Friday, March 29, 2013


Something I have come to realize is that we truly are unique individuals. While we are similar, no two people are exactly alike in how they think, what they like or dislike.

Knowing this, it's no surprise to me that people choose to live differently and operate through life differently. But yet it seems like everyone thinks their way is "Best" and that it is what everyone else should choose to do as well.

Well maybe it is best. . . FOR THEM.

What works "best" for someone else simply may not work "best" for me. When I try to force myself into that mold that works so well for someone else- is it really any surprise that it just doesn't work?

I'm speaking pretty generally here as I do believe studying science and psychology can teach us a lot about ourselves and we can use this knowledge to thrive as human beings AND AS INDIVIDUALS.

Yet it seems to be a common theme throughout history and today- humanity seems determined to convince- or force- everyone to conform to one "way of life" (ok, really I mean religion). And then it seems one specific "religion" isn't enough, everyone needs to agree on every single minute point or *gasp* there must be something wrong with them!

It wasn't until I had grown up quite a bit that I saw people (both religious and non) be accepting of those whose beliefs were not identical.

And by "accepting" I don't mean just saying "Well they can believe what they want! They're obviously wrong (not as biblical, or not bible based at all), but I'll still "accept" them!"

But rather, "we have arrived at different conclusions. Mine is right *for me* and theirs is right *for them*. I am not better than them. I am not more enlightened than they are. We just view it differently and neither view is superior to the other, rather it is a mark of our individuality."

I greatly prefer the second example of acceptance. I cannot express enough appreciation for those in my life who portrayed this to me and taught me to celebrate human individuality instead of expecting everyone to fit into a specific box and follow specific rules and believe all the same specific details of minutia.

What a breath of fresh air it is to appreciate our individuality as humans and to really, truly, be OK with it.

What upsets me is when I see harm being done to fellow human beings as a result of certain beliefs/ways of operating through life. Sometimes it is small harm, sometimes it is great harm. While I can respect differences and individuality, I absolutely loath watching people make excuses to harm each other.

And I absolutely do NOT believe the answer to ending (or reducing) harm to fellow human beings is pushing everyone to give up their individuality.

I'll leave my thoughts there for now!

Friday, March 15, 2013


People used to really bother me. I used to find myself frequently hurt by them. I found myself upset that others were able to "get away with" things that I would NEVER get away with. I held everyone to a certain standard, which meant I was horrified every time I saw someone do something "bad". Whether it was sex before marriage, an abortion, gossip, immodest clothing, using the "wrong" version of the Bible, or listening to any music with a rock beat.

You see, I was taught to uphold myself to these standards. I needed to avoid sex before marriage, immodest clothing, using the wrong type of Bible, listening to rock music, wearing pants- so on and so forth. I was taught I need the approval of authority for. . . well anything I guess. And as a woman, I would ALWAYS be under authority- the authority of a MAN. God would let me know what he wanted THROUGH my "authorities" (parents/pastors). I needed to submit, submit, submit. (This is a general conglomeration of many things I learned either through the homeschool material I was taught growing up, sermons I heard, conferences I was taken to, and listening to other adult conversations growing up.)

Yes this was mostly a result of the incredibly harmful teachings of Bill Gothard. Read more about his dangerous teachings at recovering grace. Many, many Christians find his teachings quite horrible and would probably blame my extreme fundamentalist background for why I have decided to walk away from religion for the time being. (I'll explain more later on why this isn't the reason, but we'll leave it at that for now).

When it came to "People", to my fellow human beings- I had very unrealistic expectations when it came to my relationships with them. I had unrealistic expectations of their capabilities as human beings.

I also had unrealistic expectations for myself. As a result, I was constantly angry at myself for not being able to achieve these expectations and I was constantly angry at others for not meeting my expectations. It caused a lot of pain, self hatred, and plenty of other negative feelings that were very difficult for me to deal with as a child and teenager.

Although I left the teachings of Bill Gothard and the fundamentalism movement in general after Adam and I were married, I look back and realize that I still expected unrealistic standards from myself and those around me. This created a lot of turmoil between friends, family, and my own marriage.

You see, unmet expectations can be a very nasty thing. If your expectations are way out of whack, you are going to be let down again and again and again. You are going to be hurt again and again and again.

Now, does this mean you need to have uber low expectations in order to not be let down and hurt?

Absolutely not.

But I found after years of slowly adjusting my expectations to something FAR MORE realistic, something actually attainable, I stopped feeling so hurt. I stopped feeling so let down.

