Hey there, I’m Teylor, and I’m a recovering fundamentalist.
I’ve only listened to the first two podcasts and already felt compelled to write to you and thank you for your message.
I wanted to share my story here because, like you said, there’s this crazy feeling of, I’m alone in this, and this language barrier when I try to talk to other Christians about it.
I grew up going to IFB KJV only church for most of my life. I never missed a Sunday or Wednesday for as long as I can remember. My parents were saved right before they had me and were determined to “raise me right”. I even attended a IFB KJV only Bible college in TN.
I don’t ever regret that I grew up in church, in fact I’m so grateful for that privilege, because that is what it is, a privilege.
But, (big sigh) it has caused a lot of hurt.
The earliest I think my “rebellion” started was when I was 16 and got a job, and my parents told me I could buy my own clothes. I went straight for the jeans. I could only wear them at home. A year or two later we attended a more “liberal” church that would allow girls to wear them to outdoor church events. I later learned that was a matter of much debate.
We spent a few years at that “liberal” church when my parents decided they were afraid it was going to corrupt us and needed to find a more conservative church. There was a new church plant down the road that another family from our old church had started attending (for similar reasons) and so my parents went there.
By now I was 18 or 19 and didn’t want to become the statistic of a young person leaving the faith. Because truthfully, my faith was real. I had found Jesus for myself, not just what was being added at the pulpit. I think that was the next biggest step in my rebellion, realizing through various experiences that are too long to list here, but allowed me to begin to see that God was not at all confined to the box that had been created by the religion I grew up in.
Bible College, oh boy. Where to even start.
I remember packing to go and having to leave my precious jeans behind. I looked to my sad closet and what little I could actually pack and thought to myself, good grief, if my closet is any mere indication, by their standards I’m going to hell. Me! A (somewhat) conservative Christian not cut to go to their holy school.
At this point in my life my parents had decided that I was an adult and that I could make my own decisions, but while still living under their roof, I’d still follow their rules, which while still conservative, were lax to many IFB’s standards. I had also gotten a job at Starbucks and was now quickly becoming more “wordly” and wise in the ways outside my bubble. Because let’s face it that’s what the IFB movement is.
So, just some highlights of college. I remember being brought to the dean of students, (the woman in charge of the girls, because I couldn’t go talk to a man) because I had gotten a demerit for listening to music that wasn’t exclusively Christian music and the Dean telling me that the wrong beat in music can actually mess with your heart beat, and eventually leads you to worshiping self and the devil, not God. (I can’t make this up, thats exactly what she told me.)
I remember being told to go back to my dorm and change on multiple occasions, because I couldn’t go to chaple or church “looking like that.” And by that they meant a shirt that went lower than two fingers below the collar bone. I remember the third time that happened to me I was a senior and a commuter and I just went back to my apartment and cried because I had been feeling discouraged that week, dealing with some health and emotional struggles. I wanted, even needed, to be encouraged by God’s word, and yet I was told I couldn’t go because of an article of clothing. I came super close then to calling it quits and leaving the school. But I only had one more year so I stuck it out. But it hurt. Deeply. Now, I had some AMAZING experiences as well, at this school, but there were a ton of little things that kept getting under my spiritual skin, if you will, that ultimately throws a negative light on that place for me.
I think the hardest part of leaving the IFB movement was having parents who were still in it and not willing to hear me out.
As I was in college and slowly starting to move away from the IFB thinking my parents were just as slowly but surely moving deeper into it.
So much so that one Christmas break I had gone home and things were different, we weren’t going to my aunts house where we went every year since I can remember. When I asked why, my dad informed me that he and his brother (who is also deeply steeped in IFB) decided that because my cousin had recently come out to the family as gay they no longer were going to fellowship with them. Because to eat or have any kind of fellowship with a reprobate was to condone their behavior and that wasn’t going to happen in this family.
That was a big shock for me. I wasn’t sure how to respond. Anger was the first reaction and then a deep sadness over the division of my own family. While I was still in town I made it a point to try and have dinner with my cousins while they all were still in town. And still whenever we are in the same town we try to see each other. That hasn’t been easy and there is so much resentment there that has yet to be healed.
So after school I was determined not to move back in with my parents because “my house, my rules”, was no longer going to work. It caused a lot of strife and honestly for me it caused a lot of bad decisions. I wanted so much to get away from their church and mindest that it just kinda brought along this, whatever it takes, mentality.
When people are shocked that “good Christian” kids go off the deep end when they turn 18 I’m not, because, while it took me a few more years, I did it too. I get it. It’s like your watching yourself go down this path and it keeps getting darker as you go; but, because you’ve already set down this path, you feel like you have to continue because the alternative is to go back to where you came from.
So I kept going down the dark path that I knew wasn’t right for me. But yet at the same time, somehow, I knew that its where I needed to go and I needed to walk through it.
My parents were besides themselves, even at one point telling me I was decieved and lost because I had told them I no longer held to the belief that the KJV is the only inspired word of God. I remember my mom constantly trying to guilt me into going back to her church and reminding me that I was raised better, that I knew better.
I had stopped going to church altogether at this point. I thought to myself what’s the point? I don’t want to pretend like everything is fine, when it’s not. I don’t want to go and feel pressured to serve when I have no heart for it anymore. And at this point I wasn’t married (yikes don’t even get me started on the whole dating inside the IFB or being a 28 single person in it either) so I didn’t want to church “shop” on my own.
But what got me off my dark path and back into His glorious light, was this beautiful church that a friend, who saw and understood my struggles, recommended to me. It was like a breath of fresh air. They preached Jesus and just Him. No political agendas, no demonizing other religions, no harping on sexual purity and modesty, just Jesus.
I was there that I was reminded that God loved me for me, not the things I wore or did. But not only did He love me, He was pursing me, walking along side me down this dark path, just waiting for me to turn to Him.
I think the biggest lie the IFB movement preaches is that God cannot stand sin and so He shuns the sinner. That we must maintain our holiness in order to fellowship with God. They’re grateful that God saved them, but heaven forbid they go mingle with some sinners to tell them God loves them. They can’t be seen in bars or clubs, or movies or “so and so’s” house, because they have a reputation to keep. How sad, that the gospel is not perpetuated by these people because they can’t be tainted by the world.
So hearing that God loves me to the point of reaching down into the mire of a broken world to restore me to Himself was the healing balm to my hurting spirit.
So I finally told my parents after a few weeks of attending this church, and again I was met with guilt and “I’m disappointed in you”. I was too happy to care, I even told my brother and sister in law who I was living with at the time because I was trying to get back on my own and figure out life. They saw the difference in me and started attending too. Boy did that upset my parents. Not only was I in rebellion but now I was dragging my brother into it as well.
Recovery is a journey, one I will be making for the rest of my life. Because it’s so deeply ingrained into me that it’s like default mode. But God is so good and patient, I’m happy He is on this journey with me.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story, 30 years is a long time to be in something like that but its part of my story, one I pray brings God glory. It feels so good to be able to share it with people who get it.