I have had this rant in my head for a while. It may not make sense, it may be unresolved at the end, but I must stop the words from swirling in my head, keeping me pissed off.
I have long contemplated
how to if I should write this post. It is really difficult for me, because it most likely will offend some people. I have wondered if maybe the offensiveness may not exactly come from the fact that I wrote it, but rather themselves? Then I tell myself that sounds fairly judgmental, and it is not a nice thought. But, I must be honest with the fact that the thought is there.
I’m about to say things that I am not supposed to say out loud. These things are not supposed to have their “covers pulled”, so to speak. They are things that some people say, but never really do. And, it delves into family and religion. Are you about to hit the red X button, since I mentioned the word religion? If so, please wait. I’d ask for your indulgence, and for you to stick around for just a bit, as I’m not about to get all preachy on you. Just state some observations. About families. Possibly about religion. But mainly about “religious” families. But first, I have to talk a bit about my background…
I grew up in a conservative baptist home. So conservative, in fact, that Southern Baptists are viewed as being too progressive and broad-minded. I wasn’t allowed to visit any other churches, should my friends invite me to theirs. There were two exceptions, and I’m fairly certain it’s because my parents were tired of hearing me ask if I could go to a church that a friend invited me to.
I grew up knowing one thing as an absolute. If you did not do what God wanted you to do, he would take away something you loved to “get your attention.” That particular belief followed me into adult hood, and was my motivation for anything church related. If I missed any church service, then I would figuratively cross my fingers and hope that I wouldn’t get into a car accident that harmed my children. I would also get a phone call from the parents on Sunday afternoon,
asking making sure I went to church that day. If I hadn’t gone, and didn’t have a justified reason for non-attendance… well, lets just say a bit of a talking to ensued as well as guilt for possible harm to my children.
Given that particular “belief” as a guideline, I did everything I was supposed to do as a “christian” woman. I also knew what roles my parents wanted me to have in church, and so I did those as well. I’m a people-pleaser, and the people I wanted to please most were my parents. It was easier to keep them happy than to deal with their disappointment and guilt. It was a life of people (parent)-pleasing service to the Lord. And, boy, could I fill bunches of those church roles well. Go, me! The “perfect Christian!” Exactly what God wanted from me… Um… no, not so much. A couple of years ago, as I was going through a separation, I realized that I was doing it all wrong. It dawned on me that if I believed God has given me a free will (I did, and do), then why on earth would He punish me by harming someone I loved for not doing what He wanted me to do? Doesn’t that take the very essence of “free will” away?!
Here’s where the family/religion stuff collides. For some reason, some families will not accept other family members choosing to live life their way in a different way. This is so unacceptable to them, that they feel it necessary to interject their beliefs in whatever way they can. Whether it’s appropriate or not. Whether it’s hurtful and undermines other family members in their role as parents or spouses. And I get pissed off when I see that happening, as I’ve been there, done that, got every damn t-shirt on the rack. I hate to see this kind of behavior rearing its ugly head again, in another place, trying to get people I care about to collect these same t-shirts.
WHY do people do this to those they “love”?! Why do they feel they have the right to undermine a parent in the way they raise their child? Who gives them the right to step in and then say, “well we did it for their own good…” after hearing that their actions were inappropriate? And, when called on their behaviors, why do they make lame excuses instead of saying, “I’m sorry.” Not, “I’m sorry what I did offended you.” or “I’m sorry you viewed what I did as inappropriate.” Just… “I’m sorry.” Which means… “I will not do it again.”
I don’t get why, with our families, we can be hurtful, insulting, mean, and then justify that with, “I thought I was doing what was right.” We would never dream of walking over to the neighbor’s house to straighten out their kids’ beliefs/actions/thought processes when their parents went out for an errand, so why would we do that to our own family members?! Why do some people feel their way to raise children is the ONLY way; and if you aren’t doing it right, we’ll make damn sure we fix it when you’re not around to stop us.
I could go on and on with my rant, and these are not exactly the things that have happened in my life. But, the manipulation is the same, the intent is the same, and so is the attempt at guilt…. “You’re not doing it the way we want. We have to fix it, because we can’t fix you. So, we’re going to get away with fixing as much as we can (in your children) until you call us on it, and then we’ll all be so hurt that you saw what we did as malicious. And we’re sorry you feel that way, but we really know best. And…. if you wouldn’t have said anything to us, then there would be no problems between us right now.”
Since I stopped going to the churches I was raised in, I have gained a much different perspective on religion. I was sucked very much into the ritual of doing things the way others said I should. I lived my life according to their standards, and I did things so I did not have to deal with any judgment, manipulation or their attempts to guilt me. Sadly, I’ve seen better “christian” behavior from others outside of those churches. Don’t mistake me, I know that not all people attending the churches I grew up can be categorized that way. I know some amazing people, who are incredibly kind and loving to me and others, because they live what they believe. But I’ve been exposed to a lot who are sadly lacking in the “live what you speak” category.
I remember Mister putting a rather blunt comment on my FB page when I was going through a lot of the garbage with my family. He’s rather blunt, never side-steps issues, and has no hesitation in calling people on their behaviors. He basically said that he was sorry my life had been exposed to people who were not behaving in Christian ways, despite their claims otherwise. A few days later, he told me he got a notice that there was a facebook message from a particular family member. (To keep this in context: At this point, all family members were no longer speaking to me, nor was I speaking to them. None of them had ever met, spoken to, or corresponded with Mister.) I told him that she was one of the greatest Christian women I knew. Then he opened facebook and read this message:
Subject: My mother raised me to believe if you can’t say something nice about someone say nothing.
[Body of Message:] “Nothing.”
Mister and I just looked at each other. Clearly, my opinion was wrong. He said, “I’m NEVER setting a foot into one of those churches, if this is what they call “Christian” behavior.” I agreed one hundred percent. How could I argue with that, given the result of behavior from someone who lived their entire life attending that kind of church?!
Some family members will always feel they have a right to be harsh, and mean, and manipulative if it serves their wants and needs. All of these experiences have made me realize the kind of “christian” woman I do not want to be. The kind of mother I do not want to be. The kind of family member I do not want to be. I want to love God, love my family, and treat them all with respect. If I disagree with someone, I disagree. I will strive to not make my way the only way. Because we’re all different, we’re all human, and we all make mistakes. And we learn from them. And we certainly don’t need some family member trying to live our life for us.