One of the struggles I face most after leaving the Christian faith is an inability to quiet my mind’s desire to unhinge the religion. I so wish to pick each and every part out that damaged me, and announce to the world-how we can fix it, I so badly want to SCREAM, “You have google at your fingertips, Christian people—— research the shit out of this——you are DAMAGING your thinking children, and you won’t know it til it’s too late!”
Imagine one of those billboards that stream their message flashing from left to right. That is precisely what my thoughts look like running through my mind. And what’s strange is that I’m up and about, going and doing, but ALWAYS in these two places. My head is invested in whatever my hands are doing, but the flashing billboard is zipping by, sometimes slow, but usually fast. When it’s rapid firing, I notice that I’m tense, my jaw is clenched, and I have to force myself to loosen up. So much of this is based on the fact that my subconscious is hurting and angry. The systems at work inside Christianity are so degrading and I was raised in them from birth. I torment myself at times by mentally listing the ways it warped me, here are a few things I believed and in the parentheses is the reality:
You are worthy of hell, (but there’s not one)
Your natural state is sinful, (I’m actually innately good)
You must ask forgiveness for Every Sin, (harm no one and there is no sin)
Women caused the fall of man, (Patriarchal folktale)
Women are weaker minded, (FALSE)
Women need leadership, (FALSE)
Women must submit, (FALSE)
Women can’t teach men- only children, (laughably false)
Your body isn’t yours-it’s your dad or husband’s, it’s a temple, (She is fully mine)
You can’t trust yourself, (Always Always trust yourself)
You can’t trust your questions, (ask and research EVERY question for yourself)
Women have roles in the home that men shouldn’t, (Patriarchal BS)
You must not divorce unless there is an affair or physical abuse—-but really you should stay to work it out… (Get out the moment you realize they aren’t who you thought they were.)
Besides the basic false teachings of the church, the folktales that were told to me as fact, as God’s word, that I’ve had to research and tear down the walls of, I’ve also got these corrupt brain hi-jackers, that were embedded in me, that aren’t as easy to silence as a mythical Bible story. I know they aren’t true—-but I believed with my whole heart every bit of it, and that means for most of my life, I believed I was not good. I was a child, believing that I was innately in my core, bad. That is some tough shit to recover from. So the flashing lights stream on, playing over and over. This is simply me trying to pinpoint where the pain is coming from, me trying to undo the abusive talk of a subconscious that was herself, abused.. Sometimes I just wonder who I could’ve been had these systems not been at play. I mourn and lament for her…
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!
This is a big deal. My hubs wanted me to have drinks with him. Being a former fundamentalist Christian, I still carry guilt over any alcohol consumption….and leaving my children for any length of time, but tonight I said, “Yes! Let’s do it!”
So we went to a lil joint that had live music and food and drinks. I had 3 Blue Hawaiians and while I enjoy a Crown and Coke on football night, this was different. I felt dizzy, light-headed even, giggly too. Thought I might just tumble down the stairs til my husband told me there weren’t any stairs, lol. Needless to say, I had him rolling more than once.
Most of all, I take away from the experience, how very excited I am about aging. I’m in my thirties and still not quite brave enough to dance to the live band. But!!!! There was a group of 50-70 year old ladies getting down. They asked me to join and I could not gather the gumption. It was beautiful to see them letting loose and showing us younger folk what a good time really looks like. From Sweet Home Alabama, to Jessie’s Girl, to Billie Jean, they didn’t care—- they let their hair down and their hips sway. I want to be like them someday soon. I really really wanna be like them.
I’m still learning how to let go of the guilt associated with having a good time that Christianity inherently places inside you. I’m still learning that it’s okay to “shake dat ass-“ even at 70, and that actually the best ass shakers were the 70 year olds. And I’m grateful for a husband and a sister who encourage me to live a little…
When the indoctrination came on in the form of a guilt-inducing whisper, I chose to silence it and just enjoy the moment with my husband, the music, and the drink. And that alone is a huge step in my letting go. Once upon a time I would have called that the Holy Spirit and I would’ve judged others who weren’t hearing that same call. Now I know better. Indoctrination is a tricky tricky liar, and I won’t let it fool me any longer.
