The Unfundamental Conversion
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Letter to Friends and Family

December 16th, 2013 | Posted by Lana Hope in Faith | Fundamental/Evangelical

So this preweekend I had over 500 views in my home community alone, and I had a LOT of emails from from a couple people of the past.  Honestly this blog has been a special haven to me the last year because it’s been the one place where I’ve been real. For the first time in my life, I’ve been real about who I am. Maybe I do not give details about my hair color or family names. But real about who I am. That is what counts.

I do not want to lose this. So please, read this blog post, and if you do not understand, then please, leave me alone and let me be.

—–

Dear Family and Friends,

Many of you have found my blog now and wondered. A lot. A lot of questions. A lot of confusion. Is this really the Lana we know? Why is she blogging?

You have been asked why I am a universalist. You have been asked why I blog about the past. So I wanted to explain just a bit.

First of all, I am still me. I am still your friend who loves to swing, hike, climb trees, and explore. I am still your friend who loves to study. I still love my family, and I still love Jesus. I still, in fact, love the idea of homeschooling.

I blog for a reason you may not understand, but I hope to explain.

You see, after I left home, I did not meet too many people who grew up like me. It’s not a bad problem. But it’s odd.

Then I moved overseas, and I suddenly realized that I could not explain the culture of my home country in two sentences, nor did I miss it, whatever it was. Again, this is not a bad problem, but it’s odd being clear across the world and not missing your home country because you did not really grow up there. Again, I was homeschooled, so there is nothing in America that is really *me.*  I did not miss holidays because my parents celebrated so little. I did not miss working in the office because I grew up at home. I did not miss the stores because I never bought clothes at a department store as a child.

It’s just odd. Not bad. Odd.

But when I began blogging, I found people like me. I don’t blog to tear down my parents. I blog for community – a community of those who also ask questions, or those who were also homeschooled, or those who grew up in fundamentalism. Or just those who like to think and interact with me.

I blog for those who write me emails: “I thought I was the only one.”

I blog because I am happier for it.

For the last year this blog has been a safe haven for me. I’ve been able to sort through how I’ve changed, and for the first time of my life, be authentic about who I’ve become.

When I left fundamentalism, it was painful, but writing has given me a voice. When I meet others who grew up like me, it’s helped me understand the way I was raised, and it’s helped me make friends.

You see, it’s important for everyone to talk and have people who understand. I am a story teller. I love to write stories. I am not the person to pick up the phone and talk it out. I write.

This is why blogging is so important to me. I just love to write.

I hope if you hang around you can see that I really do love my family and really love Jesus. But I may not be the same person I once was. And I hope you accept this.

But if you can’t, and I disappoint you, I am sorry. But I am not the person I used to be, and I can’t go back.

If I disappoint you, please just keep it to yourself. See, I am human, and it really hurts when people cannot accept me. I don’t need your love. I need your acceptance.

It hurts so bad when people say I am going to hell because I am a univeralist. It hurts so bad when I’m mocked as liberal or told I just need to believe harder.

When I first started questioning things, I laid in a mud hut in SE Asia and cried alone because I wanted to hang onto evangelicalism and Calvinism. I did not choose to question my faith. It just happened.

It may be hard for you to understand, but when I quit believing in hell, it was like waking up one day and finding out Santa was not real. I did not choose it. It just happened.

I hope you can understand that I still love Jesus.

A postcolonial theorist named Homi Bhabha saved my faith. He taught me that it’s okay if I don’t believe identity, knowledge, and meaning are fixed because I can still exercise faith. And if you are not there, and your faith is grounded, I think that’s great.

But I hope you can understand that my faith still floats even if it has not landed on the ground.

I just hope, someday we can dine together again, and be friends.

Finally, if you are an old friend who has also questioned our upbringing, please send me an email. I’d love to reconnect.

Love,

Lana

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  • Lana, I think this is a beautiful and well-thought-out response to the challenge you describe.

    I have followed your blog for most of this year, and I would like to comment on one important statement you make: “I hope if you hang around you can see that I really do love my family and really love Jesus.”

    As one who left fundamentalism many years ago, I understand the various difficulties involved in leaving it behind. But one reason I follow your blog is because you DO love your family and Jesus. This is very clear from reading your posts–and I read every one of them.

    You are not bitter or negative toward your former friends and acquaintances as some are when they leave fundamentalism. You continue to be warm, loving, and balanced in your discussions of your fundamentalist experience.

    At the same time, I understand the shock, confusion, and fear of those whose fundamentalist views and culture you once shared. Hopefully many of then will continue to read your blog and come to peace with your new insights and even begin to comprehend them or, perhaps, share them.

  • Well said. I also tell a difficult truth, about clergy sexual misconduct, and I know: when we speak our truth, we risk losing friends.
    I love the words you used: “I am not the person I used to be, and I can’t go back.” When our old friends try to force us into our old selves, we need to gently let those friendships go.

    • Lana Hope

      I agree. But part of the problem is I don’t want to be bullied online. It’s like people, if you don’t enjoy reading my stories, don’t read it it. Or if you want to make fun of me, read it, but don’t bully me.

  • Friends who can not or will not accept you as you are are not friends at all. As you are learning, many of your personal relationships are predicated on believing ________________. If you don’t believe like they do then they can’t be your friend. Which is fine, if they keep quiet about it. But, many of them don’t. I wonder what they hope to gain? What can they possibly tell you that you don’t already know? It is not like you are ignorant about Christianity and its various flavors. Some people hate any other ice cream flavor but their favorite flavor.

    Lana, I lost all my friends but two when I deconverted. I miss the relationships, but I have, through my blog, met a lot of wonderful people.

    • Lana Hope

      Exactly. If they don’t want to be my friend, fine. And wow. No wonder more pastors don’t come out (whether that be come out as an atheist or just change their mind about how to interpret the Bible). They will lose everything.

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