It’s been a big day. Woke up to discover my dream job for 2011 had been advertised on Monday, with submissions of applications by close of business YESTERDAY! (That’ll teach me for having a husband and two daughters all having birthdays this past week, and so not turning on my computer as much, won’t it!)
So I applied anyway. And then felt depressed all day. Youngest is teething (and whingy), middle child has a rash over her entire back from the neighbour’s over-chlorinated pool (and MEGA whingy) and eldest is… well… she’s just too like me on every day of the week, so we butt heads anyway. A LOT!
Hubby has been out at a staff retreat for the last few days, so he arrived home tonight. Just as I discovered a colony of ants were playing at falling out of the lovely home they had made in my cathedral ceilings, all over my lounge room. Over chairs, over cushions, over the inevitable collection of toys that accumulates throughout the day. Over literally everything. Yay. But thanks to my lovely twitter support group, a #virtualtweetup, and a pretty massive #sugarhit, I feel as though I can focus enough to blog for the day.
Hmmm… that’s right. My topic: momentous event in my life number four. The first time I felt ‘released’ from the emotional prison that was suffocating me. And again, I should probably fill in some details as to how I arrived in that prison in the first place. So settle in… this may take a moment or two…
Well, as I mentioned in an earlier post, once upon a time, I helped to lead a cult. Really? Yes. Really. In my second year of my B.Ed at Griffith, Mt Gravatt, I was sitting on the grass near the bus stop when a girl several years older than me walked up and, out of the blue, invited me to a Bible study. Shocked? Yes! Because how was she to know that, not 30 seconds earlier, I had just finished praying that I might be more committed to my Saviour, and that I would find the way to do this.
Long story short, I ‘studied the Bible’ with her – and her fellow “church” members – for the next ten days, a couple of hours at a time. (Wow! I must have had SO much free time on my hands back then!) By the middle of the studies, I could see where they were heading. Verses from the Bible had been chosen, and were studied in detail, in such a way that the proof was irrefutable – I was NOT (as I had thought all my life) saved, I was NOT a Christian, and only by joining this “church” would I then become a Christian, and be saved. Tell me tell you – I fought this and fought it! What they were saying was absolute anathema… but in all of it, I had to keep going back to the Bible. Seeing the words. And agreeing with their point of view, even though I didn’t want to, because, really, there was no other explanation. So I joined. And a few months later, moved out of my parents, into a “sisters” house, renting with other girls from the “church”. By Semester One of my third year, I was ‘in deep’. I had virtually lost all contact with my non-“church” friends, and my family. By the end of that semester, I was one of the two Interns. As in, the leader of the “church”, Jordie Barham at that time, and his wife, Paula, had one assistant (Intern) each, and together, the four of us led the whole of the Brisbane “church” – almost 200 members at that point in time. I had decided to postpone Semester Two, in order to devote 22 hours per day to my ‘work’, and I joked how I would tell my parents that it was just for the rest of the year, rather than (as I had planned) for the rest of my life.
But by September, I was completely burnt out. I had not yet succeeded in ‘being fruitful’ (converting someone through to “church” membership) and the Internship was stripped from me and given to another. A month or so later, I feigned illness on Sunday morning, and while everyone else was at church, put through a distress call to my parents. They picked me up, drove me around to the three different “sister’s houses” I had lived in and left possessions at, and then took me back to their house, before the others in the “church” were any the wiser. And then we all ignored the phone, which rang off the hook 24 hours a day for the next 4 days or so.
Still, I had left physically, but not left mentally or emotionally. I knew that when I had left their “church”, that I had walked away from my salvation. That I had turned my back on God. That I was going to hell. And I remained utterly convicted of that fact. Nothing could convince me otherwise. After all – I had seen it for myself, in the black and white words of the Bible.
I finished Uni and got married. I then fought constantly with my husband, as he, a Christian, couldn’t understand how I could be that ‘stubborn’ about my opinion. And then the inevitable happened. After two and a half years of marriage, we split up.
A week later, he came back. To find me as unrelenting as ever. I KNEW that I was going to hell, and nothing he could say or do would change that. He virtually begged me to go to marriage counselling. I agreed, but with the attitude that ‘nothing will change. They can’t convince me otherwise. I know it. I’ve seen it.’
So anyway, we went to counselling. Another couple, Graham Ballam and his lovely wife, the Baptist pastors at Victoria Point (where we were living) had one session with us. Just one. And then said, “You (two) don’t need marriage counselling. No – marriage counselling won’t work. Instead, you (Ceridwyn) need counselling. To get this wrong way of thinking out of your head. Because you’re wrong. What you believe. It’s wrong.”
My response? Sure. Bring it on. We agreed that I would go through ‘studying the Bible’ with them, each and every session, and I knew, I just KNEW, that by the end of it, I would have convinced them that they too, were not saved, not Christians, etc.
So it started. And it continued. And for every SINGLE verse, I explained the verse how the “church” had explained it to me. And then we would go back to the original meanings of the words themselves, in Hebrew and Greek, to the nuances of the verbs, to see whether the explanations provided by the “church” matched up with the reality of the original Hebrew and Greek words. And while the majority of them DID match up, there were one or two discrepancies. Maybe just in the ‘present continuous’ form of the verb being used, rather than what I had been taught, but it was enough. I saw a chink. A glimmer of light. And that was the beginning.
It took the best part of a fortnight. Hours and hours of debate, intense scrutiny of those same Biblical passages that had so convinced me of my hell-bound future. But it was worth it. By the end, I could smile. I could feel a peace that I hadn’t felt in years. And I felt, again, some hope. Again, just a glimmer… but it was a start. A release. I emerged from that prison a stronger person for being in there – and even more convicted of my God, and my salvation. So although I had endured quite a few years of being ‘bound and gagged’ (to quote the title of one of my brother’s movies), there was an end. A wonderful, wonderful end. Which, as it always does, resulted in a new beginning. Phew.
Well, that’s probably it for today. And I’d say that long enough too wouldn’t you agree?! Thank you for reading, and I’m heading back to say goodnight at that #virtualtweetup now…