Recently while listening to Richard Dawkins’, “The God Delusion,” I had to pause and let some of his words wash over me—they were cleansing, if you will.
I won’t quote him directly, but here’s the jist:
**There can be indoctrinated children, and there can be children of Christian parents, but there are zero Christian children.**
Obviously, a few years ago I would have wanted to battle back and proclaim that MY children were believers and students of the Holy book. I would’ve scrambled to find the flaw in his statement—- but deep in my noggin, I would’ve been arguing, not with Dawkins, but with my own indoctrination.
As much as I would’ve wanted to believe my kids WERE Christian kids, the truth was—every belief they possessed came directly from me or the Bible stories I’d allowed them to learn. Sure they knew scripture, but how did they learn it? –Me, a curriculum I’d chosen, a class I’d taken them to… Sure they knew the prayers, but how did they know who to pray to and the format of recitation? Me! These weren’t things they would’ve ever approached on their own. They were simply babies who wanted to PLAY! But my kids were my echo chambers, they were simply regurgitating by beliefs right back out at me. It’s scary to think how deeply I had sculpted their entire world view and reality. Shits terrifying, man. Wheeeew. Breathe. Even scarier is the way some folks never realize what they are doing….
Fortunately for me now, as a deconstructed exvangelical, when I read Dawkins’ words, I was in complete and total agreement. It was actually freeing to hear someone else saying what I knew from my own childhood and in raising my kids.
Every single attempt at raising Godly kids is a form of indoctrination. From reciting scripture, creeds, and prayers at young ages, to attending weekly services, to routines of the home. Every time a parent intentionally places their belief system into the mind of their child, they are indoctrinating that child. Every time a child declares they are saved or that they’ve had a God experience, it is simply a replication of what they’ve witnessed from adults around them or is a fictitious response to hormones released in emotional situations. Again, a fabrication of that child’s reality set up by someone else.
Children are born religion free. Again, when a baby is born, their brain has zero knowledge of any religion. Yet, they are divine. They come to us with an awe-struck curiosity for the mystical experiences of nature. They are bright eyed and eager to explore, they worship in the form of wonder. Wouldn’t it be grand to approach guiding them, with that same joy of learning that they implore. When THEY ask about God, faith, sins, the devil, as parents we show excitement and present them with timelines of all the major world religions, allowing them to see for themselves the bigger picture. There is NO indoctrination in that method. And, there is no right answer, therefore no pressure to conform out of fear.
I remember the fear that being a Christian places within parents. The “their blood is on your hands,” approach to training up children. Hell, I pulled my kids from school so I COULD INDOCTRINATE them to think like me.
I remember feeling afraid when they “sinned.” I remember crying out to God that he would guard their hearts. I spent literal nights awake trying to envision a way to best teach them so they’d know God’s Love….
But now I see, if you look at your child as a fallen being to be saved, you’ve lost the chance at letting the magic of life teach them. Their own Life is their best teacher. You are cutting them off from their own flow when you’ve set the default state of being as a religious one. They have very little chance at growing beyond that default setting, and for many Christians that is their hope.
How sad. But that’s what you get when generation after generation sits in the church pew and never does the work of thinking. You get uneducated worldviews, partnered with indoctrinated beliefs, sculpted into little robotic beings, passing off their ideals as the ONLY right way, all the way into their adulthood, and this then repeats itself with their children. And it’s ALL misinformation, but they live from default because it’s safe and requires no conscious effort to learn new ways and new information. It’s frankly, an irresponsible way to live.
For me and for my children, I did the work of reprogramming my default settings. They will not have to deconstruct, they will not have to “go astray” or “leave the fold.” Together, we are free to let Wonder, Curiosity, and Life be our teachers. Please join me in ending the brain-washing of our youth-they deserve better. They deserve to be the joyful explorers that they were literally born being. Let us, as adults, give our children the space they need to be here, free from your default settings.
