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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Remember.....

I remember wondering if it would hurt to pull the trigger....and wondering if even that would silence the voices in my head that told me that God hated me and I was an awful daughter. And if anyone would even miss me.

I remember trying so hard to look like all the other girls at the Basic Seminar (ATI). Because they were so Godly, so happy...they must've been doing something right.

I remember musing aloud to my mom during a geography lesson that I would love to visit the Bad-Lands sometime because they looked so wild, beautiful, and untamed. And she then telling me I should examine my heart because it obviously had rebellion in it.

I remember standing in front of my mirror in a long denim skirt and button-up shirt that was 2 sizes too big and wishing I could dress in cute clothes. And wondering if I was going to defraud anyone that day. And feeling guilty for all of it.

I remember being told that godly girls treated their siblings with selflessness and submitted to their parents in all things. And that I wasn't doing that.

I remember thinking I would never be a Godly girl. And I desparately wanted to.

I remember my mom lamenting "Why can't you be more like _____??! I'll bet she never talks to her parents like you're talking to us!!"

I remember signing a paper when I went to teach a Children's Institute that stated: "I believe that my parents are God's ultimate authority in my life, that they are an umbrella of protection for me, and I will strive to obey them because they are directing me in the will of God." Even though I didn't believe it. And felt guilty for a whole year because I had lied on a contract.

I remember resenting my best friends because they got to look cute and girly and I had to dress like a frumpy homeschooler. And I hated my parents. Then, of course, felt guilty. Dad said I should be glad I wasn't wearing pants like them. Guys could stare at their butts instead of ours.

I remember the day I wore jeans and a cute top to college for the first time. I felt elated and fearful.

I remember the day I stopped worrying that my parents were going to send someone to my college to spy on me, who would then see that I was dressing "immodestly" and report back to them. And I didn't even feel guilty.

I remember crying because they wanted me to shut down my heart and just do what they say. And knowing I could never do that.

I remember being angry that a parent could ever ask their child to choose between their way and God's way.

I remember asking Sky why in the world he wanted to marry me when I was so selfish. "What makes you think you're selfish?" he asked. "My parents always say so". "Well, they're wrong" he said. "You're one of the most self-less people I know." And I cried.

I remember them telling me that loving Sky was dishonoring to God. That I wasn't following God's will for me. That maybe I wasn't even saved.

I remember them telling me that no man would ever want to marry me because I wasn't submissive enough. I was too independent and strong-willed. And I just knew they were right.

I remember not being able to tell them I loved them. Because I couldn't lie just to make them happy.

I remember one time Mom said "I love you" and I replied over my sholder, walking away, "Yeah right." She looked like I'd hit her with a two-by-four. And never said anything about that incident again. I felt terrible later.

I remember the first time Sky kissed me. And I was surprised that I didn't feel guilty. I felt like I was flying and that all was suddenly right with the world.

I remember the day I finially gave up trying to please anyone but God. It was a turning point in my life.

I remember the shackles falling off, one after one, day after day, until I was free and ready to be the person God was making me. I cried for a long time....for the joy and freedom in my heart, for the loss and pain, for the severing of relationships that wasn't my fault.

I remember the day that I realized that these memories don't hurt anymore. That I don't hate my parents for any of it. That I can remember these things and feel loss, but not bitterness. That God must've done this.

I write these things, mothers and fathers, so you may understand that what you say and do when your children are young will have a profound impact on the rest of their lives...for good or for evil. Your motives will not matter; your words and actions will. As a fellow parent, I urge you to daily run to the One who showers grace on you so that you may shower it on your children. What will they write about us when they are grown?? Will they say we stood for Truth and Mercy, even in our imperfection? Or that we stood for the rules and commandments of men?

I write these things, brothers and sisters, so you know you are not alone. That all manner of hurtful things are done and said in the name of God, love, and wanting what's best for you. That you're not crazy, they really did say such absurd things, and it wasn't your fault. That love cannot be earned by performance. It is a freely given gift. That there is hope for healing, forgiveness, and freedom...even if you cannot even imagine it right now. God is in the business of restoration.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.

"For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed."

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."

~Isa. 61


  1. Oh, thank you so much for this post. A lot of these issues are similar to things I struggled with [still do], although I am thankful my parents were usually reasonable. Ahh I need to post on my blog about this, there is something about the patriocentric model which never set well with me but you see, it is so insidious, that I always chalked that up to my own sin. There is NO way to fight against something like that.
    May God continue to bless you, I am so glad you have been able to recover far enough to recognize and accept the hurt you went through.

  2. Thankyou. I too remember the first time I wore pants, and being terrified that a male might see me and think I wanted to be assaulted or something. And the day I told my mom that since my sisters were no longer small children, and all of their Christian homeschooled friends wore pants, I was going to wear pants when I visited as well. I have to give her credit for not fighting me on it. Not because she agreed, but because she didn't want to control our adult lives too.

