It’s been awhile since I wrote and there is good reason for that, I’ve been processing an awful lot of information and trying to form my genuine ‘uninfluenced’ opinion. Which believably is really difficult when you have been raised in a very narrow fundamentalist way.
When I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses I had zero interest in joining a new church, but there was something that I honestly missed. The community, the feeling of belonging – and a church appeared attractive in achieving that again. I wanted to go slowly, to just get my feet wet and see what it was all about. Undeniably I got a bit swept along, and ended up having to step back and take a hard look at where I wanted to go. Who I wanted to be.
This is not to discuss my spiritual journey and what I believe now…that is a work in progress, I wanted to discuss my deep seated trust issues and perhaps they are your issues too. Overall a church is lead my men to some degree, many are incredibly sincere individuals, genuinely just trying their best to follow their God, many others though are misled themselves and some are plain fanatical.
How do you navigate through all of that without completely losing your way while on your own journey? What has helped me is putting down what my core beliefs are, these are not even the doctrinal/spiritual beliefs, but the stuff that involves love, morals and integrity. That is essentially what I am building on, what adds to it, grows it, or strengthens it is what is kept, all the rest is considered, and discarded if necessary. My realisation is that being completely honest about how I feel and think on things is of more value than just following rules.
Will I be able to just join a church and be completely happy? Maybe not, it might take me years to finally find my ‘church home’ but in all of it I will learn and I will grow and I will meet some of the most amazing people and their experiences, personalities and stories will only add to the colour of my life. Though I may not agree 100% with everything they believe that doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate them for the people they are.
Learning to trust again is a long drawn out process, and to be completely honest I am certain that I will never be able to trust a man on a platform ever again. It won’t matter how spiritual he is, or how learned he is, because I was so badly lied to once I will always keep my ‘exit’ light on just in case I need to get out. Organized religion is unfortunately run by imperfect men, no matter how sincere they may be they can’t get it perfectly right, I cannot expect them to either. We were taught as Witnesses to trust implicitly what the Governing Body said, we were also taught to trust the elders as our shepherds and trust their judgements even when it was so clearly and obviously a wrong call.
I think that with this training to trust so completely when we leave that ‘button’ is still there and needs to be crowbarred out of or brains because in trusting another so completely we are utterly not trusting our own consciences or reasoning. Imperfect men cannot be implicitly trusted as if they will never do anything to hurt us or always know what is best for us. How can they? How can we? We can only do our best and give each other understanding or forgiveness when things go wrong or advise is incorrect.
With growing up in an abusive home I saw my mother beaten terribly by my father when I was very young child. I swore to myself then that if my boyfriend or husband hit me, even once, I would leave him. No questions, no time for apologies, I would pack my bag and I would be gone, any children involved they would come with me. That was it, it was my line in the sand. Step over this, its over, I don’t care how much I love you. That is a pretty serious promise to make at 6 or 7 years old, but I was dead serious. I never wanted to be in the same position as my mother, crawling on the floor trying to get away from my fathers fists.
Obviously I did tell my husband about this promise and he completely agreed with me. He would help me pack if he ever done anything like that. He had seen some awful stuff and he would never raise his hand to me ever. We have been together for nearly six years now and not once has he ever raised his hand to me. With consistency I have learned that I can trust him in this. Does that mean he has never hurt me? No, he has, I have hurt him too – but we have forgiven each other and learnt from it and thankfully grown closer together.
When it comes to spiritual guidance and shepherding that is on a level that requires far more accountability, but at the same time we have the ultimate responsibility for our own beliefs and actions. When you are finally free to make your own decisions don’t just give it up. No matter where you are in your journey, be true to yourself, be honest, even if its hard to hear or understand, we really do need to like ourselves and embrace our own experiences so that we can be in a healthy place to learn to trust again. I suppose what I’m trying to say is you need to learn to trust yourself again first before you can learn to trust others.
We shouldn’t be looking for someone to tell us what to believe or think. We need to do that for ourselves now, and yes, its difficult when you first start in this because we are so used to being told what is right or wrong. We have to step up to the responsibility to ourselves to start making those decisions, what is acceptable and what is not.
This is turning into a much longer post than I thought – to close off, something I heard recently that really rang true for me was this – love of God is what has caused some of the worst atrocities known to man, crusades, inquisition, terrorism – instead we are told we should love our neighbour, which means everyone, we should love our fellow human beings, and that is what is being forgotten about in all the ‘love of God’ thinking. What about love for our fellow human beings, and giving them respect and dignity? Isn’t showing love for our neighbours how to show love of God?