Our system is on a mission. For years now, maybe even most of our lives, we have been torn when it came to God. You know, the “G” word. The word that has been used to hurt people, and us, over and over and over again throughout history.
We were raised in a Congregational church. We know the Lord’s Prayer, the Doxology, and how a church service traditionally runs. We dressed nice for church and we showed up every Sunday. We sang in the children’s choir and eventually the adult choir. Most of us can sing you traditional hymns and we know most of the bible stories, even though we can’t tell you what order the books in the bible are arranged. We were in youth group. We were baptized as an infant, as the reformed Catholics tend to do, and we confirmed that decision as a teenager, again as was expected. We did everything right. We had no relationship with God.
Our primary childhood abuser sang in the church choir. He was a deacon in the church and on several church committees. He was outgoing, fun, and charismatic. People enjoyed his presence and believed in him. He made us look like a fantastic family of four. Perfection.
Except that as we got older and who was fronting changed and we started to wonder where God was because He certainly wasn’t in that church. I mean, maybe he could have been I suppose but not with us. How does He allow what we lived through for so long? The mom of a friend of ours in high school told us that the abuse was happening to us because we did something wrong and God was punishing us. When we were good again it would stop. Hmm… not so sure we want God now.
As we grew up we made so many questionable decisions which eventually led us to a Baptist church in Virginia and then another Baptist church in Florida. We were told we would feel better about God when we were baptized (didn’t we already do that?) and that infant baptism doesn’t count, so we got baptized by the Baptists. We spent some time talking with the pastor there and learning that we needed to atone for our sins and work on honoring the commandments. Our life in Florida was full of not good events and even worse choices, so he probably had a point there. (For those of you keeping count, that is 2 baptisms and 1 confirmation.)
Not long after that we rented a car and drove to Texas with our eventually-will-be husband. We still had no luck at finding God and nothing was really going any better except that we were no longer being pimped out. That was helpful. Not so much. So the man decides that maybe we could try a non-denominational church. His kids needed a good place to hang out and we were confused about this whole God thing. I mean, did He mean to hurt us? Were we rejected? Cast out as a toddler? Not good enough to protect? Was it really our fault? Honestly, it was a lot to figure out when we were just starting to figure out who we were and how we related to each other.
I bet you could guess what happened next. Yep, we got baptized. It was supposed to renew our faith and our relationship with God and all was supposed to be well. Shocker! We didn’t find God. God didn’t find us. At this point, our marriage turned scary. Our world turned scary. Even scarier than it had been before. We prayed, and I can honestly tell you that none of us are sure if God heard anything. We moved to Houston, had a child and while in the hospital after having this child we reconfirmed our belief in Jesus with the hospital chaplain. (It was Texas, we were emotional and tired and very sick and he offered! Now up to 3 baptisms and 2 confirmations.)
After baby number 2 we were back East and found ourselves in our childhood church. It felt stifling and unfamiliar. It wasn’t home. It was sad and uncomfortable. God wasn’t there with us. We avoided any more baptisms and confirmations. We also actively avoided church. All churches. Yet the pull to go to church was huge even though we were still mostly angry. We were angry with God. We were angry with life. We wanted to die. We wanted to have never been alive. Alyssa turned to a more Pagan path and decided to follow Mother Earth instead. Bella went more Buddhist in nature. Jess studied Islam and Hinduism for a while. Yet we all seem to find our way back to looking for God.
Which means you guessed it, that in 2015 we landed in a Methodist church. What can I say, reformed Catholics are in abundance up where we were. We ended up joining the church and confirming our faith again. This time we had all 4 kids baptized too. (Score: 3 baptisms, 3 confirmations, and 4 child baptisms) A year in church, working in the food pantry, volunteering for things, trying hard to be present, attending bible studies, and we still couldn’t find God. But, we could still recite the Lord’s Prayer, sing the Doxology, predict the order of service, and sing the hymns.
We gave up. God wasn’t interested in us. We moved to Colorado, expecting to not have to worry much about God because, let’s face it, we had our proof He didn’t want us. What we moved into was a family that played the KLOVE radio station a LOT. And by a lot, I mean every day. We were exposed to God more by the radio station than we ever were by a church. Once the annoyance passed a lot of us got sad. Why were we denied the love of God that they sing about? Where was He during our life?
Over the last two years we’ve been thinking about it, wondering about it, and in some ways aching for it. We moved out here to Washington and tried to reach out to a Christian to help with processing trauma. Someone who works with DID and were informed that God wants us to be integrated into one person. God only wants us to be whole and by refusing integration we are going against God’s will. Again, rejected by God. Again, we were judged not good enough because we see nothing wrong with how we are and the gift of each other.
Last Saturday we went to church with the family and we met a pastor. Well, we met 5 I think. Two of them took the time to talk to our family and understand who the family as a whole is and who we are as Emma and even as a system. We shared what we had been told and one pastor teared up and assured us that none of us can possibly say what treatment plan is God’s will and there’s no one path fits all where God is concerned. He invited us (as in Emma) to Celebrate Recovery. And we went. And we told him and his co-facilitator everything, including the running total of our baptisms and other religious paths we’ve taken. He laughed and he accepted us and we are and even promised us that once we found God, we didn’t even have to get baptized again. We’re covered there.
So, friends, Brilliant Chaos is on a journey to find God. We are going to see if we can find where He was in our past and if we can meet Him and feel Him in our present.
I know religion is a hard topic for many trauma survivors. It’s a tough one for us too, which is why we are going down this path. We will know for sure, one day, where God was.