Posts filed under the rebel diaries

rebel diaries :: war stories.

Way back when, I offered this space as a place for others to share their story. I called it rebel diaries and so many of you offered your perspective and hurt and hope and belief. Today, I host another friend. When I first saw these words, I knew there were people who would need to read them. She agreed to let me post them here, and included a note for you. 

Dear Reader,
Please read this, hold this gently. It is not an essay for the faint of heart. Truly, I'm in recovery. But War never ends for some people. This is in acknowledgment for all the human beings who want to share and can't, who over-share and feel ashamed, or can't seem to share past the surface for fear of feeling alone. You are not alone. All those things, all the things, they don't make you crazy. This is for everyone who has a War Story.
Sincerely, 
Your Story Sister

{{ Trigger Warning :: suicide and self harm }} 


Of course it only makes sense that these are my War Stories.

Because when these things happen to you, the outcome is not a death. It’s a thirst for life like never before. It’s a need for God beyond words and comprehension, a grace-filled rain storm that turns into a monsoon. A hurricane. Thrashing.

Of course these are your War Stories. 

Because there’s no other way to describe the war in your head versus in your heart, in your head verses in the world.

These are my War Stories.

When a person tells your husband they are in love him, because they ..what? They love him? They love him and they want your marriage to be over so he can choose them. And you laugh at first but it sinks deep inside your soul and picks apart your bones. Because he says he will always, always choose you. But why did this have to happen to you? Didn’t they know he would always choose you? You want to shake them and tell them how stupid they are.

And because of that secret, they proceed to tear families and friendships and relationships apart in the process. 

And then you can never invite them over for dinner ever again and you lose another friend.

When your parents announced their divorce three days after the ink on your own marriage license was dry.

When you gain 50 pounds in the first year of your own marriage because, obviously, you stress eat the fuck out of ice cream.

When your mother, in the midst of you trying to find Jesus again, announced she was a pagan witch, someone who worships the earth and not the Savior.

And then when she married someone else six months after the ink on her own divorce papers were dry. Someone you had never even met. Someone you had known about before. Someone who doesn’t even know the damage.

When you don’t know what to say to your dad because you know it was his fault, partly, too.

But you’ll never talk about it, because no one asked you how you felt.

And that’s how War begins.

These are my War Stories.

When you feel pushed away by your in-laws. You’re not wanted because your mouth is too big for your words and they don’t like when you over-share. They just don’t know that over-sharing is your specialty, and some people like it. But they won’t. They don’t think you’re funny. They don’t know that your whole life has been a puddle of mishaps covered in grace. They just see the puddle.

All the while, through the War, you were listening to other stories; people who were ripping at their very seams ran to the phone and you picked up to listen. They called it suicide counseling, said you were a staple, without you they’d be lost. The biggest helpline in the nation. You ran it, you successful college grad! But instead, you called it the worst 9 months of your life. You called it crying every day because hearing problems from every corner of the world makes every corner of the world unsafe.

People who said they wanted to die.
People who said they were hurting, bleeding, right then and there.
Those things never leave you. Just like the War never leaves you.
A rope, ready… your words keeping them on the brink of life.
No pressure.

Some days you take the pills someone left behind for you, something to keep you going and suppress your appetite while you’re at it. You gain and lose but at least you can get out of bed in the morning. Until that one time you take too much because you’re so fucking tired and you can’t find sleep for too many days you keep them and stare at them in silence, throw them away but you still keep a few and then you flush them down, down, down the toilet. Except they sit there at the bottom, too heavy to flush, disintegrating and you stare at them while you press your face against the wall.

Tomorrow is a new day, you say.

A War like that leaves a desperation so tight in your throat for God that you can barely breathe. Like swallowed sand, stuck to your insides and drinking up all the tiny droplets of life you have left beneath your surface.

These are your War Stories.

You will cry every year on your birthday. And then drink. And you’ll lose your bikini bottoms in the ocean and moon everyone on the beach and knock over a small kid in the process and laugh by the end of the day. 

Those will be the days of hope. War ceases for a moment. 

You all know that saying, right? Before things can get better, they have to get worse.

You find yourself in the bathtub, drunk after swerving home. Dark rum. You find yourself with a kitchen knife and a broken razor and cold water and the pain seeping right down the drain because there’s no other way to take it out. 

Relief. Guilt. Relief. Guilt.

Like a ticking time bomb.

Because they told you that babies wouldn’t be made and cancer was sure to come, it was sitting right there inside. Your heart broke so much that you just couldn’t bare anything but to hurt the body that forced this punishment against you.

29 scars will be left on your heart. Luckily, none left on your body. But you’ll never forget, will you?

Because when you wrapped up your pulsing, bloody leg when you finally caught your breath, you keep trying to push your sweet puppy away while he reaches out, protecting, to lick your wound. He and your husband sat outside the locked bathroom door together, crying, wimpering at the sound of the water washing down your own blood. Torture, for everyone. You know because you feel it flowing. 

You think, maybe, that seeing the red lines in the days afterward means you’re still alive.

But you try to heal. And you overthink. You lose your breath. You can’t sleep and your chest is tight every day every day every day WILL SOMEONE JUST RIP ME OPEN? You lose sight of what forgiveness is and you let that bitter taste in your mouth go all the way down into the pit of your stomach and consume your whole body. You let it consume your whole body because being angry and frustrated and anxious is better than not being at all, and you know that.

You fight the battle of Depression. You do your best to avoid those triggers that cause you anxiety that feels like it’s ripping through your heart and shooting down through your spine and out your toes. Like bombs. Because that’s War.

