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Old 10-03-2020, 08:13 PM   #1
ISeeCrazyPeople
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Question Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

Hi everyone. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences of the LC with you and hopefully receiving some feedback. I am glad to finally (after many years) have a way to get some of this off of my chest and possibly find others who can relate to me. I am going to avoid talking about much that is spiritual and focus on what my life was like growing up in the LC. I will admit though, after reading many of the other posts, I am somewhat nervous about what types of reactions I may receive. If I’m honest with you and myself, I am no longer a devout Christian (though I question whether I ever was-I was really just always told what to believe. I don’t remember anyone at home or church ever asking me or caring what I really thought. I was basically told “This is the truth. This is what we believe. End of story”). Though there was some attempt to say.. “we aren’t forcing you, we WANT you to WANT to believe.. Oh , but if you don’t believe, you are wrong.” I know many people on here are serious Christians, and that’s great. I also saw someone post who is atheist, and so at least I know I will probably not be kicked off for having a different way of thinking. This is one of the things that I believe was most damaging to me- feeling like nobody cared what I really thought.

Here is my background: I was a “church kid” who grew up in the local churches. My parents joined the church before I was born (not sure precisely when), and raised myself and my siblings in it. We went through a period of just having home church with two families, and then moved to an area with a slightly bigger church (still not large- on Sundays there were maybe 30 people there at most). I left this church around my early 20s. My parents also left, though they are still pretty serious and close-minded evangelical Christians. I actually envy people who are serious about their faith. I simply am not. I have tried to be, but I can not force myself- I could get into this more, but I won’t right now.
I guess since my feelings towards the church were mostly negative from the get go, I don’t share similar experiences to many of those who joined Christians on campus and then decided the church was a cult several years later. My experiences were starting from childhood. I had no choice. There were some positive things.. but let me tell you some of my negative experiences, since I have held this back for years:
As a young child, my parents had quite an authoritarian parenting style. I now realize much of this stemmed from the teachings in the LC. We were taught that anything that is “of the world” is not of God. This may sound somewhat mainstream Christian, but the way this was taught to me, was much more literal. In my household, we did not celebrate most holidays. They were considered "wordly." Christmas was not of God. Halloween was a definite NO. We used to hide in the basement when other kids were trick-or-treating and put up curtains and turn off the lights so people thought we weren’t home. We never decorated for holidays. Once I was in public school (though I was homeschooled off and on), I was pulled out of anything related to holidays. I had to sit off to the side with the special needs kids while other kids sang “Jingle Bells” and other festive songs on stage for school celebrations. I was extremely sheltered and didn’t know much about most modern music, movies, TV shows, or even participate in many normal activities with school friends (such as playing at their house- maybe fear I would be exposed to something inappropriate). One time, I think it was 9th grade, a teacher asked us to bring in our favorite CD for an English class project. I had NONE. This happened for another class too. I was often so embarrassed to be different. And instead of openly admitting it in front of everyone, I was scared and tried to hide it and just hoped nobody noticed. It is challenging to go through most of your childhood hoping people don’t notice who you really are. And I know I’m not the only one, and know there are other reasons people might feel this way.
( I am starting to feel guilt just writing all of this down.. as if admitting I was unhappy is sinful. I know there are people who had it much worse-abuse, poverty, etc.)

But, I will continue.
Because I was so sheltered, and felt so different from my peers at school, I had some difficulty making friends. I didn’t go to school dances or engage in many activities with my peers outside of school. I wasn’t 100% sure my parents had strictly told me I wasn’t allowed to do certain things, but I was pretty sure through their general attitude (probably stemming from LC doctrine), that I was not allowed, so usually never bothered to ask. I think just fear of being wordly and sinful prevented me from doing many normal things.

I’m not sure how many people feel the same way. To me, many other church kids were content with the church. But it seemed my parents were more strict than theirs. Or maybe they were happy and said “praise the LORD! We don’t need or want those worldly activities.” Not sure?
Anyway, now that I have kids of my own, I try very hard to be open with them and ensure they are comfortable with expressing themselves. It is amazing how totally different childhood is when children are allowed to be themselves. My daughter is a free spirit. She’s strong and amazing. Not scared and quiet and reserved like I was. I am certainly not a perfect parent. And I’m concerned that I am raising them without clear beliefs about God. This is because I personally do not know what the truth is for sure. How can anyone? (I’m guessing this might not be a popular attitude here just based off of the other posts). My current quest is to seek truth, but on my own. I don’t think anyone can do that for me. I don’t think I can force my kids or anyone else. I’m not against churches or the bible.. but I am now probably what one would classify as Agnostic. This is not a cry for people to preach the gospel to me (please don’t), it is just to see if anyone else has had similar experiences/feelings. On a side note, I have young kids, and barely have time to write this, read the bible, do much but try to be a good parent and survive.
Thank you to anyone who read this! There is so much more I could share, but it would get even more long winded! Please feel free to leave comments or share any of your experiences. I would love that.
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Old 10-03-2020, 08:43 PM   #2
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

Hello Again! Thank you for your introduction!!! Im glad you were able to share your story. At the end of the day belief is entirely up to the individual and you have to go with what you believe in. I'm sure others will chime in on their experiences and how they feel in regards to their current life. Don't ever feel afraid to post on here as it's a forum ( a stage of speech) for primarily Ex LC people expressing themselves.
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Old 10-04-2020, 12:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

Please make a distinction with childhood?
I would say there was a best of times and there was a worst of times.
From the age of 3 through the end of 6th grade was the best of times as a child in the local churches. There was innocence. There was not the legalism to experienced later on as a teen. Baseball games, baseball card collecting, reading fiction, etc was not discouraged. Sure my mom would highlight in TV Guide which shows were acceptable to watch. I was different. I liked old reruns of The Lone Ranger. That was an easy pass. Listening to music? Henry Mancini and Simon & Garfunkle was a pass. Another churchkid taught me the joy of playing Stratego. Ending 6th grade brought on the worst of times.
No longer was it okay for boys and girls to socialize. Your elders were always right even when they were wrong. One night my young peopel's meeting was spent detailing the car of our serving brother. My peers looked at me in horror as I objected. Many of my experiences as a teen ccarried over into my own experiences as a father. For a time I did meet with the local churches as a parent. Question was asked if my children would attend Summer School of Truth. I tried to be polite as possible without saying hell no. Summer School of Truth from 1984 was not the SSOT of 2009. No matter how much I liked the serving brother I once lived with in a brother's house, I did not have trust any serving one to do right for my children in my absence.
It's taken me years, but the best cure from my teenage years is staying away from anything local church. It provides peace of mind. The stress is long gone.
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Old 10-04-2020, 12:39 AM   #4
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What is the summer school of truth? That sounds kind of daunting coming from an LC perspective. Details would be um appreciated.......
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Old 10-04-2020, 03:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

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Originally Posted by jigsaw44 View Post
What is the summer school of truth? That sounds kind of daunting coming from an LC perspective. Details would be um appreciated.......
LC version of vacation Bible school.
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Old 10-04-2020, 03:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

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LC version of vacation Bible school.
Actually it's quite different...in most vacation Bible schools they teach the Bible
.
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Old 10-04-2020, 04:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

Do they have a bunch of 12 year olds reciting witness Lee 6 hours a day?With no chance of questions or objections to what they read? Do they come out of the truth school wondering how they are going to get through their entire first 18 years of life in this? Or is truth school not as bad as I would imagine it to be.
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Old 10-04-2020, 04:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

Summer school of truth varies by U.S. region. Some areas are legalistic. Some areas have a genuine lot of fun. The stuff spoken, though, is always the same - a set of I think 6 Lesson Books that they rotate through that have their source in none other than the never-ending source of the local churches: Witness Lee.

I distinctly remember one young sister standing on stage one year proclaiming literally something like "THANK YOU LORD FOR THE CHURCH ON THE GROUND OF ONENESS!!!" That was during the stages of my exit from the LC and I just shook my head in shame. These kids have no idea why it's logically reasonable to believe in a creator God, and yet "the church on the ground of oneness" is already engraved on their tongues.

On the human side, the kids do look forward to being with each other, but like any similar effort, there will be the "in" kids and the "out" kids, and those who are not part of cliques will have a rougher time of it.

This is what one of the ministry books says about the SSOT lesson books:

GOD’S FULL SALVATION
The general subject of the first series of lessons in the Summer School of Truth is God’s full salvation. The full salvation of God is actually equal to the truth, because the Triune God with His all-inclusive redemption is the structure of the truth. Through Paul’s writings, this truth has become an inoculation against the decline of Christianity. On the one hand, we may speak of the structure of the truth; on the other hand, we may speak of the element of the inoculation. This inoculation is like a dose of medicine containing various elements. The elements in the “dose” ministered by Paul as an inoculation are the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—and His all-inclusive redemption.
In helping the young people to experience God’s full salvation, you have to unveil to them their fallen condition, which involves sin, Satan, and the world, the satanic system. These negative things are related to the actual condition of the saved ones. If we would experience and enjoy God’s full salvation, we should consider our condition and its involvement with sin, Satan, the world, and many other negative things.

I'm an adult with a brain and I honestly get zero help from those two paragraphs.

They are already indoctrinating the young kids that Christianity is deformed and emphasize all the "negative" things.....i.e. all this does is set the kids up to not feel comfortable anywhere or doing anything. The goal of SSOT is not to help the kids know God, love God, trust God, help others, love others....it's just the goal of every gathering in the LC - to read more of what Lee said. Of course they won't say that.

Having said that, on the flip side I can't deny that it gives some kids a healthier place to be for 1-2 weeks out of the year than maybe where they would otherwise be - alone at home, in an abusive parent atmosphere, with other friends who aren't a good influence, etc.... It's hard to write it off as all bad, but I would say that what they are learning is detrimental, while the being together is good.
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Old 10-04-2020, 05:11 PM   #9
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Why is this conversation even happening on my initial post where I went out on a limb, made myself uncomfortable, and poured my heart out? I was expecting even a tiny bit of empathy. Maybe a former LC sister will respond one day..

I really don't mind that much. Just a little.
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Old 10-04-2020, 05:56 PM   #10
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

ISeeCrazyPeople,

Welcome to the forum! Please accept my apologies that my first response was not directly to your post but to a side topic.

Regarding your initial post, I understand your comment that you don't know whether you were ever really a Christian and that it felt like you were just told what to believe as a church kid in the LC. I think a lot of church kids have a common feeling as adults that they grew up performing actions and repeating phrases without any of it really making sense, as well as with no way to voice that it doesn't make a lot of sense.

It can make for a lonely experience growing up, even if you are surrounded by people. What it means is that you have to go along with things in order to be accepted, but you cannot be who you are, or be where you are, or be authentic with your opinions and thoughts and questions and disagreements. It doesn't take a trained psychologist to understand pretty quickly that that's not a healthy way for a young mind to grow.

Since you asked that we not preach the gospel to you, I'll just say that the LC has a very big shortcoming in that they simply tell young people "this is what we believe" rather than "this is WHY we believe". That shortcoming isn't necessarily unique to the LC, but it is a serious lack, and it leaves people without a solid foundation for their faith. I'll stop there, but will add that Christian apologetics (which is just giving answers to the hard questions, giving evidence for things) helped me a ton as to the "why" part.

Feeling like no one cares what you think is traumatic. It makes you feel like you don't count, don't matter, aren't worth it, don't exist, etc. The brain has what are called "mirror neurons" that fire even when we are watching someone else perform an action that we ourselves are not performing, and these neurons are involved in empathy, imitation, language development, etc. It's traumatic to not feel seen, not feel mirrored, and not have your thoughts and feelings taken into account. I'm not sure if there's anything I can say that will help directly, but I hope that you've gotten to a place as an adult where you understand that the loveless way the LC treats people is not a reflection on YOUR value, but an indicator of the poor condition of the LC. The shame is not on your head, but is on theirs. You have value. You are important. Your thoughts and viewpoints matter.

