I have been a bit of a slacker about blog posts this last year. To be honest, my attention has been funneled more towards the podcast. The purpose of this, was to share my journey of healing from spiritual trauma, and thankfully, I haven’t had too much fall out from that as of late. I’m here to say, the hard work does pay off. Things get better and life does go on. Every now and again, however, I’m reminded of my past, and that is when I return to this blog once again.
When Jereme and I were contemplating leaving the UPC, one of our biggest holdouts was our children. Ironically, it was our children who pushed us to begin our quest for truth in the first place, and it was our children who kept us there for so long.
I have had many parents ask me about parent guilt. It’s common and only natural those of us who kept our children in a toxic church environment for any length of time feel some sort of responsibility for our decision to do so. I think those feelings, as difficult as they are to carry, only mean we care for our children in a healthy, loving manner. I also know every parent has regrets. The important things are, that we take responsible for our actions, make amends, and move forward. That is all we can do.
I say all of that to say this; as terrified as we were to take our kids out of “church”, I am beyond grateful we took that giant leap of faith and did so.
When we left the UPC, we took a two week long vacation to Florida to gather our thoughts. I remember watching my beautiful children sleep in the car on the way down, wondering if we were making a good decision. Like most other parents, my children are the most important thing in my life, and I was wrestling with everything I had always been taught was going to happen to them if we left the safety of the church. Remembrance of threats of everything from car accidents to them becoming drug addicts filled my mind. I had cut my hair, and by doing so I had supposedly unleashed all of Satan’s minions directly on to my babies. What had I done? What would happen to them?
I look back at that trip and to the person I was then with empathy. I wish I could go back in time and have a heart to heart with that mama watching her babies sleep in the car fretting about their future. I would tell her to relax! Things are going to be just fine! Accidents and drugs happen in or out of the UPC. Just look around at the church folk, not a single one of them have escaped some sort of trauma in their lives. Life happens, people make bad choices, it doesn’t matter what church organization you belong to, it doesn’t matter if your hair has been cut or not.
The good news is, God does not leave you nor forsake you.
Fast forward six years, have we had our ups and downs with our kids? Of course! Are they always perfect little angels who always make good decisions? Absolutely not! They do however, love Jesus, and that is what is most important. My daughter is going to school studying theology and apologetics. My son is still in high school, but loves to go to church and is not ashamed of his Christian walk in front of his unbelieving friends.
Did leaving scar them? Maybe. But it was also the best thing for them. I believe with all my heart my kids would not be as strong in their faith as they are right now if we had stayed. I’m not writing this with the impression I have been a perfect parent. I am also not so naive as to believe that my children won’t make mistakes. But God has them in his hand. He took what was broken and made it beautiful. My family is proof that walking out of the doors of a UPC church does not mean your family will fall apart.
Does that happen sometimes? Unfortunately yes. But I am under the belief that whatever the situation was to cause anything negative to happen, it was probably there while that family was attending a toxic church to begin with and was not caused by just leaving an organization.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because guilt is a heavy burden to carry. As parents, we love our kids so much I think parent guilt feels ten times heavier. But even if you raised your kids in it, or left toting your kids out the door behind you, you were doing the best you could with the information you had. Your kids will appreciate it one day. Don’t let guilt rob you of happiness, and don’t let the voices of a cult mess with your head.
You got this mom and dad!