It’s getting late, I should be drifting off to sleep about now. Jereme sure didn’t have any problems falling asleep, as his arm keeps drifting closer and closer to my head. But here I am, wide awake listening to him snore. I am lying here thinking about all the other ex-UPCers in my life.
Everyone has a story. All of them.
Through many different outlets I have been blessed to meet several other people who have left the UPC, all in various stages of their personal journeys. And something I have noticed is, they all have baggage. They all have, in some way, been effected by the fear tactics, gaslighting, or just plain doctrine of the organization. Effected in such ways it has stuck with them and has created a scar of some sort. It never seems to go away.
Some have remained Christians, some have abandoned God altogether. But for each life, there is a story about how they came to their current beliefs. All similar in beginnings, yet different in ways that have shaped us to our inner core.
It’s almost like an exclusive club. Unless you’ve been in it, you just don’t get it. But for those of us who have lived it, we automatically have an invisible heart connection and our conversations reflect that fact every single time.
It is awe inspiring for me to sit and listen to those who have similar experiences as mine. I have learned from them. No matter where they have ended up after breaking out, it is refreshing to hear their story.
I was at an event this week where there happened to be many of us ex-ers gathered in the same place. I looked around and felt encouraged. Do we have all the answers? Absolutely not. And I don’t think anyone pretends to, but we are doing our best and are clearly happy.
Connections like these have helped me on my journey so much. No one leaves the UPC unscathed. But those of us who left, had the courage and the strength to leave, and that is huge. I looked around and couldn’t help but smile. Even if they are struggling with battle wounds, these beautiful people are picking up the pieces and starting a life of freedom.
I have to think this scene makes God happy as well. He didn’t create us to live a life of misery. He doesn’t want us to be chained to a legalistic religion! If that were the case, He never would’ve sent Jesus to die. Christ died so we could be free from the law, why would anyone want to throw that amazing gift aside?
I grieve daily for those who I left behind, still living in bondage. My heart bleeds for them. It is a burden I carry. I don’t think that part will ever go away. But I find solace in the stories of others who have traveled the same road. Perhaps together we can make a difference.