The Liberty Connection

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Finding Freedom

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Finding Freedom

I was born in Newfoundland in a town called Paradise. The 2x2 (Meetings, Friends, F&W, The "truth") religion in Newfoundland was very strict. Although I didn't know much about it as a young little girl. My younger sister and I just did as we were told. I remember hearing my Grandparents and Parents saying that if the sister workers or workers do it, then we do it. From a very young age we were taught that the workers were way up there, that they were perfect. That was the impression that I had as a kid.

School started... My Dad is French and he wanted us to go to a French school. the only French school was a Catholic school about 30 minutes away. Every morning my dad would drive us there. It was a nightmare from the very beginning. We were so different--always in skirts, never pants, so much so that we wore skirts over our snow pants. Not only were we different on the outside, we were not allowed to sit in religion class (mom and dad's rules); we would sit out in the hallway during that time. I believe to this day that because I was extremely different than everyone else, I was physically, mentally and verbally abused by both the students and the teachers. It completely ruined me. It shaped my view of myself. I could not understand really why I was so hated there. From that time on I did not feel worthy of friendships, I would not get close to people for fear they would see something in me and run away, or hurt me. To this day it is a struggle, but I am so thankful that I now know that I am God's daughter and he loves me so unconditionally.

Growing up we were very secluded from the rest of the world. we weren't really allowed to have friends outside the meetings, we didn't attend dances, or any activity that was put on by the school that would be considered worldly. I always felt like such an odd ball, but at the same time so privileged because I was a part of something that no one else had. I was a part of the only "way" It was a weird feeling. I remember thinking why did we have a chance to be saved and no one else?

I learned at a very young age that being a woman in the 2x2's is much different than being a man. Women sacrifice so much more than men. I never questioned it or read my bible about it. I just went along with what everyone else was doing. Convention was always a fashion show growing up. My mom would spend so much money buying 4 new complete outfits for my sister and me. It never seemed to be about the spiritual things. I simply remember hearing mostly about "Dying to ourselves." " Don't be like the world." So that would drive my parents to seclude us even more from the world.

We moved to Quebec when I was 11years old. My dad took a job with his brother. We lived in St. Hubert, QC for 1 year. Mom and dad wanted to make sure it was the right fit for us. So they rented a little place. This was 1997/98. After that year we all moved about 1 hour and a half away to a little town called Richmond. Mom and dad purchased a house outside of town in the country. We lived 5 minutes from the Richmond convention grounds. As a 12 year old girl starting in a new school once again, it was hard. I remember bringing my jeans to school and changing into them just so I could fit in for the day. I had friends, but only in school. I had to beg and beg to go over to their house after school or on weekends. Most of the time it would be a "no," without any explanation. I remember dad getting so mad at me if boys would call the house. He would blame me for it. Like I did something to make them want to call me. We were not allowed to draw the attention of boys because it was forbidden to marry outside of the "way" I felt so awkward.

My experience being raised as a 2x2 was sad. There was absolutely no freedom. I felt so distant from the rest of the world. As I got older, I would sneak out to the car and listen to the radio before mom would be ready to go. It was the only time I got to listen to music at all, other than someone playing the hymns on the piano.

Growing up so close to the convention grounds was pretty awesome. It was the only time I felt normal, felt that I fit in, in some way. Preps were a month long ordeal back then, mom and dad would invite the whole crew (workers and "friends") over on Friday nights for a bon fire, and we would play badminton ( in our skirts of course). But I remember these nights so plainly; they were fun. It's like we forgot for one night about all the silly rules and just had fun.

In the spring of 2004, I met my now husband, Jon Myers. We met through a mutual professing girl. We chatted for a good couple of months online before we met. In the summer of 2004, I was 18 years old and I decided I was going to move to Fargo, North Dakota. Well, the border people had other ideas, so I ended up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When I first started visiting Jon, the very first thing I noticed was the girls. They wore jeans (outside of meetings, of course). I was shocked and confused. How was it that the "way" with which I was told over and over was the "same the world over" could be so different here. I remember being angry, but I eventually just let it go without questioning. Jon and I got married in 2x2 fashion on September 30th 2005 in a cute little town in Vermont.

Jump forward to January 2006, I got a call from my dad that my sister who was 18 at the time had left the meetings and moved out. It didn't overly surprise me because she had been living on the edge for quite some time. When she was 13/14 years old my mom pulled her out of school for a year just to try and get her away from friends that were a bad influence (drugs, smoking and stuff like that). He said I had better fly home and be with my mom. So I got on the first flight I could and I flew home to Quebec. My mom was a mess, crying all the time, saying things like "she is doomed to hell," "She is so lost."