Do you have any particular moments you recall, when you realized you were letting go of your indoctrinated belief systems? Share away!
It’s been 20 years to the day, since my first encounter with sex. And first of all, let’s get this out there—-
Virginity is not a real thing——— The most accurate words I’ve heard expressed about it (though I can’t recall who to credit?) is, “Virginity is a social construct created by arrogant men who thought their penises were SO powerful that they could actually change a woman.”
Bitch, please! My bicycle seat did more damage to my hymen then sex ever did.
Did I walk a little broader for a couple hours afterwards, maybe? Was there an ever so slight red splotch in my panties that evening? Sure… but I’m not certain it had anything to do with virginity? It may have simply been that I was an unprepared and completely inexperienced fourteen year old, dry as a bone, with an inexperienced, gentle yet ambitious 14 year old partner, wearing a rubber who was simply ready to do the damn thing. I can’t say the experience was good or bad. No absolutes. It is what it is. Two horny teenagers who’d been fooling around for a good 6 months prior. It was simply the next step in our “relationship.”
I giggle as I type the word “relationship.” Ain’t no relationship happening, we were two kids, who’d always hung out with the older crowd, so naturally we chose one another for things like such: make-out sessions, escorting one another to class, I sat in the stands as the little blonde cheering him on, we dropped each other letters through the day that had zero substance. This guy had always found me attractive and I appreciated that to a fault. I’d known him forever, and had known forever that one day, he’d get me in trouble.
I recall sitting proper as a 5 year old little lady in the church pew. He was, a few people down, on the floor playing with small cars. I’d lean forward and peek down the aisle, his excited little eyes would brighten and smile back, happy I had noticed him, this tiny tot flirting would continue, and even at 5, I knew I’m in trouble with this one.
Fast forward 9 short years, with countless welcomed smooch-fests and fondlings, and there we were, me flat on my back in his bed, panties down, legs tense-so tense, him putting on the rubber and us, trying to figure the shit out. There was the putting it in, is this going to fit? There was the trying to maintain a rhythm, while hoping to be romantic with continued kissing…..We tried, God knows, we tried! We tried to get all the parts running together.
>>>>All of these things, we’d later laugh about in our adulthood when he chose to give a quick apology for having literally destroyed my soul after breaking up with me like less than a month after this first sexual encounter.
Yes, bull shit- I know. But he was “just a boy”—and deep down I knew this was simply about getting the deed done. It was kinda like, “Sweet, high five, buddy, we did it, team work.” I was glad to no longer be carrying that neon light “V-Card,” and rising from his bed there wasn’t an immediate guilt or shame, but the reality that I was expected to feel guilt and shame, and he wasn’t. This realization caused heart-ache to come on strong….For him, it was hell yeah——Nods of approval from bro to bro down the hall, and then emotional unattachment. But for me, it was a different story….
Unfortunately for romanticized me, he strung me along for a couple weeks afterward and blew me off. How could this be? I’d allowed myself to love fully. Was I not good enough?
……Not good enough… I still battle that thought today…..
I can say this boy did me one favor. I asked one morning after our sexual experience and multiple realizations waving over me, “Hey. When is the first time you think about me during the day?” He was honest and replied, “Right now, when I see you in this hallway at school.”
His honesty cut deep, “I should’ve asked that question before I laid in that bed,” my intuition whispered. In an instant, I knew I’d given a part of me away that was unhealable. I moseyed down the hall holding back tears. He had been my waking thought for nearly a year…
So how did all this come to be my fate on that Super Bowl Sunday, 1999? Let me set this up for you:
My parents were the cutest and *still are lovey dovey high school sweethearts that set the bar. My sister and I both, were led to believe by our own inexperience with other places and stories, that our future husbands were right there walking the halls of our very high school. In our minds it would be a tragedy to not have the love story our parents had.
