Childhood Teacher or Mentor: KB
#exposemyself Day 1
[EXPOSED DAY 1] Is there something from your childhood that rings over and over again in your head - something that your mind & heart grabbed onto & never let it go that still shapes a part of your life today?
In the 70’s & 80’s, in a small(ish) town in Texas, I grew up in an extremely legalistic church community complete with fire & brimstone raining down from the pulpit. When I was in the 4th grade, another preacher arrived that mixed things up! I’m just gonna call him KB.
His preaching style was NOT the fire & brimstone. He dove deep into God’s Word, challenged us, & even dared to play devil’s advocate. He lived around the corner from me & if he was outside when I was walking or riding my bike, I would talk to him. He never missed an opportunity to impart something from the word w/ me when we did.
In one of those impromptu, driveway “church meetings”, he taught me, “Smile on your face. Finger on the verse.” Context & culture were important. He gently nudged a breaking-free, so to speak, from legalism & he introduced hope & love as opposed to the fire & brimstone I was used to. I had been in a desert & was thirsty for the goodness that came from God.
Fast Forward. I was 21, single & pregnant. My parents strongly urged me to go to counseling. But truth be told, when I entered counseling, I was desperate, devastated & severely depressed. I was suicidal - but had told no one at that point. I felt as if my decisions & circumstances had forfeited my place in Heaven. I had completely lost hope. I had a commitment to see the pregnancy through to the end. After which, I had planned to end my life.
My counselor was a gentle, kind soul. I was needing a lot of gentle kindness by the time I got to his office. When I poured out my turmoil, he asked me why I had lost all hope. I really struggled w/ articulating an answer - but what eventually came out was that I lost all hope of Heaven & he was like why? Well, because… because… I messed up. After learning where I grew up, he told me that he could take me down a traditional road of counseling - but it would be a never-ending struggle because I would be working against some things that had formed at my core due to my upbringing. He said in order to break free from that, I needed to undergo de-programming. . . as if I’d been in a cult.
He said that the Bible was the only guide I needed. I had to hold up everything to measure it against the Word of God. IE: If I ever mentioned something about not getting into Heaven, he would tell me to SHOW him where in the Bible it says that. I locked on to “Smile on your face. Finger on the verse.” It was my mantra that got me through. I’ve been through a lot of difficult things in my life. But de-programing is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. But I made it through because I held on to what KB had given me years earlier - “Smile on your face. Finger on the verse.”
That mantra has taken me to places I never dreamed. It’s led me to hold unpopular opinions & beliefs that aren’t the norm in traditional, conservative Christian circles. I have to remind people that I am not a hypocrite because I believe something different from them. I would be a hypocrite if I went against something I believed. I know why I believe what I believe; if I'm challenged on something, I turn to God’s Word - not popular opinions.
Smile on your face. Finger on the verse. I now map the verse out. I look at Strong’s reference & do word studies. That thirst & hunger for God’s Word to me has never left me since it took hold of me in the 4th grade.
What I had to forgive and let go of? The PTCS - Post Traumatic Church Syndrome. It’s real. It’s paralyzing & carries anger, resentment & bitterness against God’s people - my brothers & sisters. I “detach & flee” from legalism. I’ve learned to recognize it & no longer fear it. I am able to look past it to love my people who still practice this brand of Christianity. I no longer take it as a personal assault when I encounter it. No one’s out to get me brandishing legalism as a weapon. I no longer resent this part of my history because of the beautiful gifts God gave me as a result. I actually embrace it & am grateful for this part of my childhood.
I am able to connect with and help others who’ve lived with some of this same inner turmoil to find a journey to healing. There is hope. There is redemption.