Please forgive me and us if the tangential side topics made you feel yet again that your thoughts aren't important. They are. Your experiences in the LC are not inconsequential and it is very brave of you to come here and share some of your history that you don't normally talk about. Your experiences are shared by many, probably particularly those who read here but remain lurkers.

I've got to stop here for a little bit but will try to respond to more of your post later.

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Old 10-04-2020, 06:10 PM   #11
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

Terry.. a "hello" first would have been nice and polite. This is my first discussion with former LCers after leaving the church about 14 years ago. It was difficult for me to even discuss. I know you must be a real person with real feelings even though these are just words on a screen.

But, anyway, to address your question, I mean ALL of childhood. Birth through young adulthood even. My beginning church life, was very small. Just two families until we moved to a slightly bigger church when I was around 10. So therefore I had very few peers in the church. My experience must have been very different from yours. Though our family did have other family in the LC in NYC, and I visited their much larger church. They had many kids and separated them by age groups. Some of those kids I remember were often very good at praising the lord very loudly, and worshiping the "right" way..

I'm glad you were allowed to listen to some music and play games with friends. It probably depends how serious the individuals parents were about church rules. I remember a family in our church (they still follow LSM teaching), was very lax with the rules. I found that odd, because they were super into the LSM ways during church meetings and still are as far as I know. But the kids were allowed to swear, drink alcohol, smoke pot, have designer clothes, and I think even celebrate Christmas (gasp!)..

It is strange that you were supposed to detail a serving brother's car.. I was never subjected to things like that. I am pretty sure though, like you mentioned, that brothers and sisters were not supposed to really socialize. I don't think anyone specifically said that to me, but it was implied. And it lead me down a really bad path relationship wise. I felt like I was only allowed to marry a church person, and... there were hardly any normal guys available! Anyway, somehow I'm not sure this is the right time or place to discuss this further. I've said enough. I am glad you are out of the LC though.
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Old 10-04-2020, 06:15 PM   #12
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Thank you Jigsaw. I appreciate that.
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Old 10-04-2020, 06:28 PM   #13
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........
( I am starting to feel guilt just writing all of this down.. as if admitting I was unhappy is sinful. I know there are people who had it much worse-abuse, poverty, etc.)
Continued from my previous response to your initial post......

Hold the presses! Take your guilt, box it up, and throw it in the trash can. You are sharing your honest feelings as well as your literal experience growing up. Those are absolutely critical to be able to voice and explain.

I remember one of the young people I knew growing up had to get rid of their "National Geographic World - Kids" magazines because they had the word "World" on the cover and their parents told them "the world is evil". And no......that type of thinking of "throw out that evil scientific/geographic magazine" is not normal Christian....it's fundamentalist, legalist Christian and is damaging to kids. Another poster here has said it well that the local churches take what is lawful and make it sinful. In other words, they take things are are NOT sins....movies, books, sports, smiling, laughter, fun, friends.....and make them sins. But they're not sins at all. And just so ya know -- Jesus got very angry in His day at the people who did that kind of thing. He hates it when people put rules and regulations and commandments and CHAINS on other people in His name that He never put there Himself. But the local church does this all over the place, and causes a lot of damage in the young people that stays with them through adulthood if they don't get help identifying it and discarding it.

I remember going to my first movie as a teenager, one of the most innocuous you could ever hope for, a cartoon I think, and sitting in the theater with my heart pounding out of my chest for how "sinful" it was. Come to find out as an adult that other church kids I grew up with had that same experience, but none of us could talk about it until decades later.

I remember being at a friends house in high school, and these were all the good kids, straight As, honor roll, volunteering, in the band, etc....and it was a group of mixed girls and guys. The parents were around and we were all in the living room just hanging out. Nothing squirrelly was going on.....except for me who was huddled in the corner on the couch worried that I was with a mixed group of friends and getting contaminated by their "worldly" happiness and fun. Yeah, I still get mad about those kinds of things to this day. I feel cheated of a childhood where normal, happy, healthy, non-sinful things were always weighed down and coated with a heavy layer of guilt and accusation.

That's not God, for the record.

And also for the record, this does count as abuse. You said other people had it worse in that they were abused. Well....the local churches fully count as what is known as "an abusive church". There is such a thing called "spiritual abuse", and that's what goes on in the local church. For church kids who grew up in it and didn't know any different, the chances are pretty good that you had repeated spiritually abusive experiences.

So give yourself a break. Not everyone grows up in a group that can pretty reasonably be called a cult. You have some healing to do, and that's very normal.
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Old 10-04-2020, 06:37 PM   #14
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Trapped, I am about to get ready for bed (I have a baby and toddler at home, so it happens early, haha), but just want to say.. Thank you SO much for these thoughtful responses. I am going to read them and re-read them a few times once I get a chance.

You are saying things that I know must be true deep down, but I have NEVER gotten to hear them (well, read them I guess), from another person that was in the LC. This to me, 14 years after leaving LC life, is what I think is really necessary for mental healing to occur. Your words almost make me cry.

I really don't consider myself a weakling or anything, and have really come a long way as far as my self-esteem over the years.. but it still really helps to have someone empathize. You clearly have an understanding of what happened in this church. Again.. I thank you. And good night
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Old 10-04-2020, 09:23 PM   #15
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Got your response; crying is good, if you end up crying. I know many people who left the local church, and in their visiting around to other churches they just sat in the back row and repeatedly cried week after week. The LC does a real number on people. I'm sure you've got a lot inside, that you maybe even didn't know about, that hasn't been acknowledged.

As a heads up on this post, a little further down I'm going to refer to a few verses and talk about God some, but what I'm trying to do there is show you that the local church is an aberrant and abusive group, even according to the Bible. So I hope you don't feel like you're being preached at.....there were just some points I wanted to make that I couldn't make that fully unless I referenced what some verses had to say.

I also understand the difficulty making friends. How can you make friends when the thing that dominates your life - the church life - is totally foreign to them? How can you make friends when the things that dominate THEIR lives - school clubs, healthy human pursuits, being interested in things, hanging out together - have been passed off to you as dangerous threats you need to be on guard against? It makes connecting with people very difficult. I still feel bad to this day remembering all the great classmates of mine in high school who made genuine efforts to reach out and connect with me and I was so closed toward them in return....only because the LC made me think they were threats to be avoided. Grrrrrr.

You also mentioned THE word in your post: fear.

That's one of the things that makes the local churches an abusive church. Fear is the juice that powers so many things there. Fear of leaving. Fear of not being an overcomer. Fear of appearing too worldly if you, I don't know, go watch a baseball game or something. Fear of not being absolute for the ministry. Fear of not living "pure Christ". Fear of doubting. Fear of questioning. Fear of disagreeing, of speaking up, of being honest, of so many things.

But guess what? Fear is of the devil. Fear is not of God.

It's not normal for fear to permeate a church this way. I'm not going to preach the gospel to you, but I've got to mention a few verses just to show you that this is not what is supposed to be in a Christian setting:

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Isaiah 43:1
But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We are told repeatedly in the Bible not to fear. If there is fear in a church (aside from a healthy fear or awe grounded in the understanding of how powerful, majestic, and holy God is) then it's not of God. Plain and simple. I'll give you one more verse and will stop giving you scripture lest it starts to feel too gospel-preachy.

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Another way of saying "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" is to say "Christ set you free SO YOU WOULD BE FREE." When a verse says something twice like that, that's when we sit up and listen. But what the local church does is precisely what is in the rest of that verse - it burdens its members again by a yoke of slavery. In the context of those verses, the yoke of slavery is extra things we "have" to do for right-standing with God. In the LC that could be: make every meeting, prophesy with just the right tone, deny yourself and avoid all music, run away from other Christians, not celebrate holidays, don't have friends, etc... But all those things are a yoke of slavery weighing us down, and none of them are laid down by God as required for right-standing with Him.

ISeeCrazyPeople, just like all church kids, me included, you grew up with a yoke around your neck that shouldn't have been there. You were a young kid that had thick, heavy chains and burdens and unnecessary rules wrapped around your hands and feet and piled on your shoulders. And it's not your fault. And it's horrible that you, and so many others, have gone through that.

So in light of all that it actually makes perfect sense that you would doubt whether you were a Christian or not, because your Christian experience hasn't been a real Christian experience! You were not allowed to experience the freedom that the Bible says Christ died to give you. Instead, you were enslaved by the sophisticated and polished chains of the ministry in the local churches, and probably went years thinking the "problem" was you.

It wasn't you. You were born into an abusive church.

I've recommended a few books to other posters here, and I'll recommend them to you too. You may get some gospel presented to you in those books, but my intention in telling you about them at the moment is more for you to begin to get a grasp of what was going on as you grew up. In other words, the LC uses God's name in order to control people in ways He doesn't want people controlled. (Psst, God hates that). The local church is not the only aberrant group out there like this. There are common threads among abusive groups, and once someone starts to identify some of those things, a whole lot more of your life starts to make sense. (And hopefully you'll realize that God has been sorely misrepresented to you in the local church.)

Sorely.

So the books are:

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Johnsen and VanVonderen
Healing Spiritual Abuse by Ken Blue

If you don't have time to sit down and read books while you take care of your baby and toddler, the two authors of the first book did a two-part interview, and that's something you could listen to while you multi-task other things!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGL_Wl7BAfE (Part 1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MelXy5Gj7Jc (Part 2)

My intention here is not to sneakily push the gospel; it's just to make sure the BAD gospel you heard is crushed once and for all, and then at least you will know the real gospel. As long as you are looking for the truth, I'm confident you'll find the truth. And if you are on a truth quest, you have to hear the real gospel somewhere at least once in your search for the truth, or else it's not a full search!

I'm thrilled to hear that your daughter is growing up so differently from you. You've broken the pattern and prevented it from continuing in your family - that's fantastic. Since you mentioned your worry about her growing up without clear beliefs in God, I would say once again that Christian apologetics helped me the most - going through reasons why it actually makes sense that God created all this, and that the evidence POINTS to a creator God, rather than some random illogical chance accident. What I like the best about apologetics is that its based on logic and reason and evidence, and so I didn't feel like I was turning the lights off in my brain to arrive at the conclusion that there is a God. It's not "the Bible says it so that's it".....they actually wrestle with the hard questions and then it's up to you to decide and discern the strength of their arguments. It gives you good material to grapple with, while the search remains your own. To me, it would be a great component of your truth quest. If you're interested in a few recommendations, I can post some YouTube links, but I'll refrain for now so I don't come across too pushy.

Many people leave the LC and need counseling/therapy. If so, that's not a sign of weakness, but probably a critical part of healing and moving forward. It is hard, however, to find a good counselor who understands abusive churches and the havoc it wreaks on a person.

Anyway, like you, I don't have a ton of time. I tried to say as much as possible today because during the week my schedule is too tight to sit down and write much.

Hope some of this helped.

Trapped
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Old 10-05-2020, 01:09 PM   #16
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

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Originally Posted by ISeeCrazyPeople View Post
Why is this conversation even happening on my initial post where I went out on a limb, made myself uncomfortable, and poured my heart out? I was expecting even a tiny bit of empathy. Maybe a former LC sister will respond one day..

I really don't mind that much. Just a little.
Greetings ISeeCrazyPeople,

I find a distinct difference between those who entered into the LC as adults, and those raised up as church kids within the system. I have an adult son, and his comments about the LC are eye-opening, things I was never aware of.

