Blogging is dangerous. As I typed this post, my cat (Zoe, a four-year-old, rescued snowshoe) jumped out of the darkness and bit my arm so hard I lost a few significant hunks of flesh. That scar will look nice with the pretty dress I just bought for the Red Hen Press Benefit. Thanks, Zoe.
But blogging, as I’ve been using it to explore some of the issues I write about in a fictional way, has turned out to be a little emotionally dangerous as well: my last post really scared the pants off me. It’s been a good ten-or-so years since I was a part of the Pentecostal world, and I have no regrets about leaving that portion of my life behind. But the sense of guilt and fear I felt about writing out that part of my life in unadorned prose was considerable. What would the people I knew during that time of my life think of me if they knew I was, to their standards, an apostate? Would someone from my past crawl out of the proverbial woodwork to misquote verses at me? These are, of course, self-congratulatory questions that assume any of those people from my past have given me a second thought during this last decade.
Even so, I began having nightmares, my subconscious mind rooting around in all those well-traveled guilt connections in the gray matter. Where was this negative feeling coming from? Didn’t I know the recesses of my own mind well enough to at least know it was latent there, even if I couldn’t fully eradicate it?
I began to wonder how many other people were like me–people who’d walked away from the same kind of congregation I’d attended, and had some lingering consequences. When I came across blog after blog and a number of message boards (The Association of Former Pentecostals is one good example) devoted to the act, rationale and aftermath of leaving the Pentecostal church , I was stunned by how many former Pentecostals are out there, and how closely many of their experiences related to mine. It’s a bittersweet notion knowing that thousands of other people experienced what I did: “you’re not alone” seems like a facile sentiment until it truly applies. But knowing that others were just as confused, just as guilty as I was? Not a good feeling at all.