Content Warning: This week’s story includes references to physical and emotional abuse, mental illness and suicidal ideation. Listener discretion is advised.
This week’s guest is Jan. Jan grew up in a strict fundamentalist household but attended a loving church. That disconnect planted the first seeds of doubt.
She went off to a Christian university where she was told to expect “signs and wonders”, but they didn’t happen. Becoming a missionary wife was supposed to satisfy her “need to serve God” but it didn’t happen. Again and again, as she pursued God, she was let down.
Trauma, depression and unfulfilled promises slowly broke her, and even then, God didn’t show up. She had been doing it all on her own, and it would take a divorce and leaving the Church completely, for her to see that.
After finding care and support in therapy and “spiritual but not religious” communities, Jan now supports others struggling with mental illness. She is living a life filled with grace both for herself and others.
“I just kept believing it, because that’s the subtly of brainwashing…even though it has positive aspects, the problem is you’re not getting any other influences, not developing any critical thinking skills.”
“I kept putting doubts on the shelf…but the shelf kept getting heavier.”
“…[thinking] ‘Wow, something’s wrong with me. Nobody else is talking about [depression], so I must be the only one.’ That’s a hallmark for problems in mental health, when you think you’re the only one.”
“I got divorced and left the church. It was like jumping off a cliff with no parachute.”
“One of my quests is to just have adventure and have fun.”
“Find a compassionate person. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable…know that it is not hopeless, you have choices and there are people waiting to point you in the right direction…”
National Association on Mental Illness
Secular Therapy Project
Recovering From Religion
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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats