by Kim Krecek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Layers upon layers of pain
I joined the precursor of the ICC, the Crossroads/Boston Movement, in 1987. I joined so bright-eyed and innocent, so stupidly naive, yet thinking I was such an adult and so cynical. You need some background to understand why.
I underwent some fairly horrific abuse, both sexual and emotional, while I was growing up. The effects of said abuse were deep and profound. I won't go into grave detail -- the facts alone are gruesome enough. I think the major role it played in my life was the intense lack of self-esteem, the self-hatred and the feeling of never truly belonging anywhere, of feeling like I had to act all the time, because if people knew the real me they would despise me. Most who are familiar with issues of abuse know these are some classic effects. This isn't the story of my childhood, though, but it helps to place the rest of my life into perspective.
When I was 14 my family and I moved to Tucson, Arizona and I became friends with a girl my age named Laura. She introduced me to the "traditional" or "mainline" Church of Christ and I began to participate. I was an "Easter and Christmas" Lutheran as a child, but even that went away after a certain point in time. My family was nominally Christian, but didn't belong or go to any church on any regular basis.
After being introduced to the Church of Christ, I was baptized after the first few times I went with Laura to church. I had no idea what was going on -- they did altar call, I went forward and one of the boxes on the response card was "I want to be baptized." I knew I wasn't baptized and thought I should be, so I checked the box. After asking me a few questions, I was baptized. It was such a big deal to everyone, and I didn't know why.
Anyway. I came home and my parents were disappointed that I had been baptized because they said they would have liked to have been there. I became active in the CofC, youth group, etc. I had some friends, but I still never felt like I belonged. Everyone else's parents went to church with them, I went with a family who eventually became my "spiritual parents" (Neil and Polly) and I am close to them to this day. My parents were happy I was going to church, it beat drugs and gangs to them, and they knew where I was. I went to church camp every summer up in the mountains at Mt. Graham, where eventually I was re-baptized (in a horse trough) by my spiritual dad, Neil. That is what I considered my real baptism, because by then I knew what was going on, and I really understood what the meaning of baptism was. I think the preacher who baptized me initially erred on the side of enthusiasm, giving me the benefit of the doubt.
So when I turned 18 I joined the Army to exit stage left and try to leave the pain and the memories of childhood behind. I also left the Church of Christ behind. The funny thing was that the harder I ran, the harder the memories chased. I couldn't get away.
I drank hard. Sex meant less than nothing to me. I didn't understand that I had choices. I thought if someone wanted to have sex with me, I should have sex with them, because that was all I was good for anyway. At the same time, I worked harder than anyone else because I needed to prove myself and belong. Of course, the harder I tried, the worse things became. Hard thing about grabbing a tiger by the tail -- letting go. I was in major denial. I knew I had undergone abuse growing up, but I minimized it -- I was an adult now, it shouldn't be affecting me, it wasn't really that bad, etc.
If I hadn't been an MP in the Army I probably would've used a lot of drugs, anything to dull the pain of life. I became very passively suicidal -- taking idiotic chances, setting myself up in situations that were inherently dangerous -- not hard when you're in an adrenaline junkie environment that encourages risk-taking. I went to Korea and ended up messing up my back doing something stupid. While I was in the hospital I was sexually assaulted while sedated by one of the male Army nurses. The subsequent mental trauma and the legal process involved in his prosecution set a chain of events into motion that was a lot like a series of dominoes falling down. My mental protections that I had spent years building up were falling down and I was losing it badly. My back problems became worse due to the stress and I was eventually medivacked to Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver, where I underwent a lot of physical therapy and my back eventually healed up.
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Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so lonely
One of my barracks-mates was a member of the Denver CofC, which was then a member of the Crossroads movement. By then I had been away from the CofC four years. I had no clue there was even a Crossroads movement and knew nothing about it. I thought it was just a young, fired-up church with a lot of people my age. Back then Rick and Sarah Bauer were evangelist and women's counselor. I started going to church fairly regularly, and decided I needed to "come home" and re-commit my life to God. I started studying with Jean and Randy. He was a doctor/major at Fitz, so we had a lot in common, and they both reminded me of Neil and Polly back in Tucson. I finally thought that I had found a place where I belonged. People accepted me. It made no difference that I wasn't a "lifer", not raised in the CofC. Hardly anyone there was. There were so many people my age and we did so many things together. It was the family I never had, the relationships I had always craved. They had something and I wanted it desperately.
