Seemed like a good idea at the time

Lemmonex’s comment and an IM from Dirty Haiku got me to thinking that I should probably explain a lil about my background going into Liberty. This post is based off of an essay I did this semester for school, that I’ve bloggified a lil.

Why did I think Liberty was a good idea? How did I survive such an atmosphere?  Well, you see, my mother was a conservative, evangelical Christian.  I was home-schooled so I would not be exposed to the bad influences of the heathen world.  My hair could not be cut, since it was considered a woman’s covering. This meant no shaving or plucking either.  Only Jezebel wore makeup, so that was out too. If I painted my nails anything other than clear, my mother called me a witch. (or weeeeeetch) Pants could not be worn since a woman’s clothing could not resemble that of men, skirts had to be knee-length or longer, but since I couldn’t shave my legs, ankle length skirts were the norm.

As most Floridians, we had a pool in our backyard, but since one piece swimsuits were too indecent and wearing shorts on top of the suit would be too similar to men’s clothing, I had to wear a garment resembling a muumuu on top of my swimsuit. Thankfully, we had a 6-ft. tall private fence surrounding our backyard so no one could see my muumuu-ed cannonballs.

We didn’t celebrate Christmas, since it was believed to be a pagan holiday. We didn’t celebrate Halloween because it was a satanic holiday. We didn’t celebrate birthdays because — well, I don’t remember why, but I’m sure there was a scripture to back it up.

Going to the doctor was considered a weakness since we depended on God to heal. Once I was bitten by a spider and had a severe allergic reaction, so severe that a normal family would have taken me to an emergency room for treatment. My family called an emergency prayer meeting.

Women were not allowed to work outside the home, nor were they expected to go to college. We were to be keepers at home until we got married and then keep that home while populating the planet.  Once I graduated high school at age 16, I spent 3 years sitting in my room reading every mother-approved Christian novel I could get my hands on while waiting for my future husband to magically appear. When I was 19 my mother finally figured out I was severely depressed. The only reason I didn’t consider suicide was because I didn’t want to die a virgin. Priorities people, priorities.

And yes, I know that over 18 means you’re an adult, but seriously I had no where to go.  No job skills, no friends or family that weren’t already Christians so I couldn’t run away to them and living on  the streets was so not happening. I like my creature comforts.

My mother finally looked at the catalog I had requested for an uber-conservative Christian college, Pensacola Christian College. I didn’t care what kind of rules I had to follow as long as I was out of the house.

Some of the rules:

  • Only skirts and dresses were allowed
  • Pantyhose must be worn at all times when outside
  • you could not go off-campus alone and you had to provide an itinerary  of where you were going – deviate from that and it was a trip to the dean’s office
  • no talking to boys off campus
  • no talking to boy on campus after dark
  • you could ONLY attend campus church and had an attendance card you turned in to monitor
  • lights out by 10.45 on weeknights, 11.30 on weekends
  • no touching whatsoever of the opposite sex unless it was a sibling
  • no TV except for heavily- edited (by the admin)  news.

Even with all that “protection” we had many, many arguments before she agreed to let me go, provided my major was she wanted: Home Economics. The master plan was that I would be an interior decorator that could work from home until I got married. Wheeee.

After a year there and butting heads with many a khaki-skirted conservative (I may have debated loudly in the commons about Constitutional rights being violated once or twice) and a run-in with the dean’s office over me trying to return some textbooks to the campus bookstore for a friend. Lamest reason for a visit to the dean, ever.

My sophomore year I transferred to Liberty. It was more “liberal” than my previous college, but I promised my mom that I would be a good little girl and not let those weak-minded Christians that weren’t as strict as we were be a bad influence. If Christianity has taught me one thing, it’s to be a good liar.

I could wear pants there.  I could go off campus with out trying to get at least 3 other girls to go with me when I needed tamps. If I ran into male classmate at Wal-Mart, I could say hi. I didn’t have to worry about my music being considered demonic.  If I overslept on a Sunday, no one busted my balls. I could choose what church, if any I wanted to go to. Some services were required like Convocation 3 times a week, but at least there I could sit w/ my dorm mates and not a randomly assigned seat that was monitored.

