WORDS: PRISCA DORCAS MOJICA RODRIGUEZ

I grew up in the church and I don’t think many people know what that statement really means.

For me, it meant that I spent Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings with the same small group of people, only to spend the entire day of Sunday with them. For me, it meant that all of my best friends, throughout my entire childhood were church kids, pastor’s kids, and kids of very devout upbringings. For me, it meant that I lived an insulated experience of selective theological frameworks that dominated my existence and allowed very little room for self-exploration.

I was heavily churched and I almost drowned in it.

Growing up in a highly religious and conservative Christian household meant that I was taught from the time I was born to be self-righteous about right and wrong. Growing up in a highly religious and conservative Christian household meant that because I was female I was given very real instructions about the duties I was to fulfill. I was told to marry a good Christian man, to dress modestly lest I incite rape, and most importantly to produce good Christian kids because my value was solely based on my ability to reproduce and grow members aligned with the vision of the Lord.

I cannot stress this enough. I grew up in the church and it still shapes everything that I do. How can it not!? They ingrained into my young brain a lot of methodologies that today I still cannot shake off. My current politics are in direct rebellion of these suffocating theologies that only serve to exclude and hate on people who do not fall in line, like robots. My current politics are in direct conflict with these suppressive and quite frankly oppressive mindsets that view women as inferior unless they serve as the “ayuda idónea.”

I lived an insulated experience of selective theological frameworks that dominated my existence and allowed very little room for self-exploration.

My heavily churched background informs everything I know today, and everything I do today has to do with my resistance in relation to this particular context. I was heavily churched and I almost drowned in it. Leaving the Latinx church I grew up in, and moving to Tennessee forced me out of the church, and forced me to confront a lot of my own reservations within my upbringing. In Tennessee, the Latinx population is small, smaller than anywhere I had lived before, and finding a church that felt like my home church was harder than I ever anticipated. Also attending divinity school made me confront myself and my problematic theologies in a deeper way than I could have ever imagined. Today it has been six years since I have been a member of any church, and I do not foresee myself back in those spaces anytime soon.

Interestingly enough, I have found some of the best friendships from people recovering from this very same background. My best friends get what it’s like to necessitate Christian anthems from Hillsong on our lowest days, but also know what it’s like to send messy-ass messages to our “well intentioned” tios who still pray for us and let us know how “lost” we are.

I grew up in the church and I don’t think many people know what that statement really means unless they too grew up inundated with propaganda around God and patriotism and weirdly enough sports, and all these weird things that somehow made “biblical” sense to everyone around you but you.

All the while, I had questions and I had no one that was truly and honestly answering those questions. At the end of the day, I felt like what they wanted from me wasn’t even what they wanted from themselves but they felt a sense of duty to a “salvation” that this religion sold to them. I am still healing from growing up in this context. But my takeaway is that people will do anything to cope with pain/oppression/institutional racism/classism/xenophobia/sexism/etc. I am not entirely sure that this is the solution because I know far too many people who find themselves trying to recover from this same “salvation.”

2 replies on “I Grew up in the Church and Almost Drowned in It

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s hard to explain to others how your upbringing still affects you even as an adult who’s left that lifestyle but at the same time can’t fully leave unless you cut off so many relationships

    Like

  2. Thank you. I’m also healing from this upbringing. I was raised in the Southern Baptist church, and it’s nearly just as you describe. There are many of us, and I think we are growing. I’m not even “out” fully to my family bc even not going to church means I’m a bad mother to my son and responsible for sending him to hell.

    Check out the Life After God podcast; the creator is an ex-seventh Day Adventist. Everyone’s Agnostic exists to tell stories like ours too.

    Like

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