Because of my initial baptism, and then subsequent one, and then the life I led afterwards, everyone pretty much concluded, and I agreed, that I had never really been a Christian, that I had never truly committed myself. So I went through all of the First Principles, (no "kingdom" study at that time), counted the cost and was baptized by Rick Bauer and by Randy. I felt so clean, for the first time in my life I felt whole and happy. I got out of the Army, wanted to go to college. My whole life became revolved around the Denver church. I became an assistant bible talk leader very fast, and was on the fast-track for full-blown leadership.
I joined a group of girls that Sarah counseled, all of whom had been abused sexually in some way. We got together every week and talked and prayed and tried to work out our collective problems in a Christian setting. It was really the first time I ever got into counseling or told people exactly what had happened to me. That was freeing in and of itself. I would've killed to be in that group, but all I had to do was be baptized. A Faustian deal, one might say.
Several months later, the Denver church underwent Reconstruction. Kip McKean came and gave the "rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem" speech. I can still remember the mesmerizing effect of listening to the man speak. I found myself nodding, amening, etc., the whole time, along with everyone else, and yet when the whole thing was over, I couldn't really remember much of what he said. He truly is a gifted orator.
Sarah and Rick decided to go to Boston for "further training" and we were going to have Preston Shepherd for our new evangelist, and in the meantime the Wootens led us. Back in the day. Membership in the Denver CofC was officially zero, and we all had our reconstruction. It starts at the leader level and then on down to the most recent convert. Even Jean and Randy decided their baptisms were invalid and were "re-baptized".
My "reconstruction" wasn't all that bad, as things go, because my baptism was fairly recent and I was doing all the right things anyway. The one thing I was hit hard on by Kerri Uhrlaub was that I couldn't tell her the names or how many men I'd slept with. It sounds horrid, I know, but that was the truth. I had no self-esteem and sex didn't matter. These are the kind of things one confesses to during Reconstructions, Life-Talks, whatever the jargon is nowadays.
After Rick and Sarah left, things stayed fairly stable, a few changes but not much. I moved out of Randy and Jean's house and into the flat in Boulder, preparing for school and the Bible Talks there. Then I went to national guard drill. My discipler was less than pleased, but there was no way to get out of it, so they made me these little cards with Bible verses on them for me to study out every day I was gone. I also called almost every day I was gone, and spent all my spare time reading my Bible very conspicuously. No sin for me! Most everyone thought me exceedingly strange, to put it mildly. ;)
I came back to Denver and just started noticing little things. I was rebuked for getting my hair cut short without getting advice. (Silly, I know, but that's the kind of memory that sticks with you.) I was playing on the floor with the two-years olds during services and a brother walked by and was thus lured by me into the sin of lust, because he saw me on all fours on the floor. I needed to be more "modest", more "deferential", more "agreeable", I needed to imitate my discipler more, in dress, in attitude, in speech, in mannerism, in everything. Yes, that's my true personality all right. <not>
I had an offer to go on another two-week training mission for the Guard. I agreed -- I was only working temp and the money was easy. Boy was I rebuked for that! I went anyway, and I really started thinking. I realized how far removed from the events of the world I was, and how good I thought it at the time. I realized how much I had changed, and they weren't very good changes. Everything just seemed wrong. I did a lot of thinking, but this time I didn't have the little flash cards and didn't really feel like reading the Bible. I felt like tubing on the Colorado river instead. ;> (national guard at work).
By the time I got back, I was seriously questioning everything I had seen in the church. I talked to my family and really listened to what they were saying, for the first time in months. My mom was giving my phone number out to everyone possible to call me and hopefully talk some sense into me.
I started thinking about leaving Denver. I called up a friend of mine from the Guard who was a Denver cop. I asked if we could get together and talk and we scheduled a "ride-along" for his day shift that Thursday.