I was placed into your grasp as a little girl. I ate the crumbs from your gnarled and mangled hands. I watched you work the system and create a breed of subservient little female beings. You chewed us up and spit us out and told us our purpose was to simply be present to help You. You needed our fertility, open our legs for your pleasure and your cum. Carry your babies so you don’t fade away into oblivion. We sit here now foaming at the mouth ready to rip your fucking throats out, and you tell us to smile, keep quiet, be a lady. Meanwhile, you’re lusting for the blossoms in the church pew, with your pious and godly wife sitting right there beside you. But she doesn’t know how to be the Slut you need. The Sacred Whore within, she’s never unleashed. You did that to her. You, Patriarchy! You told her to be good, but with everything you are, you like em bad. So so bad. You told us to be honest, but you’ve got your secrets. You snicker, and you smile, and you keep things under the table. Your army, your squad, your “good ol boys”—- they uphold you as the Man among men, and while your wife may be fooled cause she’s a product of her raising, just know-your daughter won’t bow down to ANY SYSTEM that’s degrading, she’s not just the winds of change-she’s a fucking tornado. She is tearing this shit down and you don’t know what to do. You hang on to your faith cause it ALWAYS WORKS FOR YOU. Cling to your traditions, the empire built by men for men, but your daughter yells, “No!” She’s watched and she’s listened to every command made on her mother and her sisters, she’s thirsty for the blood of every person whose ever said, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen.” She is harsh and bold and she is ready to hurt your feelings. She yells, “Fuck you and fuck your religion! You pieces of shit-stealing the minds of the innocent, and they can’t even think critically enough to harbor resentment.” Your daughters are coming for you, Patriarchy, are you shaking in your work boots? We are coming for you, right after we untie your shoes.
I cut my beautiful hair, I traded in lion king panties for lacy underwear
I went from having never been kissed to loving someone deeply, and being completely dismissed
At 14, my first heartbreak left me different but not totally broken
with threads of insecurity, my heart was stitched up but gaps were still open
At 14, I watched on confused as the light of innocence left me
Hell was coming, no matter how hard I prayed, no matter how much they preached grace, I still knew my place
After every sin, I knew I’d need to repent again,
and so this game of guilt and shame was one I could not win
At 14, I understood fear to be the driving force, behind every single of one my life’s choices
It wasn’t about following my heart, it wasn’t about using my smarts, I’d only be okay if I learned early to play it safe, stay inside the boundaries so I’d be covered by grace
At 14, deep longings for more, resounded in my spirit, but because of indoctrination the flow of life couldn’t heal it. My divinity whispered for me to draw near, but I simply could not hear it.
See, I didn’t know I was still perfectly precious, I didn’t know I was still totally infectious, Being a sinner is what I let define me, not the amazing woman who was hiding inside me
So, Baby girl I just have to share, you carry a warrior’s glare and you have a mighty stare,
Your wear your armor daily with your strands of gold and copper hair
YOU know your truth and with YOUR hands you build your empire, and don’t forget like a dragoness, my girl you can breathe fire,
Your veins hold the pulsing of women
who fought so hard to be here, hold up your hands and cup their courage should you ever find yourself in need, dear
You have fierce wisdom of Athena
And great beauty of Aphrodite
Put them together and channel that strength, it’s beyond almighty
In your mind you carry the intuition of Dione and you hold wilderness of Artemis, listen to the call from within, she won’t leave you mistaken
Baby girl, at 14, you can begin to manifest your dreams, you can leave people behind if they don’t align, don’t feel guilty and deep down just know, that’s how you grow
And don’t you for one second think a mess-up is reflective of who you are, when wounded be proud of your scars, and deep down in the marrow of your bones, know your beauty, your truth, and your worth.
And baby girl at 14, when insecurity creeps in, acknowledge her presence but don’t let her win, make her an acquaintance but not a close friend,
Remember you earned your place on this earth, you get to be here for this moment in time, and though you’re only 14, you’re able to see, that this in itself is truly divine
When mommy set out to write this for you, I let my mind go back in time, I don’t know why but I started to cry and so I stayed there for awhile.
That girl was beautiful with a heart of gold and smile she could not hide, but oh the sadness, such sadness were hiding in those green eyes.
I saw the Universe in those eyes, and I heard a whisper in the wind, you, JUST you, you are enough, so I let that voice rage from within,
I placed my arm around that girl sitting to my side, I said- chin up sister, it’s a matter of time, you’re gonna be just fine,
I gave her a hug and left her there
because 14 year old me, could not see it, much less try to live out and be it…
My baby girl now, I’m calling you out, I see your glory, your beauty, your grandeur….and at 14, if there’s only one thing you let engulf you and fill you up, please let it be that warrior raging within, “I KNOW I AM more than enough.”
Written by-Stacy Johnson, April 13, 2018
I wrote this last year on the eve of my daughter’s 14th birthday. I needed to channel the energy I was feeling into something positive, as 14 was a tricky year for me…
MY GLORIOUS GIRL:
******Today, I watched that 14 year old, stand before 150 high school band students and play a solo. A 3 minute piece that captured the magical essence that is my daughter. You see, my girl had only picked up a saxophone 9 months ago. Her teacher didn’t believe her when she told him she’d be first chair by Christmas, but SHE believed in herself, and that’s all she’ll ever need. She is not only first chair, but was was chosen to do that solo, I couldn’t have been prouder to watch her play up there. I witnessed the anxiety ridden tears throughout the week, but SHE GOT UP THERE AND NAILED IT. She cupped that courage and it paid off. I cried. And I’m giddy. She’s brave.