Did you know there is a FaceBook group for ex-LC members? There seem to be more church kids there.
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Old 10-05-2020, 06:24 PM   #17
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Trapped,
You don’t seem very “trapped,” haha.. you seem very liberated. And I don’t mind the way you are sharing verses. It doesn’t come across as preachy, it is really just informative, so I appreciate that.
You mention the church taking things that are not sinful and making them sins.. I totally agree with that. I think what made this tricky for me though, is that the rules were not super clear. Even within the church, I remember there was some division as I got older, and some people were told they were bringing people to God incorrectly. They said something like “corrupted soil will produce corrupted fruit.” This was in regards to bringing people to God by enticing them with certain types of music (ex: modern Christian music with electric guitars).
Another thing that really got to me, was the lack of praise or encouragement I received. I remember the church teaching that caring too much about the world, which includes your job, your kids, your car, etc. is sinful. They implied that loving your kids too much or a certain way would be idolatry. I really think my parents may have taken this to heart unfortunately.
But yeah, thank you for sharing about your experience in high school. It sounds like your friends were a healthy group of kids hanging out..nothing wrong with that, and there should not have been reason for worry. But I can see how growing up in the church would make something like that seems “wrong.” I think though, my experience may have been a bit different, as you said the LC made you think of your classmates as threats to be avoided. For me, I don’t think I really felt that way, but I lost friends for different but similar reasons. I saw these other kids, and I thought “wow, they are really allowed to do SO much more than me.” I always knew I was missing out. I didn’t even want the same level of freedom as them.. maybe even half the amount. I felt almost like Carrie (if you ever saw that movie).. like I was some weird religious person, who didn’t want to be that way. I just felt like I was not going to be accepted, so just got myself to worked up and nervous to make many friends. My incredibly low self esteem was a reason why I lost many friends going from middle school to high school. The LC is obviously damaging to different people in different ways.
I have read many different online sites that mention LSM being a possible cult. I admit, much of that is over my head. Though my husband has tried to briefly browse some of the old Witness Lee/LSM books laying around my parents house still, and he says they hardly make sense.. they are verbose and nonsensical to him.

So anyway, I don’t have much spare time to analyze the verses you sent yet, but even though I said I would classify myself as Agnostic, I am definitely still a seeker of truth. I have tried to pray to God over the years, to make himself obvious to me, if he is truly there. It may just be my personality, or maybe damage from my years in the LC, but I sometimes think I need God to be incredibly obvious to me to make me know he is there. Like an anvil falling on my head or something. When I try to talk to him, I kind of hear crickets chirping.

Sorry if that sounds weird.
Another thing that bugs me regularly, is the thought that there are so many people out there born into other religions. People I now know (especially after working in healthcare, I have met so many people from Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, even atheist backgrounds), who are amazing citizens. How can I say, the Christian way is right, and you are all wrong, and you are doomed? It’s so so hard to do that, especially after life in the LC, where I was essentially told that there is only ONE way to think! I feel more comfortable at this time being open minded to everyone’s belief systems. But it is scary not to have one of my own.
I am not against reading Christian books, seeking more through conversation with others, pretty much anything that will help me to understand. I’m pretty happy that you gave me some options.
I definitely like your suggestions to read books about spiritual abuse and the youtube videos you sent. I intend to get around to that, and really truly appreciate your thoughtfulness.
It honestly really makes me happy that you care enough to write down all of this information for me and other people. Helping others must be a passion for you, otherwise, you would not. Have a great evening 😊
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Old 10-05-2020, 06:25 PM   #18
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Ohio, thank you!

If your son is telling you about his experience with the LC in that way, that sounds very good to me. I don't feel comfortable telling my parents much about my feelings regarding growing up in the LC.

And I tried to join the facebook group, but I don't think they accepted my request yet..
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Old 10-05-2020, 06:38 PM   #19
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Ohio, thank you!

If your son is telling you about his experience with the LC in that way, that sounds very good to me. I don't feel comfortable telling my parents much about my feelings regarding growing up in the LC.

And I tried to join the facebook group, but I don't think they accepted my request yet..
The FB group is concerned about fake ex-members sneaking in. Can someone recommend you?
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Old 10-05-2020, 07:15 PM   #20
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Actually it's quite different...in most vacation Bible schools they teach the Bible
.
In my era 1984 & 1985 the Bible was taught. Not any more.
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Old 10-05-2020, 07:18 PM   #21
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Ohio, thank you!

If your son is telling you about his experience with the LC in that way, that sounds very good to me. I don't feel comfortable telling my parents much about my feelings regarding growing up in the LC.

And I tried to join the facebook group, but I don't think they accepted my request yet..
If times have changed, good. Back in 2018, it was another version of groupthink.
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Old 10-06-2020, 08:07 AM   #22
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Ohio, I'm not sure if someone can recommend me, since I can't even see who is in the group. I understand their concern though. If you are from Ohio, maybe are you from Cleveland or Columbus and I know you or your son (though I want to remain anonymous on this site as you probably do as well I'm guessing)? I used to have to travel there for meetings back in my day. Had to sit through several hour long meetings when I was maybe 11 years old. I counted how many times Titus said "am I right?" As a way to get through it.
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Old 10-06-2020, 08:38 AM   #23
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Ohio, I'm not sure if someone can recommend me, since I can't even see who is in the group. I understand their concern though. If you are from Ohio, maybe are you from Cleveland or Columbus and I know you or your son (though I want to remain anonymous on this site as you probably do as well I'm guessing)? I used to have to travel there for meetings back in my day. Had to sit through several hour long meetings when I was maybe 11 years old. I counted how many times Titus said "am I right?" As a way to get through it.
Yes, I am from Cleveland and Columbus. Many moons ago.

Interesting way for an eleven y.o. to get thru long messages.

There are a number of folks on the FB site who use fictitious names and pictures for their FB account. Perhaps you want to set one up too?

I will send a message to the moderator and ask what you should do.
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Old 10-06-2020, 09:25 AM   #24
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If times have changed, good. Back in 2018, it was another version of groupthink.
Terry, I only meant that it was good that her son feels open enough to discuss these things with. Certainly NOT that the church has changed for the better..I highly doubt that, especially after reading all of this material.
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Old 10-06-2020, 11:03 AM   #25
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Do they have a bunch of 12 year olds reciting witness Lee 6 hours a day?With no chance of questions or objections to what they read? Do they come out of the truth school wondering how they are going to get through their entire first 18 years of life in this? Or is truth school not as bad as I would imagine it to be.
I think this is a question the OP might want to consider discussing.

As a parent, I sent my kids to these events, hoping for the best, and often getting little feedback about the experience, other than the official "reports."

Perhaps ISeeCrazyPeople would like to provide some assessment of her time there? Maybe that's why she chose her name? Maybe she thought my kids were crazy?
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Old 10-07-2020, 09:11 AM   #26
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I think this is a question the OP might want to consider discussing.

As a parent, I sent my kids to these events, hoping for the best, and often getting little feedback about the experience, other than the official "reports."

Perhaps ISeeCrazyPeople would like to provide some assessment of her time there? Maybe that's why she chose her name? Maybe she thought my kids were crazy?
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As a parent, I sent my kids to these events, hoping for the best, and often getting little feedback about the experience, other than the official "reports."

Perhaps ISeeCrazyPeople would like to provide some assessment of her time there? Maybe that's why she chose her name? Maybe she thought my kids were crazy?
Ohio,
Were your kids "good" church kids? If so, I wouldn't have thought they were crazy back then. It took me years to realize my true feelings about the LC. Back when I was a kid/teen I thought there was something wrong with me for not being the way the church wanted me to be.

But, I'm sorry, I can't really shed much light on the SSOT (summer school of truth) because I never went. My parents were so strict they never wanted to send us to things like that where we possibly could have had some "fun" away from their direct supervision. That's what I'm guessing. Because anytime there was a sleep-away church event, we had to beg them to go. Occasionally they allowed me to go to a couple summer youth events. Not like the SSOT. Wasn't the SSOT in like NYC? I think they might have let my sister go one year, but that's it. I'm not really sure what the other events I went to were called, but they were more local.

But I remember at any youth events essentially being forced to "pray-read".. or even just normal pray in general. We would often sit in a circle, and I would dread it being my turn.. Each kid would take a turn praying. They all sounded the same to me. "Oh LOOOORD JEEEEESUS. THANK YOU for your life in me. Blah blah something about the blood of the lamb.. some other LC lingo, I never understood" Then, another kid would go. And it would get closer and closer to my turn. I would be panicking inside. Thinking "Oh, NOOO, I don't want to do this. I better start formulating what I'm going to say, so I sound like everyone else." If I could go back in time, and be in that situation again, when it got to my turn I would say "PASS!"

What I did like about the youth group meetings, were the social aspects with some of the few friends I did make, and of course eating food. But, that wasn't why we were there. To be honest, I think some of the speakers were okay.. some people really seemed to know what they were talking about. This might have been when some of the church started to get more "sinful" and some of the TC followers who were a bit more mainstream Christian. But that was all over my head. It was all almost the same to me.
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Old 10-07-2020, 11:20 AM   #27
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Ohio,
But, I'm sorry, I can't really shed much light on the SSOT (summer school of truth) because I never went. My parents were so strict they never wanted to send us to things like that where we possibly could have had some "fun" away from their direct supervision.

But I remember at any youth events essentially being forced to "pray-read".. or even just normal pray in general. We would often sit in a circle, and I would dread it being my turn... And it would get closer and closer to my turn. I would be panicking inside. Thinking "Oh, NOOO, I don't want to do this. I better start formulating what I'm going to say, so I sound like everyone else."

What I did like about the youth group meetings, were the social aspects with some of the few friends I did make, and of course eating food. But, that wasn't why we were there.
Our SSOT for the Midwest was usually run by full-time brothers in coordination with the Church in Cleveland. I doubt if they used most of their materials from LSM.

Your story about being gripped with fear when it was your turn to "pray-read" at the SSOT reminds me of going to "confession" in Catholic school. This horrible fear gripped me as my time drew near. I wanted to run! I survived by making up the whole thing. Unfortunately coersion like this do little for one's faith in the Lord. Never helped me, but did help to deliver me from the Catholic Church.

To be honest, your parents seemed much stricter than those I knew in the LC. None of them were hesitant about church activities, except when there was conflict with summer camps. My kids looked forward to seeing their friends again in other LC's, and would try to sneak off to have fun during the long meetings, depending on the speaker. Fortunately, some of the speakers were quite talented, with a great sense of humor, and entertaining for young people. Folks at LSM hated this, however, and demanded that all the kids get force-fed with their endless books and doctrines.
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Old 10-07-2020, 06:02 PM   #28
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Your story about being gripped with fear when it was your turn to "pray-read" at the SSOT reminds me of going to "confession" in Catholic school. This horrible fear gripped me as my time drew near. I wanted to run! I survived by making up the whole thing. Unfortunately coersion like this do little for one's faith in the Lord. Never helped me, but did help to deliver me from the Catholic Church.

To be honest, your parents seemed much stricter than those I knew in the LC. None of them were hesitant about church activities, except when there was conflict with summer camps. My kids looked forward to seeing their friends again in other LC's, and would try to sneak off to have fun during the long meetings, depending on the speaker. Fortunately, some of the speakers were quite talented, with a great sense of humor, and entertaining for young people. Folks at LSM hated this, however, and demanded that all the kids get force-fed with their endless books and doctrines.
Ohio,
Thanks for sharing your experience with growing up in the Catholic Church. I know some people who are Catholic who seem okay with it. Kind of like the LC. But either way, any church that makes people fearful is probably not good. I am learning more and more about spiritual abuse (though slowly).

And, since you mention it.. I truly remember some really good speakers that made learning things from the Bible fun and interesting while growing up in church. Usually at youth conferences. But, "fun" and "interesting" are also equal to worldly and sinful. It was a confusing thing. I think this was around the time I was also told that bringing people to God through fun and entertainment is wrong because they will be corrupted from the beginning. The bad soil produces bad fruit expression I was often told. So is it better to learn about God through really boring means that make no sense? Yes, I guess so.

