Overcoming Religious Church Trauma and Reclaiming My Walk With God
Sure, believing in God may sound great on paper but, realistically, there is so much trauma circulating around the world that stems from religion.
You may be asking,
How do I know this is all real?
Why should one trust a book that was the basis of so much harm to so many people?
Or perhaps even, you wonder why you should believe in a God when your own life was so full of trauma, where was He then?
And what about all the other deities that other cultures believe in? Who and what are they and how do they fit into all of this? While I look forward to diving into all of those topics over the course of this blog, today I want to share my story.
My own experience with religion and how I came to know, and trust, God as real as well as how it all blended together with mysticism; trust me it hasn’t been a bed of roses … or perhaps it has but damn do roses have a lot of thorns! Once you navigate those however the sweetest aroma and beauty awaits you.
My story starts as an infant. My parents attended a church called the Philadelphia Church of God. Think Jehovah Witness and Seventh Day Adventist style. We worshipped the Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, kept all the Old Testament Holy Days, the 10 commandments were our strict ideology, we couldn’t listen to popular music, Harry Potter was the work of the devil, makeup, nail polish, and hair colour were sinful and prideful, and we never dared observe birthdays, or any of the traditional holidays like Christmas, Halloween, or Easter as those were pagan.
Sounds like a lot of fun right?
But when your life was on the line, and it was ingrained that if you failed, not only was eternal damnation not bad enough, but there was also going to be a major global war and while those in the church would be led to flee to Petra, everyone else was going to have a hell of a time. Weeeee!
Such fear, ostracization, and judgement were secretly the church’s tenents (which actually goes against the very things that Jesus preached).
But when, as a baby you are raised in such a cult, realistically, you never really know any different. Except, in a way, I did.
Ever since I was a kid I felt different; I saw spiritual figures in windows and outside at night, my teddy bears I could swear talked to me in my mind … I’ll never forget trying to sneak into my room because perhaps I could catch them actually moving. It wasn’t all fun and games though and was actually a very fearful time full of demonic attack with my teddy bears being my closest allies protecting and guiding me … it wasn’t until I was an adult I recognized it was God and his angels talking to me through them.
This was also a very lonely time as our Church dismissed any supernatural abilities and I always had a knowing if I spoke up about what I experienced I would likely be branded as possessed, crazy, or both, so I kept it all a secret. As a teenager I started looking into stories and practices of witches and druids because it was the only thing that relatively made sense; I also started reading books of meditation and other religions and trying to make sense of the madness that was going on in my brain. We finally left that church as a family when I was 13, however in such an organization, when you leave, you leave. All my friends would literally hang up the phone on me; having experienced such, and
almost wanting to go back to the madness just because of them, truly makes me understand as an adult the grip that religion, or even abusive relationships can have on people. That longing for the familiar and the “love”, even if it’s not healthy, is so powerful, and the depression that can follow is real even if your new situation is so much healthier.
After we left I started diving deeper into exploring the spiritual realms, but also what I was experiencing became stronger, and darker. It finally got to a point when I was 17 that I couldn’t handle it anymore; I was going mad and didn’t know what was real, because honestly if there was a God,
Why wasn’t he saving me from this?
How was I to deal with everything I was seeing and hearing?
Google wasn’t what it is today so I felt very alone with no one to turn too, and in such I cried out one day for it all to stop … and it did. Freakishly, but much to my relief, stopped. I tried to live an ordinary, 3D, mundane existence and managed to do so for quite a few years. No voices, no crazy dreams, no visions … but life also felt meaningless. What are we all here for and doing?
I had so many questions and no answers. As a result I lived quite a dangerous, reckless life, because what was the point anyway other than to “have fun”, might as well test the limits of my humanity.
I then had two kids when I was 21 and 23, and was just “floating” through life, doing all the things that needed to be done as a mother, but felt so empty and with no purpose God had a plan though. It all started at about 24 with learning about Reiki; an energetic healing modality that I was surprisingly adept at as a child, but never really knew what it was. I heard about it from an acquaintance and soon found myself mentoring under a lovely, magical, elderly lady named Mary Underhill. I then started getting into oracle cards, and once more resumed my search for purpose, for the mystical, and to make sense of everything I experienced as a child. I studied druidism, explored and trained under a shaman, and dived deep into the world of crystals.
