Believe In Yourself First
Where to begin, let me see.... I was a member of the Worldwide Church of God from the time that I can remember until the age of 17. Then I was a part time member from then until the age of 20. I say part time because it took me that long to totally realize that the decision I was making, to "flee the flock" was the right one. Common sense told me to run, but there was always this little voice in the back of my mind saying "what if this is the true church?" Well needless to say...thank God for common sense.
I need to say right here that I in no way wish to offend any existing members of the Worldwide Church of God or any members of any of the spin-offs of the Worldwide Church of God, Global, etc. I am not your judge.. you are not mine, so if you're reading this, keep that in mind. You have my sympathies, that's all I can give you and I ask a higher being, whatever that might be, that your eyes someday be opened like many of our eyes already have been.
My experience in the Worldwide Church of God was not all bad. At least, oh I'd say 1% of it was good, that 1% being the friendships that I made through out the years with others like me who at the time were struggling the same way I was. I have been able, over time, to maintain a lot of these friendships and that is a great thing. But, I must say that I miss all of the friendships that might have been if it weren't for "sticking out like a sore thumb" in high school etc. We were a "light" yeah, a strobe light maybe.
It was a struggle for me to leave the church. I was so pulled by its force and by its magnetism. I guess that's why cults are so hard to leave. Its funny though, looking back now and seeing so many things that just went on unquestioned. That was another thing that always "ticked" me off. Never being able to ask questions.
One of the questions that has always burned in my mind, over the years, was this: In light of all the changes the church made, having X-mas, celebrating birthdays and all of the "pagan holidays," allowing people to work on Saturdays (that way the tithe could keep a comin'), if these were Gods laws, preached by Christ himself, what would EVER give any MAN the right to change them??? No one has ever answered that question. I must say the ministers can really skate!!! I never wanted the "text book" answer, I wanted a true heartfelt answer. But I do understand that thinking for ourselves was strictly prohibited.
What ticks me off even more is the fact that my brother never was around to enjoy these "Pagan holidays" with me. The pressure put on him by the church was too much, so much that he ended up taking his own life almost 8 years ago. I know that there were other things happening in his life at the time, peer pressure on a 17 year old is tough in the best of circumstances but put the added weight of "obeying Gods laws" and it is really too much for some of us. In his note he said "I tried to do it Gods way but I can't" Wonder what he meant by that? What kind of a merciful god would allow something like this to happen. Not just to my brother....but to the many members of Worldwide Church of God who has taken their own lives. I know that these types of things were never communicated during "announcement time during services" I really believe that it was looked at as" lost income" from the "big wigs" point of view.
My family, as well as many families, gave up a lot and made many sacrifices for this church. We were able to escape with our dignity at least. I think the problem now is trying to find something to believe in. What is our purpose now? Enjoying life as it was meant to be enjoyed? That can be hard when you look back on the wasted years and everything that was lost.
What was lost? Lets see, family members, careers, money, love, friendship, material possessions (a small thing I know but still worth mentioning), peace of mind, comfort with ones self, inner peace, respect for self as well as others, oh, and yes, lets not forget....the chance to visit "Petra". Maybe someone will write us when they arrive.
I remember growing up as a "YOU" member in the church and all of these weird conversations a particular minister used to have with us around sex. He called it SEX ED" Well, call it what you want buddy. But you know, looking back, who can blame him? He was probably just following the example set by our fearless leader, old Herbie!!! I know, I know, that never happened. Whatever!!!
I witnessed certain things "first hand' by a "Minister of God" in our area, and was told to my face that I did not see what I saw!! Right on sir I didn't see nothin!!!!
I remember writing a letter to his boss at the time as well. Nothing was ever done although I know he no longer preaches the "doctrine" any more. Maybe he finally got some much needed help. Can you say therapy? Yeah, yeah, I know...I need it too. Hey, knowing is half the battle right?
I can look back on this experience with bitter eyes but know that its not worth the energy to expend. My life is finally getting back on track and I have a very loving wife to thank for that. I almost lost her in all of this. The suicide of my brother was the hardest thing I have ever had to face. I don't put all the blame for that on the Worldwide Church of God but do know that there were added pressures there that should have never been put on a 17 year old. My heart goes out to all who has experienced this pain. There are no words to ease the loss. Time will never heal the pain you just learn to cope a little better day by day.
R.TAs far as a higher power goes, I say to that "Believe in yourself first, the rest will take care of itself".
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