved it, but the stress of living at home that brought on the Fibromyalgia, also caused me to stop signing because I had to focus on things at home.  I used to write poetry, lots of it, but I stopped when it became too heavy and depressing. I showed my mom some of my poems, and she didn’t understand the pain I felt. There is a certain emptiness felt when you stand before a field of broken dreams, lost dreams, or buried dreams.  I am rediscovering how to dream, but sometimes I feel too cynical or too “grown up” to dream.

do you dream? can you dream?

 


Breaking the Silence

I know I’ve been pretty quiet recently, both here on my blog, and on other blogs. After the last post, I stepped back from posting for awhile. It has helped taking a break from writing, and now I’m ready to jump back in for a bit more time. A little bit of news though. My husband’s and my courtship story was put up on Julie Anne’s blog, BGBC Survivors, yesterday, so please go take a look! I will probably be starting a series of more in depth posts about our story sometime in the coming months.

Over the past few weeks, life has been doubly hectic as my husband prepares his finals and is busy with his nose stuck to the computer screen or buried in a book. We also had Thanksgiving, and I’ve decided that I really don’t care for the holidays. Every major holiday brought a frantic calling around to see which family we could invite over for the holiday. We were desperate for others to be there for Thanksgiving, or Easter, and sometimes even Christmas. If there were other people there that meant that there was a better chance of Dad not blowing up at someone, or making everyone miserable with his degrading words. Having never lived close to relatives, getting together with them for holidays never happened. Over the past 4 years, it’s been harder to find people who were willing to get together with my family for holidays. Because of not having a lot of traditions for holidays, my family pretty much spends Christmas, or Thanksgiving, like it’s a regular old day with an abnormally large meal in the middle of the day.

Integrating into my husband’s family has been quite an eye opener to me. They have relatives in the area, and each holiday that they celebrate, everyone gets together. It’s been a blast, and I do regret not having these traditions with my family, but at the same time, I don’t regret it. We could all barely stand each other and due to that, birthdays, holidays, and other celebrations were awkward, uncomfortable, and more often than not, felt fake.  The cute little cards my siblings would make for each other on birthdays and the card from mom and dad would be sweet and encouraging, I guess, but I couldn’t take them as truth because it was only once a year I would read that my parents were proud of me, or encouraged to see this or that in me.

A week ago today was Thanksgiving. Memories of last years guilt trips from my mom and dad about not eating a meal with them haunted me as I prepared to buckle down for the whirlwind of activities. The curse of living 15 minutes away from both families is trying to make everyone happy and content with what we decide. Neither of us enjoy spending time with my family, and besides, they don’t plan anything. Ha, I remember Mother’s Day this past year….it was miserable, and I spent the entire time trying to ignore the jabs my dad was constantly making to my younger siblings. I finally snapped and told him that it was so uncomfortable to be around him, and would he please just stop. He got mad at me and told me “welcome to my life.” Sheesh, it’s no wonder I don’t enjoy being over at my family’s house for holidays.

This year for Thanksgiving, I checked, checked, and double checked, to make sure that we knew what my parents were doing, or not doing. They didn’t have anything planned, nor did they have any idea at what time they would eat the thanksgiving meal. I finally told my mom that I didn’t know if we’d be able to stop by since we were driving an hour with my husband’s family to spend thanksgiving evening with his extended family. We did finally decide to stop over at my family’s for a little bit, and thankfully didn’t run into my dad at all for most of the entire time we were there.

I went inside to grab my coat to head out and I walked in to my dad getting in my mom’s face yelling at her. Great. Just the memory I wanted to have to carry with me.  I walked out the door as several of my siblings verbally came to my mom’s defense, and to my dad storming off back upstairs to whatever he does up there.  That simply solidified why I do not go to my family’s house right now.

