Growing up with sexual abuse while simultaneously being raised in the Seventh-day Aventist church was a double whammy. Talk about feeling like a freak! Because our church taught that Saturday is the Sabbath, we were the only family on the block who got up early Saturday mornings and drove off to church.
Being taught that one of the founders of our church, Ellen G. White, was a prophet of God, didn’t help matters any. If Scripture couldn’t be found to support one of the church’s many restrictions, her writings were sure to provide whatever back up was needed. Her writings were held up to be every bit as inspired as The Holy Bible. I grew up with the screwy paradox of being sexually assaulted by my stepdad, all the while I was being exhorted through Ellen White’s writings to keeping myself morally pure if I had any hope of being accepted by God.
Because of these two extremes operating in my life on a daily basis, I fumbled badly, not knowing what to believe about myself, let alone God. I was to be perfect and undefiled if ever I hoped to stand in His presence. How then was I to achieve this when so much of my time was spent dodging a pedophile’s unwanted advances?
About a year ago I began to have serious misgivings about the teachings of Adventism, and especially its claim to have been graced with its very own prophet. This is how long it’s taken me to even begin to think objectively about the teachings which so colored my childhood years in somber hues. Though I haven’t come to any definite conclusions about the whole prophet issue, just giving myself permission to reconsider these beliefs feels like I’ve conferred a little bit of grace on myself.
Last night I came across a website refuting Mrs. White’s prophet status, and I couldn’t read more than a few paragraphs. DID issues give me a full plate, I don’t need to pile on spiritual confusion. But some day, eventually, I’ll need to take the time to sort all of this out. I’ve heard lots about Catholic guilt and how one can’t ever really get away from it, even after leaving the church. And I’ve heard that it’s the same for ex-Adventists; the peculiar teachings of the SDA belief system are not easy to gainsay, or root out.
A few years ago I made the decision to do my best to rid my life of all that wasn’t true. Because I so despise the hypocrisy of the family in which I was raised, this was an important and necessary step. Discernment is needed to see reality for what it is, for I find that my very identity as a child was wrapped up in so much that was false. It hurts to realize this, hurts to see so clearly the lies I was taught and how I’ve clung to them for decades. Perhaps they’ve been a security blanket of sorts. Much of my early years made no sense—how dearly I’ve needed something durable from that era to hang on to, to point to and say, “See, maybe I was treated like a sex toy and my mother didn’t care and my life was pure hell, but see how I was taught Biblical truth? It wasn’t all big fat lies! Some of it was true!”
Ah, the mindsets we cling to for dear life, never guessing how much better off we’d be without them cluttering up our minds. No one wants to admit that everything they were taught as a child was pure garbage. What a horrible thought. And yet . . . and yet, for some of us that’s exactly how it was.
For now I’ll keep Mrs. White and her prophecies on the back burner, certain (for once in my life) that God will not strike me dead if I don’t come to the right conclusion about her. In spite of her dire warnings and guilt induced writings, I’ve somehow managed to show myself a bit of grace.
(Were you just messin’ with my mind?)