"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Magic in the Mess

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Magic in the Mess

It's past midnight, and having wrapped the last gift and put it under the tree, I'm eager to get to bed . . . but I felt the need to stop here first and wish you a happy Christmas. Having spent many holidays alone after leaving the church, I want to extend a virtual hug to anyone who finds themselves lonely, here in the darkest time of the year. The light is returning.

It will get better.

Meanwhile, may you find magic in the mess.

Merry Christmas and many blessings now and in the new year.


  1. life is about making decisions, I decided to leave that church when I was 17 years old, I'm 44 now, and just found out from a family member that there are these online forums regarding this church, I find it interesting that so many people seem Bitter or find the need to vent on This Issue. I understand the hypocrisy with in that church and the unfortunate experiment in human psychology that occurs, but you're right it does get a lot easier and very very quickly. find strength in your personal values and morals ( providing they're not corrupt) and your belief in God. no man can judge you, in this case the name on the back of the jersey is a whole heck of a lot more important then the name on the front. once again, life is about decisions, be confident in them move forward and the past is nothing but a distant lesson. best wishes! happy new year!

    1. Anonymous from 08:03:00, thanks for your comments. You seem to be critical of this website and a bit, if I may say, judgmental. You seem to have had the strength to leave at a very young age. Everyone's situation is different. I do have a few questions for you. however:

      Were you disowned? Some people are.

      Did anyone tell you that you could not really be part of the family if you didn't go to the church? My mother did.

      Were you still invited to family functions? I was often not, even to some important ones.

      When you ran into people who had once been your friends, did they turn away and walk past you and pretend they did not know you? It has happened to me.

      At 17, were you completely financially independent? Did your family cut you off of any support system because you left the church? I have known people who were cut off.

      Were you able to go home and eat a meal with your family and interact in a normal way, or were you subject to guilt-tripping and/or arguments because you no longer go to the church?

      Did your family make fun of your new life, interests, and hobbies that you found to use your time now that you're no longer attending every church function under the sun? Both to your face, and behind your back? Mine did.

      I am hoping that you can answer no to all or most of these questions. I know people who can answer yes to all of them.

      I know people who have decided to leave and their families remain close. Their families wish they'd go to church, but they haven't made that a requirement for being part of their family. I hope that situation describes you.

      You know, this probably IS a place to vent - is that okay for you? Is it okay that people would have a place to vent, and can anonymously write about their issues? The unfortunate thing for people within the church, however, is that the site does expose some of their hypocrisies.

      I would be willing to be that this blog has made people within the church examine these hypocrisies and try harder to be better people and more loving. In fact, I know that this is true.

      It's interesting that you identify yourself as a person who has been gone for 24 years and you're accusing us of what I've heard my whole LIFE from believers describing the people who've left--we're bitter, the whole lot of us.

      Since I left, I realized its not so much bitterness we feel, but sincere hurt and feelings of betrayal. The "love" we thought had from family and friends wasn't "real" love, but conditional or contingent upon sitting in the same pew. In other words, there was love for a "brother in faith," but not necessarily for their own flesh-and-blood brother. We often feel that the essence of ourselves is still there, the goodness that God gave us is still in our body and our minds and souls, but we can no longer be seen as such. I could have sat in the pew and lied to everyone that I indeed thought they were the only people in the world who were saved, but the one person I could not face lying to anymore was myself.

      I'm hoping your exodus was a whole lot easier.


    2. Beautifully expressed, Punahilkka. Thank you.

    3. Nicely expressed indeed, Punahilkka! No matter what this website is about, I know firsthand that it has been a great benefit to me and many others.

      Thanks Free, for the Christmas wishes. I hope that all went smoothly for your family.

      -24 (now 25)

  2. Flora says: Agree w/ Punahilkka, Free, and 24. Another thought:
    bitter means "resentful because of unjust treatment", and so, maybe a lot of people on here venting are bitter to varying degrees over the unjust treatment they have felt for themselves or others over the years. Things like the unequal treatment of women (not holding positions of authority, not being allowed to use birth control and feeling forced to have more children than one can possibly care for, having to care for your parents children constantly as the oldest daughter, not being able to wear dyed hair, makeup, earrings to look like an average American woman if you'd like to, having your clothing scrutinized), or things like having to think you are the only true believers and all others are going to hell, or having to spend every free moment at church events (as mentioned), or things like having your reading, viewing, listening and sporting choices dictated, and if you disagree with any of this having no place to express it. So here, we express it. Maybe the resentfulness eventually fades, but it doesn't make the injustices less real.

  3. I read the first comment 12/29 over again, What was said that was so offensive?

    1. Flora says: The statement that "it's interesting that so many people seem bitter and and find the need to vent", is not necessarily inaccurate or offensive, it just begs to be answered. This person didn't feel bitter or need to vent when they left, and they find it interesting that others are and do, which sounds to me like he/she might want clarification to understand why this is the case. I, on the opposite hand, find it astonishing that anyone who examines their own life would not be bitter or need to vent after leaving this type of church.

    2. I think its marvelous that he/she doesn't feel bitter nor does she/he need to vent. I am hoping, hoping, and hoping that that means she wasn't treated poorly by her family and loved ones when he/she left! And those who grew up in the church/churches are not exactly outsiders, they'll always have one foot in the church if they have relatives and friends inside the church!

