Thursday, November 25, 2010

Long e-mail list of questions

Thanksgiving was fantastic. As I sit here in the post-turkey glow, I'm reviewing my e-mail and see this "interview" in my inbox. It's strange because the e-mailer is no one I'm familiar with and it seems like someone reading this blog for a while might know most of the answers. However, since it came in under the subject heading of "Here are my questions", I guess I'll answer as many as I can.
Notquivering asked -
1. How old are you and how long have you been living away from your family?

I'm 26. I've been away from my family for about 8 years or so.
2. What were the circumstances of your departure?
As I've shared here in my story, I left because my father was telling me I had to marry a man who I did not want to marry. I also felt that I couldn't be the person I was required to be under the ATI/QF prescription for life.
3. Are you married? Did your parents approve of your marriage?
I am not married. My parents would not approve of my marriage to Harris if we did marry because he is not fundamentalist Christian.
4. Do you have any significant, unresolved conflicts with your parents? Are you on speaking terms?
We are no longer on speaking terms because my father doesn't want to discuss - he wants to talk AT ME, not with me. He is preventing any sort of discussion with my motehr as well. To say we have unresolved conflicts would be an understatement.
5. Do you have any children? If so, what are their ages?
I do not have children.
6. What kind of church did you attend growing up? Was your church part of a denomination? If so, which one?
I attended a home church. It probably most resembles Baptist teachings.
7. Would you say that your father was accountable to the authority of the local church?
My father WAS the authority. Unless you count self-accountability, then I would say not really. He was accountable, in some ways, to Bill Gothard and ATI, but that was more of a peer accountability and they seemed self-serving in purpose.
8. Was your family involved in the community life of your church?
These are strange questions for anyone who's followed my blog to ask. Are you sure these questions are directed to me out of genuine curiosity? I don't think our "church" fits your idea of "church". Can you give me an idea of why you asked this?
9. Would you say your mother or your father was the stronger leader in your home?
It depends on what you mean by leader. My father was the dictator. My mother "led" us children in how to be obedient and submissive.
10. How many children were in your family? What number are you in age order?
I am the oldest daughter. I am the fourth born of eleven, counting my littlest sister who will be one very soon.
11. Were you and your siblings required to help with chores? How do you feel this helped or harmed your work ethic?
Yes. Chores were required. I believe this helped me form a good work ethic and helped me appreciate the value of a dollar more but I have a problem with the age and manner of chores I was expected to do.
12. Would you say that either of your parents was abusive? If so, how?
My father was abusive; spiritually, mentally, and physically. My mother was, in my opinion, abused. Spare the rod spoil the child is a biblical principal that my parents enforced.
13. In what ways did your parents show you affection?
My father didn't. My mother was very affectionate when she was allowed to be.
14. When you were upset, how did you share your feelings with your parents?
Being upset simply wasn't tolerated. If I was upset, I was expected to put forth a strong, content countenance and pray to find a more obedient, accepting spirit.
15. In what ways (if any) do you disagree theologically with your parents? When did this begin?
This is a question I'm not prepared to answer. I'm unsure.
16. In what ways (if any) did you disagree with the lifestyle your parents lived? When did this begin?
From pretty early on, I can remember thinking that there was a general disparity between the way my dad treated my mom and my sisters and the way that we were told we should be treated. My parents lifestyle choices (lots of children, Christian beliefs, and patriarchy) would be fine if there was a partnership and those decisions were mutually agreed upon. If people sincerely enjoy that lifestyle and find peace, then that's their choice. I don't believe it's the only path for everyone and I think it's an easily abused system.
17. Did you have a mentor or friend who helped you find a new place to live?
I had two people who stepped up to help me with the basics.
18. What type of church do you now attend? How is it different from the church you attended with your family?
Is that really any of your business? I am following my own path, spiritually, for the moment.
19. Are you under any sort of official church discipline?
I don't believe so.
20. In your mind, what would it take to reconcile with your parents?
For my parents to accept that I am an individual with different, but not lesser, values. For my parents to love me unconditionally and to see the beauty in all of us as individuals. For my dad to apologize for trying to force me into a marriage I wasn't ready for. It would also take some forgiveness on my part.
21. What are you willing to do to reconcile with your parents?
That's something my therapist and I are discussing and I don't feel like sharing at present. I need to be willing to forgive.
22. Did your family have close friendships outside of the family?
23. Did you parents/church teach you that salvation is in faith in Christ alone?
Yes and no.
24. Did your family laugh and enjoy being together?
On occasion.
25. Have you ever read Quivering Daughters? If so, what did you think of it?
THIS tells me you're not the reader of my blog that you claim to be. What do I think of QD? I think every journey is different. I think QD is a great place for people to see the less shiny-happy sides of the way ATI/QF/Patriarchy is presented by shows like 19 Kids and Counting. I think it's not my position to judge the stories of the individuals on that site, but to take them for what they are - a PERSON'S attempt to make sense of their life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Erin said...
What was Thanksgiving like in your family growing up? What traditions will you be making/using in your Thanksgiving this year?

Growing up, Thanksgiving was a decent holiday. :) My dad and my brothers would usually go hunting at some point in the fall and try to get us a turkey or elk (or both). We also always had turkey in the freezer as it was sort of the go-to-freezer meat of Quiverfull families (and still is to this day). You can buy them extremely cheap right after major holidays and we did. In any case, we girls would spend the two days leading up to Thanksgiving rolling out pie dough, getting roll dough ready, and generally destroying the kitchen with our preparations. Even though it was a lot of work, it was some of the best times I've spent with my mom and sisters. Even the little girls were put to work opening cans of ingredients or measuring stuff for us to cook. My mom made a great stuffing that I miss even now. I'm going to try to recreate it this year for Harris' family. After we ate, we cleaned up while the men gathered to listen to a sermon on tape. Then they'd go out and play on the quads or do whatever it is guys do outside. Other than the big dinner, it was a normal day, but it was the one day my dad would say, just to us, that he was thankful for us. Normally, we were his public blessing and what felt like his private burden. But on Thanksgiving he managed to sound sincere in private.

Thanksgiving, more than Christmas, was a happy holiday in my house because it wasn't a political thing. Christmas always became a quest for my father to show the world how much holier we were by not losing site of the "Christ" in Christmas. That whole deal trumped our excitement and happiness. I'll write more about that after Thanksgiving because to be frank, I don't want to be bummed out right before what could be a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Last year, I felt alone and melancholy. This year, I'm really excited about going to see Harris' family and being part of ANY family again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

E-mail Questions

Kerry Ann asked - Do you think the people still in ATI know who you are?

I think some of them definitely do! I've received e-mails and, at one point, got a psuedo-attorney telling me that I was violating copyright by posting Gothard's 49 Character Traits. I have heard through others that this blog, along with NLQ and FreeJinger, are "non-faith promoting" and have been blocked with this software that a few QF/ATI families use. My identity may elude most ATI families because I really doubt my parents or the people who DO know who I am are thrilled with the prospect of giving me any attention whatsoever. I'm more like that ugly sweater you shove in the back of the closet and hope no one inquires about.

Kerry Ann also asked - Do you think you're just with Harris because he's the first guy to show an interest?
I'm not sure how to take this question. He's not the first guy "to show interest". He *is* the first man I've felt entirely comfortable with and maybe that's what you mean? I used to wonder if that was wrong- me entering a long term relationship with the first guy I felt I could trust entirely and was able to be myself with - but then I realized that most people do that. We just happen to have lasted longer than most "first real boyfriends" maybe do. :)

Michael asked - What is your major? Well, I'm shooting for library sciences. I'll have to go to a different school to finish out the master's portion. What's your GPA like because you should look at scholarships to help ease your burden. After replacing an incomplete from last quarter (when I broke my leg), I now have a 3.8 or thereabouts. That may change next quarter when I have two science labs. *sigh* I actually am working on loans for completing my education. It's time. I've been skittish about loans because of the lessons I was taught (which are based in sound financial teachings, in my opinion) but now I am realizing that in today's world, it's almost impossible to get by without them in some form.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where have you been?

Yes. There was a post here that is not here now. I meant to put it in comments and so I corrected that.

Cindy asked -Where have you been, Ruth?
I've been studying for finals and writing papers and jumping through hoops for financial aid and praying for my brother and spending time with Harris and working and - yeah. I learned the lesson a while ago about putting concerning things on my blog but concerning things have been all that are on my mind lately. I apologize for the blog silence.

