My Religious Trauma

The following was written by Dr. Glennon Patrick Doyle. I have followed and “Liked” 99.9% of his posts but this one is the most relatable.

I spent the first 12 years of my life in an institution that met 3 times a week. They had a church sign which made me believe they were safe. But as a young child I never felt safe, I felt fearful. I was always scared in this institution which made me feel that I was never good enough. That I MUST follow their strict doctrine or I would burn in hell where “the flames are never quenched”.

I can remember all the drama that went along with that doctrine. There was always someone “not doing the right thing”. Someone let their child go mix bathing swimming, someone cut their hair, someone went to the movies. If it sounds like insanity, it was insanity. It was the strict doctrine of an apostolic church.

It seemed I was always explaining to someone why I did or did not do something that all related to the institution where God’s people met 3 times a week.

I look back and think of how I perceived religion and God and I still struggle with the trauma I experienced. I haven’t been in a church door other than going twice to T.D. Jakes’ church, The Potters House, in almost 20 years. The feeling of fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, and judgment is too much for my system.

But because of shutting the door on churches, I learned through my own experiences particularly my suffering what God was really like and he was nothing like I was taught those first 12 years of my life. It’s been my experiences that kept me hanging on to faith and believing in God.

It’s through my suicidal thoughts that he kept me alive, it’s through my abandonment of family and best friends that he proved to me that I was not alone, it’s through powerful moments that are unbelievable and often unexplainable that he has revealed himself to me. It’s why my faith is unshakable and I stand firm on what I believe because I have experienced it. It was not handed down to me by a man behind a pulpit reading a book and interpreting it to control a group of people.

I’m thankful to learn and know that my relationship with God has zero to do with religion or a church. And because of my religious trauma, I have compassion for those who question what they believe and who have claimed they are agnostic. Traumatic experiences in “safe institutions” will make you feel mixed up, especially when their words don’t match their actions which results in a lot of pain for those who enter believing they are safe with people who love and care for them but unfortunately find out the church door will close if we haven’t met their expectations.

I’m sorry that happened to me and you. We couldn’t escape it. It’s okay now, we are free to believe through our spiritual experiences what we know God to be to us.

Published by Dana

Creative writer about my life and life lessons. Survivor of abandonment, addiction, narcissist relationships, and trauma. Still dealing while I'm healing. Thank you Jesus!

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