  3. Hi Darcy,

    I am a new reader of your blog. I grew up in fundamentalism from age 11, but my dad didn't come to church with us, and my mom was new to it as well. We later ended up at BJU, and I spent 6 years there. I have worked through a lot of residual effects over the years, but it's nothing like what you experienced. The name I'm using is not my real one. It's the phonetic alphabet letter S, for my first initial.

    I just want to say congratulations!! You have broken the cycle, and you have a powerful voice now. Keep blogging, because you are helping others, whether their presence here is known or not. I'm so happy for you that you found a great husband and wonderful freedom!!! Your experiences have given your children a wonderful, insightful mama. I love your blog. : )

  4. BJU? *gets the heebie-jeebies* :P
    I almost went to PCC. But we couldn't afford it, thank God. I was spared that anyway.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! If you're new, you may not know, but my family is very different today than we were back then. I have a pretty good relationship with my parents now. I feel very blessed because not many of my friends can say that. :( We still have a long way to go but at least we're getting there. :)

  5. ...i just happened to be listening to BarlowGirl's Beautiful Ending while reading this. Rather fit. :)

    Wonderful blogpost. Thank you.

  6. Do you ever find yourself, during moments of frustration, repeating to your children that same mantra you were raised with? I've at times caught myself doing this and I feel so totally inadequate as a parent, certain I'm just going to carry on this horrible legacy. I just want my children to be free of this but it's so hard...


    The details are different but the feelings are so familiar. I'm so glad that you are free now!!!

  8. Hi Darcy,

    I recently started following your blog, not even sure where I found you! Just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am a mom to 4 amazing kids. The first two were DRAGGED through the riggers of legalism by my husband and myself.. we were ATI folk. I will be FOREVER grateful for the way God pulled us out of it and didn't leave us to our own devices.

    Our two oldest turned out to be incredible, well-balance young men who understand grace in a way I never did, in spite of our many errors and have been completely forgiving for what we took them through back in the day.

    Hearing stories like yours, and theirs, reminds me how Big our loving Father is and how he never leaves us or forsakes us.. even when we tried our dead level best to be Pharisees!!

  9. Excellent post. I really needed to read this.

    Made me think of something: You say your mom would say, "Why can't you be more like _____??! I'll bet she never talks to her parents like you're talking to us!!" It reminds me of the classic protest "But so-and-so's mom lets her do X." The mom's reply is, of course, "I'm not so-and-so's mom." Funny how that point is missed when the parts are switched.

  10. Hello,

    Thanks for this post. I am a guy but I recognize and relate to much of what you say. I too was rebuked for wanting to travel and see the world since desiring to experience God's creation shows just how evil you are.....or something. Anyway, God has given me a wonderful wife who came out of the same mess that I grew up in. We love each other like crazy and love to globe-trot.

    Someone asked me if I missed all of the craziness. I told them I missed it in the same way that I missed my rude, noisy neighbors after they moved. Whenever I think of them I think. Boy, I am glad they are gone.

    Much of what you said resonated with me. I remember the first time my wife and I discussed whether or not she should wear pants. We both decided that it was okay. When she first wore some we both almost had a panic attack that someone would see her! She has since gotten over that feeling.
    Imagine everyone's shock when my gentle, sweet, quiet wife announced to her parents that she was joining the military. It was priceless!

    Keep up the good writing. Your voice is needed.

  11. Anon.,
    Thanks for commenting! These issues are not gender-specific. Guys get hurt by legalism, too. :) I think it's awesome that you and your wife have found freedom. Sounds like God has abundantly blessed you!

  12. Thank you. Just today my mom called me crazy and said I was lying about my past.said to forget it and move on,said what happend shouldn't still bother me,and then defended her motives,I was in tears,and she said I was bitter. This post made me feel sane again,so once again thank you.

  13. {{Jessica}} I'm so sorry that your mother said that to you; it hurts especially when a mama says that. I'm thankful Darcy's article helps! Big hugs...

  14. Aw, Jessica, I'm sorry. :( My mom does the same things, only she's more subtle. So I know how you feel. Glad that I could help!

  15. I keep leaving comments on old posts... :) I am reading through and just have strong reactions. I see so much of how I felt growing up... It wasn't always with the legalism; and a lot of it wasn't connected to Christianity, but the same type of attitude was there. I could especially relate to being told that you're too independent to ever get married. My mother said that once to me too. I remember that conversation very clearly. She told me:

    "You're not submissive enough to deserve marriage. No man will ever desire someone as rebellious and independent as you. Who could ever love someone as headstrong as you?" I remembered being completely hurt, but I stuffed it all down and replied defiantly:

    "Maybe you're right. Maybe no man will ever love me. But if someone can't love me as I am, I don't even WANT a relationship with them." Then I glared at her and said: "That goes for you too."

    We fought a lot after I said that, but years later, she told me that she was so thankful I said that to her, that she was hurt at the time but it changed her heart on the matter. Healing IS possible!

  16. Came to your blog through a link on Quivering Daughters blog. I just wanted to tell you that your words are so heartfelt and really reach me. Even though my story is so different then yours in many ways it still echoes my heart because I know what it's like to feel things so strongly inside and not be able to share them because of fear and trying to please others. Thank you for being so open and sharing this.