The rest of our Thanksgiving was good, and we had a lot of fun with my husband’s family and extended family. Even still, I do not like the holidays. I don’t like the holidays because there is so much emphasis on family, happiness, joy, peace. I don’t know what that’s like, and it’s hard for me to feel anything other than please let this pass quickly. I don’t like birthdays because they were always awkward affairs with the family trying to pretend to be happy that one of it’s members was turning a year older. I have broken down and told my husband I can’t go to his family’s birthday celebrations because it makes me realize how much I’ve missed and it really hurts. I’ve never told them this truth, but it still hurts a little bit when we celebrate one of his siblings’ or parents’ birthdays.

Christmas is coming up, but I hoping that my family will still be going out of town. if they do still decide to go out of town, we will not be celebrating Christmas with them because it’s too long of a drive to where they’re going for us to go for one day. I am looking forward to my inlaws’ Christmas celebration though. It is promising to be quite an adventure, and I am really discovering I love doing things with this family. They are always very gun-ho about doing spontaneous things, and I love being told what to bring to make the gathering so much more exciting!

I still don’t like the holidays though. I will be much more happy when January 1st passes and I can breathe a sigh of relief.


I will not repeat the past

The weepy teary-eyed moments usually hit when I least expect it. More phrases or memories have been triggering these weepy moments recently, and it’s becoming harder to predict when something will trigger my emotions. I find myself getting to the evening and starting to crash emotionally and hitting a wall, and wanting to just curl up and not have to work through things anymore.

My hubby and I had a conversation the other night about hoping for something and what it looks like when that hope is disappointed. I tried to explain to him how hard it is for me to hope for something, and to pray for it, because of how many times I’ve been so bitterly disappointed. We didn’t really agree on what it looked like to hope in Jesus, but as I rolled over to fall asleep, a bitter memory hit me, and I ended up curled up in my husband’s arms, crying, and hearing him whisper in my ear about how sorry he was that I had to deal with what I did growing up.

I never thought I’d say this, but I am angry at my mom. Like seriously angry, and what makes that harder is she does not know what she did. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I was truly alone growing up. I had no defender, I had no one to take my stand or to back me up. I keep trying to tell myself that I’m wrong, that I am exaggerating and making things up, but I can’t escape the truth; I. Was. Alone.  My siblings were alone, and most of them still are. We were alone as I watched my brothers get thrown around during my dad’s anger fits. We were alone when mom was out, and dad decided to start yelling and throwing things around because the house wasn’t clean enough for his high and mighty standards.

I never want a child of mine to feel the pain of having to stay at someone’s house for two hellish weeks, only to have found out at the beginning that that family really didn’t want you, they just wanted your younger brother. I don’t ever want any child of mine to feel like I would never defend them or stand up for them. I would never stand by and watch while a child of mine is verbally chewed out. The guilt (wrongly felt) and the shame (wrongly felt) I have grown up with is something I never want my children to feel.

I feel like my heart is breaking again trying to accept that I truly was alone growing up. I have opened up memories that I have not wanted to remember as I’ve looked back with these new eyes. I keep trying to defend my mom to myself, and telling myself that she really did stand up for us, for me, and the more I uncover, the harder it is to convince myself that she did. It’s like telling myself that this memory is the worst it’s going to get, and then being thrown back by the next memory when it is worse than the first.

I have had this post draining my already low energy reserves for the past week, and I’m still not sure of how it’s turning out. If anything, this opening of hard memories has shown me just how strength Jesus actually gave me through all of those years at home. I never really saw myself as strong, I just simply had to be the defender. It was that or I kill myself.  It was be my siblings’ defender, or let them crumble like dust. I am tired of being strong. All it takes to break my strength is one sleepless night followed by a day of major aches, then followed by a second sleepless night full of more aches and pains. Once in that cycle, it’s hard for me to break out, or to find the strength to hold up under memories I don’t want to remember but that have been triggered. The past two weeks have been that cycle for me, and it started when my mom told me that someone challenged her to repent of not standing up for my siblings and her response being she doesn’t know how she didn’t do that.

I passed my dad in his car on the road today as I drove home from a job. I almost burst into tears when I saw him because of how present the pain is right now. I want to have a relationship with him, and it hurts to not have one. I want to see him care and love my siblings, my mom, me. I want to see my mom recover and realize how much she’s denied throughout her life, and I want to see her heal.

