Cookie Cutter Christians
My thoughts on how people just don't care anymore. This place has become a very sad, and lonely place for many. It is filled with so many self-righteous, judgmental people, with a "you're not a good enough Christian" mentality.
I used to have friends, I used to have others that I could share my life with, and I would share theirs. Now it's just me and my kids. When I moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, twelve years ago, I thought that I was making a good choice for my children and myself. Little did I know that I was moving to an area where the people are very judgmental, and very closed off. I assumed after visiting here several times that it was a wonderful “Christian" community, filled with loving, welcoming people. When in actuality it has been nothing like that. If the people out here really think that living in Jesus' image means judging all, talking behind each others back, never extending friendship, and never accepting "strangers, then they really need to sit down and read the Bible, that they so eagerly quote scripture from when it pertains to a situation that they are trying to condemn you with. They love to make scripture sound like it means something that it was never intended to mean. They certainly don't live by the words that so easily roll off of their tongues.
Feeling so alone and unwanted most of the time, I feel very lucky that I have two great, caring children that I can count on, and they know they can count on me for anything. If I didn't have them I don't know what I would do. My daughter is 18 and my son is 25. Both are the biggest blessings in my life.
Why are so many people that I have encountered, in the past twelve years, self-righteous, judgmental, and so uncaring? Has anyone else noticed this trend. Maybe not, maybe it is me, or where I live. Most of the time I feel invisible to all around me. I am pretty sure if I disappeared one day, no one would notice.
It used to bother me, it no longer does. I just go on each day existing. I have no friends, I have no one outside of my two children that I can talk to. No one to laugh with, no one to cry with.
The place I live is filled with what I call; “Cookie Cutter Christians”. For the most part, they all dress in what I can only assume is clothing that they feel get them to heaven faster. They all have the perfect amount of children. Four at the least, most have more. The husbands show up to church in their suit and tie. If you dress a little differently or have your hair in a style that doesn’t suit them, don’t even bother saying hello. Oh they will respond, but you know as soon as you walk away you are being judged. Being a divorced, single Mom, I have never fit in, and have long since given up on it. Fitting in was never my “thing” to begin with.
Most that I have encountered in the area churches wear a plastered smile. They greet you with it, tell you how great it is to see you….. repeat each week. If it is so great to see me then why do I only see you on Sunday mornings? I wonder to myself. Everyone acts the same. And then if the church you are at has a ‘greeting time”, it usually resembles a wake to me. Everyone files by extending a limp handshake, while never looking you right in the eye, mumbling some kind of greeting. The cookie cutters all congregate together after, and never acknowledge “outsiders”.
Let me take you on a journey, if I may. It is a recap of what the last twelve years have been like living here in this “perfect Christian community”.
Friends. My children also once had a lot of friends. That was until their judgmental parents saw that I wasn't a stereotypical "cookie cutter christian", like them. My kids had no bed time, they made their own choices on hair and fashion styles. They didn't just watch "Disney" movies. But what my kids did have, (and still do), was a Mother who genuinely cared about what they thought, what choices they made, where they went, and who they spent their time with. They were allowed to be free to make their own choices. Their opinions mattered to me. I wasn't satisfied in just believing that if a home they were going to was a "Christian home", that they would be safe. My door was always open to their friends, as it still is. I preferred to have their friends come to our home.
I was, and still am, a divorced single Mother. When we arrived here to Lancaster County, I may as well have been a witch, sentenced to burn at the stake.
Oh in the beginning the homeschool families and the church people we met seemed welcoming, most seemed genuine. But it wasn't long before I started hearing that so and so wasn't allowed to hang out with my 14 year old son because he wore black all the time, or that he was allowed to watch.....shudder..... PG-13 movies!
We were no longer welcome to visit at a family's house, that we had become good friends with, because my teenage son, and their teenage daughter liked each other. We were welcome prior to that, while I helped the mother go through cancer recovery, and took care of her kids needs, along with her emotional, and spiritual needs. But once she was fine I was told that we were there too much and that our children were becoming "too close".
