One of the more difficult tasks of leaving an authoritarian religious group, for me, has been leaving behind a scripted life. I believe I have gone "off script" enough times to have overcome this challenge, but I am continually surprised by the embedded behaviors from the UBF group that surface from time to time.
At first, I refused to admit I had been a willing actor in UBF's scripted life. I believed I had made all my life decisions myself. I was living my life as a Shepherd and was choosing to follow the UBF lifestyle, or so I thought. Through a series of events, my eyes were opened and I realized I was living in a grand script--the UBF Shepherd script. Deviating from this script, even by wearing an orange shirt as a UBF conference messenger, was not tolerated well at all by the UBF leaders. Soon I realized I had made few life choices on my own. Nearly every part of my life had been lived under the scrutiny and approval (or disapproval) of my UBF Shepherd. Often the choices I had thought I had turned out to be nothing more than undue influence to persuade me to make the one choice that my Shepherd approved.
What do I mean by a scripted life? Here are some real examples...as a UBF person, the time and the place and the reason and the ways you do almost everything are all according to script--the UBF lifestyle script.
As a UBF Shepherd, you write a lot of testimonies. Think your testimony is unique? Think the leaders at UBF really care about what you share each Friday night? Think again. Answer a few questions on my "ubferator" testimony generator, and wallah! Your testimony is done. Click here to generate your testimony. This saves much time and few people, if any, will notice.
As an experienced UBF Shepherd surely you have had to rebuke your sheep by now. Need help with that rebuke? Click here to rebuke your sheep in UBFism style.
Not a Shepherd yet? Still a UBF sheep? Well you are in luck! You can answer those question sheets in a jiffy. Click here to generate UBF question sheet answers. (Bonus! If you want more specific answers to the UBF questions sheets, they are all posted here by a former UBF leader: free Bible study help)
I say all these in jest, buy only partially. Laugh if you will, but the "ubferator" links above demonstrate the scripted nature of UBFism quite well. Openly and publicly admitting this scripted life has helped me tremendously. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine!
How have you dealt with a scripted life? Do you go "off script" from time to time? If you are a UBF member, could you leave the UBF lifestyle for 30 days?