I am fighting doldrums many times a day now, and I never know if I’m just going to break down and start crying or if I will find the strength to hold my head up and not let the memory get close to my heart. Jesus is a fading and shifting shadow to me right now. Sometimes He’s easy to reach out to, and other times He feels far away. I never doubt his love for me, I just get lost inside the pain.

It’s a low time right now for me. Especially as the weather gets colder and my fibromyalgia starts reacting towards the cold with a lot more pain than usual. The more pain I’m in, the more worn out and weary I feel. The more worn out and weary I feel, the less I fight to be strong.


To doubt or not to doubt

(Please feel free to read my fellow bloggers’ take on this subject in our three part posts.  here is Joanna’s,  and here is Hännah’s)

 

I grew up under the mindset that to doubt Jesus meant to doubt my salvation, the bible, my faith, and that Jesus is real. I remember being a newly baptized 8 year old, crying on my bed because I was disobedient and I needed to be baptized again because I had sinned. Even though I was thoroughly reassured by my mom that I couldn’t lose my salvation and that I didn’t need to be baptized again, that fear that if I doubted, or messed something up big time, I would lose favor in Jesus’ eyes.  So as I started really questioning the church, my bible, and seeing my faith with eyes damaged by my dad’s hypocrisy, this fear started crippling me, and I felt trapped; stuck.

I knew I was watching my “faith” fall apart, I knew I was no longer comfortable reading my bible, attending church, or even talking the talk. When I tried to explain to someone what I was feeling, I felt like I had to quickly reassure said person that I wasn’t running away from God; in fact, I was running to Him! The looks of cautious disbelief I got were numerous. Seriously, though, was I running away from or to God? Deep in the recesses of my mind, I didn’t know. I still feared the conditionally loving God I thought I knew.  The questions that ran through my mind were overwhelming and yet I still tried to block them out and pretend that all was well. Those questions soon became like trying to hold oil in my hands. I couldn’t hold on to them, and they started affecting more than just wanting to not go to church.

The increasingly fearful and uneasy feelings I felt caught me off guard. I began to accept that I was doubting, but I still couldn’t put my finger on why I was doubting, or what I was doubting. I knew it had something to do with my past, my dad’s hypocrisy, and the beliefs I had willingly swallowed since I became a Christian some dozen or more years ago.

A friend lent me Rachel Held Evans’ book, “Evolving in Monkey Town“. I kept coming across things and saying yes, I agree with that, yes, I can totally relate and understand what she is talking about there. Even if I agreed and felt like I could relate, I still felt like there was more to the answer for my doubting. Then it hit, and through three different outlets, I got the same answer, all within days of each other.

Through a long email chain with a friend, she told me how her mom had told her it was okay to question, that that meant your faith was becoming stronger and was growing deeper. Through multiple blogs and many posts, I started seeing the same thing; it’s okay to question. It’s okay to ask, challenge, and doubt your beliefs. All of this sounded so good and was a relief to hear, but I was still stuck on the fear of doubting God and losing my faith; I was still stuck feeling like there was more to this.

I got the end of “Evolving in Monkey Town”, and that’s where I found my epiphany; I found the answer. Up to finishing the book last night, I still clung to the fact that I knew I wasn’t doubting God, I just didn’t know how to put into coherent words the doubt I felt. The fear of doubt was no longer strangling as I discovered how much Jesus loved me. I discovered that He will love me no matter what. He is the author and perfecter of my faith, and that faith will never be taken away from me. All that matters to my faith is the fact that I love because I have been loved first with a love that is deeper and wider than any figment of the imagination. Everything else is piddly details that many Christians get caught up with and oftentimes forget that we are loved and have been given a wealth of grace and mercy.

Rachel writes,

Doubt is a difficult animal to master because it requires that we learn the difference between doubting God and doubting what we believe about God. The former has the potential to destroy faith; the latter has the power to enrich and refine it. The former is a vice; the latter is a virtue.

This is what I couldn’t put into words. I was not doubting Jesus as I first thought, but I was doubting the fundamentals of my faith, my beliefs. I was, without realizing it, becoming a Berean and was no longer content with just accepting what I was taught, but was questioning, trying to probe deeper to come to a conclusion about why I believe what I believed.  To doubt and question what I’ve been taught is to throw my faith through a refining fire to burn away the false ideas that have taken root. To doubt and question my faith keeps my faith active instead of allowing certainty to freeze it and never allow for any growth.

My past with my dad and his influence to my faith is very toxic. Trying to question and rebuild my beliefs is like trying to get rid of a poison in my system but my system still craves it. This is not normal for me, nor is it comfortable. I wasn’t encouraged to question my faith growing up. I was given the mindset that once we reach a certain stage our faith will remain the same and constant.  I was taught not to question, not to dig deeper and constantly evaluate what I believed.

This epiphany was relieving, it was helpful, and has given me a break in the frenzy of doubts and questions that have been flying around my mind. I can now say with doubled confidence I am not doubting Jesus, I am not doubting His love for me, I am not doubting my salvation. I am doubting the beliefs I was raised under; I am doubting the things my dad would say and then do the opposite.  I am rebuilding the foundation everything else will stand upon. Jesus is my only foundation, and I want to get back to that place. I do believe that this is going to be a long journey, but I’m not worried anymore. I’m not feeling crushed under doubt I don’t understand. I understand where I am at, but I do not know where this all will take me. I am willing to question, doubt, and wait to see where I go. I do know it’s gonna be good.


Let Justice Be Served

Yesterday was a down-in-the-dumps day for me. I felt like I had hit another wall in this healing process, and it was freaking me out. I felt confused, lost, unsure of everything, and really discouraged. The deeper I go towards healing, the harder it gets to let go of who I used to be. It gets harder to step forward and trust that I’ll be okay. I don’t hit these walls often. Usually it’s only because I’ve started thinking again and trying to work things out.

Spiritually/emotionally I have no idea where I am right now. I simply look at my bible, and all I can hear, see, or remember is my dad’s hypocritical teaching, contradictory messages, and it leave me scrambling between places, unsure which is the truth and which is not. It’s dizzying, it’s mind boggling, and over all, it’s enough for me to walk away from my bible for a very long time. The two things I know for sure right now is that my faith is not dependent on whether or not I’m faithfully reading my bible, praying daily, or attending church each and every Sunday. The other thing is that I know Jesus loves me no matter what and He is faithful, He is loving me, and He is not going to hurt me, leave me, manipulate me, or force me to obey Him. He desires me; broken, hurting, lost, confused, weary me.

It is has greatly helped getting out of the SGM church we used to attend. I no longer feel pressured to fit into a certain mold. I am instead feeling love, grace, and mercy from people who are genuinely caring for me.

Several things happened this morning that has changed my down-in-the-dumps attitude. After the news about the SGM lawsuits came out about two weeks ago, I immediately sat down and wrote a long email to the senior pastor at the church we just left. My family still attends there, and I had a challenge for him. He had sent out an email to the church, and said that they, the pastors, take very seriously protecting children in abusive situations. My challenge for him was if they take that so seriously, then how come my siblings were deteriorating being under my dad, and are still in an abusive situation. It was a very long email, and one that was blunt, truthful, and challenging. I heard back from the pastor within 24 hours, and shortly after getting his response, I got a response from my parents’ pastor. Because my dad has been in counseling with the pastors for the four years that they have been going there, I also challenged the pastors on why my dad hadn’t been put in church discipline yet. I mean, come on, he has been addicted to porn for the past 30+ years, been married to my mom for 28 years, and has had kids for about 22 years, lost two jobs because of the porn, and has physically abused several of my siblings, and constantly lashes out in anger. How is that not cause enough to put him in church discipline?

I was surprised to get a response so quickly from the pastors. I have been trying to defend my siblings, sometimes unwanted on their part, for the past six years. How was yet another email/meeting/conversation going to change things? Writing my last post about being a defender caused things to get stirred up for me. I felt depressed and discouraged. I felt weary of bringing up my concerns again and again with no result. How was this time going to be any different?

