I feel like my blog needs photos but I don’t know what, this is probably the only good photo I’ve ever taken. I hated how ragged the flower was at the time but now I think I like that.

It’s actually not even that good.

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blasphemy!

I am Sandy, a 19 year old Australian girl who grew up in a little Christian country town with Jesus as my father, brother and best friend. It was the way of my entire family, a 2x/week church going, banner waving, youth group leading, Sunday morning tea baking, worship team playing, ‘hold hands around the table for grace’ evangelical-Christian wonder-fam. I personally helped run my youth group, played bass and piano in the church worship teams, was on my church’s planning committee, started a Bible study group at my Christian school, attended conferences and performed outreach, read the Bible and prayed daily, listened to Bible readings instead of music, was the top of my Christian Studies class at school and gave witness of my faith in school assemblies. We weren’t perfect (none of us were even “good” if asked the question “how are you today”- for only God is truly good; we are but sinners), rather encouraged to strive onward vivaciously and honestly, in the hope that the love and grace of Jesus Christ would immerse every aspect of our lives. This was what I wanted, I was passionate and spoke openly about my faith, judged harshly, loved freely by God’s command, gave it my everything. It was the only thing but everything I knew.

Just before I turned 18, I deconverted and began following the Baha’i faith. Many hours of debating with a Baha’i friend as well as a few discomforts I already had with Christianity, lead me down a really difficult path of questioning the faith that formed the basis of my everything, a faith I not only believed but one that was held steadfast to my person by the ropes of family, friends, time, education, and emotional investment. . This was my second non-Christian friend since primary school, and the first person I’d ever met who belonged to another religion. He introduced me to logic, a way of thinking that allows the freedom to believe based on evidence, to follow only what makes sense and fits properly. The discussions with my friend highlighted that it was not as black and white as ‘deconverting’, more a continuation of my faith. It may sound dramatic (it was), but I felt my entire life had built me up for this. I’d had it drilled into me since birth to follow God no matter what people think, and here was something real and true that made sense for me to follow, Baha’u’llah was the second coming and as I abandoned my family, friends and Christian bias I likened myself to the early followers of Christ. I was a freaking disciple, practically.

Aside from discussions with my non-religious schoolmates, I told my two best friends from church first.  Secondly, I told my brother; after his anger subdued he and his pastor-in-training friend took me out for coffee to talk it over and try to reel me back in. No dice, my faith had been reinforced by a new-found love of logical thinking and I marched onward (terrified). I chose to tell my parents after Christmas to make the festivities less uncomfortable. “Mum, Dad… you know the books I’ve been reading about the Baha’i Faith? Well I’ve decided that I believe it’s true and I want to follow that now.” Indignant arguments presented themselves, mixed with tears from all three. I don’t think my dad and I talked for a few days after that. I told them in 2011, the closest any of us have come to mentioning the idea since is when I go home, and Mum asks if I’d like to be woken up to go to church in the morning (“or maybe you’d like to go in the evening. Sam is preaching and it’ll be really good!”). Feelings and emotions have always been an awkward topic in my family.

Word spread though somehow not through my parents, my pastor took me out for coffee to discuss my leap of faith. I have a habit of biting the inside of my mouth when I feel like crying to distract myself from tears, the inside of my cheek was swollen and tasted like blood after this particular coffee date. I heard people talking about me, was treated differently, saw my mum staying back for teary prayer meetings after church (she received flowers too, from my church), was given a card from the church to let me know I’m being held in prayer, and being quite feisty I found myself in a few heated discussions with Christian friends. I was the golden girl but I’d turned, difficult for me because as far as I saw things I had opened my mind and done something difficult completely righteous. The people who I’d relied on for support and affirmation for previous challenges were condemning me more or less to hell, but I was just following God’s plan. During this time I barely ate so lost 10kg, and anxiety became my ‘go to’ emotion.

A month after this I moved out of home to another town. My Baha’i friend and I started seeing each other but he withdrew suddenly and we stopped talking. I began to make contact with Baha’i groups in my new town but with my new beginning decided to sit, wait and think things through. During this time I drifted away from any faith thinking that after a break I could perhaps rebuild it from scratch under the Baha’i framework. I have never rebuilt anything.

That leads me approximately to now, where I’m still a very confused teenager. There’s more to the story… I have identified some cult-like behavior within my home church and family. I have a terrible relationship with two of my sisters because of all this. I’ve found out more about my family history and their church involvement that I’m really ashamed of. People from my church still make snide evolution jokes…

I’m often happy with how far I’ve come, but there’s so much that I’ve missed out on because of all this. I have gained a lot though, perhaps even life direction as I now strive to understand meaning outside religion, passion outside God and morals outside of the Ten Commandments. Cue, this blog. The ravings of a wild child.