In the "sex" post, Shoshanah came around and started quite a debate. She sent me a very long e-mail explaining more of her position and I asked for her permission to post it here. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to remain private or not by the information given. She responded today saying that I could post it so long as I posted it in context. To do that, I should probably post it in it's entirety.
I will try to address mostly Ruth's comments about my own. My last two comments were not directed at Ruth, but rather at other people. So of course, I do not think Ruth hates me or the things I have said.
Ruth, since I am a Christian who believes God's Word, anything I say will hopefully reflect that. Because I believe God's Word to be 100% true, I believe that anytime His laws are broken we harm ourselves and need to be restored back to Him. I am a sinner and no better than a murderer or a thief because I have broken God's laws. The good news is that I have been restored to Him because of what He has done for me. He freely forgives me and FORGETS what I have done, even when I do not. He loves us and finds beauty in me and you, even when we can't see it ourselves.
I have no authority over you and am puzzled as to why you would think I had such an idea. Nor do I want authority over you. You are an adult and have the freedom to make your own decisions. I will try to answer your questions.
You said: "How can you teach your daughters about purity in relationships and then stay out of it?" I taught them about purity when they were young. The two oldest are adults (19 and 21) now and already know what we believe about purity. Unless they seek our guidance, it's too late to try to influence them. They are adults who need to sink or swim. If they need a little lift from me, they can always ask. I have no desire to pry into their relationships (that would certainly set a bad precedence as a mother-in-law someday, now wouldn't it?) I trust their good judgement. I only know what I know because they have voluntarily shared things with me about their boyfriends. I know that they hug and hold hands and that's it. I have a great relationship with the two oldest, especially the younger one who has been dating her boyfriend since she was 16. She met him at a Christian high school where she was asked to help produce the play she had written. He spends a lot of time with our family and seems to enjoy us because his parents do not spend much time with him. My oldest daughter's boyfriend is a student here from Brazil. We like him very much and have met his parents. If they marry someday, I think they will move to Brazil when both are finished with college. The younger kids love the boyfriends. I do not know if it will be this good with all of my children. Some of our adopted children have emotional problems from the abuse and neglect they suffered before we adopted them. They are doing very well now and I hope will continue to be close to us. I make mistakes but can only do my best with God's help in the short time we have to raise them. By the way, we teach the same beliefs about purity to our sons. Their responsibility is the same.
We are not Gothard, or Doug Phillips followers and never have been. We want to follow Christ alone. We do know and admire the faith of other Christians and at times ask advice or read their books. I like some of the things Doug Philips says, but I threw away the series of Elsie Dinsmore books I had bought from Vision Forum for two reasons: They were unrealistic, especially in how artificial Elsie was, and slavery was not addressed as an evil. We have adopted black children, among others and I was ashamed of how the book portrayed a white, Christian girl.
Ruth said, "I don't respect myself any less for having a serious relationship without the promise of marriage." There is nothing wrong with having a serious relationship without the promise of marriage. It is even desirable. Relationships need to end when a couple finds they do not belong together, even though their intentions were serious to begin with. The usual dating experiences are far less than satisfying, I know because I've done this. You find someone. You may or may not be physically intimate. One may be more serious about it than the other. Then you break up and start all over again. Sometimes it has to happen this way, but it all depends on whether you are working towards marriage or just playing around with someone. It's artificial, not like marriage. Most people just play around for years, making up and breaking up. The physical aspect is important, but so is the spiritual/emotional aspect. To continually begin and end relationships with the opposite sex does not prepare a person for marriage, it keeps people from growing up and taking responsibility in a committed relationship. There is more heartbreak when a person has had sex with someone, along with the emotional closeness they have felt when the other one doesn't want to see them anymore. Why put yourself through it? If you date someone, and learn to have a mutual love and respect, why wouldn't sex work out in the marriage? My daughters do not seem afraid to talk about being married and having sex. They have happy, healthy relationships now and a happy sex life should reasonably follow.
God's plan for waiting until marriage for sex is a good one for many reasons, both emotional and physical. Venereal diseases, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, etc. I knew girls long ago in college who would brag in minute detail about their latest sexual conquests. They often had venereal diseases or got pregnant. One girl I knew, who was a medical student, got pregnant near finals time. Her abortion at the university clinic did not go well. She ended up with a bad infection from retained "products of conception". (and a badly broken heart, by the way as he abandoned her) Was it worth it? Birth control does sometimes fail. Hers did. I also worked on an inner city gynecology floor as a new nurse. I sure got my eyes opened. Pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal pregnancy and VD were very common. Some of my patients were as young as 14. Premature babies are the norm for young teenage mothers. I also worked in a neonatal ICU and had to teach young teens how to take care of their very sick babies. Having sex before marriage degrades what is supposed to be shared only by people who have made a very important commitment to one another. It makes sex less special. It also contributes to infidelity after marriage. I know some of you won't agree with me about that one, but I know it's true. After all, what's the big deal? However, if you have had sex before marriage, it's never too late to confess it to God and ask Him to forgive you. HE will help you move on with your life and seek healthier relationships.
