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It's Okay to Walk Away. IFBers can be Toxic to your Life.

Family, friends and acquaintances always trying to lure you back in? Here's how to handle it.

Have a family member still in the IFB who continually asks you to come to church or tries to talk you back into the fold? Have a close friend you went to Bible college with who still is in the cult and insists on talking about religion? What about a co-worker who wants you to join their church because "their church is better" and never seems to drop the topic?


Assess the Relationship

It is especially important when first leaving the IFB to protect yourself and your decision. You are going to go through a rough time of figuring out who you are and realizing that those who said they cared about you might just walk away.


However, even years later some people still struggle with relationships when it comes to those who are still in the IFB. It can be a never ending revolving door.


First, assess the relationship that is giving you concern. What does the relationship do for you and your healing? Is the person respectful of your decision? Do you feel judged by them? Are they being passive aggressive with their communications with you?


If it is truly a relationship that brings you joy, support and comfort then lean into it. On the other hand, if it makes you feel guilty, judged, or condemned, it might be time to walk away.


Set Your Boundaries....and Stick to It!

A good way to handle these difficult relationships is to sit the person down and tell them what your boundaries are for continuing the relationship. It could be as simple as saying that you won’t talk about anything religious with them. Or having them make a choice and taking a stand towards others that they support your decision and you.


Afterwards, if they begin to invite you to church functions or send you links to articles concerning religion, for example, remind them that wasn’t the agreement.


There is nothing wrong with asking people in your life to accept you for who you are, what you are, and who and what you choose to believe in.

Don't Feel Guilty

If you do have to walk away from someone, don’t spend time feeling guilty. It was their choice, not yours. If your mother or father decide that you can’t be at family functions anymore because you left the IFB, again that is their decision. If the love of their God and the rules of their church dictate that they separate from you, why would you want to be a part of that? Instead, celebrate your bravery. Celebrate your new freedoms. Celebrate your new life.


Aren’t We Doing What They Do?

It often doesn’t seem hard for IFBers to walk away from their own children or for lifelong friends to disappear. I’m sure they are telling themselves they are doing God’s work and it is what is expected of them. They don’t want other church members or Jesus to judge them.


We all suffer when this happens, and we feel that what they are doing is wrong. So, aren’t we doing the same thing when we decide to walk away?


Test yourself. Are you cutting this person out of your life out of anger? Fear? Resentment? Maybe so. Maybe you need to take some time to heal and work on yourself through therapy and support groups. Are you walking away because the relationship is toxic and puts your mental and spiritual health in danger? That is a very valid reason.


Often these separations don’t need to be forever. If you simply need to take some time away from loved ones or acquaintances, tell them. Explain that for now, you need some time to sort through things on your own without any pressure. Tell them you love them, and this isn’t forever. If they truly love you, they will understand and cheer you on. You can both go in love and leave the door open for the future.


Don’t Try to Deconvert Them

People who are deeply entrenched in the IFB will in all probability never leave. Their future in the afterlife would be in jeopardy. What other members thought of them, and their faith would be up for judgement. They would have to begin to think for themselves and make life choices based on what they thought and not what they are told to do. There is a great sense of security in knowing if you do “List A” which is a list of good things, and don’t do “List B” which are bad things, you are a good person and Jesus loves you. It is just like any other cult, you can’t break that binding tie overnight. And think about a time that someone tried to show you how bad the IFB was to your life. Did you believe them?


Instead, let them know that if they ever change their mind, that you’d be there to get them to the right resources whether it is a support group, a therapist who specializes in spiritual trauma, or a network of people who will help with lodging, moving, setting up their new life, etc. if they are kicked out of their home.


Simply say, “I love you and just like I expect you to respect my decisions for my life, I will respect yours. But if that ever changes and you leave, I’ll be there to help you.”


Walking away from someone you love or part of your support system is never easy. It is a necessary step towards self-help and self-compassion that is never taught in the IFB so we often lack the skillset to do it. But if you need to do it in the short term or the long term, make sure it is for the right reasons and that you stick to your decisions. If you don't, your healing will take longer and then so will your joy!

 

IFB Overcomers is an online resource for those who have left Independent Fundamentalism and are looking to heal and discover themselves. With a podcast, webinars, forum, blog and resources, we hope to help retrain your heart and mind from the mindset of the IFB and help you not only survive but overcome and then thrive!


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