Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Detox Timeline VS Christian Subculture Expectation!

NOTE: The discussions referred to here are usually a checking-in time seeing what each of us is going through and how we are feeling lately. We each come to our own conclusions and then compare notes. So our little ‘group’ isn’t another version of group-think, which is KEY in understanding where we are coming from. Our quest is to discover our own path in God and we have all concluded, separately, that individualism or the independent spirit, isn’t the evil that it was preached to be in our old church world.

We were in discussion yesterday about why it takes some people longer to detox than others. The obvious would be it depends on how long a person was connected to the former toxic life and how deeply they got involved in that organization. We were involved and closely associated for years so it stands to reason it may take us longer to get rid of the toxic affect of being there than a person who was just there for 2 years and had the good sense to leave early. Also, it depends on what the former world is like.

Friend One had a great analogy about just how deep the toxicity infiltrated our belief system suggesting that the type of Christianity we were shooting up was like a pure cut of cocaine or heroin. Therefore, it stands to reason that getting clean from that brand of drug is more dramatic and takes longer. How many drug addicts leave detox too soon only to find themselves back in the same gutter of addiction, not clean, not cured, and worse than ever? Why would we be any different?

Case in point, many of the other people we know who have left former church world are right back at it, honing their religious addictions in a different environment yet serving another spiritual tyrant! It stuns us that they can even consider attending churches like after what they endured in our old church world, but they not only attend a similar church, their entire lives are consumed with it, once again. But they are ones who didn't take the time to detox at all. They thought the answer for their healing was to jump into a similar situation right away. Sadly, they are the ones we feel the worst judgment from when we’ve felt it in our hearts to take a chance and go to coffee with them (in the hope we could be of some help to them). The Group-Think Group-Speak is all OVER them! It's painful to witness. Yet, they think we are rebels and buried in our offenses. We think they are Stepfordized and totally without a clue. So I guess our feelings toward one another are mutual.

Anyway, back to the detox timeline issue. Yes, it can be exasperating to feel you are through with the detox process only to realize that you are in another round of it. The question hovers “Shouldn’t we be done with this by now?” It’s not only our own voices asking us this but the judgment of Christian culture today telling us we should be busy doing some form of church work cuz ‘Don’t you know by now that fastest way to healing is to get involved?’ Only after you’ve gone through the magical prayer line of course! If you do THAT first, you will WANT to get involved. Hmmm. Red Flag. What brand of kool-aid are you serving?

It isn’t easy swimming upstream from what feels like an entire culture, even if it is a subculture. But there’s no turning back. Now that we know what we know, how can we submit ourselves to the same organizational pressures we endured before? And we all agreed yesterday that we are still happier people in Detox Mode than we’d be if we were spinning around in the Church-Work Hamster Wheel Mode!

Here are a few points that we discussed as we take measure of where we are in the timeline of detox as of yesterday:

  1. Perhaps it’s time to let go of the hope that other Christians will understand us. Guessing from their deer-in-the-headlight stares, they may never grasp what we went through and why we need to detox and heal from it. Being misunderstood by our brethren is certainly nothing new. None of us felt understood in the old church and were each treated like we were slightly daft anyway.
  2. Perhaps we may never fit into a church world environment again in this life. Perhaps it’s ok to remain on the outskirts, attending church when we have the spiritual strength to go, for the reasons the Bible intended.
  3. Old Friends still immersed in Christian Culture in their respective churches who were once reticently patient with us, are now judgmental of how long it's taking us to get back in the flow of things. Earlier they at least displayed a . Is it time to just let those friendships go and then if they ever need us later we are here for them? So, not a bridge burning thing, just a quiet fading from their view...completely...?
  4. We are each more fruitful in our various endeavors than we ever were before and we are each connected to the world we live in more than ever. We actually now have time for this. If we ‘get involved’ in church activity of any kind, will that be the time suck it has always been? We fear it is so.
  5. Why DOES the church want to take over our lives? Can we just live for Jesus simply and in truth without getting sucked into the subculture Christians have created? We think yes to living simply for Jesus and no to not getting sucked into the vortex. At this point in Church history, church has subtley taken the place of Jesus, dethroning him in a round-about way.
  6. Bottom line: Follow your heart, listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, and learn to build your OWN life up. No one else is going to do that for you. You aren't going to get this from a church leader no matter how nice he/she is. Church leaders care more about their own world, and less about you unless YOU bring something of value to THEIR table. It's a harsh reality but one that needs to be seen for what it is. It's just the nature of the beast it has become.

Could it be that the Lord isn't too happy with what the American Church has become and He could be changing the entire fellowship dynamic from a mega disneyland environment to millions of smaller-group settings? What do you think? We don't pretend to know the answer, we are just mulling it all over. We'd love to hear from you, our Fellow Detoxing and Non-Detoxing Bloggers!


TH in SoC said...

Ahh, that is a very large question: "Could it be that the Lord isn't too happy with what the American Church has become and He could be changing the entire fellowship dynamic from a mega disneyland environment to millions of smaller-group settings? What do you think?" I am still working out that answer myself.

I do think that the Lord is displeased with the culture of commercialism and religious empire-building that comprises American evangelicalism. I think He is actively tearing it down right now through providential circumstances. What is rising in its place I don't know. Good post!

Sleeping With The Enemy said...

Excellent post! I think if we could leave these toxic environments and find one that was healthy and supportive of what has happened to us we would recover sooner than we think. Because most of us have to go it alone or stick to the little group that we left with to survive its hard to keep swimming upstream against an entire culture as you said.

NoJoke said...

Thanks Th in SoC - your comment is the perfect segway to my latest post!

Hey there Sleeping! Yes, it has been hard swimming upstream but I think I've finally accepted it as the best direction to be going!

Margaret M. Irons said...

Why does it take some people so long to detox? I like your thoughts in this post. My husband and I are still detoxing after 20 years out of our group, and in spite of the fact that we have been members in another church for 8+ years now, and my husband is an elder! To your point, we were in our former group for 20 years, at a deeply involved level, so I think in our case it might be a life-long detox process.

Thanks for your blog - good stuff. I only wish you had an archive widget so I could find the "yesterday" post you referenced!

NoJoke said...

Hi Margaret,
I was just referring to a discussion my detoxing friends and I had at a coffee shop not online. But I will look into gettng an archive widget.

Yes, perhaps you are right, it will be a life long process for those of us who were in it that long. Although, I think the more truth we receive about why we were in it in the first place helps, as does the discovery that The Latter Rain philosophy and doctrine is at the root of much of the charismatic/prophetic movement. Check out this link: