I've been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He was such a practical man. He could separate his emotions from a circumstance and look at it logically. He could take something apart bit by bit, compare it to scripture, and come out with answers based on biblical truth rather than responding with his feelings. That is one of the things I really respected about him and one of the ways I wish I were like him....
Anyway, did I ever tell you I lived in a cult? Of course, I didn't know it at first, and even toward the end it was doubtful, but that's what some people called it.
The "cult" was that school in Wisconsin where my husband and I met. I won't go into too many details about the whole thing; in the first place you have better things to do than read about a crazy experience I had 30 years ago and in the second place, (which maybe should be first, now that I think about it) I can't remember all the details. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of rules, a lot of inconsistency, and there was a lot of control.
The school was set up as a one year work/study program designed to deepen and strengthen our faith, build good work habits, and....and....teach us how to recognize a cult? Sorry, just kidding.
We had classes every morning; things like church history, the history of Israel, what the bible teaches about repentance and forgiveness, and other classes along those lines. Our afternoons were spent working; cooking, cleaning, gardening....come to think of it, other than chopping wood I'm not sure what the guys did. Hmmmm...I'm going to have to ask my husband about that.
Moving along. The year started out like most school years do. We went to class, did our homework, worked, made friends, and had a lot of fun. We must have been having too much fun because as the year progressed I think the leaders felt like they were losing control. They kept adding rules to everything; then we started noticing there were so many rules some of them actually contradicted each other.
I should probably say here and now that when all was said and done, our class was labeled as The Most Rebellious. But, who can blame us? We were confused by all the inconsistency we saw, so at times we simply ignored the rules and did whatever we wanted to do.
Things were really strange by the end of the year. The school was divided-it narrowed down to staff verses students. Them verses Us. The rules and the control continued to increase and things grew out of hand. Some of the students got fed up with the whole thing and left and the surrounding community started calling the school a cult. That's when I panicked and called my dad. I didn't want to leave, but I sure didn't want to stay either.
"Dad! They're calling this place a cult! I don't want to leave, but I can't live in a cult. What should I do??"
"Jude, calm down. Are they hurting you physically?"
"Are they hurting you emotionally?"
"What about your faith? Are they tearing that down? Injuring it?"
"No, but dad, it's a cult! I don't want to live in a cult!"
"How much longer does the program last? When are you scheduled to leave?"
"In three months."
"Good grief. That's all? Just stick it out. You committed yourself to staying for a year. If they're not hurting you in any way, and you only have 3 more months, just hang in there. You could stand on your head and spit nickles for that long."
So, I listened to my dad. I stuck it out. I stood there and I practiced using my head rather than my emotions. I separated the biblical truth being taught from the lies and confusion and spit out the garbage. I'd like to say that was a lesson learned, but to be honest, I'm not there yet. I still tend to respond to things emotionally and let logic come along when it will. But, when I'm going through something difficult, I often, often refer to that phone call and tell myself, "Judy, this won't last forever. What does the bible say about God and His faithfulness? Hang in there. Eternity is coming. You can stand on your head and spit nickles...."