Religious Trauma

Learning to Pretend

I took some lifelong lessons away from the evangelical church. One of the most impactful was learning how to pretend.

Pretending I don’t have any questions or doubts, so I’m not labeled a heretic.

Pretending to like everybody with that fake niceness that seems to run rampant (because what you really think is saved for the gossip circles).

Pretending I’m okay and happy, because if I was truly following God I would have the joy of the Lord and never struggle.

Pretending to be ashamed of my body, until I was.

Pretending the answers I gave in Bible Study were always my own thoughts instead of the regurgitated ones I knew I had to say.

Pretending I didn’t need affection and touch, because that was carnal.

Pretending to be unaffected by the sexism, discrimination, snide remarks, bullying, and emotional abuse, because I didn’t know I had a choice.

Pretending to judge those on the outside so I didn’t become one of them.

Pretending I was submissive and meek until I thought that’s who I was; it turns out I’m actually pretty feisty and a bit of a rebel, but I hear that means I’ll never make a good Christian wife.

I was damn good at pretending – one of the best. Until I snapped. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

All that pretending is hard to unlearn. Following a lifetime of my survival depending on it, authenticity feels like standing in front of a thousand arrows without my shield.

But I’ve found healing in the God I was accused of rejecting. She held my hand through it all. She guided me through the desert to the land of freedom. She laughs with me as I dance in green meadows. She waits patiently as I gingerly dip my toes into the waters of acceptance. She nourishes my weary soul and fills my cup. She reassures me that I’m safely home.

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