Sunday, February 05, 2017

You Are Not Alone

The following discussion is excerpted from the Extoots group on Facebook. I thought it might help others, and asked permission to post it here with names removed.

Request:

My husband and I are both trying to figure out what we truly want and need in life. For a while now we have both felt an urge to leave the church and find out what else God has to offer us . . . we are both scared of fully leaving and being shunned by our families and friends. If anyone has some advice or support to share, it would be so welcomed! 

Responses:

You need too do what's best for you, you'll always be judged by someone. Let your inner rebel come out and really not care what others think. Don't let fear stop you!! You'll probably have some relief after.
Shunning is painful, and many of us lost friends and even parents and siblings after we left. But even more painful is spending one's brief time here on Earth accumulating self-loathing and regret for wasted opportunities, for a life not lived, for love not given. Sending you lots of strength as you navigate these waters.
It is truly hard and scary to leave. Just follow your heart. I prayed many nights before I finally left for good. Through many new experiences I found out that there was so much more to my relationship with God than the (church) teachings. I've never felt more at peace or closer to God than I do now. I was shunned by many of my family and the church members. As time went on my family became more accepting and some found the strength to leave also. Good luck with everything you decide to do, and know that we all are here for support
When you start living for yourself and not worry about what other think, you will be free, free indeed.
The day I turned 18 I moved out of the house. Mainly because I did not want to partake in going to church anymore. My parent knew that, and we did not talk for a few months. Never once though did I stop being myself, and my parents have now decided that they would like to have a relationship with me. It took time for them to get to this point though. I am lucky that they decided they with to have a relationship with me even if I chose something different than what they have taught me. There is hope for you as well. In all honesty going though this all some days are extremely hard! But I now got to a point where I don't care what others think and just do what makes me happy. It a blessing. Wish you the best. If you ever need any other support feel free to reach out to me. I recently went through this myself. There is always hope.
Praying you will find that peace with God . . . In His Word, you will find contradictions to what you hear in (the church).
Blessings on your new journey to freedom and real life!! 
Leaving the church and deciding to be your own person takes immense amounts of personal effort. I have suggestions and they may sound extreme. But honestly if you want to change your life . . . you have to do something life changing, right? So my suggestions are:
  1. Take a vacation or a job with your partner away from the isolated community for a few years. Go outside your comfort zone. 
  2. When you get to this new environment. Learn, if you haven't yet a few skills that allow you to tap into your inner most self. That core that is so sacred and peaceful that no trauma can ever touch. I suggest meditation, yoga, and spending lots of time in nature.
  3. Tapping into the inner self will bring an immense amount of wisdom, and desire to express yourself. Learn skills of creativity like painting and dancing or poetry and drama to share that beautiful content you hold in you with the world.
  4. This sort of experience, if you make it this far will draw people to you. No longer will you search for relationships that are meaningful, people will find you and want to spend time with you to develop themselves. 
  5. You will begin to be reminded of old relationships as new ones are forming and old guilt will develop. That's ego. Continue the course.
  6. See the connection between (the church) and the little peaceful place in you. See the good in it . . . even after all it's trauma see the good, be grateful for the experience. But never go back.
  7. Take time to cultivate a faith that builds on what's inside you rather than what's outside of you. These are purely my suggestions. Do either what you will. I have so much empathy for you. Breathe easy homie.
Leaving is tough. I was the first person to leave in my family and didn't know anyone else who had left before me very well. My family reacted very badly and we went through a time of deep mourning. But time heals. Eventually all (except one) of the relationships I was afraid I may be shunned from accepted who I am . . . I’m planning to go to the conference for second generation former members this year! Feel free to reach out to me! http://www.icsahome.com/events/workshopsgas
My family has left the church (other than father) and I have to say while it's difficult, it was the best thing we ever did. My siblings are happy and excel in sports and school and my mom is remarried and happy. PM me if you ever need someone to talk to!!
Praying for you. You've got us . . . We won't shun you. Moving far away works but it's not for everyone.
Always find what feels right for you - what makes your heart happy and your soul sing. It'll be hard, there's no doubt about it, but you get to choose and I promise it's worth it. I'm here if you need anything.
Know that we are always here for support!
One thing that was difficult for me was to accept "unbelievers." After being taught all my life how sinful they were and self-righteous etc., it took time to realize they're no different from me.
I wish you all the best as you navigate these next steps.
The most important thing to remember is that aside from all of the legalistic issues the church has... they did teach you that your salvation lies only in Jesus Christ, and what you will find that might surprise you is that there are very many dear, dear devout Christians away from the church--what they would call "in the world." They have separated themselves from the rest of the Church of Christ, which is very sad, but there IS a church out there--and many good churches . . . God be with you!
Everyone who searches for God/Jesus with a sincere heart finds Him. It's a promise...
Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV) 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV) 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Leaving two years ago was the best thing I have ever done for myself and my children. It truly wasn't easy dealing with the back lash, and feeling so incredibly lonely for quite some time, but time and working with a great counselor has helped immensity. My family has since decided to love me and I now choose to see them again. I now have friendships outside of the "church setting" and it's really great knowing we don't just hang out because we go the same church. Besides having more love and compassion for everyone in this world, my relationship with my husband has grown to a new level after leaving.
I also am enjoying watching my children grow up free to see all the beauty this world and all the humans have to offer.  I am fully enjoying my "new life"
Having support while going through it really helps. If you need anything, feel free to reach out. You are not alone.
Readers, if you have advice, or a question of your own, please share in the comment section. Thanks!

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