Thank you to:
My sister over at The Irresponsible Blogger, she reminded me that today was International Women’s Day and this poem goes right along with celebrating women, healing women, and empowerment of women. Thank you for reading, Friends!
“Girllllllls!! Wake-up, Mom’s water broke, we’ve got to get to the hospital,” dad’s voice echoed into our room. My eyes opened, I looked at the clock: 12:26 am!
“Oh my Gosh, how cool is this, I’ve always wondered when it was going to happen!! This is it! It’s go-time!! Yesssss, no school for us tomorrow, yahooooo! Thank you, unborn Sister-making life better and you aren’t even here yet!” My skin was tense and chilled with goosebumps, not only from the cool night, but from the unknown entangled with an excitement only an eleven year old big sister can fathom.
My younger sister, Steph, and I had never moved so quickly. We were in the van before Mom could even waddle her dripping legs down the hall. It was a stormy April night, 1996. I can recall the details in color.
Thunder boomed and neon yellow lightening dashed about the eerie Arkansas night sky, a foretelling of how the night would unfold.
The van ride was filled with so many thoughts, “I hope Mom is safe, I hope there isn’t a tornado, if there is a tornado where will Steph and I go since we aren’t allowed in the delivery room, I cannot wait to meet the baby I’ve waited my whole life for, I can’t wait to watch her grow up, I can’t wait to hold her and play with her, it’s going to be so neat to see my parents with a baby, those clouds look pretty scary, Steph—- are you ready to be a big sister?” EEEEEEEEeeekkk, the suspense was growing with every mile behind us.
Once we arrived at the hospital the brightness of the fluorescent lighting and the stark white halls felt blinding, Mom and Dad said their, “See ya soons,” and were ushered to the delivery room with great joy.
They’d always teetered on the brink of “Yes, let’s have another, and No, our girls are too big- it’d be starting over.” But on this night, they were like two giddy first-time parents about to meet their Love in the form of baby, all over again. It had been eight years since there’d been a baby in the home. And, even as a child, I was keen on their love for each other and this new life they’d created together.
Mamaw and Papaw showed up within the hour. Thank Goodness. The nurses were kind and had turned on some Disney movies, brought us Shasta Cola in cute teeny cans, and Mamaw brought crayons and coloring books. You can always count on Mamaw to have some form of entertainment in tow.
Labor and delivery was a “quick and “easy” 3 and a half hours,” I’ve heard Mom recall. But for the sisters who had begged for this baby for YEARS, it felt like a small eternity. Before we knew it, Dad was hustling out to greet us with that proud new-dad smile, “She’s here! It’ll be a few moments before you can come in, but Mom’s doing great!”
Time. Passed. Slowly.
When Steph and I were able to go back, the emotions were intense, such a big love already manifested in us… I easily recall being mesmerized by her tiny perfectly manicured hands and nails. She was swaddled in the cutest baby burrito fold, but her hands had broken free, and although they were pale and cool, those tiny little hands were just like mine. I’d always been told I had beautiful hands and nails, and here I was, standing in awe of this miniature human, who had MY hands. My hands. It was Love right there in front of me, in the purest form.
Those moments of light and airy exhilaration were precious, but short lived. Within the hour, our Sydney was being ushered to the nursery with a team of folks surrounding her. “What was happening, what are they not telling us?” Dad, Steph, and I stood in the nursery window as unsettled onlookers. We could see Sydney wiggle uncomfortably with each poke and prod.
Going back to Momma’s room, we were met by a freshly wounded woman, not only bodily wounds, but a soul that was desperate for answers. Steph and I decided to spend some time resting on the extra bed as Mom, Dad, and the doctors conversed.
Later we would learn that Syd’s pale white hands I had so admired, partnered with her score on the Apgar scale, and her shallow breathing were all tell-tale signs that our precious baby had Down Syndrome. But, because nothing had shown on any ultra-sound the entire pregnancy, the medical team explained Sydney would need further testing. They decided she would be better served at the neonatal unit at Children’s Hospital.
I watched as the Doctor pleaded with my mom to rest, she’d literally JUST given birth. But-she wasn’t having it. She got up, packed her bags right back up, and paced the floors, aching for nothing more than to be wrapping that new baby in her arms, she was so excited to nurse a baby again. But instead, she looked on at the baby in the incubator and waited anxiously for the Angel Flight helicopter to arrive.
I’ll never forget our nurse named, Hope, coming in to chat with Steph and me. She saw how fearful we were, and tried to ease our minds with talk of how amazing Children’s was, but when I blatantly asked if Syd was going to die, she didn’t say no.