Here's a glance at my current expectations:

I understand that I am human and will make mistakes. I believe mistakes are not necessarily a bad thing, I think they are a valuable learning experience I can add to my knowledge of life. I no longer so concerned with "avoiding" mistakes and then regretting them- as I am with learning what I can from each situation and appreciating what can be learned. I have certain personality traits and features and I will allow these to flourish instead of trying to make them fit into a particular "mold". I will never intentionally hurt a fellow human being, and WHEN this happens unintentionally (which is inevitable) I will assess the situation and act accordingly to achieve a resolution if necessary.

I expect my life partner and I to operate as a team. We are equals and achieve results and decisions in our life through discussion, debate, and compromise- NOT submission to one party or the other. I also understand that due to human limitations my life partner is incapable of always treating me the way I want to be treated 100% of the time and will probably make a lot of mistakes. As will I. When this happens, it is NOT the end of the world. We will communicate about the situation and come to a resolution. I will remain more focused on achieving a resolution or solution to any issues instead of focusing on problems and removing them (which is simply not always possible).

I expect that the people around me will live their lives in their own ways. I respect their personal decisions with their relationships, life partners, children, finances, etc, etc, etc. I expect that their beliefs will probably not align entirely with me or even remotely close to mine. I think this is their very personal right and decision and I absolutely have no opinion one way or the other if their beliefs and life practices are "right" or "wrong". I believe humans are meant to be individuals and I celebrate the fact that there will be many differences in what we choose to believe and therefore how we choose to live. 

I'd love to say that I'm this perfectly open minded person who just has nothing but overflowing respect for everyone. But let me assure you, it's a work in progress.

I often catch myself caring just a little too much what my fellow human beings are choosing to do with THEIR lives.

And so I ask myself the following questions. . .

  • Is he/she causing harm to him/herself?
  • If so is this harm legitimate? Am I really qualified to discern if it is harmful? 

If no, then I celebrate their individuality and ability to make their own choices. They may not be decisions I would make, but that's PERFECTLY OK. There's NOTHING wrong with that.

This is why I feel that I better identify with humanists. Basically my standard and expectations for humanity is simply "If they aren't causing harm to self/others, I REALLY DON'T HAVE AN OPINION."

This is part of the reason I am SO. MUCH. HAPPIER. I feel so much more free to love and celebrate PEOPLE. To love their individuality. To celebrate that we aren't meant to be EXACTLY THE SAME, nor close to it.

Now, I also realized that as much as I would LOVE for certain people to like me or have a certain level of friendship/relationship with me, or to simply treat me a certain way- it's simply impossible. Not everyone is going to like me. Not everyone is going to get a long with me. AND THAT'S PERFECTLY OK. I don't need them to. It no longer upsets me or causes me any pain, I can am free to simply shrug it off and instead of pining over the situation I can enjoy being around those do like me, enjoy being around me, and want to spend time with me.

As silly and stupid and ridiculous as it was, I used to look at people (particularly fellow christians) and think "But you're SUPPOSED to treat me (a certain way)!!!! You're a CHRISTIAN!" And then I'd get all hurt and upset when they DIDN'T MEET MY EXPECTATIONS.

You see, from a very young age all I saw people do around me was talk about the standards and expectations we should meet as christians. Whether it was in material that was taught to me, a sermon or conference I attended, or just the conversations of those around me: I listened to them say things about others. . .

"I can't believe _____ lets their 12 year old dress that way."

"_____ is pregnant and NOT married. What a poor choice."

"_____ and _____ are getting divorced. Biblically, they shouldn't remarry, they should reconcile if they want God's blessing on their marriage."

"_____ hasn't accepted God's free gift of salvation, so _____ is going to hell."

"____ and ____ were having marriage problems. After attending my conference, they realized their problems were a result of their premarital sex. So they apologized to God for their sin of premarital sex and their marriage problems were solved."

"_____ is living out from under authority, he/she will not receive God's blessing in their life and is opening his/herself to danger by not staying under the protective umbrella of authority."

(^ is the tip of the iceberg. And I wonder why my standards and expectations were so messed up for so many years?)

Those were some examples, by all means "Christians" aren't to blame for this. It's just what people do. It doesn't matter if you consider yourself a christian or not, you probably have lots of opinions about what people should and shouldn't do.

For myself, I found this way of thinking caused a lot of pain and unhappiness and quite frankly- hurt relationships.

