Two years of blogging, two years of growth, hope for those hurt by church abuse
In Joel, God talks about restoring what the locusts had eaten. Today marks exactly two years since I began blogging.
As I reflect on the 2-year anniversary date of my initial blog and begin my 3rd year of blogging, I am reminded how much of my yucky locust-eaten life God has been able to use to restore me and also give hope to others. Seeing positive fruit from pain brings me a sense of resolve. I am thankful for that yucky past.
When I originally started blogging, the focus was on that particular church experience. Later, I began to see that God allowed my experience in the Homeschool Movement, connections with family integrated churches, Vision Forum, Bill Gothard, etc, to be beneficial in understanding the abusive systems we’ve seen in Christian Patriarchy. Being in these environments has given me a better understanding of how these groups function. I am thankful for these experiences.
Some of you are familiar with my original story – – that after noticing my negative Google reviews about my former church were being removed, I decided to move to a different venue so I could speak freely about my experience. While my former pastor was successful in silencing me on the Google review forum, he was not successful at his attempts to make me stop blogging despite the $500,000 defamation lawsuit he filed and lost (requiring him to pay close to $60K in attorney fees for the defendants, not including his own attorney fees).
Thanks, Chuck O’Neal and Beaverton Grace Bible Church, for suing me. I now see good fruit.
Two years ago when I started the blog, I probably would have defended the Homeschool Movement. I might have defended Patriarchy. I had no idea what egalitarianism was – never heard of it before. Feminism was treated like the F word in my circles. Courtship was normal. Dating was evil. I had “concerns” about singles. Divorce was for people who were lazy in their marriage and who don’t want to put effort into it and it should only be for infidelity and abandonment, if that. Now I have learned, through your stories, that not everything fits so neatly in these rigid rules. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and helping me to see your reality.
Two years ago, I thought I knew what a godly man looked like. Some of the men here have shown what real godly manhood looks like as you have defended me from other men who have come to the blog challenging me and speaking condescending to me because I am a woman. I missed this many times, but several of you saw it and stepped up to the plate to deal with it. I did not realize that in my Christian culture, I had allowed men to talk down to me, to rule over me. Thank you, men, for modeling that for me.
Not only has God used my pain to help others, I have seen God has done that for some of you as well. Last year I posted a comment from the former wife of a pedophile into an article in the hopes that other wives of pedophiles would find hope in their difficult journey. That particular post continues to help women who are desperate to talk to another person who has gone through similar circumstances. The first two wives that I facilitated in connecting behind the scenes are now friends and they avail themselves to help others wives who need help.
I believe this was a God-orchestrated meeting and God is using it to help women heal. Oh my, this brings tears to my eyes. You can’t just find a support group for wives of pedophiles – – this is a very unique and sensitive issue and now we have this help available. This is real church here – compassion in action. Thank you for modeling to us all how you have used your pain, ladies. You are an encouragement to me.
While some have attempt to discredit the articles here, media sources (Huffington Post, Charisma, The Christian Post, Christianity Today, Religion Dispatches, etc) have positively named or linked my name or Spiritual Sounding Board (SSB) in articles they have covered. I’ve been interviewed a number of times (details currently being worked on a new interview with radio station in Seattle) and SSB has established street credibility for covering stories fairly and accurately. This is important because so much of what we came from in spiritual abuse was not based in truth and sometimes it’s difficult to sift through the rubble of confusion. I’m thankful for this “street credibility” that has occurred in the last year couple of years, but especially last year as the blog has ventured out into bigger stories of abuse (SGM, Doug Phillips, Homeschool Movement).
I’ve mentioned before that sometimes it feels like SSB acts as spiritual/emotional triage resource. One of my favorite benefits of having street credibility is the resources I’ve been “collecting” along the way: attorneys, pastors, mental health professionals, etc. Sometimes, I am able to connect someone in a crisis with a key person who can help them in just minutes. To be able to direct people into the care of trusted and respected professionals is such a wonderful thing. I’ve lost track of the numbers of spiritual abuse/sex abuse victims I’ve referred to attorneys. This very week I was able to make such a referral for a sex abuse victim. I am very confident that this young lady is now in safe hands. Thank you to my friends and resource people who provide such practical help to people in crises.
There were a lot of “I” pronouns in the above paragraph, but the “I” could not have been there without YOUR backing. Your interaction on the blog gives me credibility so that trust is established quickly when people contact me privately. Thank YOU for your trust in me.
Doug Phillips and Vision Forum continues to be one of the more recent common search topics which lead people to the blog. SSB was the first blog to cover the story after one of YOU notified me. The teachings of Doug Phillips, Bill Gothard, and Christian Patriarchy are important to discuss. These Patriarchal leaders have led thousands of families into extra-Biblical teachings. These teachings have made homes fertile ground for potential abuse. Many are searching for answers and I hope they will get them answered here and elsewhere. (Side note: I am in the process of working on a Doug Phillips article to straighten up misinformation that has been reported elsewhere.) Thank YOU for trusting me to expose bad teachings.
Mostly, I am thankful for YOU, the life of the blog. Thanks for your encouragement along the way these past two years, your vulnerability in sharing your stories, your presence here. I love this community. I love the restoration work being done. I love the real ministry work, the donated money to people in need behind the scenes, the prayers and interactions. Thanks, all. I don’t think you will ever know how much you have helped others.
If you have favorite memories over the last 2 years, I’d love to hear them. ~JA
UPDATE: Please read in the comments for further clarification on thanking God. I am not thankful for the abuse itself, but for what happened as a result of the abuse, i.e., that others have been helped as a result of my experience, etc. ~ja