People are. . . people. It does not matter what religion they adhere to or how controlling it is, all people feel emotion and desire relationship.
The media seems to dehumanize controlling religions. I remember when David Koresh and his followers died in Waco. I was in my late teens. I remember thinking it was a crazy story about crazy people. I thought of the followers as robots without the ability to think or feel. I do not remember ever considering the fears or passions they might have had.
In my high school drama class, we learned about The Third Wave and developed a one act production based on the story. Through that experience, I learned that we can easily fall prey to controlling leaders. I still did not know about the emotion involved.
I felt the secondary effects of controlling religion when someone special pushed me away in favour of his new church and then tried to pull me in with him. I felt rejection as someone on the outside. I felt manipulated and helpless. Later, when it was all over, I felt disappointment. Things had changed and would never be the same.
Now, I was the follower. I was the one on the inside. I felt every emotion possible. I did think. I did struggle. I felt fear and confusion. I also felt joy and love. When we left, I felt terrible pain and grief.
The people we left behind felt it, too. They went to church one morning and we never arrived. They called and we did not answer. They visited and we were gone. A family that had been part of their family, people they had lived and worked with for many months, suddenly disappeared.
One friend said it was like they had lost us in a car accident. The grief was surprising and terrible. It was real.
Every single person left behind contacted us by phone, email or facebook message. Some people call it a love bombing, a deliberate attempt to use emotion to recruit or influence. It was deliberate and, I assume from experience, orchestrated. Many of the words we heard and read were similar. I have absolutely no doubt, however, that they were sincere.
Some people questioned our integrity. They questioned the reasons for our sudden disappearance and called our attention to commitments we had made.
Many of them plucked heart strings as they addressed concern for our children. They questioned how they would fare without the support and protection of the community. They asked how our marriage would survive if not planted in the church.
A few wondered if they had done enough for us. Maybe we would have stayed if we felt more love or had our physical needs better taken care of. They thought that we might have stayed had we been blessed with a different means of income or a better home.
It was hard not to take some of these things personally and be further hurt. Every word was couched in love, though. We believed that most of them were sincere in their love for us. That hurt more than anything.
It might have been easier if they were robots without the ability to think or feel. It might have been easier if they were hateful, but they weren’t. Not really. They were real. Their pain was just as real as ours.
Had they been the only ones who loved us, things might have ended differently. Christ’s body, however, is universal and he wrapped his loving arms around us in very real and tangible ways. We were not forsaken. We were not abandoned. We were loved. And THAT is the part of my story I am most excited to share, because where there is love, there is life!
Are you new here and new to my story? It is a story of freedom and I’d love for you to hear it.
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