In 2018, at 29 years of age, came my foyer back into organized religion.
At this time I still thought the Bible, God, Jesus, was a scam, a fraud, a made up story backed by egotistical, judgemental assholes. I believed in love and light, I believed in supernatural beings, but I couldn’t bridge the gap. I felt bad however that my children didn’t really know who Jesus was, or any of the classic Bible stories I had had to memorize as a kid like Moses, or Noah, and I wanted my children to have the chance to decide their beliefs for themselves, though really, I wanted to put down this gnawing feeling once and for all of any doubts I had that maybe there was something to religion.
I wanted to prove everyone wrong, and my own beliefs right; I wanted to prove that it was all bullshit.
My first time stepping back into a church I was clearly full of trauma, resentment, and anger. I had my walls up, I had a fight to pick, but while I was ready to “poke the bear” so to speak, I needed them to take the first swing. I walked into that church with dreads, dressed as a (loving) pagan hippy covered in tattoos, crystals, and wearing a pentagram (fun fact, a pentagram isn’t actually a demonic symbol!); I wanted to provoke their judgement … but instead it didn’t happen.
Little did I know God was with me and was getting ready to tear down my walls just like He did at Jericho.
You could say I got lucky, for I know that so many others, sadly, do not get the experience I received because, despite my differences, I was welcomed with loving, open arms. I still, however, felt the worship was a mockery, and I doubted God. They may have won round one but I was in for the long haul.
I started attending Church every Sunday (after my religious upbringing of Church on Saturday that sure felt like a scam), and I somewhat started appreciating the worship, I was intrigued by the way they interpreted the Bible, and I will admit, I appreciated the love and unity one felt all there together honouring God … I was slowly getting worn down, but I had questions.
I still was practicing Reiki, I was still pulling oracle cards, I still burned sage, I was curious how the pagan days intertwined with the Christian holidays, and wasn’t sure who was right; I was also still curious whether God as they described was even real. About 4 months in everything changed.
I had the option to attend a workshop one weekend about manifestation, or to attend a weekend at the Church, called Alpha, talking about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I thought the weekend was silly for I already knew everything in the Bible they were discussing due to my upbringing, but something was pulling at my heart … I consulted my pendulum and was shockingly directed towards attending Alpha.
God had a plan and was ready to strike.
On that Saturday night at Alpha, our pastor, James asked everyone in attendance, “Who do you need to forgive, so that God can forgive you?” (Matthew 6:14) I suddenly had a revelation that I needed to forgive myself for all the pain I had gone through, for all the walls I had up, and I finally needed to let them down, to let myself know it was going to
be okay … suddenly I was transported to a vision in my mind of a being who I knew was Jesus Christ, holding an unlit lantern, stating that He had been watching over me all this time, protecting me the best way He could, but that He couldn’t truly help me unless I asked Him too.
I saw so many flashbacks of my life (I told you I lived recklessly), so many city alleyways I walked through looking for death, so many risky situations, so many abusive relationships, and I saw just how badly all of those could have gone if it wasn’t for God’s protection and how much He just wanted to love me through it.
Here, I thought God wasn’t protecting me from all that harm (that admittedly I was mostly inflicting upon myself) when little did I know He truly was there and how bad it could have been.
As I came back to consciousness I immediately started dismissing everything I had just experienced when a woman came over to me and said she had looked over at me from across the room and had just seen an angel standing over me.
What the heck did all this mean now??
How did God and Jesus Christ, his birth and his resurrection, all play into the things I have felt and experienced through Reiki, Crystals, Meditation, and more?
As such I have since spent the last 5 years studying everything I could over the Bible:
I have read it at least three times
I took Bible college courses
I’ve read countless books
Yes, I even did get baptized
God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible are very real, and accurate, however, our understanding and interpretation as humans is not always so accurate.
As humans we are prey to the ego, and yes, to other supernatural forces at work (that’s a post for another time).
And yes, as stated at the beginning, sadly there is a lot of trauma in churches,
there still is a lot of judgement, and there is a lot of mis-information and denouncement of the supernatural. One may not always get as “lucky” as I did with my initial experience venturing back into religion.
But, I promise you, connected with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, you will find a way forward, and you don’t have to do it alone.
God knows your needs, and if you can trust Him, He will guide you.
He guided you here to this post after all.