Partner this fantastical view of high school love with a deeply indoctrinated belief that women should please their men, be submissive, and have a man lead them…..
Then sprinkle that misinformed point of view with a little, “Don’t do it”
“SEX IS BAD—- DIRTY EVEN! But it can be so good with the right person….”
>>>>Every High School Girl believes her current boyfriend IS THE RIGHT PERSON.
Mix this all up with parents who trusted me and a dousing of teenage hormones and you’ve got a recipe for a good old-fashioned sexcapade.
Hear me: REPRESSION LEADS TO OBSESSION
Need it again: REPRESSION LEADS TO OBSESSION
Purity Culture is TOXIC right along with fundamentalist Christianity. Telling a teenager not to explore, not to touch themselves, and to abstain AT ALL COSTS is like writing an omen over your child that they WILL partake in teen sex on the regular. And probably not under the best circumstances. This is just the simple truth. It is what it is. Sexuality is as much a part of adolescence as the use of our arms or legs, denying that is detrimental.
If I could go back and summon the Divine Feminine to speak over that 14 year old baby with big green eyes, I’d hope she’d have shown up in the form of a Sister rather than a Mother. In this instance of hormonal neediness, a mother figure would want to protect as she knows the outcome, but my mind was made up, I was going to have sex….An older sister however, would speak sassy truth and that’s the voice I needed.
I can hear this Divine Sister now, “Listen, this won’t be like you’ve seen in the movies, this will not be some spiritual practice in emotional soul bonding. If you want to do this, do it, but know, this is going to be purely physical. This won’t make you closer to your partner. It’s kinda like your first time with anything, this is merely trial and error, practice… You’re going walk outta that room as the same girl you were before. Nothing has changed. You’ll have simply experienced a rite of passage that nearly all the humans telling you not to do this, did themselves. Everything good and beautiful and holy will still reside within you. Do it, then let it go, don’t attach yourself to the idea of having lost something or attach yourself to this boy, you’ll have lost nothing but a label. Do not trade the label “virgin” for the label “guilt” or the label “shame.” You are you— you are you—-you are YOURS. This is your label to give away if you really want to, do this if you must, but walk out of that room-pop your collar, blow on some imaginary dice. Confidence, baby girl—Stand tall, this is like any other first, excitement/ no regrets. Be certain.”
My Divine Feminine voice is always saucy!
…………………………….If every girl was raised in a sex positive, equal opportunity environment, girls could live empowered rather than defeated. If this had been my inner voice, instead of “you lost something you can’t get back,” I could’ve avoided the depths of heart-ache of not being good enough. We set girls up to fail and to remain in bad situations because they’re so tied to labels.
If we could be honest about the toxicity of religion and purity culture than this double standard about sex could be minimized—— you know what I’m talking about, the dirty looks and awful words used for the girls who have sex, and the hope they’ll feel guilt and shame, versus the pats on the back and locker room praise for the boys.
I find it not coincidental, that two weeks after I began having sex, the only 40 year old virgin woman in our church begins, “righteously” training us to maintain our purity, as our virginity is our gift to our future husbands… Our sexuality was always about the man, the goal was guilting and shaming us into compliance in order to support patriarchal constructs. A woman in touch with herself, is a powerful woman, and that is scary in fundamentalist religion.
If girls knew they could explore themselves and embrace their cycles and urges without the help of a man at all, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to “need” a partner.
I have a 14 year old daughter. She knows my story wholly. She doesn’t want the same experience. Honesty is almost as good a teacher as experience. Tell your kids your stories, the good, the bad, the beauty, and the heartache. We can change the internal voices of our daughters and inherently teach our sons how to be good partners… Join me and let’s change the conversation from maintaining “virginity,” to remaining true to Self and holding ourselves in the love of compassion.
January 31st, 1999, the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl….. and I lost a label…. I lost nothing more than a label.
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.