Wednesday night at services my discipler and the lead sister in the flat I lived in (with 4 other sisters) were simply appalled that I was going to be alone with a non-Christian man for 8 hours in a car! I was advised that I should spend more time on my Bible talk than riding along with a non-Christian. No matter that he was a cop, would be on duty, and I would be in full public view. That was just too much opportunity to sin. (Gotta watch those handcuffs... :)
Well I rebelled and did it anyway, and Dave and I talked a lot, about many different things. I wanted to talk to him because I knew what my family would say (run away!) and I knew what members of the Denver church would say (Danger! Hell!). My family had seen me change from a open-minded curious, outgoing, questioning young woman into a self-righteous, holier-than-thou, I-feel-so-sorry-for-you-because-you're-just-so-lost close-minded supercilious prig, and were actually considering having my brother hire deprogrammers. This was back in '87 when they still did that sort of thing.
What Dave said I still remember: "Kim, if someone was telling me where to live, what job to have, what to do with my time and my money, who I could spend time with and who I couldn't, how I should dress and how I should cut my hair, I wouldn't call that a church. I'd call that a cult."
I decided to leave that night. I stopped by Randy and Jean's house because I had lived with them and I felt very close to them. I still had some things in their basement and wanted to pick them up and I felt like I owed it to them to tell them myself that I was leaving.
At that time I rationalized my decision. I was just leaving Denver, I wasn't leaving the church, and that I just wanted to go home to Tucson. I was 22.
Randy and Jean were very upset, and talked with me a long time and prayed a long time. Jean went so far as to ask me if I wanted to be just like my mother, since that was who I was going home to (back then that was not a compliment). Anyway by the time I got to Boulder all the telephones had rung off the hook. All my roomies were getting ready to go to Devo, and had been advised not to talk to me, to just let the leaders talk to me. They had a prayer circle, very consciously praying for me and excluding me from participating.
I called my mom the next morning, and I said "Mom, I want to come home, but I don't have any money and I don't know what to do." I had already had multiple calls and talks with our lead sister and another roomie who actually "dared" to talk to me. She was also the only one who helped me pack up at all.
My mom advised me not to talk to anyone, and called my brother who lived in Denver. I drove out to Golden and out-processed the Guard. They actually understood what was going on (they had already come to the conclusion that I was in a very strange church) and were very understanding. They transferred me to the Inactive Guard and said I could hook up with a unit in Tucson if I wanted to. My brother got me a pickup truck and a storage bin for all my stuff. I packed up and the next day I left Denver in an 11 year old cutlass supreme with $200 bucks from my brother and an American Express card for gas and hotel; and in case the car broke.
I made it home and moved in with my other brother, rent-free until I got a job.
Nobody ever called me from Denver.
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Scared little rabbit
I found a job in Tucson and moved out of my brother's house within 3 months. My whole family took the attitude of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" concerning my time with the Denver church. They truly thought it a weird time in my life and the less they knew, the happier they were. Neil and Polly were a bit more interested, and for the first time I told them about the abuse I underwent growing up. A lot of things suddenly made sense to them, they had always knew something was wrong at my house but didn't know what. They blamed themselves for not questioning more -- for not pushing harder -- but at the time they were afraid of alienating either me or my parents.
They knew (and subsequently educated me) about the Crossroads movement, His Kipness, Rick and Sarah Bauer (Sorry, Rick and Sarah, but you both admitted your time in Tucson had a lot of bad times and error all around, and they have long memories) and their opinions of the whole Boston Movement and Crossroads-ism. (Thought it apostasy and a schism in the church.) I went back to the (mainline) Palo Verde Church of Christ, where I was met with welcoming arms. I tried, I really did, to become involved in the congregation, to "come home". I couldn't do it. Every song sent me back. Every sermon. I couldn't help but compare the congregations -- and the traditional Church of Christ is not as enthusiastic, as young, or as "fired-up" as the ICC is. I found myself growing increasingly critical and unhappy. The final service I went to was a Wednesday night, and the lesson was on Jesus' first miracle, turning the water into wine at the wedding banquet. The young man teaching the class was the equivalent of an ICC intern, gaining experience to go into the ministry. An older man in the congregation stood up and challenged the teacher about whether Jesus turned the water into wine or non-alcoholic grape juice. The young man unfortunately did not have the experience to deal with this kind of confrontation, and the lesson degenerated into a shouting match. It was truly a sad sight, and for me, it was the straw that broke the camel's back.
