I’m Not Fine (And That’s Fine)

I don’t write funny stuff very much anymore. You may have noticed.

Part of this lack of humor is due to time and distance that have removed me from the halls of fundamentalism and worn smooth the hard places needed for creating cutting satire. These days I curate more than I create and that’s ok. I couldn’t possibly write parody that is crazier than the real life examples we see all around us.

There is another reason, however. It’s rather hard to write humor when you’ve been battling depression for years. And I have been in that fight for longer than I’ve been willing to admit for reasons that are many and deeply personal. I’ll tell you all about it the next time you buy me a cup of coffee or a glass of brew.

There are still flashes. There are moments when the old fire burns bright and the words flow. Those are the good days and they’re often few and far between.

I’m not fine.

But here’s the beautiful thing about not being fine — it puts you in some of the best company in the world. I’ve called and e-mailed and texted and PM’d dozens of people over the last few years who aren’t fine either. They’re people with lost identities. They’re families with financial issues and relationships that seem beyond repair. They have old cars that won’t always start and old anxieties that always seem to. They lose sleep. They lose their jobs. They lose their tempers. Sometimes they’ve all but lost hope.

I’ve learned a lesson in those conversations. Somewhere along in the darkness I found this thought and wrote it in lines:

Beyond the years of pain and bliss
The “Why?” of life is only this:
To love someone and be loved too.
The Why of life is me. It’s you.

Maybe you’re one of the fellowship of unfine souls. Maybe in the words of song you don’t have dream that remains unshattered or a friend who feels at ease. If that’s you then you’re in the right place.

Six years later this is what SFL is to me — it’s where nobody has to be fine. Whether ex-fundy, never-fundy, sort-of-fundy, or just plain confused you can feel free to set down the mask and gently fall to pieces.

Welcome. Grab a plate and find a seat. You’re home.

Here there is love. Let it always be so.

199 thoughts on “I’m Not Fine (And That’s Fine)”

  1. Darrell:
    It seems you have dragged a bunch of lurkers out of the shadows. I’m afraid I’m not as well-spoken as many of your friends on here. I don’t have the “Hallmark ” gift. But I feel for you my friend. Just the other day I was thinking how cool it would be if this blog family could have a “reunion.” Just a day or a weekend where we could meet each other and see the faces behind all the conversation. I think there are so many people on here who would like to meet you, let you see how not fine we all are, and remind you that it isn’t so much the being fine that matters, as it is the being loved. I’m not fine. And when I think about how not fine I really am, I start thinking I’m not loved either.
    So, we’re in this together. This blog has created a family who has come to really love you, and you’re stuck with us. We’re not going anywhere. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us.
    If you’re ever in West Michigan, I’d be honored to buy you a coffee or a cider.
    Mark

  2. I appreciate your transparency and honesty. I too suffer with depression. I live among the tombs in a fundamentalist graveyard- no longer jumping through hoops and standards set by men, no longer paying membership dues to a business disguised as a church- forgotten. The time spent there almost all forgotten. No longer able to agree with the simple minded; Now I am independent, free thinking, coming to the realization that I am part of a very small group of people.

  3. I can understand how we all relate here.

    For me I’ve always had a rebellious spirit with an the attitude of “Who are you to judge me” mentality.

    Mine is not so much depression (though there are snippets at times) but it’s frustration.

    My defense mechanism is to simply shut myself off and distant myself from the “fundies”, do what I enjoy, and live my life.

    I was tired of that “looking over my shoulder” mentality and just plowed on with a “come judge me, I dare you” attitude.

    Though I don’t encounter them much being a SB but when I spot them I keep away from them.

    In my early years I grew up fundie, went to TTU, burned out, then joined the military and finally began to live my life.

    It was only when I was 35 that I learned about Spiritual Gifts. After studying about it my fire was lit. Now I encourage others to know and discover there’s and to understand how others are with their gifts. I even show how people in the Bible had certain gifts based on what they did for God.

    If I may plug a book for everyone it’s this one. After reading and studying it my fire was lit. I understand who I am as a Christian and what my gifts are for God. I encourage others to read it. I can say my book is quite marked and I often lead study groups with many having their eyes open and encouraged too.

    http://www.lifeway.com/Product/spiritual-gifts-a-practical-guide-to-how-god-works-through-you-p001220730

    If you don’t want to get the book, take this survey to see what you’re gifted with. Maybe it can give everyone a Spiritual reset.
    http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/files/lwcF_PDF_Discover_Your_Spiritual_Gifts.pdf

    Again thanks to Darrell for this website. Group hug around him.