Ruth: "Your comment pisses me off"...referring to me being sad about you throwing out everything having to do with Christian faith. You are 100% right to be mad and I am sorry. I had no right to make such broad assumptions. Is it safe to say that you have been put in a position of questioning all that you were taught? I think your parents refer to themselves as Christians and presented the Gospel to you, took you to church. It seems that they were very abusive, especially your father. Without going into detail right now, I was abused as well. Definitely physically and somewhat emotionally, as a child. I can understand a lot of what you are dealing with. I have feared that you would eventually reject Christ, Who is a far better father to us than even good earthly ones. I had no right to assume that you had rejected everything having to do with Christian faith.
I was also taught purity, but in a very Catholic home. While I did not actually have sex before marriage, I tried everything but intercourse with the man I was engaged to. After 5 years, he changed his mind about marrying me (he has never married) and I was left with a broken engagement and heart. It was still wrong. I have asked forgiveness and been healed from that sin. My husband had no experience sexually at all. He didn't care much about my past. All is well and we have had a great sex life from the beginning.
Ruth said "This world you seem to feel would pull me away from Christ has done more to show me love than my parents did..." You and I are not talking about the same "world". There is nothing wrong with getting an education, especially if it will equip you to be useful and glorify God. Woman can succeed in many professions. I loved being a nurse. Medical people serve others, as well as scientists, restaurant owners and other business people. All of these professions take getting an education to be successful. We want our daughters to be as knowledgeable about the world and God's creation as possible. For some of our children that means college, and for others it doesn't. By the way, a person's education should not end with high school or college. A person should try to be as knowledgeable as he or she can be for the rest of their lives, always reading, always trying to learn more. Our two oldest daughters are at the university here where we live. A person can live in the world, but not be of the world. That means, they try to live the life that God calls them to and to be a good example to others. They try not to become like those around them, who may think nothing of lying, cheating, stealing, getting drunk or whatever is sinful. That is hard to do. I know, I lived in a college dormitory for four years. Sometimes, Christians are not as friendly or loving as other people, that's true, but it is not how God wants it to be. They will answer to God, we can only be responsible for ourselves. The world rejected Christ and still rejects His teachings. It is hard to be a Christian, especially today if person wants to be serious about being a follower of Christ. We are changed by knowing God, or at least, trying to know Him.
Ruth, there is NOTHING you can do to make God love you more, and there is NOTHING you can do to make God love you less. He loves you with a huge, everlasting love. He would not love you less if you had unmarried sex. He would not love you less if you murdered 100 people. You would be separated from Him by your sin and would need to confess them before God and ask Him to help you. Sin hurts us, and God knows that. It isn't simply that it makes Him angry, He is slow to anger. He also says, "Come to Me, all her are heavy laden, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light." As I said above, when we confess our sins to Him with true repentance, he forgives and forgets them. He wants the best for you. always.
Ruth said, "If a child daydreams about the boy next door, I don't think they are going to Hell." Children do sometimes dream about the opposite sex. It is natural, even good. What do you mean?
As far as giving a piece of your heart away when you are dating or being physical with the opposite sex, that is a poor analogy. You do have emotional attachments that are sometimes not easily broken. If you have sex before marriage, that emotional attachment will be stronger in most people. Let's face it, it is common to bring extra "baggage" into our next relationship. I've been there, done that. Why put yourself through it? Why not be more careful about whom you date? Why not wait until marriage for sex? I have to admit, the comment about needing to try out for size before getting married made me laugh. How ridiculous. And now, if someone lives with the person they are dating, they are "my partner"? It sounds like a business relationship. Talk about taking all of the beauty out of love. Some questions that you should ask yourself when dating: Are they becoming serious about you at some point in the relationship? (not someday or 2 years from now, for example) Do they love and respect you or are they just having some fun with you for awhile until someone else comes along? This goes both ways. Men's hearts get broken, too. I think dynamite is less dangerous than dating games.
I probably haven't answered all of the points. I am pretty busy and have a sick toddler. If I have missed anything please let me know. I hope what I have written is helpful, even if you disagree with me. I would have liked to address some of the commenters, but am hoping this letter makes things more clear. If you would like to address what I have written you are welcome to.

God bless you, Shoshannah

Since she took the time to write it, I thought it deserved a post. She couldn't put it in comments because of the length. I've been repsonding as time allows. I'll put my responses up if anyone is interested.