Kids from my age group had this thing called a Xanga.. it was a webpage we all had back then. And I remember, there was this guy, from the LSM side, called "LORDSARMY".. it was a huge thing back 15 years ago. He called out young people and youth leaders for corrupting everyone at the church camps called "Mountain Top." He said it was "worldly, degrading, and sinful." He would post pictures from Mountaintop to make his point. Showing young people worshiping with electric guitars and doing other supposedly "sinful" things. I honestly thought everyone at Mountaintop was mostly a bunch of goody goodies, so can you imagine, me hearing from this guy that they were "sinful"?? Church life was a mess. Especially if you were young and naive like I was and didn't have a clue what was going on with the whole Titus quarantine thing.

I still don't really get that. If you are able to shed some light on it, I would appreciate it. I mean, this blog is for ex-LC people, so in my mind, the Titus side, and the LSM side are both not good. But I'm not sure how everyone else feels.

Thank you again
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Old 10-07-2020, 06:38 PM   #29
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Terry, I only meant that it was good that her son feels open enough to discuss these things with. Certainly NOT that the church has changed for the better..I highly doubt that, especially after reading all of this material.
Hi, ISeeCrazyPeople. For a short time in 2009-2010 I gave it a go with the Church in Renton hoping things have changed. No, they haven't. In more recent years when I visit my parents in their locality, not much has changed there either.
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Old 10-07-2020, 06:57 PM   #30
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Ohio,
Thanks for sharing your experience with growing up in the Catholic Church. I know some people who are Catholic who seem okay with it. Kind of like the LC. But either way, any church that makes people fearful is probably not good. I am learning more and more about spiritual abuse (though slowly).

And, since you mention it.. I truly remember some really good speakers that made learning things from the Bible fun and interesting while growing up in church. Usually at youth conferences. But, "fun" and "interesting" are also equal to worldly and sinful. It was a confusing thing. I think this was around the time I was also told that bringing people to God through fun and entertainment is wrong because they will be corrupted from the beginning. The bad soil produces bad fruit expression I was often told. So is it better to learn about God through really boring means that make no sense? Yes, I guess so.

Kids from my age group had this thing called a Xanga.. it was a webpage we all had back then. And I remember, there was this guy, from the LSM side, called "LORDSARMY".. it was a huge thing back 15 years ago. He called out young people and youth leaders for corrupting everyone at the church camps called "Mountain Top." He said it was "worldly, degrading, and sinful." He would post pictures from Mountaintop to make his point. Showing young people worshiping with electric guitars and doing other supposedly "sinful" things. I honestly thought everyone at Mountaintop was mostly a bunch of goody goodies, so can you imagine, me hearing from this guy that they were "sinful"?? Church life was a mess. Especially if you were young and naive like I was and didn't have a clue what was going on with the whole Titus quarantine thing.

I still don't really get that. If you are able to shed some light on it, I would appreciate it. I mean, this blog is for ex-LC people, so in my mind, the Titus side, and the LSM side are both not good. But I'm not sure how everyone else feels.

Thank you again
I also remember Xanga LordsArmy years ago. It used reverse print -- white letters on black background and very hard to read. What a nasty character he was. He was a total LSM zealot. No one could reason with him. No verses could calm him down. It seemed his mean old God lived in Anaheim.

There's nothing "worldly, degrading, and sinful" about good, hearty laughter and wholesome fun with friends in meetings. God is not a scrooge or the Grinch who stole Christmas. Operatives from LSM came into all of the Midwest LC's causing much pain and division. Prior to that they sowed seeds of suspicion for decades.

Why is an electric guitar "sinful" during worship? Why are young people role-playing skits "worldly" during a young people's gathering? The answer is simple. Witness Lee and the Blendeds said so! Did the Bible say so? No! Let me ask another way, why are pianos and acoustic guitars considered "spiritual?" Because Witness Lee said so. These are merely one man's opinions which become ordinances to bring others under guilt and condemnation.

Read the Gospels and look for all the times when the Jews made up rules to condemn Jesus. They did the same thing to him and the disciples. They loved to make rules for others. And that's why they quarantined Titus and the Midwest -- because the brothers refused to come under Anaheim's endless rules and mandates. Don't we have freedom in Christ to worship God as we choose? They were willing to destroy all the LC's just to enforce their rules.

When it comes to resisting Anaheim's laws and rules, I completely support Titus Chu. We should resist legalism and spiritual bondage. I am for Jesus and the Bible, and not for all of the rules of men.
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Old 10-07-2020, 09:15 PM   #31
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Hi everyone. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences of the LC with you and hopefully receiving some feedback. I am glad to finally (after many years) have a way to get some of this off of my chest and possibly find others who can relate to me. I am going to avoid talking about much that is spiritual and focus on what my life was like growing up in the LC.
I definitely share a lot of these feelings with you. My parents started meeting with the LC when I was 12 years old (I'm 31 now) and to be perfectly honest, although I stopped meeting about 5 years ago, it wasn't until this year that I sat down to evaluate what went on in the LC and how it has affected me.

I grew up in a I met my dear husband in the LC as high schoolers but started a friendship with him in the college christian at campus group from the LC. The elders and my parents did not want us together and throughout our college years and after, they essentially made us break up a lot of times because "we had to wait". I did form wonderful friendships with some young people of my age growing up that I maintain to this day (most of us are not meeting anymore though), but mostly I just remember so much suffering and pain growing up. I never felt like I was pleasing the Lord enough or my parents and either way my parents went along with whatever the fellowship told them and they are deep deep into LC.

Some of my notes growing up in the LC:

Dating - dating was essentially not allowed and frowned upon until after college (especially if it was church kids, they held us to a higher expectation than a new couple from college for example). Rumors and gossip around young couples was horrible and everyone acted as police to the young sister's parents or elders. I can't tell you how many times my parents told me: the sisters/brothers called and said X (my now husband) was there.

Fellowship - nothing could ever be done without "having fellowship" with the elders. I remember being told to have fellowship about which third language I should study ( I wanted Italian, elders said Portuguese would probably serve the Lord's move better) Changing degrees, buying a car, going to a conference, everything had (should) be fellowshipped.

On that topic - they instill in you that "there is nothing in the dark that wont come to light" so much that I believe it's a way to get information out from you. For example, my husband and I, being young, in love and controlled, had intercourse while still dating in college. We felt so horrible about it and abot going against what we were taught that we foolishly told one of the elders to ask for "help". What ended up happening was that the elder told a) the other elders and responsible ones b) my parents. Needless to say my parents almost threw me out of the house ( they actually did and sent me to the elders house for a week ) and my husband and I were both told that we could not meet with the LC for some time as we were in sin.

My parents are not elders nor responsible ones but they are very close personally to the LC elders in our locality, give a LOT of money and also provide properties for full-timers. So while I was "excommunicated" they did allow me to show up here and there without kicking me out. My husband is another story, his family is not in the LC so after so many years of meeting with us, he had been basically separated from his family and spent literally all his time with the saints. When we got "excommunicated" he got the worse part of it. Brothers that had opened his home to him daily stood in their door and told him he could not come in as he would "contaminate" his children with his sin. He was monitored around other localities as well if he tried to show up for a meeting and he would be thrown out.

Fellowship is just an excuse to learn everything from you, gain leverage to control you, and tell you what to do. We got betrayed in the name of fellowship and if we had followed fellowship we wouldnt be married today.

I have a lot of stories and experiences that would take forever to write down. I'll post as I see threads of interest.
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Old 10-08-2020, 06:14 PM   #32
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Hello Unregistered Guest!
Thank you for sharing. We are similar ages (I’m 34), and I as well didn’t start thinking about this too much until more recently. I think I knew for years that it had a negative impact on my life, but I really started thinking further when I decided to research the church a bit, and saw a TON of information online about it’s past and being called a cult and what not.
I’m glad you shared about your relationship issues, because that was also a major issue for me (though in a different way). I know that my parents sometimes said “dating leads to divorce” and the church always said we need to be equally yolked.. or something like that. Implying we needed to marry within the church. I can definitely see them acting like the police, like you said.
The thing about having to fellowship, wasn’t really a thing for me so much. Maybe because I was from a really small church. But I don’t think anybody cared about me enough to make me fellowship. But, that is verging on quite controlling it sounds like. I was also controlled, but more by my parents (who kept my siblings and I on quite a tight leash), and probably indirectly through the church (who influenced my parents parenting style).
Sorry, I don’t have much time right now to respond to everything you said, although it is very interesting. It is very sad that they used “fellowship” as a way to learn things and gain leverage. I actually did have something similar to that happen to me once I was a young adult in the church..long story though. I can just say, it was really awkward and uncomfortable to have a sit down with the brothers at a table and have them tell you things and what to do. As far as I know, once you are 18, you are an adult and shouldn’t have to be bossed around like that, especially from a church.
I am glad though you made it through this experience and ended up married to your husband. Please let me know if you want to discuss this further.
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Old 10-09-2020, 07:46 AM   #33
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I have a lot of stories and experiences that would take forever to write down. I'll post as I see threads of interest.
Welcome "unregistered!" Please pick a name and register!

Your story was informative in so many ways. I read it a couple times and said wow! Legalism, favoring the rich, man-pleasing, spying, self-righteousness, lovelessness (is that a word?), etc. etc. They preach "no gossiping," but that only applies to them. Call it "fellowship" and they can legitimize anything. I could go on. And on. With their hypocrisy.

But I also felt behind the scenes, in some romantic way, the Lord was preparing you and your husband for a wonderful life together of freedom, outside the LC. Kind of like a Romeo and Juliet story filled with incredible stories of what you went thru together. Blessings to you both!
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Old 10-09-2020, 09:56 AM   #34
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

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Welcome "unregistered!" Please pick a name and register!

Your story was informative in so many ways. I read it a couple times and said wow! Legalism, favoring the rich, man-pleasing, spying, self-righteousness, lovelessness (is that a word?), etc. etc. They preach "no gossiping," but that only applies to them. Call it "fellowship" and they can legitimize anything. I could go on. And on. With their hypocrisy.

But I also felt behind the scenes, in some romantic way, the Lord was preparing you and your husband for a wonderful life together of freedom, outside the LC. Kind of like a Romeo and Juliet story filled with incredible stories of what you went thru together. Blessings to you both!
Amen to that!

I suggest "Juliet" as a wonderful user name for you! :-)

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Old 10-09-2020, 10:20 PM   #35
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Trapped,
You don’t seem very “trapped,” haha.. you seem very liberated. And I don’t mind the way you are sharing verses. It doesn’t come across as preachy, it is really just informative, so I appreciate that.
You mention the church taking things that are not sinful and making them sins.. I totally agree with that. I think what made this tricky for me though, is that the rules were not super clear. Even within the church, I remember there was some division as I got older, and some people were told they were bringing people to God incorrectly. They said something like “corrupted soil will produce corrupted fruit.” This was in regards to bringing people to God by enticing them with certain types of music (ex: modern Christian music with electric guitars).
Another thing that really got to me, was the lack of praise or encouragement I received. I remember the church teaching that caring too much about the world, which includes your job, your kids, your car, etc. is sinful. They implied that loving your kids too much or a certain way would be idolatry. I really think my parents may have taken this to heart unfortunately.

....

I just felt like I was not going to be accepted, so just got myself to worked up and nervous to make many friends. My incredibly low self esteem was a reason why I lost many friends going from middle school to high school. The LC is obviously damaging to different people in different ways.
I'm still "trapped" in numerous ways, but being armed with information about some of the things I wrote to you about (spiritual abuse, etc) has liberated me in other ways. It's not a quick process for some, me included.

I'm not sure if you will relate, but earlier this week I was reminded of an experience I had a while back and thought of this thread.

