It takes a great deal of courage to follow the Lord’s call and leave the only church you’ve ever known. When I shared my story of leaving extreme fundamentalism, I was trying to deal with the trauma in one sense, but I also wanted to find camaraderie and support from others via the internet. I had become aware that I wasn’t the only one experiencing the turmoil of finally seeing the world through different eyes.
Over the years, I’ve had numerous expressions of thanks as people have commented on my blog posts or contacted me via email or Facebook. I’ve also had my share of ill-will directed toward me, as people assume that our dramatic change was a cop-out and an excuse to live it up in the world. In truth, it was the hardest thing my wife and I ever did: we risked alienating ourselves from both sides of our family and ruining the only real friendships we had.
There are now a lot of ex-fundamentalist blogs out there. And there are a host of other “survivor” type blogs as well. Some exaggerate the problems of fundamentalism, others jettison any connection with Christianity at all. The internet is a mixed bag, for sure. But it has helped shed light on the beliefs and practices of any group. Mormons have found the internet and are starting to see the problems in their church’s historical dogmas. And countless others have been rescued from cults as they do their own secret internet research.
Like anything, the internet in the wrong hands can be bad. But the truth is not ashamed of honest inquiry: which is why Christianity has and will only continue to flourish in the internet age.
I say all this by way of introduction as I want to direct your attention to a new blog from a Facebook friend of mine. It is called Leaving the Village and describes his own exodus from a legalistic, controlling faith community. His story is very similar to mine, in some respects. And for those struggling to decide how to proceed in their own faith journey, reading his story may be a blessing. He doesn’t try to trash his former church but is sharing his heart and how it felt to go through the process that lead to his “leaving the village.”
In his message to me he shares his motivation for the blog:
Hey Bob, your blog and story were a huge help to me when I was walking away from ——. Just simply knowing I wasn’t alone was one of the biggest things I needed to see.
I just started a blog to try to tell my story and help young guys in the same way you helped me. I’m trying to get the word out about it, but I’m not linking directly through my own social media yet. I don’t want my former pastor to just dismiss the blog as a hit piece. I’m writing with a bit of anonymity, but not pulling any punches.
Anyways, I was wondering if you might consider reading the first post and possibly sharing it on your blog. No pressure, I just wanted to ask you to consider it.
Regardless of what you do, thanks again for the encouragement you gave me.
Go over and read his first post. Then bookmark his site, as it promises to be good reading.
Here is an excerpt to get you started:
It’s hard to imagine unless you’ve been there. One decision, one moment changing the whole course of your life and the life of your family. Regardless of your story, everyone faces life changing decisions at some point, but the feelings of angst and terror seem to be multiplied when those decisions involve leaving a religious cult.
I know, the word cult is a loaded term. It’s also pretty polarizing. Those within the cult never see it as a cult. If they did, they would leave. But those outside it look back in and, at least in my case, ask questions like, “How did I stay duped for so long?” or “Why do people stay?” Calling something a cult has far less to do with its message and far more to do with its methods. But again, that’s a subjective definition that someone inside a cult is bound to disagree with….
My goal is not… to correct misguided beliefs or point out the flaws of others. We all hold presuppositions, more than we care to admit, and attempts at correcting your presuppositions will only go as far as you allow them.
Instead, I want to share my story–a story of angst, a story of searching for truth, a story of a guy looking for a God who was there all along, guiding each step of the journey. I know my audience is small. Not too many people grew up in “a village.” But if you’re one that did and you’re reading this, then know this, you are not alone. Rather than try to convince you of one position against another, I simply want to meet you in the journey and share in the feelings and longings that can be down right terrifying.
My prayer is that you know the road you walk is not one walked alone. Leaving the village and embracing the mystery of a life of faith in Jesus was the best thing that ever happened to me.
~ Originally posted at Fundamentally Reformed