"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: More stories of leaving

Friday, January 04, 2008

More stories of leaving

I hope everyone had a nice holiday season. :-)

Recent comments under Home for the Holidays reminded me that one of my favorite things about this site are the stories of people leaving Laestadianism. They remind me that I'm not alone, and they remind me that while we share many things in common everyone's path out of Laestadianism is a little different.

Feel free to add your story in the comments:

This is very interesting, as I have been pondering the ramifications of leaving for quite some time now. My biggest concern is how to deal with my family. Do you talk about it our just leave it be? What works? How has leaving played out for other readers? Has the family given them the cold shoulder or have they been able to get back to a "more normal" over time? If so, how long did it take?
I find it sad, actually that so many Laestadians find it acceptable to shun people just because they do not go to the same church. They separate themselves so much from anyone who does not beleive as them, that even when it is a family member or a close friend that leaves, they think they no longer have anything in common. Because of the separation from anyone else I think they really do not know what to do with someone who doesn't believe as them. They are used to relating with people who agree with them on most things.
I left, slowly, over a period of about 5 years. For a the first few years I was more or less 'riding the fence' and not knowing what life I wanted to live, but once I decided what I wanted and needed to do, I just quit going to church all together. Because my family had seen me come and go for some time, they didn't give me a very hard time, they just let me leave. I do occasionally get excluded from events that include my family and other OALC members, but other than that, our relationship is as good as I can hope for it to be at this point. Leaving the church can be a long, hard road, that rarely includes your family or anyone in the church's blessings, but having gone down that path and being who I am today, I am so thankful that I chose this path and I am where I am. Good luck to you.

See also some great posts by Free2bme on this topic:

High Control Groups
Unbearable Lonliness (No More)
One Reader's Journey
Cut and Pasty.com
At Last, a Place in Cyberspace



  1. Thanks SISU for the warm welcome. Ironically this site could post a banner stating "Everyone Welcome" and it would actually be true. We ex-Laestadians have a gift of knowing what exclusion is like and we are more accepting of others. Although it was probably one of the most difficult challenges I have ever faced life to date, relatively speaking it was fairly easy for me to leave the OALC. I only have one OALC parent, the other is a "worldy." If both of your parents were 3rd generation or higher OALC, and still married, I can't imagine how you could ever leave. Probably few in that situation ever do. I still have a relationship with OALC family. My challenge now is how to involve my children with them in a healthy way. I am completely happy with my Catholic christianity. But I will forever be tied to OALC in some way and I have learned (the hard way) to be comfortable with that.

  2. Bunless
    I was just explaining to an adult child a few weeks ago that who I am will always be influenced by my upbringing in the FALC. Being upset with me because I took so long to leave (when they hated it there as a child) is something I can't change. Having only one FALC parent (me) and the other quite comfortable in their own church, they will never understand how incredibly hard it was for me to finally break free. I, like you, will always be tied to the FALC in ways that I sometimes do not realize except when I have an AHA moment. I expect to have those for the rest of my life. I also refuse to be sorry because I was not yet ready to leave 15 years ago. God moved when he knew I was ready and strong enough to take the emotional loss. It is what it is. Your children will always be odd ducks when you mix with the OALC relatives. But isn't that better than being a cloned duck? Life is a journey of growth (hopefully) and we must get comfortable in whatever skin is required at the time. I hope your kids learn this. Just so they are forwarned to pity those who are so narrowminded that they feel the need to judge them. Sadly, my child feels only anger towards the judgement. My hope is with their own personal growth they will come to see that pity is a much healthier emotion.

  3. Thanks for sharing Anon 11:44. I am grateful my children do not feel like "odd ducks" the way I did (and still sometimes do). They dont even really notice any difference between my OALC relatives and everyone else. I have raised them to be "accepting of different customs" so to speak. They know people attend different churches and think little of it.

    I will add that my departure from the OALC was followed by many years of atheism. I had to ditch God altogether. But I was haunted by this fear: that I would get diagnosed with some terminal illness and go running back to the OALC to repent before my death. As this was the only God I ever knew. Years of battling this fear made me realize I had to find God - a God I could live with and die with.

    So I did a bunch of research. On the history of religion, christianity, judaism, a bunch of different faiths and beleifs. I finally concluded God must exist. Harder yet was concluding Christ was God and linking his crucifixion to absolution of sin.

    I finally made the "academic" decision to join the Catholic church which Christ founded (yes I know that's debatable - that's another post). My top motivations were that 1) the Catholic church lets you beleive in evolution and 2) they are the worlds largest charitable organizaiton. The part in the Bible about feeding the hungry, helping the sick and all that... seems pretty darn clear, yet I dont recall even a canned food drive at the OALC. Regarding science/evolution/critical thinking... I just couldnt handle any church that directly insulted my intelligence and actually condoned the undereducation of its members.

    Although my decision to join the Catholic church initially was academic, ultimately I did feel the real presence of the Holy Spirit calling me to serve God.

  4. bunless,
    check this out:

  5. Many Trails Home1/08/2008 04:58:00 PM

    Tomte, are you running the show these days? It looks like Free is taking a little time off. Must say there are some stimulating threads being woven here. . . some great, even-handed, insightful postings. And you're not doing such a bad job yourself! Thanks, from us bloggers. MTH

  6. Hello everyone! Come on, Aren't you all who have left going to post your stories on leaving? That would be some great and much needed reading for me. I need the strength drawn from such stories. I know that there are probably other stories posted within this site, but the search only brings up the original post, not all the comments that have certain words in there. It would take much time to start at the begining of the site and read through every comment over 4 years. Question for ttg or Free--Is there any way to change the search to include the comments? That would be great and easier. Thanks.

  7. Many Trails Home1/10/2008 12:50:00 PM

    Hi Anonymous (I would suggest you choose a pseudonym so we can distinguish you from all the other "Anonymouses" out there): I wrote my initial post describing my leaving on June 27, 2005 (under a different name). MTH

  8. MTH, Free is still in charge. ;-)

  9. Anon, unfortunately, I know of no way to include the comments in search results. I've wanted this feature myself numerous times!

    I'll do some research into it though, and if I can find a way to do it I'll post about it.

  10. I read and read the posts here. So much resonates with me. How can I find an assurance of what is right? What is right is the Word of God, the Words of Jesus Christ.

    So much of my fear comes from interpreting the word incorrectly. Who helped cutivate this fear? I think we know. Yet, I cannot shake it. Why is that? Why can I not make the distinction between what I know to be true and the unjustified fear I still retain, despite the Bible's own confirmation?

    I feel a times I am losing my mind. I know that this all sounds so vauge. I am just struggling beyond reason at this point. The very worst part, is this. The beautiful, pure, and innocent minds and hearts of my children, whom I have laid a strong foundation of things that AREN'T true!

    How can I correct this without enormous upheaval and hurt for them?

    I am physicaly still in the church, though my mind, conscience, and soul are out. With this though, has come a resolve that can only have been given by God, to know the TRUTH.

    How come for all these years, I have never even scratched the surface of the Bible? How sick is that? To profess Christianity, yet have no understanding of the word of God. Let's just skip understanding, and go straight to knowledge. I have had no knowledge of the Word of God.

    Only the blind faith in the spoken work of the preachers. I looked to them for everything.

    I know know that there is only one to look to. Jesus Christ.

    I am so scared. I pray for my children.

  11. Anon 8:29
    You are truly in a difficult situation. I know what it's like to profess Christianity yet not know a thing about the Bible or Jesus. There is real hardhip for someone to leave a LLL community and bring their children with them and "start over" with a new faith. Honestly you will have to think long and hard about that one. If you choose to leave, you must have a support group and a plan to address every aspect of your children's lives: social, psychological, spiritual. If you decide to stay, you may be able to set a positive example within. Be non-shunning, start a Bible study group. Stop using words like "world" and "worldlies." Take your children to community service events, find ways to serve the disadvantaged, regardless of their race or creed. Teach your children to be positive contributors toward the greater good. Not just focusing on the LLL crowd. Do what God calls you to do. Wish I had a magic answer. But I really sympathize with your situation and I will pray that you will make the best decision for your family.

  12. Anon, I would echo the comments of Bunless above. I was in your shoes at one time, and I so thought it was my fault that I couldn't see things the way everyone else seemed to. I understand the confusion and desperation to know the truth.

    I would encourage you to read the Bible as if it were brand new to you. Read a different version if it is hard to understand...you can find and compare the different versions online at BibleGateway.com. I find that the New Living Translation is easier to get. But when you read in the New Testament particularly, really soak in the meaning of the words, without adding in all the stuff that other people say. Read something like Romans 3:19-30. Or Romans 5:1-2. Or Romans 10:9-13.