I was driving one morning listening to a Christian radio station. I was still in the LC, and so listening to Christian radio was still a new thing. A song came on with lyrics that started like this:

In my weakest moment I see you
Shaking your head in disgrace
I can read the disappointment
Written all over your face

Here comes those whispers in my ear
Saying "who do you think you are?
Looks like you're on your own from here
'Cause grace could never reach that far"

But, in the shadow of that shame
Beat down by all the blame
I hear you call my name sayin' it's not over
And my heart starts to beat
So loud now, drowning out the doubt
I'm down but I'm not out

There's a war between guilt and grace
And they're fighting for a sacred space
But I'm living proof
Grace wins every time

When I heard the first two stanzas, I remember thinking "Ahh....see, these people are talking about the God I know.....they really GET IT! They are actually being honest that God is always that way towards me: unhappy and disgusted with me!"

And much to my total shock, the song kept going and turned it all around.....revealing that those words that I "knew" were God's words were actually the opposite. God wasn't the one saying those things to me this whole time. He was actually saying that "grace wins". And those disgusted words condemning me were really from guilt, shame, fear, and ..... the devil.

My jaw dropped. I almost, no joke, had to pull my car over off to the side of the road because my brain was so consumed with calculating the implications of what the song was saying that it could barely function to keep me within the lane lines too. I couldn't believe that they were talking about a God who was the opposite of the God I was taught about in the LC.

But immediately I knew that the God in the song was the real representation of Him, and what I'd been told was a lie.

And the kicker is that the truth was coming from "Christianity".....the place I had been told for so long was evil. I mean, criminey, no wonder people end up in therapy after leaving the LC to try to right what's been upside down for so long.

Anyway, my point in relaying that story to you was just to try to communicate that church kids know all too well the feeling of being condemned about everything they do, not being encouraged to be the full human being they were created to be, not accepted, not enough, etc... Church kids think GOD is the one saying "I'm disgusted with you, I'm repulsed by you, who do you think you are, etc". This couldn't be more wrong.

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I have tried to pray to God over the years, to make himself obvious to me, if he is truly there. It may just be my personality, or maybe damage from my years in the LC, but I sometimes think I need God to be incredibly obvious to me to make me know he is there. Like an anvil falling on my head or something. When I try to talk to him, I kind of hear crickets chirping.

Sorry if that sounds weird.
Doesn't sound weird at all. In fact, it sounds exactly like some things I posted on this forum a year or so ago. I would even venture to say it's not an unusual experience or feeling at all. And I would also say that it's better to express that feeling out loud than to keep quiet about it and have it burn inside of you where over time it will send all the wrong messages to you about God and about yourself.

You've got company in feeling like talking to God is more of a one-way road than a two-sided conversation. I frequently ask Him in exasperation "why if what You want is a relationship with us and to be known and loved by us, do you make it so hard to have a two-sided relationship with You!?! Why does having a relationship with You feel most of the time like I don't have a relationship with You!"

You wrote more in your post about people of other faiths being model citizens, etc. I'll respond to that a bit later when I have more time. That question is exactly why I would still recommend apologetics to you......that's exactly the kind of stuff they answer. It's a very normal thing to be bugged by, and it's great that you can voice it. And it's great that you're thinking those kind of things and can ask questions.

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Old 10-10-2020, 12:20 AM   #36
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Trapped- im sorry brother, idk wth you went through in its entirety, but im so sorry. I hope you can discard the past LC life completely. " eMpErOr" lee is the one of the biggest culprits of spiritual abuse till this day. His actions and teachings ruins the lives of many people. I truly hope you can find happiness and absolve yourself of the shackles of the LC completely.
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Old 10-12-2020, 06:02 PM   #37
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Trapped,
I should not have assumed you weren’t trapped. I understand where you are coming from as far as having a past in the LC and it’s apparently not something people can just “get over” as soon as they leave. I am really just happy there are people who talks about this type of thing, because I previously didn’t know there were others who had similar feelings to my own. I agree, being a church kid made me feel like I was constantly judged and watched by God (not loved).. I remember that one children’s song that had the lyrics “be careful little minds what you think” and “be careful little eyes what you see”.. I don’t think this song was meant to be scary, but the way I interpreted was scary. To me, I thought I was supposed to be constantly worried and scared God would “catch me” doing something wrong and bad, and to be fearful all the time in case I thought, said, or did the wrong thing.

Do you say “Christian radio was a new thing” to you because we were told Christian radio was sinful in the LC (sounds likely)? Kind of like how it was implied to us through the LC that Catholics are sinful/a cult, and the large mega non-denominational Christian churches are worldly and not of God? My memories of the church are sometimes not super clear. I think I might have blocked a lot of the memories out, or they just seem so unrealistic that I can hardly believe they were ever true.

I like how you shared about that song. I personally have a hard time being touched by Christian songs ... maybe from years in the church with all the expectations to be touched by the spirit (when I really wasn’t touched at all.) I remember people standing up during our Sunday meetings and saying “lets touch our spirit with hymn number ___”.. or “lets worship The Lord with number ___” or something like that. I was never really touched. Your interpretation of the song, and how it impacted you, however, IS touching to me, because you explain how it was meaningful to you.

On a side note, I have been looking forward to responding to you and receiving more insight from you, but it’s so challenging to get a free moment. This is also a thing I wonder about God.. how does he expect people who face certain challenges like being a parent, or working a lot, or whatever it may be that doesn’t allow for time to be alone, sit, think, ponder about life… how does he expect them to do all of the research it takes to figure him out? Because apparently it takes a lot more for people who are questioning types of people (such as myself) and can’t just go by blind faith alone, to believe in him. It worries me that I won’t have time to figure this out by the time I die. I really want time to read these Christian apologetics that you’re talking about, but usually by the end of the day, I just want to pass out and watch a 45 min tv show (all I have time for), or read a little fiction, then go to bed.

Although now I consider myself Agnostic, I have made a serious attempt, in the past, to put aside time to figure out Christianity. It just sometimes feels like one needs to be a super scholar to understand.. so then are the rest of us dumb-dumbs doomed? I once tried to read a book called “How to Study the Bible for Yourself” by one of the guys who wrote the “Left Behind” series.. that was my starting point. But, he insists in the book that you should read the bible every morning before breakfast. He was very adamant about this and says “No Bible, NO Breakfast.” I’m sorry, I just won’t do something like that. It seemed to appeal to young single people who could actually do that. Where does that leave everyone else?

I know you probably don’t have all the answers to these questions, and I’m probably just venting. I still will try to make a serious attempt to read books and educate myself. It will probably just be a very slow process. And what if I die before I figure this out? Am I then doomed as well because I didn’t figure it out in time?

Well, enough complaining. Do you have any recommendations as far as books (Apologetics?) which I should start with? I already plan to read one of the books on spiritual abuse at some point (and I thank you again for those recommendations. Just not sure when I will get around to it.
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Old 10-12-2020, 10:31 PM   #38
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Trapped,
I should not have assumed you weren’t trapped. I understand where you are coming from as far as having a past in the LC and it’s apparently not something people can just “get over” as soon as they leave. I am really just happy there are people who talks about this type of thing, because I previously didn’t know there were others who had similar feelings to my own. I agree, being a church kid made me feel like I was constantly judged and watched by God (not loved).. I remember that one children’s song that had the lyrics “be careful little minds what you think” and “be careful little eyes what you see”.. I don’t think this song was meant to be scary, but the way I interpreted was scary. To me, I thought I was supposed to be constantly worried and scared God would “catch me” doing something wrong and bad, and to be fearful all the time in case I thought, said, or did the wrong thing.

Do you say “Christian radio was a new thing” to you because we were told Christian radio was sinful in the LC (sounds likely)? Kind of like how it was implied to us through the LC that Catholics are sinful/a cult, and the large mega non-denominational Christian churches are worldly and not of God? My memories of the church are sometimes not super clear. I think I might have blocked a lot of the memories out, or they just seem so unrealistic that I can hardly believe they were ever true.

I like how you shared about that song. I personally have a hard time being touched by Christian songs ... maybe from years in the church with all the expectations to be touched by the spirit (when I really wasn’t touched at all.) I remember people standing up during our Sunday meetings and saying “lets touch our spirit with hymn number ___”.. or “lets worship The Lord with number ___” or something like that. I was never really touched. Your interpretation of the song, and how it impacted you, however, IS touching to me, because you explain how it was meaningful to you.

On a side note, I have been looking forward to responding to you and receiving more insight from you, but it’s so challenging to get a free moment. This is also a thing I wonder about God.. how does he expect people who face certain challenges like being a parent, or working a lot, or whatever it may be that doesn’t allow for time to be alone, sit, think, ponder about life… how does he expect them to do all of the research it takes to figure him out? Because apparently it takes a lot more for people who are questioning types of people (such as myself) and can’t just go by blind faith alone, to believe in him. It worries me that I won’t have time to figure this out by the time I die. I really want time to read these Christian apologetics that you’re talking about, but usually by the end of the day, I just want to pass out and watch a 45 min tv show (all I have time for), or read a little fiction, then go to bed.

Although now I consider myself Agnostic, I have made a serious attempt, in the past, to put aside time to figure out Christianity. It just sometimes feels like one needs to be a super scholar to understand.. so then are the rest of us dumb-dumbs doomed? I once tried to read a book called “How to Study the Bible for Yourself” by one of the guys who wrote the “Left Behind” series.. that was my starting point. But, he insists in the book that you should read the bible every morning before breakfast. He was very adamant about this and says “No Bible, NO Breakfast.” I’m sorry, I just won’t do something like that. It seemed to appeal to young single people who could actually do that. Where does that leave everyone else?

I know you probably don’t have all the answers to these questions, and I’m probably just venting. I still will try to make a serious attempt to read books and educate myself. It will probably just be a very slow process. And what if I die before I figure this out? Am I then doomed as well because I didn’t figure it out in time?

Well, enough complaining. Do you have any recommendations as far as books (Apologetics?) which I should start with? I already plan to read one of the books on spiritual abuse at some point (and I thank you again for those recommendations. Just not sure when I will get around to it.
Dear iseecrazypeople,

I understand your post very well. Having young children can mean constant vigilance day and night, with no breaks till a few YEARS when they get a bit older. God does not favour the studious, though studying the Bible is certainly helpful to the Christian journey.

I just want to advise you this: get yourself the book 'the subtle power of spiritual abuse'. Put it in your recipe holder, or device stand and put it by your stove, and read even just one paragraph a day while you are waiting for something to grill, or stirring the pasta in the pot etc.

You will be gripped by this book, I feel sure of that. Even if your brain is exhausted, you can mull over till the next chance you get to read a bit more . Only if it triggers unbearable pain or anger in you, that could be a reason to stop and look for another plan, which unfortunately, likely.

I am of the opinion that this comes ahead of reading Christian apologetics, as seperating what you experienced from 'health' is the first step. Then studying what Christianity should be will be much more clear to understand. That's just my two cents worth. I hope it helps. Short spurts of the book may help you process the contents as you go. There is a lot to take in.

Maybe you can then think about and process it all alongside parental activities... another multitasking exercise I know!!

I understand this is a question for Trapped, and he may have better advice for you on it's way.
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Old 10-13-2020, 06:40 AM   #39
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This and other excellent spiritual abuse titles have been discussed on the forum.

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Dear iseecrazypeople,

I understand your post very well. Having young children can mean constant vigilance day and night, with no breaks till a few YEARS when they get a bit older. God does not favour the studious, though studying the Bible is certainly helpful to the Christian journey.

I just want to advise you this: get yourself the book 'the subtle power of spiritual abuse'. Put it in your recipe holder, or device stand and put it by your stove, and read even just one paragraph a day while you are waiting for something to grill, or stirring the pasta in the pot etc.

You will be gripped by this book, I feel sure of that. Even if your brain is exhausted, you can mull over till the next chance you get to read a bit more . Only if it triggers unbearable pain or anger in you, that could be a reason to stop and look for another plan, which unfortunately, likely.

