“Beware the Tall, Dark Stranger”

  Yet while all these experiences were highly beneficial, there were problems in the household – more than a child could understand. While my father stayed married to my mother and lived in the same house, there was a serious emotional disconnect between him and me that I’d always sensed but never understood. I later found out my parents had far more problems than I’d realized, and the red flags were waving long before I was born.

  We considered ourselves to be Christians at the time. Ironically, the person responsible for getting us to attend church and be involved in regular spiritual studies was my mother, not my father. While she was very firm in her belief in God, she hadn’t been raised Christian. She was sent to a Catholic school as a child and worked with the Catholic tradition growing up but had broken with it for reasons I won’t mention here.

  However, she didn’t make the mistake of thinking God and the church were one and the same thing or that He was present in the church just because they believed in Him (or claimed to). She believed He could only be where people let Him in. If they rejected Him, He would leave – and they’d have to learn the hard way.

  Her life experiences were also radically different from my father, who said he believed in God but seemed to have more preconceived ideas (and possibly ego) wrapped up in his religious beliefs. Therefore, she was open-minded in areas he was not. She was a bit more accepting of people he didn’t particularly like. And she did not believe every aspect of other spiritual practices was demonic just because they didn’t use the name Jesus all the time. Her goal was to get closer to God, and if the church was the safest way to do it, then she would go to every denomination she could find – looking for “the meat of the word” until she found a place that gave it all. In essence, the most pagan member of the household was also the biggest Christian.  

  Our only real reason for attending as many churches as we did was to help us build a closer relationship with God. Unfortunately, we never seemed to get the guidance we were seeking. We would find a few pieces of the puzzle here and there, but when it came to mentorship, we were out of luck. There were times we would attend a different church every week or two. Other times, we stayed at the same place for several years.

  Because of some choices my father made, there were a couple of instances when we crossed paths with people who claimed to be interested in God – but were really interested in something else. We were naïve but still aware enough to keep our distance.

  As a little girl, I would occasionally think that if God wanted to make something spectacular or magical, like fairies or aliens or anything that the church commonly regarded as either fictitious or demonic, I would be ok with that.

  Finding others with common interests was almost impossible, and we were isolated in more ways than one. Eventually, we befriended several people through our new-found interest in “alternative healing”. We ended up forming our own little group, and unfortunately, it was headed by someone who became a false teacher. We were led out of it through circumstances, illnesses, and changes in relationships, eventually moving to a new location that forced us to be even more separate from them.