Another friend would call all the time to have our sons get together. She liked my son, and she liked that he and her son were friends. Her and I were very also very good friends. She no longer wanted anything to do with me once I told her that my son did not want to hang out with her son anymore because he was into drugs. She just cut off all contact with me. Apparently I was lying.........
A family we went to church with stopped letting their kids hang out with mine because I was marrying a man younger then me from the same church we all went to. *Note: I am no longer married to him. That is another long story for another time.* Before any of that happened, they were also very particular in letting the kids come over or do anything for that matter. They were overprotective to a point of being very overbearing to the kids.
And yet another wonderful conservative Christian family, whose son was one of my son's best friends, saw my then fiancé, kiss me at a Wendy's. The mother then called me to tell me to firmly tell me that it wasn't right that I was dating and showing public display of affection in front of my children when I was still married. What she didn't bother to find out first was that my divorce had been finalized long before she had ran into us at Wendy's. So once again I was judged, convicted, and sentenced before any facts were even found out. Needles to say my son never did get to see his friend again.
Another "church family" Mom, wrote me and told me that her daughter was not allowed to hang out at our house or with my daughter any longer. It seems that I committed the ultimate sin! My daughter had a sleep over with her and another friend. I took them to Wal-Mart at midnight in their pajamas........aaarrrggghhhh!! Please condemn me to hell for that one. I was with them the entire time we were at Wal-Mart. The pajamas they had on were not at all revealing. They were long pant and t-shirt styles. Yes, the kind that you see multiple teens and adults wearing out all the time. Apparently I had no right to subject her daughter to such a sinful outing. Let me back up. The main reason that she e-mailed me that she no longer wanted my daughter around hers, and to complain about the Wal-Mart incident, was due to my telling her "precious daughter" to stop harassing my daughter through Xanga (remember Xanga?) messages, posts, and IM's about a boy she had met at a Christian outdoor concert here in PA. Apparently she felt compelled to warn my daughter not to "do anything" with this boy, who at that time lived 5 hours away, and then started IMing him asking him personal information about him and my daughter. I guess my telling her daughter to butt out of my daughter's personal affairs, and to stop making it sound as if she was some kind of whore that would be sleeping around at 14, and then my e-mailing her Mom to tell he about her daughter's behavior didn't go over too well. In the meantime she also got my daughter's other friend to join in the harassing of my daughter.
One other person whose child practically lived at our house for a few years, and that I helped through so many problems, including an abusive relationship. Stopped talking to me after I refused her help in moving, because I just couldn't do it at the time.
I knew I was in trouble when three of my son's friends told their Mothers in one way or another, that they wished they were more like me. Two of the Mothers actually called to tell me this. If my son told me that, I would be devastated. I slowly became very unpopular with the other Christian families in the area.
My daughter once had a lot of friends. I would pick up her friends, bring them over, take them home, take them all shopping, out to eat, etc.. Most of the time they would sleep over. And then my daughter and I were in a car accident in 2005. I went through the windshield and almost died. She sustained a concussion, but was allowed to leave the hospital the same day, under my son's care. He was 20 and she was 14 at the time. I was in for three weeks, followed by a very long recovery. The accident left me permanently disabled, and my daughter and I both have PTSD, anxiety, and panic attacks.
During that time, though everyone knew what happened, not one person offered to have her come over and stay the night, not a phone call, nothing. She needed to have her friends during this, she needed an outlet. But it was not to be. At 14 years old she became my care taker. My son worked full time, and when he wasn't at work he was shuttling me to doctor's appointments, shopping, and trying to run errands for my elderly mother who did not drive, and get her to appointments, etc.. Therefore running the household, cooking, and taking care of me, who had no real memory of anything for close to 6 months after the accident, fell on my 14 year old daughter's shoulders. And not once to this day has either one of them complained about all that they had to deal with at the time.
Since my chauffer duties were no longer available, and money became very tight, my daughter suddenly found herself with very few friends. It wasn’t hard to figure out why.
I don't complain, not out loud anyway. I just silently seethe over everything that has happened, and find it to be so unbelievable, so uncaring, that not one person offered any help, to bring a meal, to drive, to do anything. There were very few phone calls to see how I was, or how the kids were doing. The people who did care, and helped in any way they could, were all far away. And that was it. So all of these people that I had been there for over the years, whose children were a big part of our lives, completely ignored us. Not a card, not a call, not even an e-mail.