I am of the opinion that this comes ahead of reading Christian apologetics, as seperating what you experienced from 'health' is the first step. Then studying what Christianity should be will be much more clear to understand. That's just my two cents worth. I hope it helps. Short spurts of the book may help you process the contents as you go. There is a lot to take in.

Maybe you can then think about and process it all alongside parental activities... another multitasking exercise I know!!

I understand this is a question for Trapped, and he may have better advice for you on it's way.
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Old 10-13-2020, 10:23 PM   #40
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I just have time to write literally a few words, and they are: "I agree with Curious".

I think reading books like "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" is a great place to start. Metaphorically, a book like that can help the chains come off (that honestly you may not even realize are there!). Once you start to become aware of the chains, put names to the chains, be released from the chains.......then it's easier to listen to apologetics stuff, in my opinion. In other words, understanding spiritual abuse can, kind of, "remove the filters" making it easier to hear other things without it going through a residual filter from your childhood LC days.

I do have some apologetics recommendations -- videos on youtube really -- but I'll get back to you on that and your other posts when I have more time.

I second Curious's point about just reading a paragraph or two at a time of that book as you have the time. Or, listen to the two interviews of the authors of that book from those youtube links I posted a few posts back in this thread. You can also listen to that a chunk at a time, rather than the whole 2 hours at once.

Your thoughts and concerns and everything you've written are totally normal. And don't worry about not having much time to respond here. Just relax and post here when you have the time and desire. I had to nap most of last weekend just to shore up my energy to make it through this week, even though I would rather have been responding to numerous things on this site, so we're all on a chill timeline here. This forum isn't going anywhere (I don't think!)
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Old 10-15-2020, 07:22 PM   #41
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ISeeCrazyPeople,

I went back and read some of your earlier posts and noticed that I missed an important part of what you had said. Because of my own experience I focused my responses more on the abusive/aberrant church side of things, but missed the portions you wrote concerning your parents. A couple thoughts came to mind as I re-read, some of which may or may not be helpful or applicable.

Although you are currently agnostic, since you have a Christian landscape from your past, I can’t help but make a comparison to God as I think about your parents. I haven’t lost sight of the fact that you don’t feel like you have solid footing to say there is a God, but I’m saying this in light of your truth quest down the road. If you DO come to a point where you see grounds for God’s existence, your family background, as I see it, may be a stumbling block to your ever wanting to take a step towards God.

I don’t know that this is a hard-and-fast rule, but in general, our views of God (particularly God as a Father to us) tend to be shaped by our relationship with our own father. If you have an authoritarian dad, as you described, then God Himself may not seem like someone you want to know, be around, run to, or feel safe with. God may not seem like someone you can approach, be open to, be honest with, be who you are with, or possibly even someone you can trust. And He especially might not feel like someone who you can bring your sins, failure, guilt, shame, and mistakes to. And this is a tragedy, because that’s what God deeply desires, so He can be the one to wrap His arms around us, failures and all, and clothe us in honor and righteousness instead.

And I'm not making that last sentence up, either.

While my parents did not have an authoritarian style, I would say they were still influenced by the local church’s teachings. The direct, safe, just-want-to-spend-time-with-you, unconditional, non-condemning, delighting-in-his-kids fatherly love wasn’t something I knew (more of a “feel like my existence has let him down, still haven’t figure out how to make him proud” kind of thing), although as an adult I realize my dad showed his love in other ways (faithful to my mom, diligently provided for his family, “good brother in the church”, etc). I mentioned in a previous post that it’s not unusual for people who leave the LC to end up in some kind of counseling, and I am one of the ones who fits that bill. In side discussions about my parents, my counselor framed this kind of behavior in a way I never thought of before, by saying “your parents sinned against you.”

My counselor is a Christian, and he framed it that way because viewing it as sin makes the way for Jesus and forgiveness to come in, but for now I just want to try to shift your perspective of your parent’s behavior to just recognizing they were wrong.

I had always thought, without realizing I was thinking it, that the way my parent’s relationship towards me made me feel was a reflection on my value as a person, on who I was, on how worthy I was. For example, they don’t show outright love and affection, so that means I’m not lovable or worthy of affection. They condemn various lawful things and sinful, so that means I’m a bad person for wanting to participate in those normal things. They make me feel bad for various things, so that means God created me to shame and condemn me.

But that’s not the case. If a parent’s behavior toward you or relationship with you is not a reflection of God, that’s a shortcoming and/or sin on their part. Now, I don’t mean to take it to an extreme....of course all parents are humans and have shortcomings and mistakes and failures, and we can’t be cruel in slamming them up against the absolute wall of God’s perfect standard because we all fall short there. But the main point I’m trying to make is to step back and realize that the damage done to you by your parent’s heavy-handed style, the effect of that style on your mental health in general, and the thoughts you have about yourself as a result of that style, don’t have the right to tell you concrete messages about yourself or your value. I do see that you probably already get this somewhat, as you’ve taken steps to make sure your own children don’t grow up the same way.

In other words, we shouldn’t base our emotional lives on someone else’s sin patterns. I’m not saying that’s an easy thing to do, because it’s not, but recognizing it as a sin pattern in the first place is the first step toward unhinging from the emotional effects of what they did. It was wrong, and so you are fully authorized to disregard any weight and heaviness that drags you down because of it.

The other thing that came to mind reading your posts is regarding safety, and by this I mean “internal safety”. The safety of our soul. Parents are supposed to be the source of our attachment and safety as we grow up. As kids we play but get agitated if mom leaves the room. On the playground we wander away but look back to make sure mom is still watching us and smiling. As we grow we become more and more independent from our parents, but it’s within the framework of knowing we are safe in their hands. But when our parents are authoritarian, strict, restricting, condemning, then what is supposed to be our source of safety also becomes a source of fear and feeling unsettled. And as children, we have no one else to turn to in order to get away from that fear. So we grow up in a way we aren’t supposed to – having to turn towards the person who also wounds us, and having to trust the person who we don’t feel safe with in the way we are supposed to.

Talk about internal conflict!

This can create what some call “unbearable sensations” within us, where we are simply trapped with no way out. Looking for safety but only finding fear. Forcing ourselves to walk towards the source of fear while our own bodies and minds are telling us to turn away. This kind of gut-twisting tension within that we experience as children can stay with us well into our adulthood if we never find a way to identify it, or work through it or process it. Because you have mentioned both a difficult parenting situation, as well as the backdrop of the local church, I think I would recommend counseling/therapy to you regarding these two things in particular, if you haven't done so already. (Keep in mind I’m not diagnosing anything here, and I’m not a medical professional recommending this to you. I’m just a person.) I frankly think that every person on the planet could benefit from counseling at some point, so you’re just a normal part of the human race on this one. If you try counseling, you will know when you’ve found a good counselor. It may be hard to find one that really understands the type of church the LC is, but it’s worth finding someone who does because it sounds like that informed your parents’ parenting style. If a counselor makes you feel bad or worse, drop them like they are hot. I asked around for recommendations in looking for mine, and found one that I can bring up horrible things I would rather keep in a dark corner to, and yet receive only understanding, compassion, and grace in return. That’s what you are looking for in a counselor.

Anyway, sorry I missed the parent aspect before. Hope some of this helps or aligns with your experience in some way.

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Old 10-16-2020, 07:16 PM   #42
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Do they have a bunch of 12-year-olds reciting witness Lee 6 hours a day?With no chance of questions or objections to what they read?
That's very, um, not enjoyable.
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Old 10-16-2020, 10:22 PM   #43
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I can guarantee that there are MANY church kids out there who can identify with your experiences. I was born into the “church life” also but, by contrast, my parents were relatively lax for church parents. No we weren’t allowed to swear, drink, or do drugs, but we were allowed to have sleepovers, go to movies, and attend high school dances. Yet the culture of the church stole much of the joy from my childhood because I always experienced a subconscious guilt for participating in these “worldly” activities. As an adult, I felt extreme guilt about the thought of leaving the church (I didn’t want to be backslidden into the world or “degraded Christianity,” after all) but realized I didn’t want to live a loveless, joyless life anymore and finally stopped attending. It has been a LONG road of emotional unpacking, and I have found an awesome Christian therapist who has helped untangle some of the distorted thoughts I developed while growing up in the church. She immediately identified spiritually abusive messages I have picked up throughout my life, and I am working to reverse those unhealthy thoughts. So, even though my upbringing wasn’t exactly the same as yours, there are a lot of us out here who have had similar negative effects from growing up in the LC.

Your comment about feeling guilty struck me; Your feelings are absolutely valid, and you should allow yourself to feel them deeply. Growing up in the church we were told that if we doubted, our faith wasn’t strong enough; if we were sad, clearly we weren’t overcoming and taking Christ as our joy; if we were anxious, we weren’t trusting and resting in God. Basically we were programmed to feel guilty for experiencing any emotions because we should “turn to our spirit” instead. Feel what you feel; it’s the only way to process some of the damaging things from your childhood.
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Old 10-17-2020, 02:32 PM   #44
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

I had a brutal childhood. My parents divorced when I was a baby, both remarried and both marriages were awful. I was abandoned, neglected, abused physically (beaten until red welts & bruises), shamed and ritually hazed (my father said it was making me 'tough'). My step-father was a farmer who shot pets and farm animals in a black rage. I was sure that I was going to die at some point at his hand. I was 6, 7, 8 years old. My mom tried to commit suicide, so I went to live with in-laws, then I went home and it started all over again.

At age 12 I discovered that alcohol made the pain stop. At parties there was so much beer around, nobody noticed if a few cans disappeared. I discovered the liquor cabinet: I'd cut the vodka jug with water, and nobody could tell. I'd take an inch out of the gin or bourbon or rum and nobody noticed. I developed a tolerance, by 15 I was really pounding booze. Drugs followed, speed and downers and pot. I began to deal, to cover the costs. Violence followed, on the street it was "kill or be killed". At 17 I was in the bars, with the all the drunkenness that entailed.

Then I got sober, went to college and was recruited into the Local Church of Witness Lee. What a match that was! I was posing as "good building material", and they were posing as a "recovered" or "restored" Christian church. After a few years of 24/7 "church life", the walls came in: my past, my insecurities, my shame. I was so nervous, trying to be good. "Just call O Lord" but it didn't change anything. Social stuff was agonizing. I hated the meetings, the tenseness and the fear, posing as a Christian for 2 hours... it was so much pretense - I felt like a fake! I was going from panic to apathy and depression. So I went to the elders, one by one, and confessed that I was miserable, confused, frightened, angry (this was after months of spiraling and hiding in the "brother's house"). When I went to them for fellowship, one by one they made it clear they weren't interested. They weren't here for me, they were here for the "Lord's Recovery". Got it? My problems clearly made them uncomfortable, unhappy. Don't you know there are no problems here? That really popped my bubble.

The other thing that bugged me was that they could care less about the poor, the hungry, the sick, the widows and orphans. And then the way they raised the children! I saw toddlers being coaxed to "call on the Lord" when they could barely stand. The fist pump thing - little kids? I was aghast. The elder's wife who taught children's meeting, telling them that "everybody knew" that dinosaur bones were hidden in the earth by Satan to fool people. I was like, "Whaaaa?"

Here's some advice, from one who got out. (this is what I tell myself- it may or may not be applicable to others)

1. You have to forgive. My parents, especially - they didn't know any better. (They did their best, with what they had, a la Luke 12:48, Mark 14:8.... clearly they didn't have much.) Their main problem was an inability to forgive how poorly their own parents raised them. I heard their bitterness, I saw the effect - it was corrosive. I must forgive, I must recover. "Mercy triumphs over judgment" says James. "If you forgive others, you'll be forgiven" says the gospel passage. The only way out is to become free from anger. What happened, is what happened.

