In another church, I had become part of the worship production team, and I was very active and volunteered time during the week as well as many hours on Sunday to the church. One of the women I worked with had been a long-time member and knew all the ropes as far as media and lighting went. She was also a friend of my husband’s, who liked him a lot. My husband was a computer technician at a local high school where two of her daughters were students.
So one day this lady gave my husband a bag of condoms because she thought it was funny and also because she said since he wasn’t getting any at home he needed to be free to have sex with other women after he got off of work at the bar. When I found the condoms and confronted her, she acted like it was a huge joke. This woman knew for sure that he was cheating on me and she gave him a bag of condoms. When I reported it to the pastor, he talked to her and determined that it was just a joke and that I was being “too sensitive” and trying to “cause division” on the worship production team.
I often look back on my childhood and early adult years and wonder how on earth I could have believed such awful things and treated people so terribly. Libby Phelps had the same dilemma and she states: “people I know today wonder how I could have said and done the things I did, but I was living in an entirely different world with entirely different concepts.” (2017, p. 27). The things I said and did and believed seem like an entire lifetime ago, and yet it feels like just yesterday. I don’t fully recognize the person I used to be, but I also understand her. I know why I did what I did. No matter how hard I tried, I was never good enough.
I understand Phelps when she writes “there was something so rewarding knowing we were 100 percent right and everyone else was wrong. I wasn’t afraid of the world – I was sorry for everyone else, because they had no idea what was in store for them. Even if we told them a million times they were going to hell, they didn’t believe it.” (2017, p. 38). I guess I instinctively knew that some of this stuff was crazy because I was always berating myself for not telling enough people about Jesus and therefore they were dying and going to hell and I was responsible for their fate because I had been selfishly worried about being ridiculed and so I had said nothing. I was told that one day, when I got to heaven, I would see the people in hell and hear them asking me through their intense torment, why I never warned them.
Although I would be in heaven enjoying its pleasures, I would be haunted for eternity by the voices of those in hell asking me why I never told them. This is why me and a lot of my friends always confessed during revivals or youth camps that we were not witnessing, and we begged God to forgive us. I was told by the church that God would not say “well done, thou good and faithful servant” on judgment day and because those words are in the Bible, I was desperate to hear them. I actually imagined being in courtroom where my life was shown on a screen, which is basically what I was told would happen, and God would demand that I account for all the time I wasted on worldly pleasures instead of witnessing. I was told that the Bible taught that I would have to give an account for every single idle word I spoke, and even every thought.
Even my thoughts had to be pure and perfect. I would be judged by a holy and righteous God for thinking it was unfair that I was being beaten for something I didn’t do, or for entertaining worldly thoughts such as wanting desperately to go to school instead of being homeschooled. The thoughts of hatred I had in my heart towards my parents at times…all those would be judged in this heavenly court, and to add to my shame, everybody would see this video played out and I would stand in shame before the Lord and everyone who ever lived.
Phelps, Libby. Girl on a Wire: Walking the Line Between Faith and Freedom in the Westboro Baptist Church, 2017: Skyhorse.