A Christian Mystic, Part 2

“…even admirable human desires for love, for belonging, and for meaning can be manipulated by unscrupulous individuals to benefit themselves” 
― Noah Berlatsky

It has been almost 6 weeks since I wrote the first part of this…I really thought that it would be easier to reveal this part of my life…and although it is not a painful process…it is still a very private part of my life…and although it is no longer in the forefront of my life…it is still peripheral object…with my family still being active participants in that specific group.

Over the years, the group has changed drastically or at least that is what it appears from the outside. My family and I never discuss the matter of my attending the meetings anymore…I had been there for a funeral and the leader made very disparaging remarks directly to me…I have never darkened the door since.

I do know that the requirements for dress are not as strict as it was when I was a teenager…we would be required to kneel on the platform to make sure that our skirts hit the floor…and in other ways, it was very Pentecostal…in that we were not allowed to cut our hair, wear earrings, or even shave our legs…now how that brings glory to a woman…I have to idea…no sleeveless blouses or dresses…nothing that might “tempt” a man to sexual desire…

I had always felt alone and ostracized in the world outside the church…I could never participate in any activities in the school…the most difficult was during my High School years…as a teenager, I wanted so much to be a part…a part of something that was “normal” and “fun” like most of the free world…and that is how it felt…like a cage…on the inside…looking out…

As a teenager, to be at least on the fringes of acceptance…I do remember my small acts of rebellion…I walked to school and somehow I had gotten a hold of a pair of slacks…and I would find somewhere along the route to change out of my skirt into the forbidden apparel…I was never found out…such treachery…putting on a swipe of lipstick that someone would let me borrow…

There were a few friends that were in the church, but even then…I was on the outskirts of the group…my parents just a humble part of the worshiping and adoring members… and not a part of the rich ruling and “blessed” members…and the people did worship her…I often felt more than they worshiped her more than God himself…special prayer meetings/fasting were held just to “lift her Up”..pictures of her were hung in homes with flowers…in a place of reverence…my parents still have her in a place of veneration in their home.

“People do not knowingly join “cults” that will ultimately destroy and kill them. People join self-help groups, churches, political movements, college campus dinner socials, and the like, in an effort to be a part of something larger than themselves. It is mostly the innocent and naive who find themselves entrapped. In their openhearted endeavor to find meaning in their lives, they walk blindly into the promise of ultimate answers and a higher purpose. It is usually only gradually that a group turns into or reveals itself as a cult, becomes malignant, but by then it is often too late.” 

For me, the most surreal experience, was when we were segregated into groups and put into a small room in an upper story of the house of the woman, we were to take our bibles..open them…and close our eyes…I don’t remember the words that were spoken…but when we opened our eyes…there were specks of blood on everything…on our clothes..on our bibles…supposedly, we were blessed with the manifestation of Christ’s blood…I do remember how special that it felt at the time…being blessed with the actual blood of Christ…it really did not seem strange at the time…

When you grow up from a child in a culture such as a “cult”, it is the norm…I did not have any other reference point…the falling out on the floor..the travailing and groanings in the darkness for hours…the shaking and running around the building screaming at demons…shouting in tongues…the prophecies that the end of the world would be on such and such date…although, if we fasted and prayed hard enough…we could change the date…it was the only world that I knew…

“Cults can hide in many places. They are so adept at blending into society and masking their true colors that often their victims do not realize that they were even in a cult until they have escaped it. Nor do they fully comprehend the severity of the brainwashing that they were subjected to, until they are finally free of it.” 
― Natacha Tormey, Cults – A Bloodstained History

I was an innocent…that perhaps is the saddest part and yet in some ways, it might be considered a blessing…I was pure…I could not even date until I turned 16…although it was perfectly fine for a man twice my age to transport me to and from our meetings at the jail…my first kiss…I was blessed in that it was the extent of the intrusion on my virginal body…and after the age of 16…I was never asked out on a date…

And then at 18…I was given a path out…unwittingly by the church and with a push by my mother…although it was not the result that she intended…