I’m going to take a break from cataloguing memories in a specific timeline. Concentrating so hard on such unpleasant events and trying to remember accurate details is getting me down. Last night I had nightmares about the exorcism.
Yes, I’m a grown woman, wife, mother, professional, and I still have nightmares about things that happened in my UPC (United Pentecostal Church) upbringing. If my husband is not with me, I sleep with the light on. Even after years of therapy and feeling more peaceful with the world in general than I ever have, I still have a lot of residual fear that is not yet completely gone.
I cannot read the book of Revelations without seeing that horrible “End Times” video in my mind that was shown to me by Apostolics. I will not speak of it now, maybe sometime I’ll write about it. Sometimes I can almost put this stuff behind me and have peace, but *something* always happens and I find myself shaking inside again, while keeping my demeanor frozen in ‘normalcy’. Can’t let the masses see the fear, they’d think I was crazy. (Maybe I am.. after all, a Pentecostal preacher said I was a reprobate…)
So, while I’m taking this break, I will continue posting some random (less disturbing) memories about growing up UPC/Apostolic.
One such memory is this: I remember an unsaved couple coming to our church once, and of course, the lady was not dressed in compliance with the standards. She wore a dress, but had cut hair, makeup, earrings, etc. A boy of about 12 went up to her after service and said “Don’t come back as long as you’re wearing earrings, we don’t believe in that here”. She wasn’t sure how to take it, because looking around, none of the women were wearing earrings. But, this was just a child, so she wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not.
Fortunately, someone heard him and went and told the Pastor. The Pastor immediately came to her and apologized and said that he was just a confused child, we very much wanted her to come back, in fact to come back forever would be our greatest wish. She said “But is it true? Do you consider earrings a sin?”
Since the lady had obviously just had her feelings hurt, the Pastor tried to stumble around the standards without saying outright, yes we consider them a sin. By this point he was pretty flustered and although I can’t remember his exact explanation, I know it wasn’t great (how could it be?) and they never came back. The boy was given a talking-to from the Pastor, and then was punished at home by his parents.
However, I don’t know that he really deserved punishment. He was repeating what he’d been taught. He thought he was standing up for his beliefs. The church didn’t do much teaching on grace, personal convictions, or ‘working out your own salvation’, but they did a WHOLE LOT of preaching on standards, not being ashamed of your beliefs, not letting the church get contaminated with worldliness, and the hell fire that was waiting for anyone who was ashamed to stand up for Pentecostal ‘truths’. So, who was really to blame for this boy’s behavior?
Personally, I would compare this to an army unit spending 12 years teaching a soldier to defend its territory against a well-defined enemy, and then punishing the soldier for acting on his training.