  4. Speaking as apparently the only “fine” person here, let me just say that I am completely full of shit. I have my moments, hours and days were the voice in my head says things to me I don’t like. It is amazing how the claws of fundamentalism dig deep and the scars last a long time no matter one’s involvement. I was only in the IFB for about 6-7 years and did not get involved until I was in my 40s. Yet my experience still impacts my thought process. I cannot imagine how deep the hurt is for those of you who were in it from the cradle (or the nursery the first Sunday after your birth). My heart truly goes out to all of you.
    Darrell, now that you are living in the great blue state of New York (I am sure you have figured out that New York is blue only because of NYC, Buffalo and Rochester as the rest of the state is very red) I am hopefully that circumstances will present themselves that will allow us to meet IRL. I’d buy you a beer and give you a big hug and kiss. But not a sodomite type of kiss.
    This post made my eyes well up. Thank you Darrell.

  5. I think that this website provides a wonderful support forum for those of us who have experienced the worst abuses of fundamentalism, And just the fact that we can vent helps us all to avoid approaching the line that Robin Williams crossed. I am glad that Darrell started this forum because like many others here, I have lived through the twisted mentality. And, in truth, I have not yet totally escaped. There are times when I feel like the most secretive double-agent spy in some alien land, suppressing the urge to blow my own cover.

    Please keep writing, Darrell, and one day we will recognize the lies as in Orwell’s “1984”.

    1. Heh. Same here on “blowing my cover”. Every time I enter a fundy church (which sometimes happens for reasons I do not wish to share at the moment), I can feel the STUFF messing with my head and my emotions, and at the end of the “service” it’s all like “okay, just smile (but not too big) and say you’re fine (but not too cheerfully) and they can’t get you this time either” in my brain.

      And how dare we even have a cover at all?! Does the Bible not instruct us to be honest in all that we do? Should we not tell our brothers and sisters “in Christ” about our issues? Should we not sit meekly by as they tell us what we have probably done wrong and what we need to do and then humbly fall to our knees, and with much weeping and wailing, beg God for His forgiveness and mercy and promise to be perfect and do things right from now on? And should we not report any new misgivings/doubts/questions so they can berate us some more? Should we not trust them to love and try to understand us, and trust that the constant “do this and not that” mini-sermons are better for us than the I-just-want-a-hug and please-just-be-here-for-me-and-with-me cravings? HOW DARE WE BE HUMANS, DAGNABBIT. AND HOW DARE I USE THE WORD “DAGNABBIT”.

      Danged if we do, danged if we don’t.

  6. http://redemptionpictures.com/2014/02/24/i-dont-have-my-shit-together/

    I know a number of people that got plenty of help from this article. The IFB wants people to do the impossible, which leads everyone involved to become fakes, hypocrites and to play a game that does nothing but make them feel like crap.

    For me, handling the imperfection humanity led me in a different direction. On David Bazan’s “Curse Your Branches” the first song on the record is “Hard to Be”. He points out the absurdity of how a simple move of disobedience in the garden of Eden brought upon us a world of pain. This story, of eating fruit from an enchanted tree leading up the consequence of making it hard to be a decent human being, to me, makes very little sense. I can no longer see why a god would create a system that punishes with such terrible consequences for eating a piece of fruit in addition to eternal torment immediately after living in a very challenging and sometimes shitty world. But what’s more, is the expectation brought upon this god’s followers to act like we’re fixed.

    From an outsider’s point of view, many see Christians as people trying to be something that we’re not meant to be. It’s like a monkey being approached by a whale who tells him “You’re not supposed to be climbing trees. You were meant to live in the sea.” So the monkey spends the rest of his life coming close to drowning multiple times a day as he tries to make do with what’s in the ocean. We’re all just trying to be decent human beings as it is. The impossible standards given to us by religion keep us humble, sure, but also keeps us under water most of the time.

  7. Darrell,
    I am also a member of the Fellowship of the Unfine. Depression and anxiety have been a part of my life for years. Now, however, away from the influence of my family, I know that depression is not a choice that I have made, but a chemical imbalance that can be treated. No more of this “All you have to do is just decide to be happy! What’s so hard about that? Now go be happy and stop trying to get attention!” Some medicine works better than other medicine, but for the first time in many years I am hopeful.
    I am so glad I found SFL. You do a wonderful service, for which I am grateful.

  8. I have also battled depression. The stress of documenting clergy abuse cases and putting up with the crap that comes with it has taken a permanent toll on my health. Right now I am struggling with blood stasis and liver impairment that have opened up lesions galore on my face and neck. And I just lost my job.

    But seeing the suffering of others and going through these struggles have helped me at last to get it right: Life is about weakness and loving other people and NOT being complacent or thinking you’ve got it all sewn up. Or let me put it another way: Loving God is all about being weak but being loved, being unloved at times but discovering the ability to love others. There is so much more to everything than I ever realized while I was a Fundamentalist, and I must admit, pain and struggle helped me to realize how rich and complex life is.

    The well ordered legalism of Fundamentalism is sterile. The doubts and griefs and pain of living a sincere life (as much as any of us can do that) make us all part of each other.

    Not that I do not want to be well again. I do. But I also want to live a meaningful life, and pain and isolation are a part of that, as much as joy and delight.

