My journey started at the same place we ended up after we left, but God was clearly working despite the legalism. I was raised by a saved dad and an unsaved Catholic mom. We went to the Catholic church until my 6th grade school year, when my parents disagreed with a punishment I received at the church school. My dad was out walking one morning and went past a building where a man stopped him and invited him to church there. We went the next Sunday and I spent the rest of my 6th grade year in a Catholic school during the week and a Baptist church on Sunday, and I eventually invited a friend from school who got saved at teen camp and is in our current church serving on a bus route. The pastor was not a loud, angry preacher, but employed a couple of staff members who were. His son-in-law wasn’t either, and still isn’t. The staff members had graduated from the big IFB schools and embraced all the legalism with open arms.Our church was associated with all the big preachers of the 90s and we were encouraged to go to Bible college no matter what God was calling us to do. After my mom and I got saved, I followed what I was taught because I loved God, not out of fear, yet. I wanted to please Him, so I got rid of my pants, bad music, and bad friends. My parents were both older, so they were set in their ways, and held onto some aspects of their pre-church life, which ultimately saved me from becoming a brainwashed fundamental zombie. I conformed the most in my dress, wearing skirts, dresses and tops that were too big and as frumpy as you could be. My parents were somewhat lax on everything else. I listened to my mom’s old 45s from the 60s and watched pretty much whatever tv and movies I wanted to, but no one at church knew. I went to all the conferences and camps and surrendered to whatever God had for me to do. It seemed like I was happily obeying, but my love for God became fear and guilt if I failed that fueled me to try harder. I won awards in the youth group every quarter for devotions, attendance, and soulwinning. Then, our church split. My parents left what was closer to IFB-lite and followed a staff member who was wrong on his stance on repentance in salvation to a newly-started church that was as hardcore IFB as you could get. By that time, the college I was planning on going to was too liberal for our new pastor; slits in skirts were apparently a big deal for him. He passive aggressively showed both me and my parents his displeasure when I refused to change the plans I knew God had for me. I was forgotten when other college students were mentioned and constantly critiqued for what I wore when I was home, even though it was ultra modest. The college I went to was as bad as my church. The only difference was that it was multiple staff members deciding the standards, not just the pastor. God was working there though, in that I met my raised in church (but not IFB) hubby. He had rebelled as a teen and made some poor choices, but God used a police officer who took him home instead of arresting him to help him see what he was doing and how he was hurting his family and his testimony. I could be myself around him and he did not question my spirituality based on my reading, music or tv choices. We got married in my home church and I had to fight for the opportunity to have 2 secular songs played- we got one because the other could not be played as a piano solo. We moved to Florida and I headed away from the strictest beliefs that had governed my life, learning for the first time that a godly woman, my mother-in-law, could wear pants. We were in several southern churches and another Bible college that were all IFB-lite, but the teachings of my teen years were there, creating guilt that I never shared with anyone. I channeled it by dressing right and conforming to whatever rules were given. I was never the silent, sweet woman I was taught to be, but my conformity covered that. My dad’s health failed in 2011, and we moved back to my home to take care of him. He passed away instead, and we stayed to help my mom. The fear and guilt I’d has as a college student came back and I remember asking my hubby if I needed to buy new clothes before we moved (pencil skirts and 4 inch heels were immodest and I had quite a few of each). He said they were fine, but I knew the women where we were going would disagree and I would be silently judged every service. By that time, we had a daughter and two sons, and I took a lot of flack for the choices I made for her as her mother. I let her pick her own clothes and wear red nail polish as a 6 year old! I was told that she would rebel if I continued that way. I wanted out, but my hubby ignored it until a man in the church started targeting him. I feel like I was out mentally then, but was just waiting for God to lead my hubby to leave physically. He was reluctant though, because the only church close to us was the one we split from, and he thought that going back would hurt our testimony with those in our current church. God worked on him for the last 3 years that we were there. While the church we were at was heading so far right that it was dying, my old church was growing. The pastor had owned up to some mistakes he had made in the past and put his focus back on the Bible, changing the whole atmosphere of the church. The standards were (and are) still in place, but the teaching and preaching was directed toward the heart and having a relationship with God and His Word. We visited the church for a couple of revivals and hubby started to question why everyone at our church spoke so negatively about the pastor and that church. He didn’t see it. By 2017, he had been personally attacked so much that he hated going each week because he knew that man would be there, telling him he wasn’t saved and speaking to him in a hateful manner. The pastor would not correct the man, even though he had been just as divisive in his last church, because his daughter was the only piano player the church had. I was dealing with the man’s wife and other women who questioned my parenting and the effect it would have on my daughter specifically. What made me ready to leave and never come back was when I told a friend that I was looking forward to putting the kids in a Christian school (at the other church) and my friend told me to watch out for the kids in THAT youth group- with my daughter standing close enough to hear it. . My almost 7th grade daughter asked later, with fear in her eyes, if the kids at her new school were bad kids. I got angry and said they weren’t, that I had been in that school and the pastor there would never let kids behave badly and stay at the school. Hubby came to me soon after and said he was thinking about moving membership so we would be able to keep up with what was going on in the new school, but wanted to leave our current church on better terms than we currently were. Well, that didn’t happen. It hit the fan one Sunday in March of 2017, when the son of the bitter man who hated my husband saw our 7 year old, still unsaved, son set a wrapper on the floor next to him to play with a car. Hubby was standing next to our son talking to him about what he’d learned in class and drinking coffee. The teen snapped at Kevin and called him a rebel for littering. Hubby said that was uncalled for and the wrapper would be picked up. The teen demanded it be done now. Hubby sent our son up to me and spoke to the deacons in the sound booth, telling them that the teen needed to be removed from ushering (hubby had that authority as the head usher) because of his attitude. The men backed the teen and attacked us for our kids’ behavior and my refusal to supervise them every second we were at church. Our kids were and are not out of control and the questioning of my parenting was the last straw for him. He handed in his keys and came to our row and took us home. He cried in the car as he explained what was said to him and what he had been dealing with for the last 3 years. We went to my old church that night and he told the pastor what had happened and that we were there to heal and find out where God wanted us. We joined the church a few months later and our kids are now growing through the ministries they are under. They work on bus routes every Saturday and our youngest is joining the youth group this summer. Our church is very traditional in most things, and the preacher still associates with what could be considered “good” IFB preachers, but only brings in men to preach that follow the Bible instead of another man’s teaching and preach what it says, not what they want it to say. Our music is a mix of hymns and worship chorus’ and we have a man in our church who writes songs that are nothing like old time hymns. As parents, we knew our kids deserved better in a church and we needed to stop trying to fit into the box everyone expected us to. I praise God for what he has done in our lives. We needed to leave the extra biblical teaching or our kids would have probably left the church as soon as they turned 18 because they could not keep living under the pressure and we would have struggled spiritually until we either surrendered in defeat or imploded and possibly walked away from God ourselves. Our journey is far from over, but now we know that our kids have a chance to know God in a real way and a pastor and youth pastor that love them as much as we do.