My best friend from high school was/is Catholic, and she invited me to go to church with her. No pressure, no force feeding. I enjoyed the Catholic services and began to feel a sense of peace in the church. I felt like a part of a church again, and I was happier. They had the RCIA program, (the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) which is the Catholic evangelistic program and what people go through in order to convert to Catholicism. Catechism for adults. I started going, and I enjoyed it immensely. I converted formally to Catholicism. My parents were slightly confused, but they figured if I had to go to church, Catholic was better than Denver. Neil and Polly were a bit more vocally opposed. <understatement>
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There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions.... We are still in for the season of suffering...How long? Not long. Because no lie can live forever.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Anyway while all this was going on I was working and supposedly enjoying my life away from the Army. In reality, I was confused, searching and nervous. I grew increasingly afraid that I was a failure, that I would never be happy. I didn't understand what was going on. (Abuse issues cropping up from not dealing with them.) Eventually I decided to re-join the Army, it may have been restrictive but it was stable -- I knew what was expected of me and knew how to excel. And it was safe. So I went back to Germany as an MP. I was, at that time, determined to make the Army a career. Unfortunately, all the baggage I was running away from followed me. Damn suitcases! I still went to Catholic services regularly and was a "good Catholic" for my first year or so overseas. I truly didn't want to make the same mistakes twice (or three, or four times).
But like Paul, I found myself doing that which I did not want to. I sank deeper and deeper. I drank harder and harder, I ran faster and faster. Finally I went from passively suicidal to actively suicidal, and I truly believe God kept me from using the .45 caliber pistol I carried every day. It was the most miserable time of my life. I had few friends, no church, no God, no reason to live, to continue, except perhaps pure stubbornness. I also had the memories of a few people, including Neil and Polly, who would be so hurt by my death. The only reason I could think of half the time to not kill myself was I felt sorry for the MPs who would have to find me and clean up after me. How co-dependent of me.
I finally changed duty stations from Germany to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where I was assigned to work as a guard at the Disciplinary Barracks, the military's maximum-security prison facility. Hated it. Everything I had tried so hard to repress and run from was coming at me full tilt, walls were breaking and I was losing it bad. I hit bottom, and I went to our Chaplain for help. A wise man, he recognized his own limits and directed me to psych services where, coincidentally, they happened to have the best psychological counseling program in the Military, because of the prison. They have to provide counseling to the inmates. What a coincidence, hey? God again. The one time in my life when I was ready, willing and able to ask for help and I ended up at the best place to get it. I happened to tear my achilles' tendon in my ankle and couldn't work inside the prison. I became the battalion commander's secretary and went to counseling sessions twice a week, something I probably wouldn't have been able to do as a guard in the prison. We were on shift work, and had little time off.
I started getting my life together, and gradually came to the conclusion that I didn't need the Army anymore. It served its purpose. I started to get the self-confidence necessary to get out and to live a "normal" life. Eventually I graduated from therapy, after going for over a year, and graduated from the Army. I grew up.
I liked Kansas City enough to stay here, and here I am still.
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A cat, when asked how many lives he'd used up, said "It's bad luck to keep count."
So here I was, living in Kansas City. I didn't really know anyone here, I was 28 years old and had never really lived outside my parents' house, the Army, or the church. I had lived up at Fort Leavenworth, which is about 40 minutes away from KC. I decided to continue in my therapy sessions with a new therapist here in KC, and continued to work on many of the abuse issues I had. I had a normal job, lived in a normal apartment with my two cats. I eventually confronted and made peace with my parents, especially my mother, for the past, and I let go of that old anger. My third brother, my molester, I haven't spoken to in years and I don't particularly have any desire to. He's still the same manipulative evil person he ever was, and has shown no inclination to change. Forgiveness I leave to God -- who is far more capable than I. But my relationship with my parents, both natural and spiritual, is much better. We all still have our neuroses, but they are more normal neuroses. ;) Everyone's dysfunctional to one degree or another.
