Continued from Part Two.
Now I am fifteen and am starting to be attentive to preaching. At this point in my life I didn’t fully understand or know what my theology was. I believed that Jesus was God’s son, people could get the Holy Ghost without speaking in tongues, baptism was something that Christians just did and you were saved at repentance. Oh, and living holy was like, live it or burn forever. So, we started this new UPC church and like I said earlier they quickly let us know we were not in the truth. They constantly sang songs of the oneness of God, talked about speaking in tongues more than I had ever heard talked about in my life.
My mom and I were like okay great. But it wasn’t great. You see it was not this is what we believe and you can choose it, it was more like this is what we believe and you better jump on the wagon as well. My mother and I at the time were the only ones attending church. My dad has long stopped going and my only sibling was doing their own thing. So, my mom and I was quickly got set up for a bible study. That’s when it all came out. The oneness of God. (insert disclaimer: I am not discrediting the belief of the oneness of God, I am still sorting out that belief, however I am saying that it was shoved down our throats and made a salvation issue.) After this bible study my mom and I went home and discussed it. I don’t remember us coming to a conclusion at that point. However, I do remember the pressure we received before we finally relented or just stop asking questions.
Fast forward to me being eighteen and I just couldn’t stay any longer in my parents’ home. The con-stringent rules were driving me over board. My mother and I constantly fought. If the church had UPC standards my mother had commands and demands, if one was going to live in her house you live by her rules. So, I left home and moved in with another family member.
It was during that time I meet my first real boyfriend. I was eighteen and free at last free at last… and well you know the rest of that. That boyfriend became what I come to know now as my husband. He describes those times when I first meet him as a rebel without a cause. I was trying to live out eighteen confined years in six months. He calmed me down and gave me balance when I didn’t know what that was.
We lived our first few years of marriage in bliss. No, really we did. After a while I noticed God dealing with me. I don’t think God ever left me, as much as it was me leaving him. I stopped having a relationship with HIM. My mom invited me back to church and I went. That second Sunday that I attended at the end of service she let me know she believed in the oneness of God. She gave me a story of how she came to believe that. Immediately I felt hot and angry. I remembering feeling like I had been lied to all my life. Keep in mind I didn’t search out scripture to see if this was true, I was just mad.
At that point I started praying and I remember a small voice in my head say “Why not repent you are already praying.” I remember thinking why not so I did. Now here is the deal after that….oh goodness it’s hard to explain. Let me try my best. I remember my mouth shaking, from me or some other force I don’t know. Then everyone was cheering and my mom was like “The Holy Ghost is all over you just speak it out.” So I guess that is what they call stammering lips, tongues, or the infilling. The pastor came and talked to me and I quickly said I got the Holy Ghost for fear of the church badgering me for months and years about getting it. I had seen people go through that and I was for one not going to. My whole niche about that was I truly believe I got “saved” at repentance when it was just me and the still small voice without the crowds and the cheering.
I started attending church regularly and started “living the part.” On the contrast, I couldn’t for the life of me when they started teaching that everybody was going burn in Hell but us believe that. I couldn’t for the life of me tolerate the hatred when they talked about Trinitarians. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why my husband didn’t jump on the band wagon with me. Eventually I let my brain die and picked up everybody else’s. I ceased to exist any longer. Their thoughts became my thoughts, their actions became my actions, their beliefs my beliefs. I was so caught up in it all I forgot to stop, think, read, and reason.
I might also add this was a time in my marriage I started to view my husband as an enemy. He didn’t believe the way I did, he didn’t attend church all the time like I did. Let’s just put it out there plain, he didn’t become indoctrinated like I did. That was the beginning of my own UPC experience. I was attending church for myself. I really did love the Lord and wanted to be a Christian. However, I was always confused on still what saved me, was I going to make to heaven? Was I doing enough? I had so much conviction it turned into heartburn. But there I was in church the first to run the aisles, pray, encourage the others, sign up for everything going on try and get in good with the pastor and his family. It was hard work and tiring. All while leaving my family at home. Day after day disconnecting myself from my husband because he wasn’t bandwagon man. He wasn’t a minister, pastor, evangelist, department head, musician or anybody important. He didn’t act like the men at church all holy and stuff. He was just, himself. Heartbreaking as it is I wasn’t myself at all…..
To be continued.