I’ve wanted to tell this story for some time now, but I’ll be honest, I never envisioned the title to have the world Cult in it, but here we are.
If you haven’t read part 1, I highly suggest reading that before this one or some of this story will just not make any sense.
You can read it here. ‘Escaping a Cult: My Personal Story’
This story is by far my most favorite one to tell. Why? Because God is intertwined in every aspect of it. Telling it reminds me that my choice to leave the cult was exactly what God wanted me to do and the best decision of my life. Not only that, it also reminds me that I can hear from God and that this marriage was brought together by His hand and has His blessing and friends, that’s the only approval I need.
As I said in part 1, I loved boys as a teen, a little too much honestly. Since you know a little more about my childhood trauma a lot of that makes sense. I’m not sure why many children who are molested tend to run after boys in later years, but it’s very common. For me I think it was defiantly a combination of that trauma and then of course daddy issues.
I sought after the love, approval, and acceptance of guys since I wasn’t getting it from home.
This led me to experience many heart breaks.
Then once I started in The Ministry I jumped to the opposite end of the spectrum. I went from dating boy after boy to no dating in any way, shape, or form.
Some may think that was a good thing, but the way I see it I just jumped from 1 unhealthy way of dating to another.
Yes, going from boy to boy looking for some kind of approval or acceptance isn’t going to heal you from your childhood trauma. Most of the time it’s just going to add to it.
But also, not dating AT ALL, left me confused on what a healthy relationship looked like. Instead, I wish I had an adult or older couple in my life that helped guide me in seeing what parts of a relationship are healthy and helping me prioritize what I wanted in a future spouse while dating instead of closing it off all together.
I missed out on so much in college and I’m not talking about drunken nights. I missed out on the simple things. I couldn’t go have ice cream when a guy asked me. I had to say no when my Ex-boyfriend asked me to go have coffee so we could have closure. I was made to feel that when I talked to guys I liked, that I was sinning. One time a fellow member even turned me into the Pastor because I was ‘talking’ about a boy. TALKING! I was made to feel like those emotions and feelings were somehow sinful.
Not only was dating cut off but my emotions felt as if they were played like a fiddle. One day I was being encouraged to peruse a relationship with someone then the next I was told he wasn’t the one and I needed to move on. I was never able to make the choice for myself or really ever get to know the guy. This happened multiple times and I was left feeling lost, confused, and as if I was never going to find my true love.
THE SUMMER IT ALL CHANGED
Fast forward to the summer I spent working with Autistic kids 4 hours away. While I was there my Aunt really wanted me to get plugged in with a church because she knew it was an important part of my life. She never said this, but I knew it was her trying to let me see that I could have a great life outside my hometown and ministry. What she didn’t plan on was that by her pushing me to attend the young adults’ group at this church, would be the beginning of the rest of my life.
On my way to the young adult’s group I had, what I’m assuming was, a panic attack in the middle of a crowded 3 lane highway. At one point I almost turned around and skipped the whole thing, but a fleeting thought crossed my mind. “I have something for you there.” Call it what you want but I truly believe it was the Lord himself. So, at this point I couldn’t turn around. I wasn’t about to let fear win so I kept driving and walked into a place full of people I didn’t know.
Sitting amongst them and feeling more awkward by the minute, I started to question what I heard in the car then I look up to see a guy walk in. Not only a cute one, but he had tattoos.
Back Story: Tattoos were a BIG no no in the ministry. Everyone, except me and maybe 1 other person, didn’t believe they were sinful, but the rest of the leadership did. So as long as I was in the ministry, I was never going to be allowed to get one. As silly as it is my way around this was that I wanted to marry a man who already had tattoos so I could vicariously live through him. Thankfully that’s not how this story ends.
As the night went on Tyler ended up asking me question after question trying to get to know me better. He made me feel seen, something I hadn’t honestly felt in a while. Usually, life was all about the others around me and I was shuffled to the side. I don’t think on purpose, it’s just how it happened. It could have honestly also been my over emotional teenage self.
As I left that night, I knew I really liked him but was convinced it would never go anywhere. First off, he lives 4 hours away and 2nd he has tattoos so there was no way Jack would approve.
Then on the other hand while Tyler watched me walk to my car a thought crossed his mind. “I could see myself marrying that girl.”
