Tag Archives: The Ring

Why I Don’t Wear “The Ring.”

7 Nov

This is a ring.

It says “Semper Honorablus” which mean “Always Honorable” in Latin, I guess.

I was given this ring when I was eighteen, after “committing to live a life of honor.”
I don’t talk about this much. I might say casually when people ask me where I went to school,

“Oh, this errr… bible college.”

Sometimes, I will mention to people I lived on a bus for two and a half years. Some look at me like I am insane, most don’t really care.

I don’t always mention all the wonderful and terrible things that happened from being a part of Teen Mania Ministries for four years.

I don’t mention I took the ring off soon after leaving in 2007, because I didn’t even know what it meant anymore.

I began to question what I really believed and whether aspects of my faith were really mine, or something that had been forced on me.

Can I be honest and say, it’s hard to write this?

I decided to no longer remain silent because things seem to be coming to a head. People are hurt, and people are angry at those who are hurt.

People say Teen Mania is an abusive cult.

People say it is a life-changing program, the best ministry ever.

People say that it is where God is.

People say that God has used this ministry to transform thousands of lives. I  understand that, mine included. I was seventeen and desperately needed God. I knew if I didn’t go to the Honor Academy I would end up in a trailer park with the baby of some druggie.

But right now, I need to shut out what people are saying.

Right now I am letting go of it all, the good, the bad, the ugly.

Not because of what anyone did to me, but because of the bondage I put myself under.

Please hear my heart in this. I am not slandering anyone.

I  am speaking up now, because a lot of things have changed. Because I have changed. Because I used to be afraid. I wasn’t necessarily afraid of not being accepted by God, (at least not after a while) I was afraid of not being accepted by them.

Being accepted by the group I claimed allegiance too, spent thousands of hours on the phone convincing people to attend, gave four years of my life to… that meant everything.

At one time I felt guilty. I felt like I owed them my allegiance. After all, I experienced the love of God there like I never had anywhere else. I realized my life had purpose there. I learned to love myself there. The world opened up to me. I got to travel, experience incredible things. I met some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and many of them I still have a deep connection with.

But now I know, those things were simply the grace of God in my life.
Jesus was loving me.
I am not angry. Ok maybe a little. I am angry people are hurt and no one is listening. I am angry at the gross militaristic “us vs. them” mentality. I am angry at religion trying to make people pay for what God has already given us for free. But by the grace of God, I am not bitter. I am thankful for the things I learned, the opportunities I had, and the beautiful people I met.

But I can’t wear the ring. To me, it represents a mental and emotional legalistic pressure that Jesus never ever put on me.

I am under no obligation to anyone but Christ.
And in that, I am free.

I don’t need to “be the standard.”
I don’t need to conjure up some fake pious morality.
I don’t need to sign a creed and commit to an ideal, a better way of life.

Those things are bullshit.

They don’t work.

Jesus made a covenant with God and has given me all things. I just simply have to believe. I don’t owe God anything… How can you pay for something that is a free gift? Even if I tried, I couldn’t pay Him back if I tried. God doesn’t want my disgusting bloody rags, my failed attempts to be holy.

He just wants me. And He has me.
He wants me to understand what he did on the cross was enough.
I don’t have to “try to get closer to him,” He is part of me.
I don’t have to rally people to a massive conference to beg God to “come down,” He is everywhere.

And I already am holy. Because He made me a new creation. It wasn’t my doing.

(At times, the self-righteous nineteen-year-old in me is cries, “Heresy!” in the back of my head. But I am learning to shut her up.)

I am completely free.
I am under no obligation to any system of religion, any conformity, any pressure to be a leader, or to keep up appearances.

I can just be Brooke.

And Brooke, with the Holy Spirit in her, is more than enough.


Ok, I need to add this. I don’t want this to come across like I am bashing Teen Mania. This is not my heart. I almost didn’t put the name here, but I figured most people would figure out what I am talking about anyways. This is not against people, this is against a system that tells you you have to be more then Jesus has already made you in him. I could apply this to many churches as well. There are Christian communities out there that are loving and grace filled and not exclusive. Those are amazing, we need more of those. The point is, my identity is not in being “alumni” or a church member at so-and-so.

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