Both of may parents moved out here from Massachusetts in 2003. I am an only child. My Dad became very sick with lung cancer in 2004. He passed away in January of 2005. My Mom was never one to handle things well, including hospital visits, etc., so everything fell to me . In the end I had to make all the arrangements, let my Dad's family know what had happened. Most of his family live about an hour and a half or so from here. Only one family came to the service we had at their home. A handful of neighbors showed up and that was it. After it was all over, the chore of making sure all of my Mother's needs were met, again fell to me. She never drove, and never really took care of things the way they needed to be taken care of. A year after my Dad passed away, and I was still going through the mental and physical recovery from the accident, my Mother started to go downhill. First a diabetic episode that landed her in the hospital, then she broke her hip, and then she was diagnosed with end stage breast, and bone cancer. She passed away in 2008. And once again it was up to me to make sure that everything was taken care of. During both of my parent's deaths, again my children stood by my side through it all. Again, not one person was there for any of us. I let everyone know once again. But there was never a follow up to see how I was doing, I got a card or two and that was it.
Now for an update on all of the perfect Christian families who turned their backs on me and my family;
The family that did not like my son's choice of movies or clothing color? Their son turned to drugs and drinking heavily. Their daughter slept with everyone she could, whenever she could. The father turned out to be abusive and punched holes in the walls where they lived. I still am not sure that he didn't hit the Mom. (Only an observance, not a judgment). Today they are divorced, I wonder if she remembers judging me for being divorced...
Once we were not allowed back into our friend's lives because it was thought that my son was "after" their daughter, their daughter rebelled badly. She ended up taking her family to court to be emancipated from their home at the age of 15. She won. Apparently their was a history of physical and sexual abuse throughout the household. I personally witnessed mental abuse, and my daughter heard the girl being slapped and yelled at loudly. She ended up with a guy going to jail for drugs, and a baby. Another child from that family got involved with drugs, went to jail for a time, and is now a Daddy at the age of 19.
The boy that my son didn't want to hang out with due to his drug usage has been arrested more then once that we know of. The last time he purposely drove through a corn patch, causing $500.00 worth of damage to the crop, while legally drunk.
The ones that did not like my choice of husbands, and no longer let her kids be with mine, actually moved back to upper state New York. But, left behind their son who got a girl pregnant at a very young age. And their once very nice Christian daughter? The last time we saw her she had moved into the city and had developed a "ghetto" way of speaking and dressing. She is now a Mother of two kids, and no father in the picture. It's great to see that being so overprotective really made a difference in their lives. Unfortunately it isn't the kind of difference that I am sure that they wanted to see.
A few months ago we saw the young man that was no longer allowed at our house because my fiancé gave me a kiss at Wendy's, working in a local Wal-Mart. He seemed very awkward and really did not know how to react, or what to say. It's lovely to see what judgmental parents can do to their kids.
The girl that made accusations that my daughter would most likely sleep with her new boyfriend, turned out to be quite a loose young lady with the boys. I have been told that she too was is into drugs and drinking. She has at least one kid that I know of, and again, no Father in the picture. The other girl that joined in, stopped being friends with her and talked about her to everyone. My daughter saw her every now and then, but since that all happened it was never the same friendship they once had.
I am so glad that our "bad influence" did not contribute to all of their old friends corruption...lol! If anythng, maybe if they had remained friends these kids would have turned out differently!
And how did my kids turn out you wonder?
My son is 32, and works full time with mentally challenged adults in a workshop. He is "straight edge", which means that he has sworn to never drink, smoke, or take drugs. This was his own decision, I never had even heard of being straight edge until he told me. He is not afraid to tell anyone that he is straight edge, and is proud of it, as am I. The main problem that he had was finding a girl that too has the same mind set as him. He finally did, they are married, and recently bought a house. He is a wonderful man that I am so proud of and thankful for.