After emailing back and forth a few times with my parents’s pastor, I finally said I could be convinced to meet with them, share my concerns (yet again!!), but I really didn’t see the purpose, nor did I want to meet. I knew walking back into that church was going to undo everything I’ve been able to work through since leaving. I have not stepped foot into that building for about 3 months now, and that has not been long enough. I haven’t heard back from the pastor again since telling him that I would be willing to meet only if the meeting could be specifically about my siblings and my dad, and if I could bring a friend/supporter with me. I thought that was it, and I expected this email exchange to be the same as every other time.

There was a curve ball that came out of all of this, and when I got a phone call from my mom this morning, I did not expect to hear what she called to tell me. About 5 months ago, my husband and I met with my parents’ pastor and shared concerns about how they were treating my dad too lightly, and to ask when church discipline was going to happen. The answer was that they were starting to lean towards church discipline. Not a definite, but they were definitely considering it. The months following that meeting didn’t bring any change, and I soon gave up hope that anything would happen.  That’s why, when my mom called, I was pleasantly surprised and realized I had done something to change things.

My parents met last night with the pastors, and their care group leaders, and my dad was told he was being put in church discipline if he did not repent. He was read a list of 6 reasons why they are putting him in church discipline, and there will be another meeting a week from today to challenge him again with those reasons and ask him to repent. My mom is finally, I believe, starting to see him for who he is, and not allowing her denial to cloud her judgement. As usual, my dad is blaming my mom for this church discipline stuff, and my mom is not taking it this time. I do not expect my dad to change, and I expect church discipline to come down hard on him. They already are coming down hard, and I am impressed that their pastor apologized for not taking these steps sooner. Now if only my dad won’t talk his way out of this. He’s one messed up guy, and I hope Jesus will be able to break through and show him his works will not save him, nor will his words, or legalistic beliefs.

I have gone from the deep lows of yesterday, to giddy heights today. I am unsure what to expect from my dad, but I hoping against hope that my siblings will get the care they need, and that my dad will be separated from them. In the mean time though, I will be taking my mom out to a bar, or maybe a spa, and giving her a break from the crappy mess my dad makes for her. I am disgusted that he still has the audacity to blame her for his faults. Let justice be served, Jesus!!!!

With that in mind, and without further ado,

Chryssie Rose


Thoughts on Sovereign Grace Ministries

*This is a guest post from my husband and I thought it was worth posting. I am very proud of him for breaking away from SGM, and for being able to so clearly see the things that have really damaged a lot of people. I certainly married well, and I love him very much!*

I have spent my entire life in a huge church in the Sovereign Grace Ministries sphere. I’ve personally interacted with almost all of the SGM celebrities at some point in my life. I have personally had over a dozen peers leave SGM for either personal reasons/disagreements or for life changes. Every one of those who have left have been shut out and forgotten about after leaving. Their “friends” discuss rumors and speculation about them “walking away from God” as the motivation behind leaving our SGM church. I grew accustomed to this early on in the youth ministry and didn’t even flinch. I never thought twice about it. I was left with the impression that our church was the BEST church and in CJ’s words “The dearest place on earth.”

I was deceived. I do not blame anyone for this but myself. I want to emphasis that it was I who allowed myself to be deceived. There were several categories that I have fallen under a dangerous philosophy on;

1) When people leave the SGM sphere, they are no longer worthy of acknowledgement. They are ignored publicly, they are judged, and their “friends” openly slander them justifying their words with “We’re burdened by their decision.”

2) Small groups are small churches. The leaders of your small group have the authority of pastors, and the purpose of small groups is to discuss conflicts, sin, and accountability.

3) Humility is present when your words reflect a “humble heart”, control over emotions, and the ability to deflect compliments or encouragement.

The above are all “ideas” or philosophies that are heavily present within the congregation of my church. I say congregation because that’s the majority of the church, and as your peers, there is an overwhelming amount of peer pressure in SGM churches or even ex SGM churches. All in the name of “staying in God’s will”.