    1. Powerful words.

      Those lessons you mention have been huge for me too: that it’s OK to be weak yet to realize that I am loved by God anyway and that life’s essential is to love one another. I was so busy believing the right things and following the list of good Christian behavior (including spending most of my social life in church-related activities) that I forgot about actually loving other people. I was always NICE to people but accepting them in their brokenness and their complicated issues was something I didn’t want to do. It was easier to distance myself and secretly judge them. OR feel myself responsible for them: trying to help make themselves better.

      It’s so much more refreshing to love people and yet know how to “let it go” — not letting their issues become mine or make my self-image dependent upon whether they were able to successfully battle their demons.

    2. Thank you, ladies. The more I am broken, the more I see other people’s brokeness. The world is full of precious wounded people and I am so thankful for the example of Christ reaching out to them and tangling with the religiously pious. I am in a deep valley of legitimate mourning/regret/realizations about the ugliness of reality….I pray this is a process that will arrive at an end as soon as possible…it’s yucky….but I am better to others because of it.

  9. Thanks, Darrell.

    I’ve gone through depression myself at times, and have many days when I’m not fine at all. Other days when I’m OK. It often changes, but I have to admit there are plenty of not so good days. Thanks for letting this be a place where it’s OK to be not OK.

    You have my best wishes, and good thoughts, and prayers, and all the rest. Please take care of yourself, whatever that might mean – whether it’s therapy, or appropriate medication, or plenty of rest, or just feeling free to face the world every day with the scowl that it usually deserves. Remember you don’t always have to be bright and cheery. But take care of yourself.

  10. Related, I read this recently:

    http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/11/21/when-faith-falters/

    which had me wondering if depression might be particularly common among former fundies. Depression is, of course, an illness, an imbalance in brain chemistry, but the way its effects are felt isn’t entirely independent of life circumstances. I have a strong hunch that us former fundies – and others who have left similar faith traditions – might tend to feel the effects of depression very deeply.

  11. Darrell,

    My young daughter is battling depression, drugs, and a lot more. As part of her recovery, we’ve found the “not fine” crowd and discovered that we’re not fine either. Now, our weekly gatherings with these “not fine” folks have become more anticipated than church. “Not fine” folks can be real with one another – the healing is in the sharing and transparency – unlike most churches where guards are up. So, hang in their. One the first things that my daughter recovered was laughter. You’ll find that again as well.

  12. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve never been depressed for more than a few days at a time, but there are other ways of being Unfine, and I live with several of those. Thank you, Darrell, for making SFL a safe space to admit to being imperfect, unjoyous, and unfine. I hope that you are able to do whatever you need to keep the Black Dog at bay–and whatever it is, we’re here to offer support, encouragement, and love.

  13. Sorry to hijack the topic at hand, but I’ve had it. I love Christ, but I’m sick of Christians. I just had someone call me “borderline disrespectful” for disagreeing with her about using Leviticus to prove a modern-day point. I’m hiding in the bathroom now and I want out of this place. I can’t in good conscience reject God or his people wholesale, but I’m so frustrated right now.

    1. Unfrozenchosen, are you hiding in the bathroom of your own home, someone else’s home, or in a church building?

      If you’re at home, it is your “castle.” A place of refuge. Your own turf.

      If someone else’s home or a church building, just leave.

      You don’t have to jettison your beliefs. Find another church that is more joyful. The liturgical churches don’t harp on John 3:16 each week or send you on a constant guilt trip. Try one on for size. (It may take a while to get used to this type of worship.)

    2. Dear unfrozenchosen:

      Others have made your ‘I like Christ but can’t stand Christians’ observation. Gandhi did, but Gandhi was also considered disrespectful.

      ‘Someone’ likely lacks tools to apply Levitical holiness codes to today. ‘Borderline disrespectful’ may attempt to mask that ineptitude. Example: ‘should recalcitrant children be executed as Leviticus commands?’ Does ‘someone’ answer with a theological explanation, or say, ‘THAT’S disrespectful? Which is easier?

      God does not require us to live second hand lives tailored to others’ expectations. Never cede that power to anyone.

      Christian Socialist

  14. Darrell, look into the mirror and tell yourself:
    You’re good enough
    You’re smart enough
    And Doggonit people like you.

    Yes I am wearing a fuzzy sweater at work today.

  15. Beautiful poem. When you share part of your life you allow others to feel safe sharing about their own.

    It is okay to not be fine. In Fundystan such realities were not dealt with, only glossed over by excessive busyness and plastic faces. It was certainly not a safe place to be not fine. One sad thing I learned was that some used weaknesses to exploit and abuse, so best not to show any weakness. That can be a hard habit to break.

    I agree this SFL group is special, and am so grateful for it.

  16. Darrel, thanks for sharing. I have had chronic depression since 1965 so I may have some understanding of your feeling-tone in daily life. One day at a time, you know. Best of luck in everything.

  17. After reading this post, I’ve really struggled with whether or not to post.

    I’ve lived with depression for decades now… it was around 20 years ago when it was correctly diagnosed and medicated, but I remember the sleepless, worrying nights, unable to sleep. I don’t like to let other church people know because they just think it needs an attitude adjustment to “stop worrying”. I worry about the strong drugs used just to sleep at night.

