Saturday, September 10, 2016

Close to the Bone: Jan

Last week I wrote a heart-breaking story from my past, of a light lost, Barbara. I was part of a cult for almost eight years in my twenties. This is my version of the Valley of Dry Bones from the Book of Ezekiel. I'm calling it Close to the Bone

This week I'm going to write about one of my closest friends in the cult. She was one of the Sisters. Sister Jan. Jan and I were roommates for about two years. We shared a room in The Duplex. I had the bottom bunk. Jan had the top one. Jan loved to pray, and often times I fell asleep to her murmured prayers. My favorite Jan moment—I was a having a tough day and had gone into our room and locked the door. I was bawling. (Funny thing, I can't remember about what.) I just know I felt worthless. Jan sat on the other side of the door and spoke quietly to me. She assured me that whatever I was upset about wasn't important and that I was someone of worth who was going to do amazing things. She let me know that she would hold the true me in her heart until I was ready. She could see who I would be, so no worries about right now.

How precious is a friend like that?

So, let's wade into the deep waters. In this terrible, messed up cult, I met the love of my life, Tim, and married. He reluctantly joined the church. Jan was not so lucky in love. Remember, if you got out of the Ship of Safety, terrible things happened to you. We had to marry inside the church. The Brother assured us that we were safe in the flock, but outside, there was utter darkness. Only a very few would be saved, and all the rest of the church was lost. If you left the only true church, you could lose your salvation. Anyway, this basically set up most of us young girls for any kind of predator who was willing to go to the church. Jan married one. Days after her wedding, it was clear that she was in an abusive, hateful relationship. She left the predator and the Church. She would not be spoken of again. The Brother did not address the fact that we could be ripped to shreds inside the church as easily as in that terrible outer darkness. He did release Jan to outer darkness.

So Jan was outside the flock and in the outer darkness! She went home to her parents. (Uh, I totally noticed that inside the flock had been a horrible place for her.)  I could only imagine what Jan felt as she preceded to dissolve her relationship with the predator. I didn't ask her about it because you just didn't talk to someone outside the flock. She may have dragged me into the darkness. Jan came to my house one day to talk to me. She believed she had lost her salvation because she had to leave the church and divorce. (I am feeling sick writing this.) I didn't know what to say; maybe she was right. I said nothing. I hugged her and told her I loved her.

I prayed for her salvation every day after that. I saw her a few more times. Each time she came to see me, she was more haunted than the last.  I remember one day she came to visit me. I did the unthinkable. Finally, I went against all that I knew. I disobeyed. I told Jan God was happy for where she was. That he wanted her with her parents. That it was Okay with God and he wanted her to know he loved her just as much as he ever did.  We both knew my words were blasphemous.
She hugged me, but we both knew outside the flock was outer darkness. I even wondered if I was in outer darkness, too, because I so wanted to see Jan happy again I told her God was happy with her.  When alone, I also shouted at God for being unhappy with Jan when he should be happy.   

After that, I saw Jan a few more times. Each time she'd grown more haunted, more upset.
Months later, after Barbara's death, I was praying for Jan. I had not heard from Jan in a while. My babies were asleep, and I was hanging out clothes on the line. I prayed for Jan. I remember falling to my knees praying for her. It was soon after that I learned that she had gotten out of her car and jumped off a high bridge into the turbid water below. Part of me is always flying off that bridge with her. I can feel her body as it's crushed against the water. I'm with her as water fills her lungs, and she never breathes again. 

I did not go to Jan's funeral. I didn't say goodbye. Dry bones. Dry, dry bones. I think I sort of lost my mind some after this. I did my work, but I didn't think. I went through the motions of living. There was no counselling. No comforting. Everything became an endless grind of church services, diapers, cleaning house, playing with my children, prayer, even sex was part of the grind. I retreated deep inside myself. I felt sadness. I felt pain. I felt grief. I just stopped feeling anything like love, happiness, or joy after Jan's death. It would be a few years before I did again.

I'd like to say this end, but there will be more next week. If you can bear it, come back.  

No doodle. Here is lovely Jan.

Here is a quote for you.

‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” Ezekiel 37: 9b


Trudi Trueit said...

Thank you for sharing this most difficult part of your life's journey, my friend. Joy and peace to you.

Molly/Cece said...

It's been difficult to write. Thanks, Trudi.

Vijaya said...

Oh Molly, this is just utterly heartbreaking. Sending a prayer for both of you. I know Jesus can heal every wound, make all things anew. I trust in Him. I wish this cult did not call themselves Christians because they taught a distortion of what Christ taught.

Molly/Cece said...

Hi Vijaya, You are kind to pray. These things happened long ago, even long before I met you. Those days shaped the person I have become, but they do not define me. It has taken me a long time to bring these things into the light. I am glad I have