My 26 year old daughter has been working at a 5 star hotel for the past 7 years. She recently got a big promotion, and is doing great. She has a boyfriend, who is a school teacher, and they are heading towards marriage :) She is very crafty, and is a great chef, baker, and cake decorator. I am also very proud of the woman she has become, and she is truly my best friend.
Now I know what you must be thinking. "Oh look, she wrote all this bad stuff about everyone else's kids, and hers are perfect". I never said mine are perfect, we all have faults. I just never had any huge, serious problems or worries with either one of them. And the ones that were not allowed to be in my children's company, for the most part, turned to things that are not morally right, or "Christian". Yet my kids were always made to feel that what they were doing was wrong. When in reality all they were doing was simply living, enjoying life, and making some of their own decisions. Something everyone should be able to do. Young or old.
There is a hard lesson to be learned here. The old saying; "People Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones", really came to life once I really took a good look at how it all turned out. This was not meant to be a mockery or judgment of others. It is all the truth. Nothing here was made up, or assumed.
I am not publicly making everyone aware of who these people are. If you think you know them, or recognize that it may be you, please do not ask me. You will not get an answer. If you ever did treat anyone badly for no reason except for assuming things that were not true. Ask for forgiveness and never treat another human being in that manner again. And then move on as I finally am.
Before I actually wrote all of this out, it was bottled up inside of me. Poisoning my mind and my emotions. I felt like my soul had been suffocated, and I was turning into a bitter, angry, resentful woman. Now that it is all out I feel lighter, and cleaner inside. The bitterness slowly crumbling away.
Though I have forgiven all who have judged me and my family, the ones that ignored all of the tragedy that we have been through, the ones who pretend like nothing ever happened. I still cannot forget. But, now I can put it all behind me and not let it eat away at me. But I will never forget. I do know that I will never judge another living soul, I will smile at strangers, not look the other way. If someone looks lonely, I will talk to them. Everyone deserves a chance. Everyone deserves to not be cast aside and forgotten. I will do my best not to let that happen to those that I will encounter in the coming years. Remember this, the next time you go to judge, and condemn someone, before actually getting to know their heart. You may be ignoring someone that really needs a friend.
When I encounter people that tell me right off that they are a Christian, an invisible flashing caution sign goes up. It doesn't make me think that you are a good person, or better then others. It makes me wonder how much you are judging me while you stand there with your pasted on smile. Deep down we all know that the next time you see me you will avoid me because I don't fit into you "mold". I love the scriptures, but with my short term memory problem, I cannot quote them if my life depended on it. But because you can, you act like you are a better Christian then me....why?
I am who I am. I don't put on any airs, or act pious and all high and mighty. If I have something to say, I say it. Nothing about me is phony or fake. If you don’t like people who are real, and share their feelings without holding back, you probably won’t like me.
Though I no longer call myself a Christian, by no means it does not mean that I don't believe in Jesus. I very simply refer to myself as a follower of Christ. And that is what I am. Trying my best to live my life in His image, and remember all that He has given us, and what He has taught me. Most importantly I believe with all my heart that I would be dead today if I didn't scream out to Him at the time of our accident. I will never deny His love, or my love for Him.
I know this is very long, and if you are still reading it, thank you. You will never know how much getting this all out has helped me. Please never jump into a situation that you know you will have to stick out, without really researching it. This area looks great on the outside, and it is beautiful. But, have never felt welcome here, or like I belonged. We have been to countless churches. Most have all the bells and whistles, but fall short of being a real community. A caring community of believers. You would think that wouldn't be hard to find here in the heartland of Pennsylvania. Among the beautiful Amish farms, and gorgeous scenery. Think again. The old saying; Nothing is ever what it seems, fits perfectly for this area.
As far as my family goes...we are not a matching set of cookie cutters. Oh sure we have some of the same traits, and similarities. But that is as far as it goes. We are each individuals. Everyone has their own ideas, thoughts, style, and more. And that is just fine with me. I embrace the idea that we all are different. The world would be a pretty boring place if everyone was from the same exact cookie cutter!
God molded each and every one of us in His image, but he gave us all a different personality and look. We were also given the gift of free will. What we do with what we have is up to us. Let’s use it wisely and do some good!
Peace and blessings to one and all.