    It was a hospital stay after concerns about feelings of “falling apart” that depression was identified and medicated.

    Very happy that things are better now. I still wonder from time to time if I could have done something to avoid this.

  18. Hi. I’m Josh, and I’m honored to be in the company of so many fine not-fine people.

    I’m also not fine. While I don’t have clinical depression, what I do have is a mountain of uncertainty and concern about how my church will respond if they ever think to ask and thus find out – because I will not lie – that I’m gay. IFB they are not, but they’re a painfully conservative evangelical church of the generic Baptist persuasion, and I’m positive that it won’t be pretty. Nonetheless, feeling like I have to lie about and cover up a controversial aspect of myself has taken its toll on my mental well being.

    1. I’m sorry, Josh. I hope that when it happens it goes better than you think, or that you’re able to find somewhere else that will not give you grief. You shouldn’t have to lie about who you are.

    2. Josh, there are other churches out there. And despite the Fundies’ claims that those churches are “apostate,” they don’t inquire about your personal life. They realize that it’s your own business.

      In the liturgical churches, for the most part you will be welcomed. They are not going to grill you, shame you or point you out. You are there to worship God. Period.

      1. Thank you Other Jean, Dr Jezebel, and Jay for your concern. I can’t deny that I’ve been plotting my transition to either the local ELCA or UCC for some time now. It’s not that I’m terribly liberal (not that there’s a problem with being terribly liberal, mind you!), I just consider it important to be able to be vulnerable without worrying about being metaphorically stoned to death (or literally, if Steven Anderson were president), and conservative evangelical churches tend to be horrible about that.

        1. Believe me, Josh, the Episcopal Church has every theological color in the spectrum. Extreme liberal, extreme conservative, and everything in between.

          There is a national organization within the Episcopal Church called Integrity, for gay folks, their families and their friends.

        2. Yes! We welcome anyone- you could be purple and polka-dotted and we’d be happy to see you! You can participate or not, at your comfort level. We are just happy you’re there, and hope that you can meet God in your own time, to meet your own needs. I have found my parish to be a wonderful place of healing for me, and it has become my family. Couldn’t ask for better.

        3. I’d love to visit an Episcopal church, if only there were one closer than like an hour’s drive away. The liturgical style of worship is beautiful, and the welcoming attitude is a breath of fresh air.

        4. For some people, the middle of the Midwest, right in the rusty buckle of the Bible belt, may qualify as remote. It doesn’t seem remote to me, compared to places like, say, Montana. It’s just moderately rural and conservative enough that many of our Democrats are more conservative than some Republicans. So, unfortunately, you only find Episcopal churches in the larger towns.

        5. Josh, speaking for me personally, I wouldn’t go to any church that would despise or reject me if they knew who I really am. Of course, I haven’t attended church since 2007. Maybe that’s one reason.

  19. I have just found this website. Left the Plymouth Brethren where I was raised and have realized that I will probably never be fine. There are just too many road blocks in my head and scars in my heart for things to be fine. You bunch seem like a great group not to be fine with.

      1. Yep my Dad grew up IFB and we were taught to look down on his family because they weren’t strict enough. What’s that tell you about the closed Brethren? Yikes.
        Thank you for the welcome.

        1. I grew up brethren. Not closed, thank goodness, but still. I actually went to the IFB church in adulthood because it felt so familiar to the brethren church I’d attended as a child. I felt like I’d come home.

          Now, I’ve left the IFB, but I still have brethren family members. And they feel frustrated that when I talk about problems, I talk about problems with fundamentalism. They want so much to believe that it’s only the IFB fundamentalists who have the problems; they can’t see how many similarities there are.

          Welcome.

        2. Her Royal Highness Tiarali, thank you too for the welcome. I have closed Brethren siblings, 4 sisters and their families. There is more than me just leaving them, my daughters were sexually abused by one of my brothers in law. My nieces were also abused and have admitted as much to the family but only my daughters pressed charges. What is really horrific about this situation is that they are protecting the Brethren. They are furious with me because I exposed the Brethren to the world as less (much less) than perfect. They told their daughters that everyone has done wrong and how could they charge their uncle with wrongdoing unless they were perfect. Leave it with the Lord, He will look after it. I was told that the worst thing that happened in all of this is that the pedo, had to sit and be judged by an “ungodly man” in a “worldly” court. They wanted us to let the leading brother in the assembly look after it. That would be the pedo. They didn’t care. I was told that was God’s pattern and I should follow it. Mind blowing. Also, no wonder with this kind of thinking, so many of us, if not all Fundy escapees, are NOT FINE.

    1. Yup. Me, too. Plymouth Brethren, then IFB when there was no assembly to go to where we lived. Full of strange stuff at times. Good people, bad people. As denominational as they protested they weren’t. The loose authority structure made it easy to pretend it didn’t exist, but it could be very controlling indeed.