This past summer my wife and I left our SGM church. It took me a while. Over two decades in SGM and then leaving. Not as easy as I thought. In the last 3 months of our membership at our church, all of the above things shot up like rockets in our lives and we were overwhelmed by the pain that people under these ideas have caused us and others. Let me walk through each one.;

1) The mindset in issue one is horrible. It’s selfish, arrogant, self righteous, and cult like. I’ve seen it happen to close friends and even to whole families. They leave, whether because of a disagreement or because of a job in a new state, and they’re erased from everyone’s lives. No one will talk to them, and if they see them in public (i’m not making this up) they will refuse to acknowledge their presence. This happened to my wife a week ago. Someone we’ve known for years walked up to the friend my wife was talking with and said hello to the friend and wouldn’t even look at my wife. This is wrong. The greatest strength of the church is community. Just because you don’t go to the same church as someone else or because they disagree with your doctrine, does not give them any right to ignore you publicly  We are called to love and peace and community, not to what could be called persecution. Because of the above mindset, I believe that SGM has a very elitist mindset that is extremely contradictory to the whole message of Jesus and the Bible. It amazes me that members will pride themselves about their outreach groups yet turn around and refuse fellowship and friendship with members of other churches or ex-members of their church. This is very troubling to me. It’s hard enough trying to meet new people or couples in our old church, even though it had over 4000 members. Unless you were part of their Care group, or their clique, you’d either get the “let’s do it” then silence, or you’d never hear from them when you contacted them to get together. This has baffled me since the youth ministry. This is a big reason why we are backing away from large churches and SGM altogether. The elitist mindset is harmful to the community and very hypocritical of the whole idea of what a church is as presented by scripture in the New Testament.

2) I’ve never understood small groups in SGM. Why are there “leaders” when really it’s supposed to be a time set aside for fellowship and Bible study? Instead, it’s a time to share sin, often discourage each other because of your sin, go through marriage books by guys with scary mustaches, and even spend hours discussing a quote from Piper or Mahaney. There’s also this idea that care means pointing out your sin, and then telling you what to do. Questions are asked to “bring sin to the surface” and if you get emotional, you are flat out accused of being in the wrong and having a sinful heart. If you in any way question someone’s rebuke, you are rebuked for being prideful and are “counselled” to pray about what humility looks like. Care in care groups, with the exception of a few I’ve only heard of (I’ve only experienced what I am describing), is about rooting out sin, making judgments on each others’ hearts, and refusing to listen to the person you’re caring for. If you don’t agree, you’ll hear the rebuke over and over again until you say “I’m sorry, I was wrong, you are right.” This is wrong. My wife came from small churches and she immediately explained the problem. No other  “normal church” has pastor established “bible studies” that only specific members can attend based on where your pastor places you. Other churches have open Bible studies that do not discriminate based on season of life or preference for peers. The other problem with the setup of small groups in SGM is the strange misunderstanding on the whole idea of how we should care for one another in Scripture. The Bible nowhere says when we meet we should root out sin, hunt down pride, and rebuke sin on a regular basis. In fact, the New Testament encourages frequent encouragement, sharing scripture in love, seeking peace, and caring by carrying burdens and being understanding. When I read Paul’s letters and the Gospels, I’m at a loss as to where this grave misapplication of a few verses (2 Samuel 12, Matthew 18:15-17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and Titus 2:15). Do I think there are times to rebuke? Sure! We’re told that in scripture. But our fellowship should never be known by frequent rebuke and reproof.

