Becoming My Own Person: Judah’s Story
HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Judah” is a pseudonym.
I consider myself fortunate compared to most because I was not raised in an oppressive household. With a few exceptions, mostly those dealing in forms of magic, such as Power Rangers for example, I was not restricted on what I was allowed to watch, see, or listen to. My parents just made sure I had a firm grasp on my faith and were open to talking about things I had questions about.
It wasn’t until I started doing speech and debate tournaments that I saw the oppression other families placed on their kids. Some of my experience is second-hand, simply observing what other people went through. Some of my experience was first-hand in things other families did that directly affected me. There were times when my mother had to stand up for me because other parents did not approve of me for reasons I never understood and still do not understand to this day. This most affected my friendships with people in such families as they were forced to cut off contact with me.
One very prominent family in particular had a special hatred of me. They tried to get their youngest daughter to cut ties with me and it seemed they would stop at nothing. One of the family member’s threatened a restraining order against me on the girl’s behalf. For years I tried to understand and ask why they hated me but they would never give me an answer.
I eventually gave up and stopped asking.
In another instance, I was in a relationship with a young lady who had a similar family. I was required to meet with her father before we were even allowed to consider ourselves in a relationship and even then it was very restrictive. It was also short lived as the girl’s parents took to lying about me because they wanted her to be in a relationship with someone else, whom she did not even know.
After I graduated highschool, I went a little ways off the deep end and ended up living with former drug dealers for about a year before I moved in with my mom for a few months until I joined the Air Force in June 2008. Despite having lived with some questionable characters, I was still very much sheltered and had little knowledge about the world around me except for what could be seen on paper.
I spent a little over a year at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA which is where I was thrown into a culture shock. Not only was I in class with people form all walks of life, I was now learning about life in Afghanistan, along with its culture and religion. Previously, I had nearly no knowledge of Islam and now I was immersed in it. Still, I wasn’t able to completely break free of the stigma my homeschooling experience had placed on me. Namely, the idea that if I dared to make waves of any sort, the hand of God would smite me.
It wasn’t until I was deployed to Afghanistan that I truly became my own person who could stand up for myself.
Today I fully believe in God and Christ and everything the Bible teaches. However, as Ghandi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This is precisely how I feel toward the majority of Christians, and those in the extreme homeschooling subculture in particular.