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Growing up in ATI, our parents often told us, “Because of the way we’re raising you, you won’t have any regrets.” Their regrets included broken relationships, sexual sins, temptations, “wasted” years and the like. All of which we would to avoid because of our sheltered, carefully controlled upbringing.
We don’t know if our parents honestly thought we would have absolutely NO regrets or whether they simply believed that was the logical outcome of this “‘new’ approach to life” in which they were raising us. After all, if we lived according to to God’s “universal, non-optional” principles, we were to have success! Surely “no regrets” was part of that success?
The following stories, told by former Advanced Training Institute (ATI) students on various online forums, are a small sampling of those who discovered the hard way that “no regrets” was unequivocally untrue.
“Our parents failed to tell us, (or perhaps didn’t understand themselves), that most of their ‘regrets’ had more to do with their neurotic obsession with finding a version of themselves that never existed; writing a better version of their past, than with any realistic pursuit of a better life. A child is not a lump of clay to be shaped into a better version of your younger self in order to replace your own timeline with one you like better.” M.H.
“My greatest regret is not dating and probably marrying the man I loved when I was 19. My parents did not approve of him, and I obeyed them and married the man they did approve of. I thought if I didn’t marry him, I’d end up an old maid. It was the biggest mistake of my life, and I am now divorced. If I’d been able to date around a little bit, I would have gained enough understanding and maturity to see the red flags that I did not see then. My other regret is not getting a college degree when I was young, before marriage and kids. Now it is too expensive and difficult to get a degree, I no longer have the time or energy.” L. J.
“We were promised a beautiful love story ‘without regrets’ if we followed courtship teachings and authority principles. My husband and I have so many regrets about how we ‘got to the marriage altar’ since those principles put us in bondage, sparked such a nightmare in my family, and left me with significant emotional damage. We were promised a love story we could share with others to help them see a better way, with God’s hand evident at every turn. We ended up with a story that causes others to respond with, ‘What?! You can’t be serious!” and serves to show others a destructive way to avoid.” J. K.
“Looking for a good job, finding one that looks good and getting to the qualifications only to realize they require a two year degree at least. I regret listening to the whole, ‘character will open doors for you that education never will.’ Bologna! Education gets you in, character and work ethic keep you in. I have many regrets, but my deepest regret is starting to raise my kids in a way that diminished their personality and demanded what they should not have to give. I had to learn to be a loving parent when I could have enjoyed years of seeing them blossom and grow.” K.B.
“I definitely regret not going to college at 18. I wouldn’t have been ready until this year, but if I’d been given a different education, I would have been ready way earlier.” E.C.
“I actually kinda regret not having any major regrets. That is, I wish I’d taken more chances, experienced more of life, lived less in fear and more in the moment! I wish I had been exposed more to the real world so that I could better develop my interests and passions.” K.W.
“All the time I thought I was becoming an especially mature Christian because of all the special “inside info” we were being taught. No one told me I would wake up twelve years later and feel like I needed to start over again. So, I regret the years lost. I regret years spent perfecting my perfectionism and people-pleasing skills. I regret the distance placed between us and our non-ATI friends because of music and dress standards. I regret the lack of positive real-life experience (in spite of attending a secular college) because I had to function within a pretty small “fence” – for my protection. I regret the huge burden of responsibility placed on my parents by ATI teachings that caused them to be overprotective and controlling out of false fear.” J.K.
In addition to the specific examples noted above, many of us carry regrets that are harder to explain. We regret that we have to deal with unwanted emotional, psychological, and spiritual baggage. A childhood that ought to have been beautiful and sweet, was instead crushed with the harsh, unforgiving burden of living under the hundreds of ATI rules. We regret that as adults we have stunted relationships with our parents who seem incapable of ever just loving us, but instead always finding something in our lives to judge and condemn.
For some, we regret the stunted emotional growth that left us partnerless. For others, we regret not spending our young adult years building marketable skills we could use to support ourselves, as we continuously struggle to make ends meet. And others regret the loss of opportunity to learn how to make friends as children, as we now struggle with making and keeping good friends
And finally, for many, we regret the opportunity in our youth to come to know God as He truly is, as we struggle with being afraid of God’s wrath. Or being afraid that someone else will spiritually trick us with more empty, unfulfilling promises. We are paralyzed: too afraid to approach God, yet too afraid to leave Him.
Those of us who have found Jesus in spite of our upbringing, wrestle with the knowledge that the misery and sometimes terrible things we suffered in our upbringing were done to us in the NAME of Christ. A false Christ. That makes all of this a lot worse than being raised without Him in the first place. We were raised with the most subtle of lies, “This is the real Christ”, when in fact it was not Him at all.
These “universal, non-optional” principles not only failed to give us the promised success and happiness, they left us with more regrets than can be counted.
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