Hello, I am new to this forum, but I would like to share something that many of you seem to be familiar with. I was reading a lot of your posts and I found
it kind of relieving that there are others out there going through the same thing that I am, the same pain. I'm going to try and keep this as brief as I
can so please bear with me.
The Pentecostal movement has damaged me, like many on here. Though I'm not very old (almost 21), I have seen enough and have heard enough to create phobias that still haunt me. Pentecostalism continues to haunt me through my family and though many of them aren't as fanatical as many others I have read about, they still make the blows and I take the hits pretty hard. My mom, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, cousins, etc; most of them believe in God. And a lot of my family goes to a Pentecostal church. So it's no surprise that many of them believe in speaking in tongues and even do so themselves. I've had to hear my mom talk (and cry) to me about how "laughing in the spirit" is real and so is being "drunk in the spirit". What I've learned from women (and I'm not trying to sound like a woman hater here, after all I am one) is that they are more emotional, so when it comes to talking about God and the "experiences" they receive from him they get all teary eyed. While I can understand, it's quite annoying. You don't want to try and have a civil conversation with someone about misunderstandings in the bible, just to have them break down and cry. It makes you feel like they're putting on a guilt-trip half the time, or that they think they have "won" because they cried and got you to really consider their side for a moment. Tears are a big manipulation. I'm sure many of us women have manipulated men into saying their sorry through our tears, and it just goes to show how emotional we are. But that is a bit off topic. The Pentecostal women that I know use tears a lot while trying to talk with me about experiences and "tongues".
I went to church for 19 years. When I was a child I was threatened with Scriptures about hell fire and children getting eaten by bears (for making fun of the holy spirit - the Scripture is somewhere in the Old Testament). I have seen videos in church services ranging from a girl giving a testimony so "powerful" that it had to be God to that stupid "Letter From Hell" video - which I absolutely hate. That is where my phobia comes in. Though I am now Agnostic and have left the Pentecostal church, the fear is sometimes still there. Every once in a while my mom reminds me of how "dangerous of a spot I'm in" when I say certain stuff, and that basically God can take me out of this world for anything I say, so I should "watch it". I've had to grow up around the whole tongues thing. Never really did it myself except for one time, when I was forced out near the altar. It was at our church's summer camp and my cabin leaders assistant was just saying over and over "Just open your mouth. If you don't open your mouth you won't do it." And though I "spoke in tongues" it wasn't real. I did it myself. Whenever I went to church camp (which was about 8 years every summer), every single service would be filled with "holy ghost power" and experiences and speaking in tongues and "falling out" and "laughing". I was so used to it but at the same time I thought that it was crucial to salvation. After all, everyone else was doing it. That was what obviously made you saved. I was a kid, what did I know? I was at the right age for all the indoctrination to start. And it did. Every year I went to camp I wanted an "experience" from God, as if camp was the only place I could get it. And each year I was let down. I wanted it so bad yet I never got them. And I figured God hated me for it. I got sad because I thought he didn't want me to speak in tongues or fall out. I had a cousin that "fell out" many times and another who described her "falling out" as "amazing". Those two cousins of mine drifted away from church and Christianity altogether years later. Funny how that works out.
When I got to be a teen, I was more involved with the youth group. We had a couple who were our youth ministers and I felt like they always thought something was wrong with me. At the time I was a teenager going through usual hormonal depression and I wrote dark poetry. I love poetry and continue to write it so writing dark poetry (and stories) was like a breakthrough for me. I thought that a lot of the stuff I wrote was bad and I even deleted some stuff because I thought God wouldn't want me writing that kind of stuff. I thought that certain music was bad, that videogames were bad, and that even cursing was going to send me to hell. I grew up with this kind of fear and would often cry and scream for God to help me. I went back and forth between "backsliding" and "being revived". One night at church the youth were having a prayer meeting. I spilled some of my feelings to some of the people there and my youth pastor's wife looked at me and said "We are going to go to your house after this and find out what is making you feel this way. If it's books, CD's, movies, we have to get rid of it. Just throw it all in the trash." When she told me that that night, I honestly got scared. I did NOT want her throwing away my stuff. She didn't have a right to, and in all honesty that remark came off as rather shocking. Needless to say, though, she didn't come over that night nor did she throw away any of my things. I had another bad experience with her. I was sitting in the middle of our youth pastor's service and, quietly, I turned to my friend and mumbled how the youth pastor always preached on the same message (which was usually about how we should "stop all the foolishness in the world" or something. It was always the same, somehow came to end times). Well, when I had said that, his wife just all of a sudden gets up, during prayer service, and stands in front of me, in a very authoritative way. I don't remember everything she told me but she did accuse me of having a "spirit of depression" and that I needed to do what God wanted me to. She said that God "told her" that she needed to approach me in this way. Well, it didn't work. I walked out crying after she sat back down and my mom got on her case.
It's just crap like that that I have had to deal with my whole life, and I STILL continue to hear about the "end times" from my family. I mean, it's so annoying that I want to scream. It's like Pentecostals are obsessed with the ends times. "Obama is starting the tribulation" or "Obama is the anti-christ" or "We're getting closer. It's going to happen in this generation". Sometimes, yeah, it still scares me, and it also makes me sick because I know it's the damage from indoctrination. I have come to grips with hell, for the most part. I'm sick of "scare tactics" and I'm sick of being told "it's better to believe and go to heaven than not believe at all and go to hell". How could any Christian honestly say that? That is completely contradicting to the idea that "God is love". You choose to be a Christian because you love God, not to escape hell. And all I ever hear from my family is how great "tongues" are and that it's "real". I don't know how to deal with it because any time I try to bring up Scripture to denounce it, or if I say that "laughing" and being "drunk" in the spirit isn't in the bible then I get scolded anyway. They just say "I know it's of God".
I didn't mean to write a book. Kudos to anyone who finishes reading about my pathetic rant. I needed somewhere to do it and it feels good to be among people who feel the same way. I have loads more I want to say but I'll save it for another day. It basically all comes down to fear of hell, so much that I will avoid going places or the interstate because I'm afraid that God may "take me out", even though I try and push that thought away. I have recently avoided going to David's Bridal with my sister to help her find a wedding dress because of it being an hour away (near her school). Though my mom and older sister and her friend were there, I still felt a bit bad. But deep in my heart, though I denied it, it was that fear that kept me from going.