OPERATION MATCH MAKER
I arrived at church a couple Sunday’s later and shortly after ‘ran into’ Tyler. I say ran into but let’s be honest he was probably pacing the foyer just waiting for me to arrive. Since I didn’t know anyone else that was there at the moment I went and sat with him. While sitting in church he asked me if I had plans for lunch. In my mind I was assuming a big group of us would be going to lunch together so I said I had no plans and that I was free. He started to text someone while leaning his phone a little too far the opposite way, so I knew he was trying to keep me from seeing who or what he was texting. My curiosity was peaked.
After church his dad walks straight up to me and asks if I had lunch plans because they were all going out and would love for me to join them. Now do you see the pickle I’m in. I had already told Tyler I didn’t have plans so if I turned down lunch with his family I would feel like I was being rude. So awkwardly I said sure. The whole time I’m thinking it’s ok, the ministry never has to know about this. It will be my little secret. I know, it was absurd for me to feel this way, but I did.
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At lunch his father mentions to me that it’s his wife’s birthday and they will be having a family dinner tonight to celebrate, and they would love for me to come. Once again, they knew I was free for the whole day so instead of coming off rude I once again said, “Sounds great.”
Now if you haven’t connected the dots by now let me do it for you. His dad was totally playing match maker. The secret texting in church was to his dad.
After lunch was over his sister left to go put her daughter down for a nap and his parents left to go get dinner ready for us. As I’m sitting out front of the restaurant, I realize it’s just me and Tyler and either he rides with me to run some errands then go to his parents’ house or he’s left stranded. Yep, he didn’t have a car. The year prior he attended the churches’ school of supernatural ministry and to afford it he sold his truck and bought a mountain bike. So, his only mode of transportation at the moment was me or his feet since his bike was at home. That’s when I asked him if he wanted to ride with me. He of course was ok with that. Once again, I’m telling myself, “The ministry will never know.”
Funny thing is he lived like 2 blocks from the restaurant so he could have easily walked home, but he was more than happy to not share that tid bit of information with me at the time.
So, we leave, and I made a few stops, one of which was back to my Aunt’s house to grab my bathing suit since his parent’s had a pool. Man, I wish I could of captured my Uncle’s face when I walked in with Tyler. He knew I didn’t date and now I come to Fort Worth only to bring a boy into his house. It was pretty much like, “Oh shit what have we done to her.”
Now the whole day I’m connecting dot after dot after dot and at this point, I know without a shadow of a doubt he likes me and wants more than just a friendship. I know I’m going back to my hometown, will continue being in the ministry, and he would never be approved by Jack so why bother. On our way to his parent’s house, I decided to lay it out for him. I looked at him and said, “I’m not sure exactly what you want from this, but I want you to know that we are just friends and nothing more.” His reply was, “I understand. We’ll just see where things go.” Sitting in a silent car I think, “Did he even hear what I just said?”
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
As we arrive to his parents’ house his dad offers me a glass of wine. I politely decline but my brain is running a million miles an hour. This family loves Jesus. The mom is a pastor at the ministry school. The kids have both attended the ministry school. AND THEY DRINK?
My brain could not connect the two. I always believed that only the surface Christians who love Jesus on Sunday but deny him every other day of the week were drinkers, not pastors and people who clearly have a strong and beautiful relationship with Him. Either they were wrong or I was and that was the beginning of a million questions.
The whole night I listened to story after story about all the amazing things God had done in their life. I heard faith stories that will make your jaw drop. Near the end of the night I said to myself, “Is this what normal life looks like?”
While eating dinner his sister told me about a Christian comedian named Tim Hawking and said I had to come over and watch it with her. So, we made a plan right then for me to come over the following Tuesday night.
When I showed up Tuesday guess who was there. Yep Tyler! His whole family was playing match maker worse than your Aunt Susie at a wedding. When I arrived, his mom was also there just dropping off something. While she was there, she told a story and in it she said the word ‘Bitchin’. Internally my jaw hit the floor and I had to force myself to not make a face. She cussed.
This pastor just cussed. What. Is. Going. On.
After dinner my brain couldn’t take it anymore. I started blurting out questions like uncontrollable vomit. They started asking me more about the ministry and our beliefs. Slowly but surely, I started to find the truth and realize this is the life I want not the one back home. As we watched Tim Hawking Tyler’s hand got closer and closer to mine until they finally interlocked with each other. I’d love to say the rest was history but in reality, this was the beginning of my trek up Mount Everest.