I asked my sister why she had left, and she told me that she felt like a hypocrite. She would say one thing in meeting and live another way outside the meetings. I did not understand it much then, but I sure do understand that feeling now. Today she is a beautiful new mom, with so much confidence and love. She does not attend meetings, nor does she have any desire to go back.

So, I told myself right there that I would stay in the meetings forever. I did not want to do this to my mom. I came home from there with a vow that I was going to try really hard at being a perfectly professing woman. Long skirts, no makeup, hair up in a bun, no jewelry, etc. (that's what I thought it meant to be that person). I did not get close to any outsiders or "Friends." I tried and tried and failed and failed again and again.

Outwardly looking the part, but inwardly spiritually dying every day. I never felt good enough for God. The testimonies I would hear in the meetings were from the friends crying over never feeling worthy. It seemed like there was a pattern of people trying and trying to be good enough and failing all the time. Gospel meetings I would hear very little about Jesus and God's unconditional love for me and more about self denial. I kept thinking to myself what else do I need to deny for God to love me.

2014 I was done. I was going to meeting in just a physical form, trying hard to find something to share on the way to meeting. I had checked out. That year I met my very best friend Kelsey. We started running together, it was amazing. We would have deep conversations about God and faith. It was beautiful. She decided to come to meetings and become a part of them. It was great. I thought ok, well if she sees something, then there must be something I am missing. I decided to try again. It didn't last long for Kelsey. As soon as the workers and some friends started saying things like no one else is saved outside the meetings, or all other churches are worldly, she left.

2016-17 was very dark for me. I went to meetings but was checked out, depressed, having anxiety attacks, checked out from God. Questioning if I really even believed in God. Did I even have a revelation from God or was I just doing what I was taught to do since a child. I think I checked out because in my mind if I didn't go to meetings, then there was no hope for me. All I heard in meetings from a child up was "all other churches are worldly." "Church buildings are from the devil." I honestly did not think that God existed outside of the meetings.

2017 Hunter Convention. I went into this convention like I had the previous couple of years. Not wanting to be there but showing up because of family and because of my own kids. Something happened that year, It was as if I felt God speaking directly to me, saying, "Listen and I will show you me." I started hearing things from the platform that would not sit with me right. I thought that was odd, so at nights in the dorms I took out my bible and looked up the things that I heard. Thinking, well, this isn't what I am reading. I remember asking Jon the very same thing; to my surprise he had noticed the very same thing. That year God spoke to me in between meetings while I read my bible. I can't explain it and most people simply don't understand, and I cried a lot.

2017-18 was a year of a lot of questions for both of us. I was so confused half the time. I prayed and prayed and cried and cried. I bought an ESV version of the bible; it was easier for me to understand. I wondered why God was showing me all these things that did not line up with what the workers taught. I questioned, well, maybe it's the devil and not God talking to me, But I had no peace at all until I told God one day. "OK, I believe everything you have been showing me." I had peace after that. A peace that I know only comes from God.

Back up a little bit. I started to do a little research, scared to death because that was a huge NO. I was even told by a well known worker from here that all that stuff is put out there to destroy our faith. Anyway, I found out that the very "way" that we were following was indeed started by a man. WHAT??? The meetings were started by someone?

I felt sick, I felt lied to. We were told that it was most definitely not started by a man; that it was from the "shores of Galilee." How can this be? So I researched more and there is so much information about this man and his mission on the TTT website. I came across this website while searching online for any information about the 2x2's. I was shocked. It shook me.

Then God gently moved me to read about his amazing Grace. I cried so hard. This is a gift from my God. His Grace is for me, and I don't have to work for it. He is giving it to me. Eph 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing it is a gift of God. 9 Not a result of works so that no one may boast." Wow how beautiful is that. I started listening to Christian music in the house awhile before all this, and I remember so plainly one day while doing the dishes the song by Chris Tomlin "Amazing Grace my Chains are Gone" came on. I stood there and for the first time really listening to the words. I cried so hard. It was like I met Jesus that day for the first time. He died for me. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. Ephesians, Galatians, Romans, John and so so much more speaks about God's grace and how we are saved.

Back to the questions. I started journaling, because I felt like it was the only way for me to get all the thoughts out of my head. I loved all the things that God was revealing to me, to the point where I would get so excited for Jon to come home so I could tell him everything I had read and learned that day. Since I am a woman, I had to research women's attire. Our outward appearance. Are we really only meant to wear skirts and all that? The more I read the more I found out that God's children did indeed wear jewelry and even piercings. Say what???