So at some point I realized how ridiculous thinking this way was and how much unnecessary pain it caused me. And trust me, I still fail regularly. That's why I started asking myself questions on whether or not the behavior or choice was harmful to humanity and whether or not I was even qualified to discern if it was harmful. If they answer is no, I let it go. Not only do I let it go, I appreciate it as the individuality of humanity. (Or try to, like I said, work in progress).

Now, this doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good ol' debate or sharing my differing opinions and views with others and listening to theirs. It simply means I'm not going to get so UPSET or HURT because someone disagrees with me. I'm also not going to toss god or the bible around like some sort of "proof" that's I'm right and whoever else is wrong (it actually sickens me to think about how I was taught to do this and how I used to do it regularly).

I guess I've learned not to take things so personally. No matter WHAT you believe, this is a good thing!

I've simply found that adjusting a few expectations and my life/world view not only made me happier, but I found it aligning less and less with my former religious beliefs. LET ME CLARIFY that I do NOT think religion = an inability to be loving, respectful, and open minded. I know SEVERAL wonderful people who identify themselves as christians who have also found a way to be HAPPY, not take things so personally, and to respect and love people and not treat them different no matter WHAT they believe.

You see I don't really like dividing people into categories  especially those of "Christian" or "Non Christian.". Because guess what? Whether you're a christian or not doesn't determine if you're judgmental or loving/accepting. PEOPLE can have these qualities REGARDLESS of whether they are religious, christian, atheist  humanist. . . the list goes on and on.

What I'm simply trying to say is that FOR ME, it helped to adjust my expectations. It helped me be happier and enabled me to really accept and love those around me. Others probably find a different way to do this and it may or may not include religion. Either way-  All I know is that I'm happy and feel more love than I ever felt before in my life for my fellow mankind.

Is my way the RIGHT way? Am I so special and enlightened to have "figured all this out" in my own little brain? Are others who choose to live different or similar to how I used to live making the same mistakes/living in the pain I was before I adjusted my thinking/expectations?

NO. Absolutely not!

I am simply writing down what I have discovered about myself and what I have learned to make my life happier and more fulfilling. There is much more learning and growing for me to do as a human being and I do not intend to ever stop learning and growing, which means my views and thought processes are going to evolve and change throughout my life. I may well completely change my world/life view and my expectations over the years- but for now this is what I have found works for me and I am happy where I am at the moment. 

I hope I was able to make some sense of what I wrote. It makes sense in my head, I swear, not sure if it makes sense when written out and read! So please. . . bear with me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Perhaps I was never a good Christian in the first place. . .

One of the reactions to my last post included the following:

"I'm not surprised"

Honestly, I feel the interpretation of this is: "I knew you weren't really a good christian all along (or a christian at all)."

And this could very well be the case. I probably never was a good christian, which probably explains why I was so depressed and in so much pain for so many years. When you try so hard at something and fail, fail, fail- well that's pretty painful and depressing.

However, I can tell you this:

I DID truly believe. . . That Jesus died for my sins

I DID truly believe that I needed God's free gift of salvation to get into heaven (and I truly accepted it).

I DID enjoy reading my Bible, in fact, I desired it.

I DID pray to Jesus/God and it was truly heartfelt

I DID truly desire to learn more about the scriptures and live a holy life and become more Christ-like.

These feelings and desires and beliefs were all very real to me at one time.

So. . . WHAT HAPPENED? Did I just suck at Christianity all along? Were my beliefs just not strong enough???

The conclusions I have currently arrived at, I did NOT arrive at them lightly or quickly. It took me YEARS. Literally, years. It was extremely gradual, but I can trace back to when I first "woke up".

It was the year 2007. Adam and I were supposed to be "courting". We had been taught that dating was unbiblical and destructive.

It was no secret to anyone that we were incredibly in love with each other. We enjoyed each others company SO much. We were the best of friends and wanted nothing more than to just BE TOGETHER. (which can be quite challenging when you're courting- following a bajillion rules and needing a "chaperone" at all times).

We just wanted to be together. This proved to be incredibly challenging with all the hoops we had to jump through and rules we had to follow- and I wanted to jump through the hoops, I wanted to follow the rules. I wanted to do it all "the right way".

But it just WASN'T working. First the subject of marriage was brought up to us almost immediately. Then when we wanted to marry, suddenly we were told we weren't ready and needed to do xyz first.

It completely tore me apart. I didn't know what to do. I loved this man. I wanted to be with him. But I wanted to please God and do what was right- and if I didn't do exactly what everyone was telling me to do- then I wasn't "doing it right."

