covid, religious trauma, nostalgia? this one's weird
I tested positive for COVID a few days ago. My symptoms were relatively minor until they suddenly weren't, and now they seem to be getting a little bit better. Everyone I live with pretty much has it now.
It's funny how when I have these scary moments in my life, I tend to have a perspective shift or motivation of some kind. I've had a sudden resurfacing of feelings regarding my religious history and all the trauma evangelical Christianity caused me.
When I was in middle school, I was 'saved', and became a real gung-ho Bible banger. I aspired to be in ministry. I WAS in ministry, at various levels. I STARTED ministries. I've been in plenty of church staff meetings. I've proposed budget approvals. I've organized events and trips. I was involved heavily.
But I never belonged.
And that fact became apparent more and more over the years. I asked too many questions. I challenged authority figures too much. I didn't wave off unaddressed criticism. I didn't sign doctrinal statements I disagreed with. I was kicked out of ministry positions. I was told to find a new church more than once.
My Christian friends stuck around for quite some time, but even that eventually wouldn't work out. No matter what, at the end of the day, I am the pitiful heathen who is going to hell, and they are the righteous ones before God.
This resurfacing kind-of led me down a rabbit hole of watching the documentary “No Place To Call Home” about all the child abuse that happened within the Jesus People USA cult (JPUSA), which put on Cornerstone Festival and was the center of the alternative Christian music scene during the height of my teenage years. When I was a youth I wanted to join this intentional Christian community myself, more than anything. And here we find it was a sick place.
Everything I ever looked up to during my youth was surrounded in some horrible scandal like this. It never fails. Whether it's beloved Nickelodeon cartoons or festivals where my favorite bands played, some scummy nonsense is always lurking in the shadows.
Nostalgia isn't always accurate. It exists because, during a time in our lives, we were naïve and believed the best in the world and other people. Unfortunately the older we get, the more we see through a lot of the bullshit. The people and things I once respected I now despise.
So how do we pursue a better world? How do we make a real difference anymore? Are other people even worth the effort?
And if you're an ex-Christian survivor like me, who has lost over a decade worth of friendships and connections, and no longer knows my purpose in life- what the fuck do you do now? I've repressed so much of this stuff over the years but the honest truth is Christianity, church and ministry all fucked my life up, and I wish I never had anything to do with it.
I leave you with the lyrics to Pedastal by Counterparts:
I’m looking back on those I once looked up to And I can’t help but feel that I’m looking down Everyone I’ve ever admired has left me with nothing Not even a memory
I remember growing up, and yearning to be just like you It pains me to admit that I held you in such a high regard As if my life would mean nothing without your approval But now I see the error of my ways All that time spent searching for myself in someone else I think it’s safe to say that I’ve become everything I wanted to be And no one can take that from me
All of my heroes have failed me, but I won’t fail myself I can’t believe how naïve I used to be when I never really needed anyone All my heroes have failed me, but I won’t ever fail myself All my heroes have failed me, but I won’t ever fail myself
All my heroes have failed me All my heroes have failed me
- K V V P Λ [e-mail] [kvvpa.com]
he/him, pnw. washed up scene kid, gamer who’s bad at games, lovable geek. i live for good music, spooky things, animation, my family, and authentic interactions with kind people.