Growing up, one of my parents was very vocal on the topic of the evils of religion, and the idea that there was "something out there that cares what happens to us" was completely ludicrous to him. The other's opinion was completely absent except for some vague longings for Catholicism.
When I was about four, I was assaulted by my friend's father. I went to their house where his parents gave me a tour. They introduced me to a fetus that they kept in a jar on a shelf in the dining room, presumably, so that he could take part in the family meals. At some point (my memory is a little spotty) the father carried me into their bedroom. There were heavy drapes, so it was kind of dark. He raped me on the corner of the bed. I remember blood on the zipper pull of his green pants. I remember his blue checked shirt. At some point his wife came in. I thought I was saved. I was not. She held my shoulders while he "beat the devil out" of me with a white bible with gilded pages. She whispered in my ear that God didn't love little girls who did things like this. She blamed me for being alive while one of her ten children wasn't. I don't remember leaving. I just remember being home. I remember my mother pulling down my panties to give me a bath, and they stuck to me with dried blood. I remember the smears of dried blood on my legs. I have a vague impression that she thought I'd had an accident in my pants. She put me in the bath. I looked up and saw her long sleeve green t-shirt and her long hair in a bun, her hands on the edge of the tub, as she looked off into space.
On a very deep level I believed the abusers. God didn't love me. I couldn't believe my father (though I tried to). I did believe in God. I could see things and sense things that I couldn't explain away. But clearly this God didn't love me.
Ten years later I went to stay with my aunt for 2 weeks. She was a fundamentalist Christian the absolute balance to my fundamentalist atheist father. She decided that she had two weeks to save my soul, and she was going to do everything she could think of to save me. In short they kept me from sleeping, fed me nothing but junk food, and surrounded me with love that had a catch. I had to accept Jesus into my heart. I got more and more physically and emotionally disheveled as the vacation wore on until the climax of going to the stadium to hear Billy Graham speak. I sat in the audience and wept. I cried harder and harder until my cousin told me I was accepting Christ, and I should go down on the field. I walked down in a daze still crying. I sat on the field and cried some more. Finally I was approached by one of Billy's people, and she asked me if I had any questions. All I could think was that Jesus was supposed to be the last sacrifice, so why do we kill trees every year in honor of his birthday? She had exactly the response you might imagine. Her face was stunned, but she tried to answer, "There's no blood, so It's not a sacrifice?"
"What about sap!?" I wept on. She handed me some papers and walked away. My cousin took me home where my aunt gave me a bible with my name embossed in gold on the front. She left off one of my middle names claiming that I didn't like it, but really I was named after Dylan Thomas or maybe that Bob Dylan person and that was unacceptable.
I flew home a short time later, and started to sleep and eat better food again. My mind started to clear. I was confused and angry about the trip for quite a while. My father never really spoke to his sister again. My mother tried to help me, but she could never be vulnerable about her own thoughts and feelings which made her attempts hollow. I threw the bible away at some point, and it felt symbolic of throwing away everything religious. I became an adamant agnostic. "I don't know! There's no way to know! Why should I think about it?"
In the mean time those old wounds, long buried, festered. The old truths of my visions and my personal understanding that there was more to this world than what we can see with our eyes were pushed further and further underground.Then one day I met my future husband, a deeply spiritual devoted thinker. He wasn't sure about me at first because I refused to think about the divine. Luckily for both of us when he hears that divine guidance, he follows it. So we embarked on a journey together which led us to places I never thought I'd go. I started to meditate. That quiet allowed the sensations to come again. Eventually we looked for a spiritual home. In one of these churches I found my voice again. I started to sing. I can always feel the Divine when I sing. Though I've never really found a place that felt like home, I started to heal.
Sometimes I still struggle with the Divine Presence that I feel. Christianity and I still have a tumultuous relationship. Other faiths don't feel like home either, but now I know that these struggles are my heart fighting its way back to a God that is always waiting patiently for me to release the pain and the human distortions of that Life Force. Just like I give the guidance I can to my children, and when they make the wrong choices, I love them and wait for them choose again. God loves and waits for me.