      I have a cousin who left and she is not bitter either. Her parents expressed to her they believed she was saved, and consider her a sheep that is not within the fold, but one of God's children regardless. They treat her wonderfully.

  4. "I find it interesting that so many people seem Bitter" is an old and familiar accusation, usually levied at this blog by people within the church.

    1. And yet, someone outside of the church has said it....perhaps there is more truth to it than just something "those in the church" say "as an excuse"? I do think there are many bitter feelings expressed here, but that does not mean you need to take offense about it. Bitterness does not stem from nowhere, and so finding the root of the bitterness is what is important,

    2. As said above, it wasn't exactly someone "outside the church" who said it, it was a former member....that is not exactly outside.

    3. Well, considering almost everyone on here are former members....are you saying you don't consider yourselves to be "outside the church"?? Because she is in the same position you probably are, and yet she has commented on the bitterness she noticed in others here.

    4. I would like to hear more stories, then, of people who left the church and feel very positively about their experience, their relationships with their former congregants, and their families, and feel absolutely no "bitterness" ever. Tell us your story, ME or to the person who finds it "interesting that so many former members feel 'bitter.'" Tell us exactly how respectful and supportive your family and friends were about your decision and how your relationships are still close and unchanged, or even changed for the better?

      I will tell you why I go on and write on this site. It's not because I hate the church or the people there, it's actually because I LOVE the church and the people there. Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who left you and you didn't know why? You never got any feedback, perhaps, and it left you hanging, possibly even hurt? Maybe even brokenhearted. I have written here, and I suspect others have written here, to give such feedback. It's not only because its cathartic. I have told many people who have asked exactly why I have left the church because I feel the church needs to hear why. I think perhaps in some cases it has even changed how they treat people who leave the church or people who are struggling in the church. I think about the church every single day. Leaving it was a great loss to me. I wouldn't exactly say I lost faith, though I understand that is how people inside the church define it. There are days the bitterness does, indeed creep in, and I must constantly work at keeping it out for my own betterment. I am not young. I notice that some young people do indeed leave because they don't want to live a restricted lifestyle--that wasn't me. Some people leave when they marry an outsider who doesn't want them in the church, but my husband was absolutely fine about me and my children attending. Some of my unbeliever friends even questioned why I would leave the church when they knew it was a special part of my life and that I still subscribed to most of the beliefs, so I was not pressured by any outsiders to leave the church. It was purely my decision and in middle adulthood it was been a very challenging experience to recreate my life and social contacts. I didn't leave because of a single issue, either. I had several issues with the church, and depending on the day, some bother me more than others. It seriously boiled down to judgmental and condescending attitudes I witnessed toward certain people, especially in situations where people might be going through tough times.

      I remember a few years visiting some friends in another congregation and inquiring about another friend who had moved there. I had hoped to see her in church, and she wasn't. I wondered if she was still living there. "Yeah, she's still living here," they answered, but said she was "flaky" about attending church. She's signed up for kitchen duty but she doesn't show up, or we don't see her for a couple of months, then we see her for three months in a row, and then not again." Said with an annoyed, almost exasperated tone of voice. They said she mostly had unbeliever friends. Turned out this old friend of mine was on disability, trying to manage her home, and was in such pain she was on a pain pump! She told me hardly anyone from church ever went to see her, no one ever came to help, but her neighbors cleared her driveway, visited, and even brought her food when she was too sick to cook for herself. She agonized about missing church and found it hard to go back when she had good days because of the things some of the believers said. They, too, had Arthiritis/Lymes Disease/Chronic Fatigue/Lupus but they still managed, right?

    5. I am not trying to say that you do not have a right to be bitter. As I mentioned, it is important to find the root of the bitterness. My intent was simply to point out that, perhaps, it is not just church members making up a story that people who leave are bitter, but that there actually is bitterness there, and it is noticed by others, too. I have learned so much on this site, and I once tried to share my thoughts,my story, my ideas here under another name, and felt instantly attacked by some of the members. I had thought that by sharing my story I could help people understand how quickly some have become so bitter they have created their own "labels" they apply to everyone within the church(es). Unfortunately, I did not feel it was welcomed by a few on this site, and quickly felt outnumbered. Therefore, I have since chosen to remain silent, I will do so again now.

  5. Agreed. No offense taken here.

  6. I read the first anon 08:03 comment completely different. It seemed to me like the author was referring to the people still actively ensconced in the religion as being bitter, not us ex-es. Or maybe just a generic bitterness. I did not take it personally at all, was not offended. There is a lot of laying out of the facts (on this blog) without disguising the emotion attached to them. This could equate to being the same as bitterness for lack of a better term to someone who has been brought up to think anything not the same is uncomfortable, anything uncomfortable is negative, anything negative is bad, anything bad is sin, and if someone/something is not the same as what everyone else thinks/says/does it must be wrong and therefore must be neatly termed in one of the canned words. "Bitter, sinner, wrong, against teaching, prideful, impure, etc.." I STILL catch myself doing it 10+ years later. Looks like I should have morphed this post into the latest one regarding labels, and read up on fixing run on sentences. :)
    The magic in the mess was a nice little reminder for me, during any time of year. I absolutely love the loneliness of being away from extended family and stress from the holidays, and the opportunities to make new traditions. Oh, and new acquaintances, like you all. No church functions, no obligations, I can just say "no, thanks!"
    Anon 08:03, come visit soon we actually like to discuss things and hear new stories.