Some years ago I read an article where the author described growing up in an eggshell. She had been told that this white shell protected her and brought comfort but she found it to be a barrier, preventing her yolk from being free. It hindered her from knowing how to talk to God, from expressing what she couldn’t find within herself, from developing faith and from rejoicing without hesitation. Her empty soul searched for something more but could find nothing within the shell and she could not look outside the shell. The eggshell she described was the Adventist eggshell. I found her sense of emptiness overwhelming but familiar. I, too, was raised in the Adventist eggshell, but unlike the author in the eggshell, I have broken free from my Adventist eggshell.
According to my family legend, my great-great grandfather chose the Adventist eggshell when a traveling colporteur convinced him of the “Sabbath truth.” He joined the fledgling Adventist church in the mid-1800s and became “the first Adventist in Missouri.” This “Sabbath truth” was then handed down through the generations, mostly through the women of the family. My grandmother introduced her new husband to the Sabbath truth, and he converted to Adventism. Later, “because of the Sabbath,” he lost his job at the bank, an appropriate sacrifice for the eggshell lifestyle. My mother introduced my father to the Sabbath truth, and for a time, he lived inside the eggshell, only to find it, and her, full of hypocrisy and joyless. So he divorced her, abandoned me and returned to his previous faith.
I was educated in the eggshell way of life from first grade through college. My choice of career inside the eggshell was limited to one of three options—teaching, nursing or medicine so I “choose” nursing, a safe and approved profession. Medical careers were preferred since healing was acceptable "work" on the Sabbath and as such, would not crack the eggshell. Music played a considerable role in my eggshell life, but I could never attend any competitions or band festivals because that would cause me to break the Sabbath. The eggshell determined my diet, vegetarian but loaded with cheese and of course, eggs. We didn’t eat meat for “health reasons” but it was really because the prophet forbid it despite her own carnivorous diet. The eggshell even determined how I dressed—very unadorned. Visions about being Miss America played no part of my little girl dreams because Miss America wore earrings, and eggshells didn’t wear them. Jewelry served no function and so was forbidden. One eggshell teacher quipped that when Adventists arrive in heaven their crowns will have no gems in them; where the jewels should be, there will be clocks, a functional accessory. What about movies, theater or makeup? "That’s not what good little Adventist girls should do" was my grandmother’s standard answer. I didn’t know why; that was just the way eggshells were.
I played my predetermined role perfectly, from being a church musician to teaching Sabbath School to serving on numerous committees just because I didn’t know I could say no. No one said no in my family, either, especially not to my mother. Keeping a false peace was preferable to telling the truth so I learned to tread carefullly.
One day, though, a small voice pierced my eggshell: "There is something more than this." I began sneaking out to "non-eggshell" Christian bookstores, praying that God would protect me. After all, when one lives in an eggshell, the slightest tap might crack the shell. Little did I know that the shell was really hard. Secretly I read books by Christian authors and met a Christian author named Emilie. She penetrated my eggshell and showed me that there was life outside of it. What made these people so different from the eggshells that I knew? How did these people know so much about God when they didn’t have "the truth" like I did? Where did their joy come from?
One day I ran into an eggshell friend who shared about a wonderful non-denominational Bible study she was attending. I wondered how a Bible study could be worthy of all this joy and excitement. Bible study was only something people did to become eggshells. Even then, it was always mixed with “truth” from the prophet’s books. Without her “inspired” commentary, how else would we know what the Bible meant? We were so lucky to have a “true” prophet like Ellen G. White. Eventually, God led me to this Bible study where I began to learn how much I didn’t know about God, the Bible and salvation. After twenty-two years in eggshell "Christian" schools, thirty years in the “remnant church" with the “Sabbath truth,” and 1560 Sabbaths, I still did not know my true Sabbath Rest, Jesus Christ.
Eventually, the eggshell of my youth received a fatal blow: the "pillars" of the church—the Sabbath, the investigative judgment, and E.G. White—shattered in the light of Scripture. As the shells fell away, I realized these pillars had blinded my vision of Jesus. He was to be the substance of my faith. At that point, He became my Savior and my life.
A short time later, I left the Adventist church. Life outside the eggshell was very scary; I didn’t know anyone who had ever left the eggshell. I didn’t know what I would eat, where to send the children to school or even how to make friends. I realize now how constricting the eggshell was, how in many ways it crippled me. I now take comfort in the fact that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. He can use my wounds to help heal and warn others. I gather now with believers whose only focus is Jesus—not on ourselves, a prophet, externals or disputable matters; He creates a change of heart from the yolk out. When I study the Bible now, it is uncontaminated with bits of egg white. The Holy Spirit helps His pure Word to stick to my yolk.
Would I ever go back to the eggshell? Never. Humpty Dumpty could never be put together again. Likewise, I cannot squeeze back into the eggshell nor would I want to; however, I continue to work among a sizeable clutch of eggshells, who have been taught to believe that I am destined to receive the mark of the beast for having left the eggshell. I used to desire freedom from this stigma but I am still here, encouraging others as they begin to peck at their eggshells. Most of the time, however, I warn believers about the dangers of this white eggshell. I am now free, free in Christ, free to be scrambled and used in whatever way the Lord has for me. The General Eggshells probably aren’t happy about free, cracked eggs like me but it wasn’t for protective eggshells that Christ died—it was for freedom.
March 30, 1994 (Revised in 2013) Eggshells.gac, © Geneva Chinnock
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