I stood by Dad in the second story window. We stared ahead, dazed. The soft tiny little baby girl of my dreams nestled in the hard plastic incubator alone, being rolled out to the giant helicopter. “Would this be the last time we saw her alive?” I looked up at Dad for some sort of reassurance, but instead I saw silent tears dripping from his face. He was afraid. I’ll never forget that moment, he was feeling all the fears I was feeling but at a greater magnitude. I turned my head away from him, to give his heart the privacy it deserved.
And then I watched as that long-prayed for Sister of mine, took flight.
I can’t tell you what the build-up of excitement for nine-long awaited months, culminating with uncertainty, and ending with outright despair and fear does to an eleven year old’s mind and heart, but I can tell you, it isn’t a lesser than experience than that of an adult. It’s obviously different from a parent, but it is not less than…
My Mother, my Queen.
As the helicopter holding our angel-baby disappeared out of sight, momma got up, left the hospital without the doctor’s approval, and made it to Little Rock by the time our Sydney arrived. Momma would be in the know every step of the way concerning her baby.
Steph and I however, left the hospital that day, not only without our baby, but without our parents.
And we didn’t know that just those few short hours earlier, on that stormy ride to the hospital, that those words, that that conversation, would be the last we’d ever experience with this version of our parents. The only version we’d ever known, fading into the distance of our memories, like the storm fading into the distance of night….
Our parents would never be the same….
Our lives would never be the same, either…
It is said that people have these moments in their lives, really really big moments. Moments that break all typical neurological pathways and forever change the make-up of who we are.
Syd is one of my defining moments.
With Sydney, I learned nothing is as it seems. You can do all the right things and still end up in a place you didn’t plan for. And, it doesn’t mean the place is bad, it is simply different.
Sydney showed me that genetically typical doesn’t mean better.
I got to witness in Sydney, the fiery spirit within those precious humans that have Downs. She fought hard to be able to do things other babies and children did naturally, even when it hurt, and there were tears, our long awaited for baby pushed through.
I will say, that same fiery spirit mentioned above has humbled us all. As a child, my mom had to rescue Syd from softball fields, from entering into the middle of volley ball games, and even off the basketball court. Honestly, I didn’t know mom could slide across the court so effortlessly in one solid swoop to collect said child. And, Syd, man—- she will not give up easily. If you think you can win a battle with her-just try to give her one piece of cake and see what happens…
And my parents. Oh, my precious precious parents. Love Unconditional, Selfless beyond recognition at times. If you EVER EVER desire to bless WORTHY humans, I urge you to run in the direction of parents who are raising children with special needs. If you have not lived it, than you just don’t know. Drop them a gift card for dinner and a movie, drop them a bottle of wine—-ehh, make it hard liquor, drop them treats of ANY KIND. What they don’t need is the silly accolades or sayings like, “I can’t think of a better person to raise a special needs child.” Um no, just don’t. All I’m saying is, if you can-bless these people in real time, they wear their hurt so well…And, just because a special needs child has an adult body, please understand for many, it is still a full time care-giving job required of these parents. It can easily go unnoticed, PLEASE TAKE NOTICE.
The day after Sydney was born, I drew a picture of our home with an angel standing over it, wings and arms stretched wide, halo glowing all around. Mom and dad were holding hands, Syd was bundled in Mom’s arms, and Steph and I were holding hands beside them. I titled it, “Angel in Disguise.”
Now, if I could re-do the picture, I’d remove the figure above and place the halo over Sydney. She has been the angel all along. Teaching us new ways of being and forever forcing us into merciful compassion for others.
See her shirt, “aww man, if I could just unzip it, I’d suck on them titties.”
.Suck on them titties.
But I was 11
But confused the most
Close my locker door
Hustle down the hall
Arms crossed over my chest
But there’s nothing to lick
I have buds, not breasts
I know that’s what this stage is called
My momma read a book to me
About what’s happening to my body
Did I just cause someone to lust
All by simply wearing a shirt
Did I sin, did I sin
Still a child
Crack in my soul
Some dark gets in
Never wore my favorite shirt
>>>>>>>>>>written by: Stacy Johnson, January 23rd, 2019, 10:53 am
This is simply a spoken word poem I wrote on my first experience of being sexualized that I can recall. Allowing myself to go back to these places, is a part of me identifying moments that brought shame and guilt that I’ve carried. While not the intention of the religion I was raised in, it was my internalization of it, none-the-less. I am reclaiming the parts of myself that I lost or let go of long ago. And this moment is one in which I’m calling out to my younger self, “This wasn’t your burden to carry baby girl.”
I have an 11 year old daughter, she is wild and strong. She would yell, “Fuck You,” to a boy speaking such over her. And I would applaud her.