Constant brain hurt, information overload, and wanting to pull my hair out from the time I was a little girl. The Message was so confusing and I often turned to my mom looking for clarity. "I don’t understand, Mom." The answer I received was always, "Because I said so, Sarah."
Let me start at the beginning. I grew up in Michigan, southern Michigan, but Michigan, none the less. It's cold there, especially in the wintertime. Having to wear dresses all the time made my sister and I stand out in the dead of winter. We hated it. I remember even at the age of five getting ready to start kindergarten and HATING my hair. It was stringy and looked terrible so I got my mom’s crochet scissors and made it look much better. And it sure did…along with the spanking I received for doing it.
My mother was the Message Cult believer in the family. My father was not. He was more of the disciplinarian. The Sunday ritual around the house was strictly enforced. Dad did believe we should go to church. Where? He didn’t care. Easter, Mother’s Day, and most holidays he would come with mom and sit through the singing portion of the service. When the sermon was about to start, he would hightail it out of the building to smoke outside. On Tuesday nights, if there was service, sometimes we would be expected to go. We took our homework and did it during the service. And Lord help me, if there was a tape being played I wanted to leave. They were so boring and no one listened. The older people snored. The young people passed notes. It was awful.
The most important part of having MY parents was this: they were always very loving. They showed it very differently from each other, but they loved us greatly. It was the information coming at us, from our peers, and from people that said they loved us and were supposed to be our friends. I knew the basics of the Message only because I really didn’t care to understand it deeply. My sister and I would have conversations about the preacher reading from Branham’s books. I would ask her if she felt he said anything relevent. Always, both of our answers were "nope" and the discussion was over.
There was so much hypocrisy. The young people would say things like "Oh, ya know, using toe nail clippers to straighten out your bangs isn’t really cutting your hair. It's ok." And, "I can wear stilettos because I’m super short, but you’re so tall you don’t even need a heel." And my personal favorite one (always from several of the super skinny girls, at camp or special meetings) "Do you like my skirt/dress?" (that’s showing their bra/panty lines, and proud to be showing them) "I got it on sale."
It was very difficult as well to attend a church when you knew the pastor had been convicted of sexually molesting a young girl. He went to prison, yet, when he was released he didn't want to give up his church. If that wasn't bad enough, just a few years later, this same man was caught in another country with a prostitute in his hotel room shower. Still to this day he has a church following.
Getting all of these confusing things said to me from the earliest times I can remember being a part of “the Youth” and from the people I thought cared about me drove me towards finding a love for God on my own. It lead to me towards the mission field and serving children in third world nations. It led to finding a true peace within myself and it leads me to continually better myself so no one has to be treated the way I was.
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