Then the Question about pants. Everyone I talked to in the meetings referred me to Deut. 22:5 During those times men and women both wore robes. They were a little different from each other, but they were both robes. Just like today, there are women's pants and there are men's pants. All these things were big revelations to me given the way I grew up. It seems silly now, but these were very real struggles for me, struggles that caused anger and a lot of anxiety.

Ahhh John 3:16. "For God SO loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not come into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him."

I have clung to this verse. cried over it. God so loved us that he gave his son, and if we believe, we are saved. What an amazing beautiful thing. God knew that we would never measure up, we would never be good enough and that is why he gave us Jesus. Jesus took all that away for us. He finished it. Hebrews is another great study that I have come to love. Jesus says "I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the father except through me," (John 14:6). Another revelation to me. Jesus himself and no one else is the way. We don't need to go through anyone. I really could quote so many verses that has helped me process all of the things I was feeling.

Winter 2017 I got a phone call from a man in Minot. He had been to a store that sold my creations and had bought a sign I had made that said "Believe." He wanted to talk to me and tell me how much that sign had meant to him. We talked as if we were not strangers at all. He told me his story, and how he is opening up his heart to God again, and how he put that sign on his bookshelf by his door so that on his way out he is reminded that he just needs to believe. I cried with him that day and I cannot explain this moment. I just know that God works in the most amazing ways. He was, in his time, opening my eyes to show me that he does indeed exist outside the meetings and that he is so so big.

Spring of 2018 at this point we were still going to meetings. I had asked a worker some of my questions only to get abrupt answers in return.

One day I got a call from a friend in Fargo. She had informed me on the phone that they had just left the meetings about a month prior to our conversation. It was unexpected, as we had never talked on the phone before. I remember posting about it on Facebook, saying, God is so good. He shows up in such unexpected ways sometimes and it warms the heart. God's timing is so perfect. Anyway, she had asked me if I would be interested in going to a women's bible study at a church in Fargo. I was very reluctant. I had not been inside a church before other than for Boy Scouts for Wyatt.

I said I would think about it. They were on Friday mornings at 9 am. I got to thinking that it might be a little tight with the kids getting on the bus at 8, I would have to rush and leave right away. Anyway, I decided I would give it a try--what could go wrong? I started out to Fargo, nervous as could be, got to the church parking lot and decided I would sit in my car and wait for my friend. I did not want to walk in there by myself. The more I sat there, the more and more restless I got. Then I heard God talking to me. "Just go in, I am here with you and you are going to be just fine."

I got out of my car and started to walk towards the door, the whole time telling myself that I would go in and stand beside the door and wait. Well, I wasn't in there very long and I had ladies coming up to me and introducing themselves and let me tell you, I immediately felt peace. Two of the ladies there I knew from my business. How amazing is that, of all the people in Fargo!

The bible study started and the love and the zeal for God that these women had touched me in a way that I have never felt before. How could anyone say that these women were faking it? How could anyone say that they were not saved just because they did not go to meeting? I still go to those bible studies and those ladies have become so dear to me. These are bible studies held by the church in Fargo, separate from BSF.

Another thing I noticed was a lack of Joy it seemed in the meetings. Jesus died and covered all of our sins; that is a joyful thing. We should be shouting for Joy and praising God with lifted hands. It speaks so much about that in Psalms, singing to the lord with a joyful noise with instruments and dancing even. This is something I had seen in other churches and in my bible study group. There was happiness and zeal and Joy for what God had done and is doing in their lives. I wanted that, and I wanted that for our family.

Spring/Summer 2018. I knew that God was indeed calling me out of the meetings and into fellowship with so many more Christians. I did not know how Jon felt at this point and was afraid to even begin the process. I knew how my family reacted when my sister left and it was not good. At this point I was done worrying about my outward appearance (in keeping modest). I remember I started to wear a simple necklace that said Trust the Journey. I wore it to meetings too; why hide it? I thought it has to be worse to try and hide things. As soon as it was obvious on the outside to the people in the meetings that something was happening, they all mostly started avoiding me. I remember one time during prayer in Sunday morning meeting I was praying and one lady cleared her throat the whole time I was praying, and never did again the rest of the meeting. I had people avoid shaking hands with me. It just frustrated and angered me.

In the meantime, Jon was sharing some of my same feelings but no one batted an eye at him because he is a man and it was suddenly all on me. I was the one putting my family through what they call a "rebellion" when that was the complete opposite of what I was doing. I was getting closer to God then I have ever been. It was very evident to me then that it was all about the outside.

I remember clearly one night getting ready for gospel meeting. I was struggling with what to wear and not really wanting to go. I literally tried on every skirt I owned and nothing felt right. So I said to myself, OK, I will put on my nice pants and a tunic top. I can't begin to tell you the peace I had immediately after putting on that outfit. It was God's way of telling me that I was just fine the way I was and in the things that make me feel comfortable.