    All of these reference the fact that we are saved by our faith in Christ, not through our ability to keep the laws, or do certain things right...

    I love reading Ephesians, because it tells me how much God delights in me and wanted me to be a part of His family.

    But know that your search for the truth will be honored by God. Put your faith in Him, not the preachers. They are human, too.

    There is lots of good reading here in this blog (thank you, Free, for hosting) but ultimately, you need to do whatever it is that you believe is the right thing to do. There are lots of people's stories in this post, just to mention one of them, and you might be able to relate to some of them.

  13. Anonymous,
    Your situation sounds so much like my current situation, I could have written it myself. I feel for you, I am where you are myself. With the same thoughts about my children. Uprooting them would be terrible for them now, but at the same time if I don't make a change, my children could very well be in the exact situation I am currently in, years from now. Married with children, in the church, and everyone in the family (children and parents) socially cut off from anyone, except those in the church. It is very hard. Very, very hard. I, like you, have no idea what to do to correct the situation. No matter what, it seems, there is no way to come out of this at least somewhat damaged, whether I stay or go. And that goes for everyone in the family.

  14. My heart goes out to those of you with young children who are struggling in the church.

    Like all of us with little ones, you may lay awake at night wondering: how will they grow up? Will they be happy? Develop good characters? Resist peer pressure and authority when needed? Have compassion for others? Love wisely? Respect and nurture themselves? Handle criticism and shaming? Be brave? Be responsible? Stay away from drugs? Go for their dreams?

    There is no end to the questions! We know we have power over their happiness and we doubt our ability as parents. We hope our "best" will be "good enough."

    We know our daily example is louder than any words. We know that how we deal with authority, curiosity, ambiguity, love and strangers has a greater impact on our their spiritual and mental health than any church or "belief system."

    Yet we sometimes miss the obvious. We cannot give what we aren't getting. So many of us were not parented well, and we want to "do better" by our own kids.

    We need to ask if our church (or belief system) is supporting US, as parents, to be our best selves.

    How is OUR character being nurtured? Is OUR character being encouraged in the ways of wisdom and compassion, or passivity and fear? Are we encouraged to develop an internal locus of control, or to rely on the church to determine our actions?

    Anonymous said "I feel at times I am losing my mind."

    I've been there! But if not ignored, that intense cognitive dissonance that comes from questioning our deepest selves can lead to wholeness.

    As an OALCer, I had a very strong false self. Leaving allowed me to reclaim my real self, buried deep within.

    Whatever less-than-ideal things my kids learn from my daily example (sloth, impatience), they have the the "real me." Even at their young ages, I can see them developing strong internal loci of control. They take such joy in life. They are lovers, not fighters.

    And that is pure gold.

    This is a good comparison of attributes of true and false selves that might assist you in your exploration.

    I hope you'll continue sharing your thoughts and concerns and questions. We're here for you.

  15. Questioning said:
    "No matter what, it seems, there is no way to come out of this at least somewhat damaged, whether I stay or go. And that goes for everyone in the family."

    "Damaged goods." I know the feeling. I remember thinking no one else could possibly understand my struggle. I had the unique situation of divorced parents, one OALC, the other a once-OALC-turned-OALC-hater. I remember as a youth thinking that I would never be able get married. If I married within, my non-OALC parent would disown me. If I married a "worldy", my OALC family would disown me. I grew up living a double life that I would not wish on anyone. I once shared my concern about marriage with my OALC friend. She wisely said I would have to do what is right for me and no one else. Yep, an OALCer said that if you can beleive it.

    After a few therapy sessions, lots of research and education, and the grace of God, everything turned out in the end. I spent so many years completely caught between a rock and a hard place, feeling like damaged goods. But I came through it. Have I been disowned? No, because I haven't allowed that to happen. Like one of the posters here said, you can't control the shaming and shunning but you can choose how to react to it.

    You are not alone.

  16. hi,
    I am just learning about the OALC because I have a "contraband" close friend who is a member. Could somebody help me with some ways I can nudge him in the right direction? I don't want to be pushy and make him change his beliefs, but I want him to think about what he has been taught. I have asked him to explain his beliefs but he just avoids the subject. Its so hard for me to sit back and watch him be controlled by the church. Any suggestions on how to help him will be greatly appreciated.

  17. This is an older thread so your comment probably wont get noticed. Try posting under a more recent thread...