2. Related to #1. I have to take ownership for my own decisions. Yes, I was fooled, and yes I was a naive college student who got "love bombed" and fell for it, just like a fly in a spider's web. But I have to take responsibility and learn. Now when I remember, "Just call O Lord" and "Just be simple" I can recognise the cult-speak. The 'just' means that they disqualify any other experience but theirs. The "be simple" means, Don't think. So I learn from my experiences and go on, and take responsibility. I own my mistakes. I can forgive, and I can also repent, learn, and grow. It's my journey. Those were my mistakes. I let my ego get puffed up - "You're in God's best".

3. Related to #2. Whatever I believe (or don't) is my decision. Don't take any testimony or assertion at face value - prove everything. Had I been more skeptical, the wall of booklets from WL would have screamed 'cult'. (the pastel-colored "rainbow booklets" that he was pushing, late '80s.) I can see that, now.

After leaving the LC, I got involved in an extreme group - all females wore head coverings, because Paul said so. None of them could speak in church - it's in the Bible, see? Nobody played guitar, because Jesus didn't play guitar. Etc. Then I left that, after a year, and went into the local Bible church, and hung out with Pastor Bob et al. Tried to be a Protestant for a few years.

Then I got sick of it all and quit - one day, I prayed, "You're fired." And that was it. I didn't think about God for a long time. I was tired of praying to a God that didn't answer. I focused on my career, slowly got my feet down on the earth, kinda got my mind restored, tried to remember how to think. Became a bit more, shall we say, human.

After a while I began to consider God again, but on my terms. It's my journey. I remember thinking, How can you lose your soul-life if you don't even have a soul-life to lose? I was like, "Hellooo!" I began to think for myself. I allowed myself to feel. They were my feelings.

Let me give an example: Jesus was quoted, "David was in spirit, writing about me". (Matt 22:43; cf Luke 24:36-49) Where did Jesus say, "David was in his natural mind, writing according to his fallen human concepts"? Where in the NT do we see David's writings panned so thoroughly as they were in the RecV footnotes? Nowhere is where. So why did I passively receive it? Why didn't I question it?

Today, I must take responsibility for what I believe, what I don't believe. What I think, what I disagree with. It's my journey, not an extension of someone else's. My advice is, Don't be an automaton in the Leebot Factory, or any other factory - find the sun. Jesus said, "Seek, and you'll find." But if you don't seek you won't find. So, find the light - wherever it is, whatever it is. Seek, and you will find.
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Old 10-23-2020, 06:32 PM   #45
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Wow, I really appreciate all of the new comments on here. I read some of them earlier than this, but have not had a chance to reply until now. Even now, I wish I would have the time to read and respond more thoroughly, but I’ve been even more rushed than usual lately.
Trapped,
Thank you for all of your thoughtful words. They do really hit home for me. To this day, I do not feel close with my parents. I wish I could be comfortable with them and share feelings.. or discuss anything beyond small talk. It’s not something I can just change. They have changed a little bit over time but not much. I think for me to become comfortable with them, they would have to express some regret for raising us in the church and I guess just for the way they raised us in general.
I see another poster (aron), who advised forgiveness. I suppose I have forgiven them in a way. But it doesn’t really change our relationship much. I still feel very uncomfortable around them. I spent my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood feeling scared and controlled by them. I can’t just flip a switch and change that. I have tried to be upfront with them before, but somehow it always backfires on me. My current approach is to not bring up anything confrontational around them.
But yes, even though I say I’m agnostic, Trapped, I see your point about how this could influence my relationship with God. I do think I need to see a therapist. And I also really appreciate the books you and another poster (Curious) have suggested.
Curious, I will address you in this post as well since I’m crunched for time. Thank you for your post. I feel validated when people understand what I’m going through, which is really nice. It is kind of funny in a way… If I want my children to be safe I really can hardly have a break for “me time” these days. Some of this is due to the pandemic. It’s also their age. But I like your advice about just reading a little bit each day.

Also, Trapped,
This part you mentioned especially rang true for me:
“As kids we play but get agitated if mom leaves the room. On the playground we wander away but look back to make sure mom is still watching us and smiling. As we grow we become more and more independent from our parents, but it’s within the framework of knowing we are safe in their hands. But when our parents are authoritarian, strict, restricting, condemning, then what is supposed to be our source of safety also becomes a source of fear and feeling unsettled. And as children, we have no one else to turn to in order to get away from that fear. So we grow up in a way we aren’t supposed to – having to turn towards the person who also wounds us, and having to trust the person who we don’t feel safe with in the way we are supposed to.”
Wow. This is exactly how I felt and pretty much still feel. I have tried counseling in the past, but not necessarily for these issues. I also didn’t get much help from it, but I’m not opposed to trying it again. Maybe I just need to find the right counselor, like you say.
This is all I have time for. Thanks again guys!
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Old 10-23-2020, 07:51 PM   #46
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Hi. Thank you so much for sharing this. I too am a former “church kid”. I left my parents house when I was 18 as soon as I got a car. I literally left with a handful of clothes wrapped in a blanket. Fortunately my parents bought me a cheap car because I wasn’t allowed to have a job because it would involve being around members of the opposite sex unsupervised and/or possibly missing church. I find it very difficult to talk to other people about it since the name Local Church is so vague, people would ask me what denomination I was and I would have no idea what to say. I am 34 now and just beginning to process how it has affected me. You are not alone in your experience
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Old 10-23-2020, 10:19 PM   #47
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Why is this conversation even happening on my initial post where I went out on a limb, made myself uncomfortable, and poured my heart out? I was expecting even a tiny bit of empathy. Maybe a former LC sister will respond one day..

I really don't mind that much. Just a little.
Girl, we hear you. You are not alone. Ask around for the Facebook groups- there’s a tribe of ppl who can relate! We’re with you!
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Old 10-29-2020, 06:51 PM   #48
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Hi. Thank you so much for sharing this. I too am a former “church kid”. I left my parents house when I was 18 as soon as I got a car. I literally left with a handful of clothes wrapped in a blanket. Fortunately my parents bought me a cheap car because I wasn’t allowed to have a job because it would involve being around members of the opposite sex unsupervised and/or possibly missing church. I find it very difficult to talk to other people about it since the name Local Church is so vague, people would ask me what denomination I was and I would have no idea what to say. I am 34 now and just beginning to process how it has affected me. You are not alone in your experience
Unregistered Guest.. thank you for sharing. It's pretty new for me to be reading what other people have to say about their experiences in the LC. It's sad to hear about that damage that was done to other people, but it's very meaningful to me as I feel less alone.

It's interesting that you mention a cheap car. I also had a cheap car that my parents bought for me. During my young adulthood though, there were times where my parents even controlled me through things like the car. Since my dad bought it with his money, I didn't have a right to do something he deemed as "bad."

My parents did allow me to have a job before I was 18 though, so I guess I should be thankful that it could have been worse.

I'm going to share a quick story.. not sure who will read this. When I was 19, I eloped with someone with mental health issues. He was in the church too, but from a different locality. I hardly knew him. We met in person at a couple conferences, but mostly chatted online. I mistook his crazy/mentally unhealthy behavior as "artistic" and because of my desperation for love and affection, decided that running away with him would make me happier. I was also trying to escape my life at home with my parents. I felt controlled and sheltered and like there was no way out. I was over 18, but really felt like my parents had complete control over me. I was obviously very immature and didn't know much about life or how to make healthy decisions.

Anyway, so much bad happened to me after this. I was emotionally abused, occasionally physically abused, abandoned, and exposed to so many unhealthy things. I had to learn how to fend for myself. But I refused to go back to my family. To me, going back to them was just as bad as the situation I was in. I was in a new locality, so still in the LC, but I'm really unclear as to what people thought about our relationship. I had visited my (now ex) before we were married, and the elders in that locality had a severe talking to with me about "fornication" and told my parents and it was just awful. After the marriage I guess they didn't care anymore.

This story could be really long, because so much more happened after that. To make it short, eventually my then "husband" (in quotes because he wasn't at all what a real husband should be) had us move to another city randomly. This may have been because he was manic. I also think he might have had antisocial personality disorder... because he completely disregarded the difference between right and wrong. Either way, I ended up getting pregnant, and then he randomly decided to abandon me and go to NYC. I was already paying for our apartment by myself without his help because he couldn't keep a job. Then, because I had no help, I eventually ended up living with my parents again. I consider my 20s mostly miserable because I had to rely on people (my parents) to help me. People who didn't understand me, and people who throughout my childhood made me feel like I couldn't be true to myself (see long story below). I eventually went back to school, got a decent job, learned how to be a real adult and got married to a normal and successful person.

So that's my story I wasn't sure if I wanted to share .. I used to not think it had much to do with the LC, but looking back on my life, and realizing the impact that the LC had on my parents, and how they raised me, it actually had a LOT to do with the LC.

I hope at some point I can talk more about this with people, and we can share more stories in a mutually beneficial way
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Old 10-29-2020, 07:43 PM   #49
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I eventually went back to school, got a decent job, learned how to be a real adult and got married to a normal and successful person.

