First things first. Vacation was ah-mazing! Lots of Florida sunshine equals a great tan and plenty of pool time! It was relaxing and refreshing to spend time together without the kids. I feel blessed and renewed! And to top it off, my kids survived five days without me! That in itself gives me hope for the future!
Now to get down to the heart of the matter, what’s on my mind this week. Since we left the UPC over two years ago, many people, both in and out of the church, have come to me and opened up about their experiences. Most have a similar story as myself.
Before my fitting room cry sessions, panicked hair appointments and some incredibly overwhelming Sephora visits, (okay, I still get freaked out in Sephora) I was overcome by oppression. Many women who are both in the organization and those who have left have shared with me they have experienced this as well. With so many people having shared already, I find it hard to believe there aren’t more suffering quietly. Feeling like their misery is necessary for God to be pleased with them. It is beyond frustrating for me to think about.
I have had some negative feedback from my first blogs about “bashing” the UPC. Let me be transparent about my purpose and give a little backstory as to clear up any misunderstandings on the subject.
My intent is not to “bash” the “church”, only to make sense of my own feelings. And no, sharing one’s own experiences that just so happen to be about an organization is NOT “bashing God himself” contrary to what seemed to be indirectly stated about not only myself, but anyone who questions the UPC on a public forum. The UPC is indeed NOT God. Whew, there, I said it!
That being said, my beef is NOT with any one person who has been in my life directly. Yes, I have been hurt by several people I knew personally. Gossip always comes around to the person it was intended to be hidden from. However, I am not angry or bitter toward anyone in my past life. I am angry toward the organization of the United Pentecostal Church.
I write because I am angry, hurt, frustrated and probably a little bitter about what this “church” stands for. And yes, I am working on these feelings. The UPC as we know it today is based off of decades of lies and manipulation of men in power. They rule their members with fear. Fear of hell, fear of making their pastor disappointed and fear that they are and never will be good enough to earn God’s grace. These men have managed to squeezed everyone who challenged their power and authority out of the organization. Questions are not allowed or tolerated. The document that all ministers of the organization are required to sign states they cannot speak out or write against any standard of holiness the organization upholds. And why? What is the greater purpose?
The summer before my family left, I attended a UPC Youth Congress. Thousands and thousands of young people were all jammed packed into a professional basketball arena. It was quite the experience. The thing that stands out to me the most, is not any blessing I received from that service, but the thing I remember is the way it was brought about that these youth are the elite. The best of the best. How they were better than their classmates and peers because they had this Apostolic “heritage”.
Now, that message seems harmless, the children of God are in fact a royal priesthood the Bible says. But, the way it was portrayed and the way I had seen it portrayed time and again came across with arrogance and pride. The tragic thing was, we were no better than the Baptists down the street, the Catholics, even the atheists. The thing that sets Christians apart is the knowledge of the cross. The revelation of God’s magnificent grace. Nothing about our “heritage” makes us better than anyone. Humans are all the same. Everyone is undeserving by ourselves and there is not a thing we can do to help save us. Jesus did everything on the cross. He made the way possible, so we don’t have to follow the tedious mandates of the law.
When you leave this organization and your eyes are opened to such deception, it is so hard, at least for me, to not be upset with what these men have created. I love many of the members dearly, it pains me to see them living in such chains. I also realized the way my family was treated, the way my young children were treated when we left is a direct result of the elitism brainwashing those people have been exposed to. So, I don’t fault them directly, they were only responding in the way they have been taught. As has been passed down from their “heritage”. (It kind of pains me to use that word since the UPC has only been in existence since the 1940s, but to each his own).
I met an old friend for coffee today who has a similar religious upbringing as myself. Something he said stayed with me, as I have said it and have heard several others say it as well: “Once you have a revelation of God’s grace, everything changes.” It is so true. You no longer strive to follow rules in order measure up and appease God. You realize because of Calvery you don’t have to work so hard, you already are a child of God. He knows you’re going to screw up, that is already factored into the equation. I found, once I started walking in his grace, it was easy to trust in his love for me, and all of a sudden, the oppression that man placed on me was lifted.
I hope and pray every day that all my friends and family will get to experience this freedom!
Now, I have to stop here and start online shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding! I have a feeling this will be a slight fiasco as I am a little obsessive about such things. I have no idea why… (said with a bit of sarcasm.. maybe)…