3) Finally the one thing everyone can understand coming out of SGM; the humility philosophy. In scripture, humility is all about your heart. In SGM, and churches who have been associated with SGM, Humility is your highest calling in life. To my peers, humility is present when you say words like “I’m saying this with humility” or “I want to be a true friend and be humble by sharing this.” I’ve also been to countless care groups, birthday parties, and events where you’re asked “to bring an encouragement” to share during about an hour long awkward period where everyone puffs up someone else. “You’re so humble” or “You’re so Godly”. This is the most contradictory practice I have ever experienced. It’s actually comical. If you respond to anyone asking a question with any kind of emotion, even if you have been abused, hurt, or scared, you’re not being humble. If you’re not being humble you can’t get married. If you share a viewpoint that’s not in line with your care groups, you’re not being humble. If you have an opinion that is not popular, you are not being humble. From what I can gather, if you are submissive to everyone, conforming, quiet, have low self esteem, and use the right lingo you are humble and things will go well with you. You’re can’t know your own heart, you can’t know yourself better than others, and you can’t disagree because that’s not being humble. After all these years at an SGM church, I don’t want to be humble. I’d rather stand up for my convictions, my faith in God and scripture, and be willing to say “I think you are wrong” than have this false face of humility. Humility is about the heart. Many people like to use the verse about “out of the abundance of your heart, the mouth speaks” to trap anyone who said something that’s not humble enough. I hate that. That makes me mad. It’s irritating. It’s not helpful. Right now, I have no clue what humility is because I’ve been sucked into the weird SGM humility face idea that it’s all about outward stuff.

These are basically my three biggest beefs with SGM churches. I know I am not alone. I’m so relieved to be out of that mess. I hope that my thoughts can give encouragement to others who feel the same way but have been shut down. Speak the truth.

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With that in mind, and without further ado,

Chryssie Rose


Where is my Defender?

Psalm 68:5 – father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

Being the oldest of  large family has placed a heavy weight on my shoulders. I have never felt that weight more strongly than when one of my siblings, or multiple siblings, are in any sort of danger. As more of my siblings made their appearances while I grew up, the heavier the weight became, until one day I was faced with the stark realization that I had missed my childhood.  I was never a carefree, happy little girl, kicking up her heels in the sun, and running through fields of wild flowers.  I had to be the perfect example for my siblings, and I needed to be in charge so they didn’t make daddy angry, or make mom upset.

I was my siblings’ parent.

I was their defender, their warrior.

I protected them.

But no one protected me.

No one told me that I wasn’t supposed to be mother, father, protector, or defender to my siblings. No one told me that it wasn’t normal to be very mature for my young age, or that I raised my siblings while my mom dealt with the youngest children. This was normal for me, and this is how I grew up. I know it’s not good to have had so much responsibility for my siblings, but I can’t give back what has already been placed on me. I do not regret having had so much responsibility, for it taught me to love much, and it gave me the strength to handle big situations. It has made living marriage that much easier when it comes to budgeting and keeping meals on the table.  I am good at what I do because I have done it all of my life. I know how to cook good, healthy, hardy meals.

I know how to stand up for and defend my friends, my siblings, my husband. I know to become the mama bear when someone mistreats anyone close to me. I know because I have been doing that all of my life.

I have a heavy weight when it comes to my siblings, and I would fight to the ends of the earth to keep them from being damaged any further by the man who is their dad. I fear for them because of how hard it has been for me to break free from my dad’s influence over my faith, my life, and my health. I have taken the brunt of my dad’s influence, but I couldn’t always protect my siblings from being grabbed and dragged to sit in the bathroom when they disobeyed. Nor could I protect my sister from being dragged by her hair half way up the stairs because she talked nasty to me. I have alternately felt like a failure when it comes to my siblings, and feeling helpless and angry at the injustice they have endured.

Even though I am married, and no longer see any of my siblings on a regular basis, I still go through spurts where I feel like the weight has grown. It is heavy and frustrating when none of my other siblings seem to take me seriously, or believe me when I get upset over their plight. Am I seeing things? Am I being too emotional and making things up? I feel alone sometimes in bearing this weight. My heart breaks for my siblings, and I pray that they will one day be able to heal from my dad’s abuse.

I am once again contacting the pastors in charge of my family, and begging, challenging them to heed my siblings’ pain. I am weary of bringing my issues forward and not feeling like anyone is paying attention to me. I will not give up on my siblings, but I do get close to doing so many times.

Wearily,

Chryssie Rose


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