I grew up in a fundamental Baptist church. Their philosophy was basically fix the outside first and the inside will follow. WRONG!! My parents didn’t allow us to wear pants, they checked our skirt length and how low our shirts were daily using the three finger rule. I’ll never forget showing up to get on a bus to go to an amusement park wearing gauchos and I was sent home for being “immodestly” dressed. You guys hit the home run about pants being more modest! Can you imagine riding a roller coaster in a skirt?!? There were so many questions that went unanswered because my Pastor would brush us off and tell us we shouldn’t be thinking that way anyways. My entire outside family attended a contemporary church and my Pastor would name them by name from the pulpit claiming they were sending people to Hell. We weren’t allowed to listen to any music besides gospel. Weren’t allowed to attend movie theaters. You didn’t even dream of skipping any church function to attend a family get together. If you did best believe he’d scream your name from the pulpit and shame you in front of everyone. There was one deacon who openly abused his family and there was no consequences at all. The adults were taught that kids have to sit quietly in the service. One mom smacked her son in the face repeatedly for not sitting quietly and no one said a word. My Pastor told my parents that he could see the hate and the evil in my eyes during every service. (Teens were required to sit in the front row. Girls on one side boys on the other.) There were youth leaders who were openly racist and would talk to the teen boys about how all us girls dressed like “sluts”. Obviously there were big problems in the youth group. I never saw more drugs or alcohol than I did at church being passed between the teens. Admittedly I used to hang out with a girl and smoke cigarettes in her car. I actually just remembered a few months ago that I was molested by another member of the youth group. It was so clouded in my mind after all these years. I thought I was in control of the situation and didn’t tell anyone for fear of what the adults would say. There was no trust or communication between the teens and adults because anything you said could and would be used against you. I even ended up getting an infection afterwards and didn’t tell my mom because I didn’t want to get in trouble. I’ll never forget one night we stayed overnight in a tent they had set up for a tent revival. I changed into a night gown and was heavily berated because it was too promiscuous even though it was all women spending the night. I had been so excited to wear it because I thought it was so cute. I cried so hard that night. I have a faint memory of being a kid. There was a man who always passed out candy so I went up to him one day and asked him for some. My mom was so embarrassed but I didn’t catch on to her cues. She said she needed to talk to me in the nursery. I remember being so excited to have some alone time with my mom only to find out she was upset about my behavior. I remember that feeling of deflation. Sorry I’m all over the place it’s all pouring out! After the molestation incident I suddenly became interested in women. Looking back I know it’s because that boy ruined men for me. I didn’t realize it then but I do now. I had a secret girlfriend all through my senior year in high school. My parents were so busy with the church I was starving for attention so for some reason I told this girl my dad was abusing me even though he wasn’t. After I graduated her and another girl in the church called CPS on my parents. Rather than admit I made it up I was so desperate to move out of my parents house I went along with it. I had tried three separate times to get out but none were succesful. I went as far as to testify against my dad in court. He went to jail, they took my brother and sister away, and I moved in with my girlfriend. The first night I was there she punched me in the face and split my lip open. This was just the start of a very long 6 year abusive relationship. I completely cut myself off from my family. I believed there was no God. Backtracking a little bit I feel it’s important to mention that my sister and I both had major mental problems growing up which I believe was brought on by our lack of control over anything in our lives. I started cutting in third grade and didn’t stop until I was 22. My sister cut and also had a very severe eating disorder. I was hospitalized once. My sister many times. My parents talked to me once about the cutting. Under the influence of the church they pretty much locked us in their room for several hours repeating over and over that only demon possessed people hurt themselves. I was so emotionally shut off I refused to say a word. All growing up I was miserable. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. There were so many walls put up. Fast forward to the end of the 6 year abusive same sex relationship. God sent me my husband. We were definitely not living the right way but he gently pushed me into reconnecting with my family. It was tough at first but I can’t imagine ever cutting off them again! Everyone needs their family. My in-laws wanted us to come to Easter Sunday. It was my husband and I’s first real fight! I fought him so hard but eventually caved. I was so worried about what to wear, what to say, how to act. So many anxieties! It took a long time to warm up to church. In 2018 I was saved! I had debilitating untreated post partum depression. I was laying in a tanning bed at the gym when Jeremy Camp’s “There will be a day” came on and something just sparked in my heart. I knew I needed Jesus. I prayed and begged Him to come into my heart and take over. I can’t explain how different my relationship with Jesus is now. I’m getting to know Him because I want to. Because I know I need Him. Not because it’s being crammed down my throat with all the crazy rules that come along with fundamentalism. I remember me and one of my friends from church snuck out one night to go get alcohol at some random guys house in the middle of Flint. There’s no other explanation to why I’m still alive with all the stupid situations I placed myself in but by the grace of God. I currently attend a Baptist church but they’re different! My Pastor preaches regularly on the dangers of religion and traditions. Their mission is to love people like Jesus and reach as many souls as they can before time runs out. He speaks often how it’s not anyone’s place to judge what people are wearing or living their lives. It’s such a loving God filled place. I would also like to add that as awkward as it is my parents have apologized for raising us the way they did. The church had such a hold on them. They thought they were doing the right thing. Them and all the other members. I hear my mom say “I wish I would’ve done things so differently” so often! I now have a babygirl of my own and a son. I know I can’t raise them without His help! I pray for wisdom and strength every day. I’m determined to teach my daughter not to be a people pleaser and to teach my son the correct way to treat women. I think that about wraps up my story. If it’s too graphic to share I completely understand but I think it’s important to show how much damage “fundamentalism” can truly cause in a family. Emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’ve found my way back to God but alot of the people I grew up with have not. I’m not sure they ever will because of the damage fundamentalism caused in their lives. God works in mysterious ways though! Thanks for letting share!