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If You Are Questioning Leaving Your IFB Church, This Letter is For You

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Dear Friend, No, we haven't met, although there's a good chance that if you're reading this, we've lived very similar lives. That being said, I'm not going to pretend that, even with the similarities, I know what you have been through. I just want to say I see you. You, who are struggling, carrying the heavy burden of indecision, of fear, of the unknown. You, who feel miserable, wondering when that started and where that misery came from. I see you. You, who are tired, downtrodden, forcing your head to stay above water. Confused on why The Master of The Sea has even allowed you to start drowning in the first place. You, who feel guilty, ashamed and discouraged. Wondering, why you just can't be happy, serve your god, be a Christian. You, who past memories haunt, are relived every day. The wounds of abuse still feel so raw and you wonder when they'll ever start to scab over, scar. Heal. I see you. And I weep with you. Y

Why This Holiday Season I Felt Joy Instead of Loss

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  This time of year is always bittersweet for me and a lot of other survivors out there. I remember a lot of traumas around Christmastime and New Years, also a lot of sickness. There was a lot of pressure to do a lot of things and be a certain way. There was caroling, a Christmas play where you’d have to perform and sing, often very ill, and a ton of get togethers to attend. And then, there were a lot of tough feelings and emotions as you either gathered or didn’t with people who were, well, super hurtful. It can be a triggering time of year. There can be a lot of loss and grief. But there is also joy for me. Well, now there is…. For the past few years, I’ve decided with a heart full of purpose to enjoy my time here on earth and make every Christmas one that I remember. Most often that looks like living in the moment. I have a tree, a Christmas village that lights up, and I put Christmas lights on the balcony. There are stockings hung. I have cards from friends and even strangers w

Here's to Walking Away...

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I've been working really hard to make a beautiful life for myself. As any trauma survivor knows all too well, rebuilding (or in my case, building from scratch) a life that has seen abuse is super intimidating. In spite of this, many survivors do cross over into thriving territory and look back on how much strength it took to get to the top of a mountain, only to climb one after another in that one's wake. I have certainly climbed a few mountains. Currently, I'm climbing a couple personally. Those that love me cheer me on with each step, and I'm forever grateful and thankful that they are in my corner. Those that have seen this fight in me for healing know just how much harm I had experienced. There are many layers to the harm, which is difficult to even separate when so many aspects contributed to that hurt. There is the childhood abuse that lasted many years, the spiritual abuse that went on until I was a young adult, and the long and tedious part of my journey where

Let Them Leave

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  I’m not sure I’ve really deep dived and shared about what it was like in the weeks of leaving my IFB church. The events that led me to that decision were years in the making and very traumatic. Still to this day, there is a part of me that is still baffled that I actually made it out. It didn’t come cost free though. I lost a lot, but gained, in many ways, much more. That last sentence is very hard for me to write, because leaving a church, especially one that your entire existence was based around, means you leave a complete lifetime behind. At the time, I started transitioning into the real world in some ways. I had started listening to music of the time instead of just the hymns and Southern Gospel I was raised on. I started wearing jeans sometimes in place of my long skirts or awkward culottes, albeit terrified church people would see. I wore makeup but was constantly ostracized for it. Those were some surface things. Down deep, I was never prepared. I was still very awkward,

A Mid-year Update and My Decision to Keep Speaking Out About Cults

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  Picture of Lydia Joy Launderville I think it’s time for an update on my personal blog. Life has been busy, whew! I’ve moved out of the small town that was home for most of my life. It was both a place of dear memories, and also very tough ones. I still go back often though and feel a peace within me that is accompanied by a bittersweet smile (and yes, sometimes triggers because Post Traumatic Stress is real!). I turn on country music often, as it feels fitting and is connected to my roots. While there, I was always on the outside, my family being swept up in the IFB and not really able to join in on the festivities but country music was a theme we heard often. There was still the annual Christmas parade we witnessed many, many times  and every year Brunswick stew was up for purchase once it got colder weather. Then, most often July 4 th celebrations that included fireworks near the small ballfield and I did enjoy their car shows that featured classic muscle cars when it was warmer o

Purity Culture Insults Men, Too

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  By  Laurie Penoyer-Phillips Purity Culture doesn't just suppress, enslave, and harm Christian women psychologically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually...Believe it or not, Christian  men  are targets, too. It recently occurred to me as I contemplated the depth of this deceptive and divisive subject, that the types of Christians who participate so willingly and fully embrace Purity Culture, especially Independent Fundamental Baptists (my personal upbringing) and the like, are really "man-haters" even more than they are misogynistic. Purity Culture (PC), and the Christians who uphold it, treat all men  as totally helpless, mindlessly rutting and grunting, sex-driven Neanderthals who walk, and talk, and think with their penises. It's really quite insulting when you think about it .  In their version of manhood ,  all men remain sexually , emotionally, and intellectually immature way past puberty. Ever-hormonally charged and lust-driven, they can never be trust

Billboards, Church Houses, and Cathedrals

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  I recently enjoyed a fantastic vacation down South. While making that drive, as a religious abuse survivor, I was greatly aware of signs and messages with religious sentiments being shared and often in fearful ways. This is nothing new as I’ve grown up in the Bible Belt and as a former fundamentalist, the tactic is one I know all too well. But it seemed that the further south I went, the more prominent these messages became. I continued to see billboards, stating they were truth. “Repent,” the Sinner’s Prayer, and the fact that I needed Jesus were constantly thrown in my face while making that drive down Interstate 95. It didn’t always bother me. Sometimes, I would laugh. Other times, I’d feel my stomach twist. I even reminded myself that they have a right to speak freely. Then there were the moments that I let out a relieved and yet frustrated breath. I hated that kind of “in your face” witnessing. I hated Chick Tracts, knocking on doors each Saturday, passing out Gospel tracts, and