      My wife’s grandfather and uncle were PB preachers. I met her in a PB chapel in Greenville, when I attended BJU.

      1. Strict enough meant no preacher, no music, only skirts for women, head coverings for women, KJV, only the Little Flock Hymn book, no radio, no tv, no movies, John Nelson Darby was revered, we had a photo of him in our house as do many others, no holidays-Christmas, Easter etc were frivolous and not Biblical, meetings- hours of them a week, no friends outside the assemblies, college and university were considered dangerous because they taught young people to ask questions, clergy was a big no no, the Holy Spirit was the leader, which basically means that if you act the way you are expected to, the Holy Spirit is leading you. They honestly consider everyone else to not be, in their term, remembering the Lord. They say that they, and they only (and then only the ones they approve of because there have been many, many splits) have the correct “ground of gathering” So sorry folks, you thought “the Lord was in the midst”? Nope, he’s with the tight PBs and no where else. You might be sorry you got me started…….

        1. I grew up Methodist, but, until recently, I had neen attending a non-denominational church that had its roots I’m brethrenisn. Even though it bore little resemblance to a true Brethren Gospel Hall, s lot of the congregation grew up in Brethren scenarios of varying strictness – some extremely strict – and after talking to many of them, I can back up in what Miriam says. Many of them grew up sincerely believing that there were no Christians outside the Brethren, period. In fact I think that movement exists in a parallel universe. My sisterarried a guy who grew up Brethren, but he was never typical. The church i attended was certainly not typical Brethren, in fact the “real thing” would say we were “Apostate” even though we have always been theologically very conservative. I was very happy there but don’t attend any more because I moved to a town fifty miles away.

        2. True Gospel Hall, I am sitting here laughing at this because the closed Brethren call the Gospel Hall, or open Brethren, apostate. It is beyond ridiculous and you are very right, it is like a parallel universe. It is a cult. I just don’t see how anyone can think otherwise.

  20. HI Darryl-

    I regularly follow SFL and have found the skewering of the IFB insanity refreshing. It reminds me of what I had left and why I try to be a more rational and thoughtful person. I appreciate your and everybody else’s insights and honesty in each post.

    If you are ever in the Cooperstown area during the week of Christmas, email me and I will get you that cup of coffee.

  21. Dear Darrell:

    I’m not fine either, and that’s just fine. So are you.

    As for Stuff Fundies Like … well … what can I say?

    This is a place here we can be accepted, warts and all. This is to say that it is a place of grace, a place where we can be honest about ourselves and our struggles. The great thing about grace is that we don’t HAVE to be perfect or to have it altogether together. Perhaps that as much as anything ‘separates’ us from the ‘separated’ ones.

    God bless you, Darrell!

    Christian Socialist

  22. I too am also not fine. I struggle with anxiety every day, and have battled depression before. Darrell, I feel for you. There are many of us in this boat. If it’s any comfort at all, you are not alone, and from reading all the comments, we’re here for you in any possible way we can be.

  23. “All of my favorite people are broken” — Over the Rhine

    Darrell, when I stumbled across this site a couple of years ago, I didn’t realize how much healing I still needed to do. It has been incredibly helpful to read about others dealing with the same issues, so never doubt that you are doing important work here.

    Nearly 20 years out of the IFB (after 22 years in it). I have dealt with clinical anxiety for as long as I can remember. Had a horrific nightmare this week–about battling demons in a church. What does that tell you?

    Fine or not, you are important to a lot of people!

  24. Thanks for sharing. This blog was there for me at a time when I had just been through the worst of my depression, seen a “secular” therapist, and felt very alone in my experiences having a crisis of faith. All of a sudden I stumbled across this blog and found out I was far from alone, and it helped me so much. Hang in there Darrell. You’re in the company of many friends who understand!

  25. Reading over some of these comments I recall my years in fundamentalism and the trials I encountered there. I give you all a quote from Thomas Merton…

    “It is not humility to insist on being someone that you are not. It is as much as saying that you know better than God who you are and who you ought to be. How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man’s city? How do you expect to reach your own perfection by leading somebody else’s life”

    Too long we were on the road to ‘another man’s city’. We were basically living someone else’s life. Our real ‘selves’ got lost. That is no way to live, not physically, not spiritually.

    I also want to third and fourth the invitations to liturgical services. 🙂 I am as many of you know Catholic. No one bothers you, no one messes in your business, no sermons from the pulpit directed at you and you are given the benefit of the doubt. It is you and God.

  26. Let me add my voice to the others: I’m not fine either.

    I’m reluctant to admit it though. When you’re surrounded by wolves, show your wounds and they’ll turn on you and rip you to shreds. It’s worse when you don’t know who the wolves are, when someone you trusted with your vulnerability chooses to judge, mock, reject, or gossip about you.

        1. Yessiree, there Lady Semp, you’re spot on as usual:

          BX: Base Exchange (Air Force)
          PX: Post Exchange (Army)

          Once again I’ve betrayed my affiliation with the greatest Air Force on earth at present.