I cannot even describe to you the amount of pain and anguish this brought me. I did NOT know what to do. So I prayed. I read my Bible. . . I STUDIED my bible trying desperately to figure out what to do. I studying all the material on courtship that we were supposed to be following. . .

And then it happened.

My brain turned on. I made a decision. I arrived at a conclusion all by my little self without the help of anyone else (at the time I thought "God" has helped me, and who knows, perhaps he did ;) )

I realized I didn't need all this "courtship" material to tell me what to do. All I needed was the scriptures, not ONE MANS interpretation of the scriptures.

And so Adam and I did something very bold- we married. Without anyones permission, without anyones blessing. We just filled out the paperwork, met at the courthouse, and moved in together.

The next few years would prove to be challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. But I can tell you with absolutely certainly that THAT was the turning point in my life. That was when I finally made my very own decision and used my brain to think all by myself without a parent or a pastor telling me what I should do/think.

The funny part is, my belief in God and my dedication to the scriptures is what brought me to that point. I think that's why I don't "hate" god or the bible or see them as completely invaluable. Both have been part of my journey to where I am right now- and I can appreciate that. But it is time for me to let them both go. It's been a day by day journey that has taken several years.

So perhaps I never was a good christian. Maybe I didn't believe everything good enough or believe it "the right way". Perhaps I was always meant to become a liberal secular humanist/potential atheist because I was such an awful christian.

All I know is, my brain had an "aha" moment back in 2007 and it was the most freeing and amazing thing that ever happened to me and it has made me a happier, more fulfilled person.

One last thing I would like to clarify before ending this post:

I'm not really upset or afraid of "what people will think" of me or what they'll say about me. You see, I've already been through that. I already went through that when I was still a dedicated, practicing Christian. I've accepted it and moved on.

I just really hate the idea that people are going to believe I am "hell bound". I hate it, because I've felt it. I've felt the pain and sadness of believing a loved one is going to hell. And I really hate for my loved ones to feel that pain and sadness. I don't actually believe that I am "hell bound" nor am I afraid of it. Rather, I love and care about many people who I know will believe this about me and it makes me sad.

Thank you all for your love and support. I am so incredibly fortunate to have you all in my life! <3

Monday, March 11, 2013

I am a happier woman than I used to be. . .

I know I haven't had a consistent subject matter for this blog and that I tend to ramble with some randomness. I think I am avoiding writing about what I WANT to write about. I want to write about the changes in my life, in mySELF. But I'm afraid to talk about it publicly. I share articles in private messages, post comments in other areas of the WWW, drop various hints on my own facebook page, but I haven't written directly about my journey to a happier life.


I want to. I really want to write about it and talk about it. I want people to know who I really am. Since I was young writing about my thoughts and feelings has always helped me understand myself better. Just "getting it out" in written word has always been therapeutic. So it's no wonder that I really WANT to write all about "it".

But I'm scared. I'm scared that once I expose myself for who I truly am that people who I love and care about will be very, very unhappy. And not even "unhappy" so much as they will be deeply concerned, hurt, and afraid.

Afraid of what?

That I am going to hell.

I already know what it's like to believe that a loved one is hell bound. I know the fear and the pain that it brought. I know how I wept and would pray desperately to Jesus that they would just SEE the truth. . . that they would accept Jesus so they could go to HEAVEN instead of hell!!! I know this pain and it is very real.

So I am faced with two options:

1. Continue to watch what I say and let people believe that I still believe what I used to believe. To let them think that I attend church, read my bible, or pray. That I am teaching my child to be "godly" and "holy".

2. Expose myself as someone who has changed their entire belief system to something that aligns far more with (evil) secular thinking.

Option 1 isn't necessarily "bad". It just means that I'm not going to fully open my current life beliefs for all to see. But by doing this, I feel that I am letting people believe things about me that are no longer true.

Option 2: if I start openly displaying my thoughts and opinions on life- many will become instantly aware that I no longer fit the criteria of being heaven-bound. Because of their beliefs I know it will be difficult to accept and cause a certain amount of anguish. (Not that I can blame them, I'd be pretty upset too if I truly believed someone I love was on their way to suffer eternal punishment).

So you see my dilemma. But you can also see that by writing this post at all, I am heading in the direction of option #2.

My main point is- I am a happier woman than I used to be. And I would love to share with my loved ones how that happened. I would also like to dissect my own thoughts and questions and discuss them with others. And I'd like to do this publicly- online or in person.

It's been a journey. A gradual one that's been happening for the last 6 years. But I am happy with the outcome and I am exciting to continue journeying.