So that's my story I wasn't sure if I wanted to share ..
Thank you for sharing your story here, with both the hardships and the successes. So happy that your life has taken a few turns for the better. Let me congratulate you for your hard work raising a child alone, getting an education and decent work, and finding a husband to share your life with. It has not been an easy journey for you, but your future seems so much brighter than your past.
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Old 11-01-2020, 12:36 AM   #50
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Hey IseeCrazyPeople! Love the username! Let me just start by saying I’ve felt every part of what you wrote, and it really sucks to feel like you’ve been let down by people you love. And it’s even worse to have a fear of coming to God bc you don’t want to be labeled a freak over it. It also sucks to look back and wonder if you ever were actually saved in that deep legalism. That mess can very much harden our hearts. I’m really sorry that was your experience but I’m glad you’re here to share it. Oddly enough I came searching to see if anyone else felt like I did too about the way the LC handles kids.
I’m also a 34 year old female who grew up in LC as well. I have 3 siblings, and I’m the youngest. My parents joined the church in Boston a solid 12 years or so before I came on the scene. They still keep a lot of secrets about how this church originated, the history, and the “issues”. They always said something very vague whenever we (the kids) had questions.
When they started in Boston they had a wonderful experience and the church really appealed to their emotions. They had huge life changes as a result of salvation, and yeah, they went off the deep end a bit compared to the world. They didn’t want to look like the world. They trashed their tv, records, books, worldy clothes, makeup, addictions, old photos....pretty much “put off the old man”. This was before I was born while they were in Boston.
They made a slew of friends who were also young couples and formed solid relationships with these saints. Their experience was EVERYTHING to them. They were radical. All the young couples were popping out lots of kids. This was a very exciting time in their lives. Lots of emotional ties. Appealing to emotions only is a great sign of a cult.
Then WL let them down big time. The church was rocked over something. It’s never talked about with the “young people”. My parents and a bunch of others erected an LC in the south. Somewhere in that time period I was born. Mind you my siblings are a lot older than me. By the time I was a young teen, the “young people” were all at least 12 years older than me.
My parents had a tv again, but they were pretty strict. It didn’t help that all 3 of my older siblings had been off the chain, completely rebellious, dropping out of school...basically a parents worst nightmare.
Their severity had the same effect on me. It was annoying to me that they always talked about God. It was annoying to me that I had to sit in 4 hour long meetings on Sunday with no other peers listening to people talk about spiritual things I had no interest in. There was zero appeal. I was always told no, without explanation. And i hate to say this, but my parents were so into it they weren’t thinking about how to engage or teach me, they were too busy feeding themselves. Never the less, there I sat every Sunday with my bad attitude. I was pissed off and I hated church. I was actually quite evil as a result of sitting in there with those feelings. One time they were saying “oh Lord Jesus!” After a song and I laughed hysterically out loud. I was very disrespectful. I would smoke weed before going. I just did NOT care. I eventually stopped going once I got to be about 16 and got a job. I was happy to work Sundays.
As a young adult I had short lengths of time that I would go. I struggled with alcohol and marijuana, and had long experimental phases with other drugs. I would fornicate, and many other obvious sins. When I went to their church as an adult, the saints were so good to me. I reflected on my evil heart towards them in the past and it would make me cry sitting in there. And because I felt emotions of a change of heart towards them I thought I was saved. I got baptized when I was 21 at their church. I went into the water a dry sinner and came out a wet sinner. Nothing really changed. I drank and smoked weed the same day.
For many years I had short bursts of feeling spiritual, but those feelings changed. For a 3 year period I stopped using alcohol and drugs, stopped having sex, and went to their church. It was edifying. I enjoyed it, but I was very self righteous. I thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. I was very much into myself and bettering my life. For myself. Not God. It wasn’t about Him and it never was when I was at that church.
I met my husband, moved in with him a year later (unmarried) and started drinking again and stopped going to church. I thought this was fine. Fast forward a few years and my marriage was falling apart. My husband and I reconciled but I realized that we needed God. Without God we would not make it. We still drank as often as we could.
My husband was like, “I’m not going to your parents church. It’s weird and too long. We need to go somewhere else.” I did not want to go somewhere else because the LC always ragged on other churches, but I agreed. I continued in a double life and then we stopped going to church. I knew the marriage was in danger.
For the life of me I could not figure out what was wrong. Then one day I was listening to a Baptist sermon and heard a solid message, a top to bottom thorough message on salvation. That it was not enough to have a shallow believe God existed. But we had to repent. And repentance meant more than a feeling. It meant to surrender our sin to the Lord. It meant to submit ourselves to the will of God and stop holding on to our sin. I have many sins, but the one the Lord was asking me for in that moment was alcohol. It was in that moment that I realized something that LC had never taught me: I could not have both.
I gave my life to Christ that day. Genuinely. The next day I heard another sermon. Same pastor. He was *gasp* referencing actual scripture and he said that any believer, but especially a new one, would benefit greatly from reading the word with a notebook to jot down verses you like and any questions. I’ll be honest, I had never read my Bible. But that day began something wonderful for me.
I decided to commit myself to read it every morning for 30 mins. And I had to commit bc if I didn’t I knew I wouldn’t do it. Some days I’d read 30 mins and some days I’d read 3 hours. But I read every day and I began to fall in love with God. I found an awesome ORTHODOX Baptist Church by the grace of God shortly after. Awanas, Youth Programs, Discipleship classes, and best of all: teaching straight from the Scripture and nothing else. No Nee, Lee, or Me lol Fast forward and I’ve read the entire Bible and many parts several times. I love it. And it ain’t a recovery Bible. I honestly didn’t even know that was a thing till I saw in the forum, bc when I went to LC I didn’t even think reading the Bible was necessary. That’s how lukewarm their gospel sharing is. You just need a shallow belief, and repeat after me. 1,2,3 you’re saved. This is called “easy believism” and it’s why a lot of people are in your position. It’s definitely why I was.
Let me tell you something that is probably the most important thing I learned reading the Bible: the Bible (old AND new testaments) are the true inspired word of God and the entire basis of the Christian faith. The word of God endures forever. It never changes. Any teaching that dismisses the Old Testament is illegitimate. Any Bible that removes the Old Testament and adds thousands of their own notes to create their own version is something I have zero desire to read. If you base your faith on the word of God, you’re not doing it wrong. That’s what it’s here for. If you don’t believe it all, then don’t believe it at all.
The Bible teaches us what the Lord expects out of us. The Bible says not to lean on our own understanding. Well, that’s what LC does. At least where I was. It was all about a feeling, all the time! Well, what happens when you have a bad day? The Bible and studying Apologetics (bc I want to get it right for once in my life) have done so much to build my faith. I don’t want mysticism or a god of my imagination. I want the God of scripture!
I love the saints at LC and as much as they did right, there was so much about the LC that’s wrong. You’re not born again if you ain’t repenting and your life isn’t changing. It is shameful to toss out over half of God’s word. And for who? Witness Lee and watchman Nee? They are not God and their mysticism never led me to recovery in my alcohol addiction. Ironically, all of the “young people” who are actually in their 40s either have stagnant beliefs or have denounced their faith altogether with the exception of a handful from the LC in my town. Many of them are drinking, using drugs, and other destructive habits.
Granted, their parents, these saints, now the elders, are all wonderful people. They love me and treat me sweetly. I feel close and connected with them. The love of and the love for God is in them, and they are saved. I never had an experience of moleatstion or abuse of any kind, nothing compared to what some cults put kids through. I don’t even feel right using the word cult, however the origins are how it seems. My heart grieves for the “young” middle aged people who reject the Lord due to this upbringing or have a lukewarm heart towards God over it. Despite how people incorrectly handle God’s word, God’s word is still true.
If you do come to a point where you reconcile with Him, I’d encourage you to find a sound Bible based church, the disciples you to help you and your family grow, and that you earnestly seek God in His word. It’s made all the difference for me. If you have any questions let me know. God bless you 🌺
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Old 11-01-2020, 10:27 AM   #51
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... my parents were so into it they weren’t thinking about how to engage or teach me, they were too busy feeding themselves.
Agreed. The whole thing is a crass, manipulative ego feed. Once you see it, it's so obvious.

It's all about you and your subjective Christ. Your experience, your enjoyment. Notice how these subjective ephemera are externally manipulated by people with control issues.

They get you to feed on your ego, while they set you up. I was in a college conference with Ed Marks, and he was talking to some young students from MIT, in front everyone. "You guys from MIT.. man ... you are so smart! You have courses in nuclear reactors! I mean, wow...incredible!" And they were sucked in. He was puffing them up, building up their egos, just to use them. So obvious, in retrospect. It's all about you. Until it's about the Big Boss (or the Body, or the Oneness, or the Ground, or God's Move, or whatever Boss is pushing today as a stand-in)

I was love-bombed at first & it was clear instantly that I was better off than 50% of the church members. Because I was a male, not a flighty female. No sirreee! I was a "serious brother". And of course I bought into it, thinking I was "the best of the best". They slathered my ego with love and I bought it. And I didn't think, Why did they just laud Dora Yu and Peace Wang and Ruth Lee and Margaret Barber, if sisters' public function is so deficient? No, as long as the sisters were down, by extension I was up, so it seemed. That "warm glow" suppressed my critical thinking.

And so on... the repetition, bringing you to an altered, suggestive state. Another red flag, today. Look at any HWMR and one 'special word' or phrase is repeated. In the meetings if you repeated the 'special phrase' you got 'more God'.

Information control. "Oh, we don't talk about that." Etc.

I was a naive college student, though legally an adult, and should have known better. Mea culpa. I feel awful for the 12 year-olds who no choice in the matter.
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Old 11-01-2020, 03:22 PM   #52
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When they got me as a kid to say I was saved, they immediately assumed I had a deep knowledge of what that meant. I’m not sure how. They never preached out of the word of God or had any programs with people my age where I was at. Their spirituality was like a different language to me. They also never brought up sin and how to deal with it. They would never address sin in a way that they owned it. Sins were hidden if they were their sins. But they had no problem calling out the fact the world is sinful. Bc the lack of talk on sin, and the lack of accountability and transparency on their end, I thought living in sin was acceptable. Why should I repent if I don’t have to to be saved (according to them). Why even say anything is a sin?. My dad had a drinking problem none of those saints knew about. So his sin justified mine, or so I thought. I didn’t know how any of this stuff actually worked. Bc there was no scripture. Those spiritual books they tried to give me made absolutely no sense as a young teen who was truly not saved. They stacked up unread. The material was shallow and deep all the same time. Mystical. Not Biblical. Although I didn’t want the Bible either at that point. It wasn’t really a problem when I was little, but when I got to be in about 8th grade wanting to do stuff, everything was “worldy” and if I ever piped up it was always “be still”. Because I was “saved” was the reason I was not allowed to do anything. So naturally I didn’t want to be saved. If that was saved, then I reject it, let me drown. That was my attitude. And that’s what happened. Being forced into legalism without any actual faith or knowledge even as to why, was a huge turn off. Faith is dead without works and works are dead without faith.

Now I’m a mom and my daughter is 12. I’m saved, legitimately, but I live on this planet. I’m a hair stylist, I wear normal but appropriate clothes, I watch tv, I celebrate holidays, I decorate my house, I wear makeup and care about looking good, and I enjoy my life. I could get all enthralled and throw out my tv, my cell phone, dress in sackcloth and throw dust on my head, but that isn’t what God is impressing on me. I don’t beat people with God’s word or annoy my kid by forcefeeding her heavy things. When I tell my daughter not to do something, I tell her why, and it’s not “bc it’s a sin” without an explanation. She knows about drug/alcohol abuse, lgbtq, sex, crime, mental illness and many things. I keep a level of transparency about these things so that she can have proof that God really exists, and He heals people from their own self harm, as well as from harm others do to us. She’s seen her aunt recover from a crack addiction by the grace of God, her mom delivered from alcoholism, and her cousin delivered from debilitating social anxiety. I let her watch testimonies, interventions and real life stuff so she can have some tools to navigate life. I bring her to a church where she has peers, lots of them, and they actually have fun. I don’t hammer her or ignore her when she talks to me. I go out of my way to make sure she sees things for how they really are. I teach her patience, forgiveness, courtesy, kindness, fairness, and how to stand up for herself. I model those things for her bc God put that on my heart.

Thanks to God, my marriage is really healthy and so am I, and I can pass that along to my kids in a productive way instead of a destructive one. I forgive my parents 100%. My love for them is not gone. Their theology is a little off and they may have dropped the ball on some things, but they were just trying to raise me right based on their experience. But they could not make that experience my own. I can’t even say that the LC background serves no purpose in my life today. I’m not angry. I just wish I had a way to bring them into truth when they’ve been so heavily indoctrinated, and a way to reach out to those who are jaded from LC. I guess this is me starting. I had to come here to find out more so I can be prepared when the time comes.
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Old 11-01-2020, 06:37 PM   #53
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IseeCrazyPeople,

It is heartbreaking to hear your and so many other people's stories who grew up in "the local church" in such a restrictive environment where "the world" and "worldly" aren't really the Bible's definition.

I was recruited off a campus into "the local church" when I was 18 and had a similar restrictive experience initially but was freed from it by help from a brother and his wife who shared with me the things that were really a concern to God (sin, as defined by the Bible) and the things that weren't (really everything else, and that is a lot). I always wondered why the saints continued to be so uptight about things that weren't sinful and eventually realized this was coming from Witness Lee himself. He was really quite an uptight guy, and had been trained that way by Watchman Nee, who was trained by a woman who was really quite uptight..... who was trained by some brothers who were really quite uptight, who were trained by....

Well you get it. When people stop using the bible's definition for things, things and people's lives get really messed up. Not your fault, it's theirs.
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And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NASB)
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Old 11-24-2020, 08:23 AM   #54
ExChurchKid
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Join Date: Nov 2020
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Default Re: Did you also have a difficult childhood in the LC?

Hey ISeeCrazyPeople,
Did you ever get into the Facebook group? I believe it is intended to be for younger (i.e., millennials), less-religous ex-LC people. PM me if you didn't and are still interested.

I'm also a female LC kid, who left in my early 20s as well. Everything you are saying about how you felt in the LCs rings very true to me. I'm not sure how much that helps; I just wanted to add another voice to validate your struggles. I also read this "Why is this conversation even happening on my initial post where I went out on a limb, made myself uncomfortable, and poured my heart out? I was expecting even a tiny bit of empathy. Maybe a former LC sister will respond one day..

I really don't mind that much. Just a little." pretty early in the thread, and my heart went out to you! You deserve empathy. It seems you've gotten helpful responses since then, but as a former LC sister, I thought I should respond as well
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