Emails started coming to Jon from his parents worried about me, of course, because I was the one showing the change. Worried about the painted nails, worried about the way I am dressed. These turned into back and forth emails until we met together for a weekend. We got told by family that if we left, we would no longer be brothers and sisters in Christ and so on. So many nights of crying and wondering why God was pulling us in a direction that neither of us thought we would take. We got put on a guilt trip because of the kids. How can we do this to the kids? Well, my response was how can I ignore what the Holy Spirit is saying to me? How can I ignore God's call in my life, but nobody understands that.

I was told to stop going to the bible studies that they are not good for me and that they are a bad influence. It was things like that that told us it was time; we needed to move on with what God wanted for our family. We both thought that we would write out some question we had and meet with the workers in our field. Questions about grace, salvation, appearance, etc. We never really got a straight answer on any of them. I was shocked but Jon said he really wasn't. He told the workers that a lot of the stuff I was going through he had already went through and found out. He was just waiting and giving me time to process it all. So we were on the same page.

Next step was telling our family. Jon's family took it better than mine. We do have a good relationship with his parents, sometimes it does get a bit dicey but for the most part I am thankful for their acceptance.

My Family, it's different. I went from talking on Skype to my mom everyday to not talking at all. The kids call and talk with them but that's it right now. I got blamed for my mom's sickness. I got told so many horrible things. I went through (and still do from time to time) periods of anger, saddness, guilt...I went to counseling to try to learn how to deal with it all. Sometimes I feel as though I am mourning.

We wrote a letter to our Sunday meeting in mid Aug 2018. This is what we wrote:

_____ and _____,

Firstly we want to thank you for your hospitality and open home over the last 13+ years. After a lot of searching/prayer we have decided to have fellowship elsewhere. We feel like God is opening a new door for us, and being that we are not only spiritual family but also natural family, we wanted to let you know. We have discussed this with Heidi and Anna so they are aware of our decision also. Our home will always be open to anyone wanting to visit with us. If anyone has any questions, they can contact us.

With Love,

Jon and Sara

Since then I can count on one hand the number of people who have reached out to say, "Hi." It feels sometimes as if we don't even exist anymore.  It is sad.

Our letter was printed off and handed to the other meeting in the area and read to the people after the Sunday morning meeting. I have heard from my Mother-in-Law that people have said that it is sad that they feel like we have closed the door, things are not the same, etc etc. It is frustrating because we clearly wrote in our email that our door will always remain open. I do miss people we met with, but then when I say that I feel as though they just wonder why we ever left. The freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to direct and move is just not there in the meetings, because if it was, people would be more apt to be happy for us that we have found a church home that feeds our souls. I don't blame the people really, it's just all they know.

For about 3 months or so we church-hopped around to many different ones, in the Fargo area and also in Mayville. We went to Evangelical Free Church in Mayville for a few months but it never really felt like home. Meanwhile, the pastor at our now church kindly invited us to attend a couple of times. I will be honest and say that my brainwashed mind told me that I never wanted to attend a Lutheran church because from what I was told it was a bad thing. I remember Jon telling me one day. Why aren't we going to church here in town? I cannot explain in words to you the feeling I got when I let go and let God direct me. From the moment we started going to Our Savior's Lutheran church, I felt like I was home. The kids settled in, everything felt so right. I had heard people say, "you will know when you know." Well this was it. The sense of community is real and felt. This is our church home. To come together as a community on Sunday and feel the power of God working and healing is amazing. I love feeling Joy and expressing it through worship, singing, and praying. Both the kids were baptized on Dec 8th and it was such a joyous day for all.

Since then I have started bible studies for women here in Hillsboro through our church and I teach Sunday school to the 1st graders. I have learned so much through the eyes of those children and its priceless. I have let go of a lot of the anger and such; it really does not get me anywhere. I do have days where it creeps back in. Those days I am more and more thankful for God's grace and his love that is unconditional and for all. Thankful for this experience because without it I would not have come to know the God of love, the God that is so big and cares for every little thing in our lives, natural and spiritual. Thankful because it has taught me to love others without bounds, without judgment, because everyone is a part of his beautiful creation and we have all been created for a purpose. For years I have put God in this little box, when really he is so much more than our minds can even comprehend.

That's a little snippet of my story, words typed out can hardly show the emotions, stress and anxiety I have gone through in the past 2 years. I am thankful for the Grace, and peace of God. Without that I would still be in a world of hurt. Thankful that we can call on God's grace on a daily basis.

With love