So at HellU I wore pants for the first time since I was a toddler. I told my mom that the pants I bought would only be worn in the winter b/c of the cold; I slipped those American Eagle khakis on the second they drove off. The makeup I had experimented with as a freshman became part of my daily routine. My waist-length hair slowly became a very short bob. I switched majors from Home Ec to Journalism, (that’s a whole other blog post) thereby ending any hope that I would become a keeper at home. I flirted with boys. I learned how to drive. Once I moved off campus my senior year, I started smoking Swisher Sweets and Black & Milds while sipping on Seagrams wine coolers.  (I know, I know)  Definitely not typical of a Liberty student, but you could find all types at LU. I just happened to find the “wrong crowd”.

While Liberty opened up an avenue of freedom, there was still some redonkulous stuff that I had to put up with: hypocrisy, intolerance,  holier-than-thou-ism and of course, rules.  Don’t even get me started on the censorship of the school paper.

But, in my mind, I knew if I waited  it out, an escape route would open and if going to a Christian college was what it took to get out, then so be it.  I knew that somewhere out there was a land flowing with gin and tonic.

Side note: I really can’t wait to start reading Kevin Roose’s book Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University.

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~ by pithycomments on May 1, 2009.

9 Responses to “Seemed like a good idea at the time”

  1. I’m really sorry you’ve been exposed to the “ugly side” of Christianity. I think sometimes (with good intentions) people forget that as Christians we’re supposed to love others and have grace. Christianity isn’t about rules and regulations, pantyhose and khaki skirts…it’s about a real and personal relationship with a God that loves us.

    Sorry for the sermon, but I just wanted you to know that not ALL Christians are out to judge you, condone you, and ridicule you. 🙂

    I’m fully aware of that, but unfortunately, those Christians are in a minority while the “ugly side” is front and center.

  2. heeeeee. You owned American Eagle clothes.

    Yes, and I’ve never set foot in one since.

  3. Wow.

    Congrats on breaking free.

    And, I loved: “Christianity has taught me one thing, it’s to be a good liar.”

    thanks!
    Other skills I have include zoning out during church services while keeping up w/ the proper pages in the Bible/hymnal.

  4. Wow, that’a a pretty powerful piece of writing.

    I found myself wondering if you’d left anything out describing your first school that made LU such an improvement.

    I believe moderation in all things is important, especially when it comes to religion. Also, St. Augustine said it best: “Oh Lord, let me be pure, but not yet.”

    well, not having to wear pantyhose in Florida every day was one improvement. Once I transferred, I burned all the hose in the backyard. Haven’t worn a pair since. Pantyhose is of the devil.

  5. Oh. My lord.

    Wait; poor choice of words.

    I always knew you were amazing, but this? This blows my mind. You are an incredible person, chica.

    My favorite sentence: “The only reason I didn’t consider suicide was because I didn’t want to die a virgin. Priorities people, priorities.”

    I heart you.

    awwww, thanky! I heart you too! Another random thought from those days: I don’t want to marry a virgin. One of us needs to know what to do.

  6. Hard to believe that someone with your background tweeted “I certainly hope that the dark haired hottie at the gym notices and appreciates my workout pants w/ I Will Bite across my ass.”

    Or maybe it’s b/c of my background. Hmmmm…..

  7. Wow – what a journey. I’m going to have to start subscribing.

    Awesome, thanks!

  8. What is about strict religious upbringings that drive a girl to gin and tonic? My upbringing was nearly as strict as yours, but it still sucked. And I left as quick as I could and haven’t looked back! I raise my flask of gin to you.

    • Ooookaaay, Didi needs to lay off the sauce and learn to type. I meant to say – What is it about strict religious upbringings that drive a girl to gin and tonic? My upbringing was not nearly as strict as yours, but it still sucked. And I left as quick as I could and haven’t looked back! I raise my flask of gin to you.

      Heee, welcome Didi! And we’re all a lil’ sauced up over here.

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