[Disclaimer: This is not an attack against my parents. To be clear, this is not an attack against my parents. This is nothing more than an important part of the healing process: forgiveness. The reason that I am sharing it, is that I have encountered a lot of former IFBers who are still chained by their anger and I hope that sharing my experience can lead to healing and hope for them]
Let’s not kid ourselves. Walking away from a life of manipulation and legalism leaves even the brightest and most resilient soul exhausted, scarred and blackened by the endless barrage of guilt and lies. And often times, the wide and colorful palette of human emotion is stripped down to one lonely slow-burning option: anger. It shouldn’t come as a surprise for those of us that have lived the life. The foundation of all other emotions inside the bubble seems to have anger at its root. Anger at sin. Anger at sinners. Anger at the devil. Anger Disney movies. Anger at modern haircuts. And the list goes on. This anger is the fuel that feeds the starving engine of endless rule creation and guilt inspired punishment. All under the guise of love for the sheep.
So when I walked away, I didn’t leave alone. I had a two ton gorilla clutching to my shoulders. He poisoned my thoughts and actions with a steady drip of rage into my unsuspecting arteries. And just like in any break up, the objects of my resentment were the individuals that I perceived as causing my pain. For me, public enemy number one (and two i suppose) was my parents. I felt betrayed, lied to and mislead by the two people that I was genetically designed to unquestioningly trust. I felt naked and weak and abandoned in a harsh and vicious world that life in the bubble had not come close to preparing me for.
Testosterone told me that I didn’t need them anyway. I was man enough to make it on my own. Immaturity told me that I could figure it out on the fly. But reality put both of them in their place as I fell farther into the darkness that resisted my desperate attempts to claw my way to freedom and happiness.
And then, the healing process began. As anger gave way to healing and enlightenment, I began to see that my harsh and unrelenting condemnation of my parents was not fair to them. Its funny how anger clouds judgment. And its funny how when we’re angry we refuse to see that it does.
So now, in a moment of clarity, I want to list the reasons that I no longer resent my parents for raising me in the IFB.
1. Because I want to be happy. Spending the rest of my life waiting for an apology that is specific enough to satisfy my rage is a colossal waste of time. The past is done. Can’t change it. Sorry. That’s reality. What I can change, however is my reaction. What I can control is how I will feel, the choices I will make, and the direction that I will go. And I refuse to let the past squeeze me dry. So I made a declaration that I will not allow the past to rob the future of fulfillment and happiness. Sometimes you just have to let go.
2. Because underneath it all, they had good intentions. Never, ever in the history of mankind have good intentions outshined the evil deeds done in their name. But when its time to forgive and move on, they shouldn’t be cast aside. My parents are human. They made mistakes. But underneath of the legalism and the unrelenting domination and control was a very real desire to protect me and love me. I can see that. And no, it doesn’t make the pain any less hurtful. And no, it doesn’t make it right. And for those of you who are still angry, I totally get if you can’t see like this. I was there. But on the other side of the healing, good intentions can count for something.
3. Because, they honestly didn’t think they were wrong. I wasn’t the only one brainwashed. When they were young and impressionable christians, they were “discipled” by some very heavy-hitting legalistic and judgmental people. It’s hard to pick up on that vibe that in the throes of infatuation that the new believer experiences. Which is why those that deal with new converts have probably the the heaviest responsibility in all of christendom. Teach truth. Period. But that didn’t happen, and inside the bubble, they honestly thought that they were doing the right thing.
4. Because, I will have children one day (hopefully). I am under no delusion that I will be the perfect parent (anymore). And I have no doubt that one day my children will have issues to deal with because of my shortcomings. They might even write a blog post about it. Somehow, the realization of my own imperfections helps me forgive the imperfections of others. Something about he who lives in a glass house, and all that jazz.
So there it is. Am I completely restored. Nope. But I have made the choice to move on. They say don’t judge a man until you have walked two moons in his shoes. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that forgiveness is liberating.
Not for them. For me.