          Now, had BJg wrote, “The Church. The only Air Force that shoots its wounded” I would have been accurate in my initial response.

          B.R.O.

        2. I guess the AF didn’t want to acknowledge its parentage when it ran away. Or should I say “flew away”? The AF is certainly not known for its PT standards, LOL.

  27. Am I the only one that thought of this song when reading this post?

    http://youtu.be/W3xozwnIM78

    A lot of people have ideas. I probably have some too. But I’ve been around long enough to realize that I know far less than I thought I did. So, instead of ideas, I’ll offer up prayers and perhaps one day if you’re ever in the left coast I can offer you that glass of brew. Thanks for all you’ve done with this site, Darrell. It’s been a healing balm to many.

  28. Dear Darrell,

    I’m not fine and I haven’t been for quite some time. Mental illness runs in my dads family and I’ve been bipolar for years but just now realizing that and to what extent its effected me…the deep dark depression…the uncontrollable weeping…the anxiety that comes without warning and you dont realize what has triggered it and puts you on a defensive paranoid mindset.Toss this in with attending until just recently a UPC church along with the unstable emotionalism and manipulation and guilt drove me to seek for God in quiet dark rooms away from the noise like Elijah in the cave.This is a journey that is still ongoing for me…whenever I try to discuss it with my family still in UPC or friends I realize just how wide the gap has grown religiously.The first thing I’m working on is getting my emotions and mental state based in reality with meds and counseling and then I’ll make a decision on religion.You are welcome to call text or email anytime man.Love to hear from you.

  29. When I arrived at SFL I was a mess.
    There were issues upon issues that I had allowed to have too much control over my life and the IFB cult was the longest running mistake I had ever made.
    It has taken 4 years to sort things out this much. Am I fine? Depends on when you ask. What I can say with certainty is that I’m better than I was.
    Truth is we are all cracked pots and broken vessels traveling along the treacherous road of life. The reality is that all of us crack pots are traveling together, helping one another along. That is a beautiful thing my friends, that is one of life’s greatest treasures. I say, here in this cyber community, we are in good company.
    Be excellent to each other… and party on!

  30. Josh, have you Googled “Episcopal churches in (your state?) ”

    Episcopal churches are organized into dioceses, and some states have more than one diocese. (New York State, for example, has six, Missouri has two.)

    Now to confuse matters, there are “breakaway” Anglican dioceses and congregations that are not now affiliated with the Episcopal Church.

    Accept no substitutes.

    1. Darrell, I am not well either. Thank you for this bog and esecially for this one. Two and one half yeas ago I suffrd a heart attack while being treated for another problem. I as lucky, we were only about a halfhour from a larger hospital. Since then I have been suffering from depression and anxciety. I am seeing a phyciatrist once a month. Since that time I had 3 other operations and have developed diabetes thpe 2 After that I came dow with Arthritis. So I share your paion along with evry one else. BTW I also reccomend going to a litertugcal church. I gave up evangelical churches for the catholic church 7 yr. ago. The fellowship is great. Thanks again for al that shared and to you Darrell for keeping this site going.

        1. Dave, it’s great to hear from you again. Hope you’re doing better my friend. Prayers and blessings to you for continued healing.
          Your brother,
          BJg

  31. Darrell,
    Thank you so much for creating a space where we can all be not fine together. SFL has truly been a healing balm for me over the last four years.
    I first found this blog while googling for further information on the Tina Anderson case and Bob Jones. I was in the first year of a five year contract with a fundy BJ Christian school in South Korea. I was in culture shock, as a Hyles Anderson grad in a BJU with Pentecostal leanings school dealing with an admin that mostly speak Korean. I was so frustrated and so depressed. I was going a little nuts. I was also in the process of losing my faith.

    The first weekend I found this site, I called in sick to church and spent the whole weekend reading through this site and Bruce Gerenescer’s site. You two kept me sane and let me know I would be okay. This blog is so unique, because I come for the posts and stay for the comments. Scorpio, Big Gary, and Lord Don, and Pastor’s Wife have had a huge influence on my healing and ability to function over the last four years.
    I know I’m depressed and anxious, but I can’t seek treatment because of the language barrier and also because the national health insurance here sends its billing statement to my school, so they know everything I’m treated for. There’s no HIPAA here. This place is my support group and you have all been a great comfort to me.
    Darrell, thank you for your willingness to come out and say what so many of us are also feeling. If there is ever anything you or yours need, you have but to ask. Please know that you are loved and appreciated here.
    If you all ever do that NY meetup, let me know with some warning, because my behind would so be on a plane to meet all of you! Thank you so much for this place of rest and healing you have created. I couldn’t have made it to almost the end of my contract without you.

    1. What if you “develop” a condition that could be treated with an anti-depressant? If you develop say, “bliptosis” and it can be treated with (insert name of favorite psychotropic pharmaceutical agent here), you will be listed as being “bliptotic” and not depressed.

