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The Jailer, The Weights, and the Scale

 

 

Dorothy Rowe, world-renown psychologist, said that, “Depression is a prison where you are both the suffering prisoner and the cruel jailer.

 

In the aftermath this becomes apparent, but from the onset this is not obvious.  Depression is a scale, filled with a thousand tiny weights.  As a weight drops, the force of the drop may move the scale momentarily, but the scale can easily return.  Each weight seems trivial, but when combined, forms a mass that is a force to be reckoned with.  Over time, it’s more and more difficult to “bounce back.” 

 

Some weights are environmental.  From a stressful workplace to a difficult project, the conditions that surround you affect your outlook.  Other weights are hereditary.  Chemical makeup or personality traits passed down from generation to generation.  There are weights we add ourselves, the times we push ourselves too hard for too long, or the refusal to let our bodies rest or recover.  Some weights are added due to our psychological makeup.  Our level of emotion, our level of compassion, the level of control of our reactions to situations, can all add additional weights to the scale. 

 

But there are weights that are more difficult to categorize.  The times you know something is not quite right, but can’t seem to put your finger on any particular reason why.  The times you know something is badly wrong, and refuse to admit it. 

 

By the time I realized what was wrong with my body, it was past the time of fixing the situation.  There were weights I could remove to lighten the load, but the scale had already fell on the floor.  I had gathered weights in all categories big and small, yet only aware of the larger ones.

 

It was a disease not openly discussed in our family.  A deadly disease that had claimed the life of a family member, we seldom mentioned the causes or symptoms.  I’m told that the onset of the disease began for me at around age sixteen, and that my reclusive personality was a result of the onset. 

 

It’s difficult to say which weight tipped the scale, but it was obvious when my thoughts started to focus upon the fact that something was not quite right within the “Bride.” 

 

Having had the opportunity to become acquainted with many churches around the United States that were of “like mind,” it was increasingly obvious that one must be very selective as to what, specifically, “like mind” applied to.  From doctrinal teachings to future predictions, it seemed that no two churches fully agreed upon anything.  In an inverse pyramid of understanding, only the first stone was common among the people:  God had sent a prophet.  Beyond this understanding, it seemed that his purpose, his “message,” his teachings, and his future after death were all up in the air. 

 

Some groups waited eagerly for his return.  The groups familiar with his prophecies were very bold in stating that all predictions must be fulfilled – when God speaks through a prophet, His words cannot fail!

 

Other groups quickly dismissed this, spiritualizing predictions that did not succeed and turning them into vague, loose interpretations.  They were fulfilled in the spiritual realm, not in the physical, and they were not for our eyes to see. 

 

Some groups claimed new interpretations of these prophecies, claiming that their “new revelation” was the answer to all questions.  New leaders emerged with these revelations, being hoisted into power by men and women who believed them to be God sent.  

 

There were the fringe groups, those who anointed new prophets to produce new messages from God to a lost and dying world.  These men would often travel from church to church, looking to attract new followers by luring them away from their friends and family. 

 

Our prophet predicted that the world would end before 1977.  In the years leading up to this time, books were written and sold, missionaries travelled the world to proclaim the coming judgment, and newspaper advertisements were printed to announce God’s wrath upon mankind.  But our Prophet died tragically in 1965, and the true interpretation of the prophecies leading up to doomsday was uncertain.  So each leader had the difficult task of interpreting and understanding what, exactly, went wrong. 

 

Many sermons around the nation had the same intentions but with different details.  Pastors were telling their congregations what they must do to prepare themselves for God’s wrath, and how they must conduct themselves in order to avoid it.  The checklist of things that we, as Bride, were to abstain from differed greatly from town to town. 

 

To a stationary family, this would be an easy task.  Each pastor seemed to have his own checklist prepared, and each Sunday the items in the list were embedded in the back of our minds with hot embers of hell fire surrounding them.  A stationary family would have a small subset of the global checklist, only having those items that the Pastor understood as required by God to produce rapturing faith. 

 

But to a nomad family like my own, these lists were difficult to maintain.  To one group, certain pleasures of life were acceptable whereas other groups condemned those same freedoms.  While one family might enjoy their favorite pastime, another family would speak very harshly against it.  And they would do so at the will of their pastors, who gave them clear instructions as to how to live their personal lives.  To a nomad family who believed in the impending destruction of mankind, one is forced to combine all lists.  If you knew that a violent death was certain, would you not do everything within your power to avoid it?

 

Over time, these checklists became weights on the scale.  Impossible to maintain, difficult to manage, painful to endure, and fearful to reject, these lists became part of the cell walls that became my prison.  A jail cell that I created for myself, imprisoned myself, and remained inside as both the convicted and the jailer.

 

By themselves, these weights would have never tipped my scales.  But combined with the others, these weights were more than I could balance.  This prison that I called “blessing” was starting to overturn.