I started to make friends here, became very good friends with a guy who was involved in the local pagan community, and through him became introduced to a very different kind of spirituality, a view of God I hadn't really had before. My mind opened up to a very different idea of what a relationship with God was. Around that time, "coincidentally," I was eating lunch at a local brewpub one Sunday. I was approached by a guy who either was the most self-confident guy I ever met or a member of the Boston church -- I knew right away. He positively exuded Boston. He gave me his number and asked me to a '70s dance "his church was sponsoring." I was curious, so I went. Welcome to the Kansas City Church of Christ (ICC). I didn't tell him anything of my prior involvement with Boston in Denver. I didn't want to be inundated -- I wanted to check things out and see if anything had changed. I went to various events, and was eventually invited to study. I declined politely and he disappeared. I started doing some research on the internet and found the alt.religion.christian.boston-church newsgroup, and a lot of anti-ICC sites. That was the first time I found out that Boston was now in LA -- the name had changed but the song remained the same.
I wondered if the ICC had suddenly reappeared at a time in my life when I was really starting to feel spiritual again, and so I did a lot of praying. I made a bargain with God. I would visit the three different types of churches, and the one that felt the most right, would be the one that I went to. I visited the local Catholic churches, the local Churches of Christ (mainline), and continued to visit the KC ICC church. I felt kind of silly in the Catholic church -- I just couldn't find that peace that I had found previously. I went to the mainline Church of Christ for a while, and talked extensively with the preacher. I just couldn't handle the similarities between the CofC and the ICC. I decided to give the ICC another try -- I thought perhaps it was where I should be, and that was why I was so dissatisfied elsewhere. I wondered if it truly was "the Movement of God." I started studying with Kathy, a zone leader (they don't let non-leaders study with "fallaways"). Kathy went to all the trouble of finding Jean and Randy and calling them where they live now, and asking all about my conversion, etc. I guess they are still "faithful disciples". I thought the amount of diligence to find out about my original conversion was extraordinary.
The study sessions were usually 4-1. I was being "broken." I started posting to arcbc and got to know a few folks here, talked with Sarah Bauer and Michelle Campbell and Catherine and a few others. Became friends with Bryan Slatner who was then a member of the Colorado Springs branch of the ICC. I did a lot of research and eventually I ran from the ICC.
My pagan friends stuck with me the whole time I was studying with the ICC, even when I began to "condemn" them for their beliefs and practices. I had started to go back into that self-righteous mode that I knew so well from Denver.
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Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
-- Aldous Huxley
I vacillated back and forth on re-joining the ICC for quite a while, and kept in occasional contact with my ICC member friend Ginny until January 1997 when I went through my "chariot ride." I'm going to go into a lot of detail on the Chariot Ride, because I know that a lot of people have thought of being "restored" to the ICC.
Here is what happens: I have been attending services off and on, but I turned down any and all invitations to study again. However, I really like Ginny as a person and would like to keep my friendship with her. We keep in occasional contact. Whenever I show up at services, I get vague put-downs "You just blow in and out like the wind" "We never know when you're going to show up." Now I take that to mean I am unreliable.
Then, some things are going on in my life. I was in a bad car accident and went through a lot of rehab. I had been date-raped right after I quit studying with the KC ICC the year prior. (Bryan Slatner's ICC roommates actually said God allowed me to be raped to bring me back to the ICC -- that was one thing of many that eventually led to Bryan's deciding to leave the ICC.) I decided to give this ICC thing another try -- I went ahead and had lunch with Kathy. We talked, and I decided to start going to services more regularly. KC was gearing up for "Women's Day" (March 1) There was a lot of fired-up talk at services about this day. I committed to going to Women's Day, paid my $30 registration fee, and talked about inviting my roommate. I was praised and petted for committing to this event, even more so for having someone in mind to invite, and for paying my registration fee along with everyone else so that February could be concentrated on getting "friends" to come to women's day.
Kathy was encouraged by the fact that I committed to women's day, so she asked me to commit to another study. I agreed. This study was to take place on a Monday night at Kathy's house.
I was invited to attend a special service that Sunday prior at the Hyatt in KC. I agreed to attend. It was a "reconciliation service" at which former members ("fall-aways") were invited to "come back to the kingdom." I sat with Ginny. Richard Dixson was/is the evangelist at KC. He preached a powerful message about the three stages of discipleship: Curious, Convicted and Committed. The end question was which stage are you in?