      1. Thanks, that’s an excellent strategy. Unfortunately, there is such a stigma here against any mental illness that even seeing the psychiatrist can get me in trouble. I’ve tried to go through the local clinic doctor, but he either doesn’t understand what I need or doesn’t understand the need for secrecy. Fortunately, I only have to hold on for 6 more months.
        We actually got blamed in teachers meeting for getting sick too much (physically) because that proves a lack of prayer and faith according to the local mog.
        I was on birth control for uterine fibroid cysts. One of the parents was a pharmacist. She found out, told the school, and I got written up and had my wages docked for the “appearance of evil” so there’s no telling if your blipoptic fig leaf would save me.

        1. Well, rats.

          Is there something comparable where she is? A doctor violating patient confidentiality is till a Thing, isn’t it? I thought that was pretty universal.

      1. If I leave, I will be trashed in chapel and all the influence I’ve had with the kids will be undone. Also, the vice principal here is a very well-connected and could make trouble for me and my family. I still have family deeply embedded in the movement so I have to be careful.
        About 3 years ago, I had a job at a different school but this man found out, and my offer was rescinded. The same thing happened with a non-fundy Christian school here about 4 years ago. It’s well known that if you leave this school and this man knows before you start your new job, you won’t be able to find employment within a four hour radius of Seoul.
        It’s better to just wait and keep my relationship with my kids intact. I’ve lasted longer than most teachers do, so a lot of the kids are more willing to trust me.
        We also have two closet atheist teenagers, and I want to be able to protect them and give them an outlet when they get skewered in chapel. Which is at least once a week.

    2. formerHACgirl – My eyes welled up when I read that I have been an influence. I know our IFB lineage is similar. But I just feel honored to think I could have any kind of impact on anyone.

      I’m just here for the free beer and fast women. Of which I have seen neither.

        1. I see the light!!!! There it is. The white piano does exist.

          *patiently waits for the beer and women*

          **doesn’t care which is fast and which is free**

  32. I applaud you for being transparent! I too struggle with depression and anxiety. Despite what I’ve been told by super-fundy Kool-Aid drinkers, ( as recently as last week), worry, stress, depression and anxiety is NOT a sin! Thank you for being brave enough to share your struggles with us! As you can see, you are certainly not alone by any means.

    1. The whole depression is a sin idea is so dangerous and wrong! If anything is a sin, it is these hard hearted fundies refusing to allow people suffering from genuine illnesses, help. I have even heard it said that schizophrenia is demon possession. It is just another form of seeing if someone floats to find out if they are a witch. Thank you so much Darrell for your openness and honesty

    2. Ready to leave, you really don’t need to be around the superfundie Kool Ade drinkers!

      Your psychological state is none of their business, and you don’t have to discuss it with them. Just smile and say “That’s off limits.”

  33. I hate that “happy, happy, happy” crappy junk they put out. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses and unicorns and puppies. It’s a dark and thorny world filled with angst and agony. No kind or amount of religion is going to make you happy all the time, unless you’re in the Cannabis Cult.

  34. I started reading the piece, and could hold it together, but I had to stop reading the beautiful comments, lest the tears start to flow. As a longtime ‘lurker’ I still feel like a part of this group, though I contribute far less than I should.

  35. I took the weekend off from the online world to spend time with family and play with my 8 month old nephew because I am also not fine. At times SFL is a balm for my emotional and spiritual wounds, yet at other times it feels like it just keeps me spiraling in the same circles, hence why I lurk more often than not. I find both healing and restriction in places like SFL, yet I’m very grateful it exists. It’s helped break so many thoughts in my mind.

    My life has changed dramatically the past year and in a few more months may be unrecognizable. You can’t look into the mirror for too long and viciously hate everything you see staring back at you until change starts to occur. In many ways, I’m deconverting from Christianity, yet not from God and Jesus. I don’t know where the journey will end, but I know I want to put the last 30 years of my life behind me.

    I am unfine. And I’m ok with that.

    Thank you, Darrell, for being open, honest, and creating this place for us all. May the walls of fundamentalism come crashing down never to be rebuilt.

  36. I am not fine. I know that.

    But there are a lot o other people who think they are fine, who don’t know that they are broken and sick, and who regard us who know we are not fine as discomforts.

    Sometimes it is family, still caught up in the fundamentalist mindset. Sometimes it is our friends (or former friends). Or it could be simply the cultural attitudes these people and their kind propagate.

    It creates a diseased culture, convinced of its own wellness and looking at manifestations of brokenness as an aberration, disease separate from them instead of wounds caused by the unacknowledged disease in the group.

    Those who know they are broken are actually trying to recover from the disease. But the “help” of fundamentalists is usually to heap more hurt instead of binding up the wounds. It is hard to recover when the disease is still present around you, clamoring to be considered healthy and your recovery is considered to be “getting worse.”

    Fundamentalism is truly topsy-turvy. Evil becomes good and good becomes evil. Love is manifested by hate. Loving others not accepted by fundies is considered proof you hate God.

