Hello! A friend of mine shared this Podcast on her Instagram story, and it intrigued me. We both left the same “group” of people and churches and came to our current church. Me several years before she did.

I was born and raised in the IFB and I believed growing up it was the only way. Southern Baptists especially were not going to heaven because they “purposefully chose to read the wrong Bibles” and live “carefree.” I was a part of a family who was very well known in our region and very much looked up to. Because of that, a lot of the things that my friends, in the same church, went through, I had NO idea about. I was privileged. Because of my name. I was looked at as “holier” because of my name.

I never questioned what we believe as a child or teenager. But I did notice that I was “sought after” because of who I was. So, when I would meet new people, I never would tell them my last name, because I didn’t want people to like me just because of who I was.

I grew up with a mother who was sick. I honestly don’t know how sick she was, but because of our name the sympathy we received for that was overwhelming. We had to pretend that she was a good mom, even though she was addicted to her drugs. We had to pretend like she was a part of our lives, even though she wasn’t. We had to put on a show of godliness in all we did because of who we were. But not just that. Also because that was the culture of the IFB where we were. We didn’t talk about the hard things. Because that meant we weren’t faithful enough.

I won’t go into the details of my parents divorce and everything leading up to that, because that is their story to tell. But, because of that, I was shaken to my core. I didn’t know who I was without the story we fabricated to show other people. I didn’t know how to be a kid from a broken home in the church. I was supposed to be the kid who had the most godly parents and one of the most sought after names.

When that happened, my dad also had a crisis of faith I think. He tried to take us to a small southern baptist church in our town, and my brothers and I were floored. How could he do that to us?? How could he expect us to be ok with them reading out of the “wrong” Bible??? So, we bucked. And he caved. Because he had already put us through so much (at least I think that’s how he felt.) So for the rest of our growing up we went to IFB churches.

Once I was 21 and starting to live life on my own (I was a late bloomer) I started questioning all the things. I started doing things that I knew were wrong, because I honestly wanted to see what would happen to me I think. I wanted to see if all the hateful things I was raised to believe would happen if I drank alcohol, or went to parties with friends would mean I would be struck dead. I wasn’t. I definitely had the Holy Spirit living in me convicting me. But, I didn’t care. I wanted to be someone else. Someone no one knew. Or thought they did.

I did things I am not proud that I did on that journey to find out who God really was. About 4 years later I met a man I wanted to marry. I made him go to church with me because I needed him to at least pretend to love Jesus for my parents sake. And he did. For about 6 months. And then we got engaged, the church was shunning him and not me (which is still so weird to me. In their eyes it should have been ME who was the bigger sinner.) And we both walked away.

My aunt started begging me to come to church with her. She went to a Southern Baptist church in the town I was living in with my fiancé. So, I went a few times. But it was hard. They didn’t all wear dresses. There were drums on the stage. They preached from the NASB. So, I just went when I was feeling a little guilty. And when I would leave I would feel more guilty.

That went on for 2 more years until we were married and we had a baby. I had a MAJOR pulling in my heart that I needed my kids to be in church. My husband was done with churches, but I needed to go. So, we went to my Aunts church. And that’s when I started really listening. I realized it was the same Bible I thought I knew.  But it was preached in a way I had never heard. Verse by verse. Not leaving out anything. Not the pastors opinions about what was there. Not stories thrown in to make it sound relevant. Just the Bible. Taught in context, with Grace.

I was saved when I was 17 years old. But I had not grown one ounce of faith in those 8 years. But that year my daughter was born and we started going, I started growing. More than I ever imagined. Because I was FREE too.

7 years after I started taking my kids to church, my husband also followed us and became a believer in Jesus. God used the church we are in to transform our lives. But instead of ONLY using the people, He has used His word.

It has been 13 years for me, and 6 for my husband. I am still recovering. I am still learning and growing. But I am so very thankful that my kids are being raised in a church full of discipleship and grace and TRUTH. Even when it’s hard. I am thankful for the freedom that I feel in Christ now. Not the weights of all I need to do, and say, and wear. I am thankful for His grace to me in my journey. Grace I definitely don’t deserve. But grace and mercy that I NEVER understood or knew. I am thankful that I am FINALLY able to read Gods word and see who God is. And not just his judgments. I am just so thankful.

I just started your podcast. But, THANK YOU! For helping those of us who have found freedom to not feel alone, when often out families or friends can treats us like we are.