Well the obvious answer was that if you're not a disciple, not a member of the ICC, then you're not committed. You may be curious about God's word. You may be convicted -- believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah. But if you don't act, you're not committed. Don't I want to be a part of a church that is made up of committed disciples?
I got very emotional at this question. I realized that "committed" is a word that sticks in my throat. Richard made a point that seemed like a mirror holding up in my face: that a lot of people say they will be a committed disciple when they get their life together. Well how long are they going to wait? After the service, during the song of invitation, Ginny asked me if I want to go forward. She offered to come with me, pointed out that Kathy is right up there. I went ahead and went forward. Kathy asked me what my response was. I reply that I realized that "committed is a word that sticks in my throat." She replied: "Well, we'll give you a tonsillectomy."
Ginny and I talked for a long time after the service. I shared a lot with her about my life, about what was going on. I felt very close to her. She and I and some other sisters (I am the only non-member) went out to lunch. We had an enjoyable lunch, but conversation, to me, seemed a bit forced. The study was set for the next night at Kathy's house.
Ginny was there, along with a house church leader. We talked a lot about what was going on in my life, about why I quit studying the prior year. Kathy recommended I read I John, to understand better about God's love for me. I agreed. Kathy mentioned a devotional on Friday night, that she thought would be good for me to attend.
We set up another study for Thursday night. I wanted to have time to read I John and to really reflect on it. I sensed that Kathy was not happy with this choice, but agreed to it. I went to Wednesday night service, but I was not feeling well -- I have asthma and it was acting up. Thursday I went to the doctor and cancelled the study. I stayed home from work on Friday. Kathy and Ginny both called me at home, asking if there's anything they could do, and really encouraging me to go to the "event" that night.
I felt better, so I agreed. Then I found out the name: A Chariot Ride. I was told that there will be food, some videos, and some sharing. A devotional. I should be prepared to share a little bit about what's going on in my life, about why I'm studying. Didn't sound too intimidating, but I insisted on driving myself in case I had to leave early because of my asthma.
I arrived along with 30 or so other people. Members outnumbered non-members at least 2 to 1. Richard Dixson was there, and gave an outline of what was going to happen that night: the night was called A Chariot Ride after, of course, the Ethiopian Eunuch, and is designed to take those who are "sitting on the fence" as it were, and to get them "over the hump" and to make a decision -- to become a disciple. He said there will be a video clip from Upside Down, a musical about the book of Acts put on by the NYICC, then a sermonette, then some sharing by members about what the kingdom means to them, then another Upside Down clip, then another sermonette, then more members sharing about some particular difficulty they had to overcome in order to become a christian, then another video, then a final sermonette. Then the non-members would be invited to share any decision they may have made.
The first clip is "the Big Splash" from Upside Down. It's light, humorous, about baptism. The sermonette is in a similar vein. The sharing encouraging. The second clip is the Ethiopian Eunuch from Upside Down. (there is video difficulties so this clip isn't shown -- but I have seen it before -- it's a bit more serious, but still kind of funny). The sermonette is about having humbling yourself like the Eunuch did and being open to instruction "Do you know what you are reading?" asks Phillip. "How am I to know unless someone explains it to me?" replies the Eunuch. More sharing from members about things they had to overcome in order to be a disciple: family members being against membership; their religious upbringing, etc.
The third clip is a music video. There is singing in the background, and it's the whole crucifixion scene. The actual crucifixion scene of Jesus is very intense. They show his clothes being cut off. They show him being whipped until his back is bloody. The lashes on the cat-o'- nine tails leave red trails each time they hit Jesus' back. Bits of flesh drop to the dirt. They show the spikes driven through. The crown of thorns being pushed onto his head -- and the blood running down his face from the thorns going in. I can't even remember the song -- but I can picture these scenes in my mind like they were burned there. The whole room is silent.
Then Richard gets up and talks about being committed, and how committed Jesus was. He gives his sermonette. I don't remember much of it. Then he invites everyone who is studying to share their decisions. The first to share is a man who is to be baptized that night. I am next. My voice is hoarse from what I've just seen. I state that I want to be restored to the church -- not re-baptized, but restored. Everyone's "decision" ranges from wanting to be restored to wanting to study further, to baptism. But everyone speaks. No one is unaffected.