    Fundamentalism has the characteristics of a cancer, gobbling up resources, making clones of itself wherever it can, demanding sameness and eliminating the unique and distinct characteristics of the Body as it rushes to take over.

    We recovering, former fundies may not be fine. But we are better off than those in full thrall to their disease.

    1. “Fundamentalism is truly topsy-turvy. Evil becomes good and good becomes evil. Love is manifested by hate. Loving others not accepted by fundies is considered proof you hate God. ” such a hateful statement in and of itself.+ You are doing what you claim “fundies” do. In 30 years I have experienced the opposite of what you describe. So, perhaps that has been YOUR experience with the groups you have associated with, but not all Christianity. To be a Christian is to accept and believe the “fundamentals”. That’s all that means. There are bad groups in all walks of life, sad to say. It is troubling when people generalize and put everyone into groups and don’t realize the intricacies of life that make us all different. I guarantee if you came to my church you would be blown away by how much it is NOT what you experienced in your life.

  37. You’re not the only one, Darrell….So keep your chin up and know how much you’re appreciated and cared for!
    I have S.A.D… I’m usually okay in the spring and summer, but I’ve noticed a huge down-ward slide since time-change and the cold weather this Fall. I was diagnosed with depression 20 years ago…

    By February, I’m about at my lowest point…then…lo and behold… March comes around with the sunshine and buds and HOPE that once again spring will be here along with my favorite season…summer.

    I hope you feel the love and encouragement from all these great people on SFL! ((HUGS))

    1. Wokeup, I have a a similar pattern. I hit a deep trough I’m the months after Christmas, and it is deepest through February. I tend to feel much better by the middle of march.
      I also struggle against depression.

  38. Thank you for this post. My wife and I are most def not fine. This will be the 5th Christmas we are trying to survive since the loss of our 18 year old son, Philip. I can’t celebrate anything, Christmas or birthday. I am an empty shell. Christmastime is just an in your face reminder of who is not here.
    PTSD is who we are now.
    I feel you, brother.

    1. I’m reposting this here as a response to Darrell negatively posting a previous message from me. In apparent knee-jerk typical fashion you ignored the gist of of my message and immediately posted what I sent to you in order to bash me. Yet, you lump all (mockingly) “fundies” together, and, so end up mocking God and His people and, again, wonder why you are depressed. As I stated, I have not seen what you claim in almost 30 years of being in 6 different churches and visiting or being aware of dozens of others. I am sorry you are depressed. I also suffer, at times, from this as well, though it was much worse and oppressive before I came to Christ. I find that, as I fully surrender to Him and His grace, I am freed from what leads to my depression, but as I wallow in my own self pity and needs, then I find it rears its ugly head. That is me. I don’t know you. I have compassion for you and anyone suffering. However, my point remains: This site’s purpose is to denigrate an entire group of people, made up of millions around the world, and you lump them into one category, and, in doing so, you are simply wrong. I guess there are churches as you describe, but I’ve not seen them, and ALL that I’ve been in describe themselves as “Fundamental”, meaning, yes, that we promote and believe in the fundamentals of the faith. It’s very simple, actually. Again, please look at my church’s website. Those are all REAL people with families and lives, some broken, hurt, wounded, and they find grace, acceptance, love compassion and lots of fun and joy in our church. My pastor is the funniest, craziest, most joyful person I have ever met. He is actually quite a nut (in a good way) and it is catchy. There is joy here. Again, I am sorry you, and those who follow your site, have not had the same experience I have. Peace.

  39. I, too, have depression- for as long as I can remember. It is a terrible curse. Life circumstances sure so not help.

    My faith is the only thing that muddles me through.

    You are not alone

    *cheesy net hug*

  40. Hi Darrell,

    Just thought I would step out of the shadows again and tell ya; that I totally understand. I get it, I have been there. Right after 9/11 and a few year afterward, I was borderline suicidal.

    I sometimes feel it coming back on. I honestly have to cry out to God when it happens. It’s a darkness that I have never felt before or since. I’ll tell you what helped with me; was Bible reading. It didn’t happen over night, but it helped. Especially the new testament. I read like 3 chapters a day and believe it or not, at the time, it wasn’t KJV either, I used the Amplified Bible.

    Counselling helps, Christian, of course. I didn’t do that. I didn’t have insurance. But, I did the Bible reading thing; and it helped me out. (for those who are wondering, I am NOT trying to sound like some crazy IFB’er… I am quite serous.)

    I also too, when I feel that way, or feel it coming on. I honestly have to take the “camera lens” and pull it WAAAAY back and took a long hard look at things and remind myself, just how darned blessed I am and how good I have it. That helps me, alot.

    Anyhow, I shall be praying for you man. It’s tough, but you will make it. 🙂

    -Patrick

  41. Thanks Darrell,

    I came to SFL today because I was a little down and feeling like I do not have a single person in the world (other than my wife) to turn to or confide in.

    When feeling this way, I often turn to the community at SFL for encouragement and sometimes advice.

    Thanks for creating such a community of not fine people.

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