I was still in the Ministry. I was still not supposed to date. I still loved each and every one of the people back home dearly, but I couldn’t have both lives. What do I do? How can I have this life and not break relationships with those I love back home.
MY ESCAPAE GOAT
The answer came in a job offer, or so I thought. My boss was getting more clients and was wondering if I was interested in working through the school year. This was a HUGE decision. Not only because of the ministry but it was my LAST semester of college. All I had left was student teaching and I would be done. If I chose Tyler, I was giving up my friends, my job, the ministry, my home, and even my $40,000 worth of an education. It was all intertwined in the ministry in some way. I knew I couldn’t go back even just to finish school. I had tried to leave before and as determined as I was, I would always get sucked back in when I would come face to face with Jack. His manipulation ran deep.
Well, I chose Tyler. At the time I used the job offer as my way out and I lied through my teeth. I never told them about him even though Jack suspected there was a boy in the picture.
The tidal wave of hurt hit me like a ton of bricks. Out of the whole ministry I had 1 person stand by my side and be ok with me leaving. She was a dreamer too and we had many talks about our desires outside of the ministry. We talked at length trying to figure out how we could leave the ministry and pursue those things while also not breaking off relationships. She knew this day would come and she stood by me.
The rest responded with…
You’re not hearing from the Lord.
You’re running away from God.
This isn’t your destiny.
Your being selfish and following your own heart not God’s will for your life.
Your family is going to suffer because of this choice.
Heartbreak didn’t even begin to describe how I felt.
CLOSING THAT CHAPTER
After a few weeks I had to venture back home and pack up my stuff. My parents offered to come help me, so I stayed with them a few nights before we planned to go. The night before we left my mom walked into the room I was staying in and asked if I was ok. I could tell by the look on her face she knew more than she was letting on. I tried to play it off. I didn’t want her to develop a bad view of the ministry or the leaders, so I said I was fine. She sat on the bed in front of me, looked me in the eyes and said, “I know they mean a lot to you this decision can’t be easy.”
I broke. The tears started flowing and I couldn’t stop them. She held me while I cried and I realized my whole life was crumbling around me. At this point they didn’t even know about Tyler. If it was this bad of a reaction how much worse was it about to get. That realization scared me.
As I sat there, I opened up and shared with my mom everything. She listened, she cried, and she comforted me. Later on, I found out that this was the moment my mom realized she had me back. It was the moment my relationship with my family began to heal.
Now before I left for the summer my car started having transmission issues so over the summer, I bought a new vehicle. I decided to gift my old car to Jack since his daughter was going to be 16 in about a year or so. After I packed my room, I drove to their house to drop off the car. Remember I put this man and his wife as the role of spiritual parents and leaders in my life. When I arrived at their house to drop off the car Jack wouldn’t look at me. He continued to walk around his house gathering his stuff to leave as if I wasn’t even there. This hurt. I stood in his living room bawling and the man treated me as If I was a fly on the wall. No comfort no compassion. Nothing. The one and only thing he said to me was, “Are you sure there’s no Mexican boy in the picture?” I said no. In reality I wasn’t lying because Tyler is not Mexican and honestly, I have no idea, even to this day, why Jack asked that.
I left, and cried, and cried, and cried. The one and only comforting thought was that I didn’t have to go back. I was free.
When I got to Fort Worth Tyler met my parents and I at his sister’s house since I was going to be living with her. This was the first time my parents met him. They instantly fell in love with him. A kindhearted, respectful, and loving man who helped not only get me away from the ministry but helped restore the relationship between my family and I. What was there not to love? He was basically a prince on a white horse who swept in and saved me from the evil King.
Fast forward a few more weeks. By this time the guilt of lying had reached an all-time high and I knew it was time for me to muster up the courage and tell everyone I had a boyfriend. It was like I was the little kid with a 4-day old band-aid on and desperately needed to rip the thing off.
So, our relationship went public.
This was the response.
“This can’t be God because you lied.”
You aren’t following God you’re following a boy.”
“You’re jumping off the deep end.”
“He’s ugly this isn’t God.”
“He’s an old man after young booty.” (We are 5 years different in age.)
“You just want to have sex and live in sin.”
“He doesn’t really love you or God.”
Remember that 1 person from the ministry who stood by my side through all of this? Well, this was the moment she turned her back on me as well.
To be continued….