Afterwards we are all praised for our decisions and for making them public, so that we can be publicly accountable for them. The man who is to be baptized is baptized. I get the feeling that there is almost disappointment that more people didn't say they wanted to be baptized.
I set up another study with Kathy and Ginny for Sunday after service and before the Super Bowl party. In the meantime, I'm to pick up a tape at Kathy that Nick Young preached during the Dallas reconstruction. It's to examine my conversion. I listen to it on Saturday evening, and write down the questions. I come to the conclusion that my conversion is valid. It's a hard tape to listen to.
Sunday I give the tape back to Kathy. The service is on the mind of Christ. I go over to Kathy's after services, and she and I and Ginny talk for a long time. The issue that gets hammered on is if I ever, truly forgave my brother for his abuse. If not, then I wasn't a Christian, my baptism was invalid. Eventually I end up crying intensely. Going home I listened to the music tape from Upside Down over and over again. I had kept it all those years from Denver. It calms me down a bit. I am still very emotional though. We had set up another study for Monday night.
I go to the Super Bowl party for the singles. It is fun, a lot of people just enjoying the game and the food, etc. There are a few people holding deep conversations, and studying the Bible, but they are the minority. I don't feel much like anything -- I'm very depressed. I make myself put everything aside and try to enjoy the game.
Monday it snows to beat anything in KC. We can't meet at Kathy's house, there is a foot of snow on the roads. I call Neil and Polly to talk and to tell them I'm going to re-join the ICC. They are dismayed that I am considering getting involved with the "Boston movement" again. I try to say that the church has changed, that it's "not that way" anymore. They say (and Neil's a deacon) that as long as Kip's in charge, as long as there's an unscriptural hierarchical system, that nothing's changed. Tiger's can't change their stripes. They would rather I go to no church than to be reinvolved with the ICC, but they love me whatever my decision is. They don't want to see me hurt.
Kathy is determined that we study that day even though the roads are impossible. So she and I study by phone that evening. She is determined to get me to agree that my baptism was invalid. She keeps up the pressure until I just give in and agree to everything she's saying. I am "broken". I have a "soft and contrite heart." I have nightmares that night. I am depressed.
We set up another study for Tuesday night. After thinking all day, I decide not to go. I called and left a message just saying I wouldn't be there. I didn't give any other explanation, and let the machine pick up any calls (and there were lots).
As Pooh Bear says, I went to my thinking spot, and I thunk and thunk and thunk. And as I thunk, I realized that if the only way I could be accepted was to agree with everything whether I did or not, then I didn't want to be there. That pretty much ended my quest to be "restored."
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I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.
-- Frederick Douglass
Anyway, throughout the past year I tried to maintain some of the friendships I had made with members of the KC church. Ginny and I occasionally had lunch, but eventually quit contact. I found out just how truly conditional that friendship was, and I've finally come to accept the fact that you truly cannot have it both ways with the ICC. I wish it weren't so. There are so many wonderful, caring people out there. But it's an us v. them mentality, and if you're not with them, you are against them. I wish it wasn't so, but that's been my experience.
I have instead delved deeper into my spirituality, into my relationship with my God/ess. I now proclaim myself pagan and I am not ashamed of it. The relationships I forged and the spirituality I have achieved have been the most steadying, rock-solid ones of my life. I am at a place and time where I am not only proud of my life, but I am enjoying my life. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Life not only looks good, it *is* good, and I am enjoying myself, my life and my spiritual journey.
I don't know why, after all this time, I have decided to post my story to the REVEAL page. There is a risk, a sense of being vulnerable -- here is my life, to a million strangers. But it seems the right thing to do. Perhaps now, after all these years, I have achieved acceptance, I have achieved peace, I have a life, I have a purpose, I have a God/ess. I wanted people to know that there are many other alternatives to the ICC, that leaving the ICC doesn't mean leaving God. That there are many differing views of God. That not everybody who is pagan or has a different religion from you is doing so out of ignorance of the Bible.
I wanted to tell people to be just a little more tolerant. To be just a bit more understanding. To be just a bit less judgmental. To know that you truly don't know where anyone is coming from unless you, too, have been there.
I just want to say that if I can survive my life, and still believe in a higher power, still have a deep spirituality and reverence for the Creator and the Creation, then so can you, whoever you may be.
We will pray with those old Druids
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