And you lose most days.

But most days are not all days and sometimes there is no firing squad facing you and you can get through the line at the grocery store just fine. Other times you abandon your cart and run for cover inside the car while you hyperventilate. It is all you can do to save yourself.

And looking back you knew Jesus was sitting there right beside the bathtub where you sat fully clothed, though submerged in water, head tilted back and waiting for God to strike you down dead right there. 

You remember the water in the river. Where you stood on slippery rocks, knowing, just knowing, this was from the hand of God. Some day that water will quench your thirst and wash away the sand in your throat, the dirt from your eyes. You will feel better, like you did then. And at that point, when you think about all the War, you can’t believe you were ever mad at God because he was right there the whole time.

When every day is a battle, these are your War Stories.

But War ends.

Because some day, now, you will forget why you had to start fighting in the first place.

You’ll lay down your weapons and become a warrior, not a fighter. You’ll start to feel all the feelings again some days. You will have bloody, murderous nightmares that professionals say are a normal way of dealing with stress. You will find comfort in just one pill a day and dumping the moonshine from the stash in the freezer down the drain. Eventually your prayers will be answered and you will find some people who like hugging you and sharing coffee with you on Sundays and will not judge the amount you charge to your Macy’s credit card because you don’t have any money or other coping mechanisms. They will loan you good books and compliment your hair.

They’ll even tell you they think you’re a good person because of the War.

Soon, you might feel your heart beat again. And then you’ll realize that you are a human, a living, breathing person who has a heart and a soul and a brain and a God. Also, you find out that babies can be made and there is no awaiting cancer. So you walk around Macy’s each time you visit and hold those tiny pieces of cloth and think about all the wonders to be. And you will feel those things, those human, good things again. You already do, see?

Posted on November 26, 2013 and filed under the rebel diaries.

rebel diaries :: an excommunication.

When I got this submission I couldn't imagine the hurt and confusion for everyone involved and remembered that when it comes to spiritual abuse, sometimes those who hurt us most have no idea what's happening and are victims of abuse themselves. 

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I'm looking for a mentor. 

My phone vibrated and I looked down to read this message from a younger friend involved in a local ministry I helped lead. I hesitated briefly, and then replied. 

I'll do it. 

She was thrilled. Told me she'd been praying about this for awhile and that she needed a sounding board.

I trust you. She said.

We got together the following week and everything seemed to be going well. I felt re-charged, as if I tapped into something I didn't even realize was missing. 

A few weeks into the mentorship, other friends started asking me questions about conversations with her. "Did you know..." seemed like the standard starter for most of my interactions around that time and it almost always pointed back to her. It made me uneasy and confused.

Some of it was in confidence. Knowing I needed to walk a fine line between her conversations with others and what she would tell me, I would approach the topics as best as I knew how, trying to figure out what was going on with certain situations. Every time, she'd look me right in the eye and show an earnestness that bordered on truth-telling. It would only leave me feeling more confused.

There was inconsistency with her stories. Most of the time, it was just a matter of clarification, but sometimes her stories left me concerned. 

I seriously worried about her safety and well-being.

A friend and I pulled her aside one evening to dissect some of these stories a little more and share with her our concern. She turned defensive, and I could see our relationship suffering for it. She left our house hurt and the only thought that kept rolling through my mind was I can't do this. I can't offer her the help she needs. 

We scheduled a meeting with some leaders in the church. Because the ministry involved teenagers, the youth leader showed. Someone from counseling showed as well. 

We each shared our story. Apparently there'd been some lack of communication regarding her and ministry within the church, and when she came to join the one we were part of we didn't know the stories coming with her. We placed her in leadership and gave her students to mentor, never knowing how unstable she was during those months.

All of the nudgings and feelings I'd experienced since starting to meet with her came rushing back. I knew this girl needed help - needed some type of community to rally around her and love her. We started talking about this - how she needed to be in community, but not leadership - not until she was able to work through some of these issues. And then, the ball dropped - 

"You need to cut off all communication."

My eyes widened.

"....like....all communication? I was supposed to meet her this Thursday...."

The leader interrupted. "I'll do it."

I stumbled through my words and nodded as I was told to contact everyone else and let them know that communication was supposed to cease.

"This is a matter of church discipline and comes from the leadership" was my standard refrain.

There were questions - some of my friends even protested. This isn't what the church should be doing! they would say and I would shrug. 

"It's what they've asked. And as a matter of church discipline, we need to follow."

I was a robot.

Years later, I know how abusive this situation was and I fight from beating myself up about how the girl was treated. I wasn't privy to the effects of spiritual abuse back then and had no stories to go on about the patterns set in place in controlling others. I didn't know much of the background of my own life and where I stand in situations of manipulation.

But I know now.

It was reading other stories that I realized how abusive this situation was for us who were asked to not communicate with the girl I mentored. If I were her, I would have yelled through some type of megaphone about the injustice but she took it all with grace, never publicly shaming anyone despite the shame heaped on her by those who should have brought her in even closer. 

I've sent her emails letting her know how horrible I feel and how I understand now the hurt she experienced. And I can pray for healing - for all of us involved - and I can speak out and point others to the Truth that when someone is hurting the last thing we need to do is ostracize them. She trusted me. I betrayed that trust because of those in authority over me shaking their heads and whispering tsk tsk over her behavior - which was really more confusing and inconsistent then flat out rebellious. 

And it makes me wonder.

In speaking out, how many times is my name uttered in other conversations? Who has been asked to not speak to me anymore? How many moments have others sucked in their breath and wondered about the danger of my words?

And how in the world are any of those questions pointing back to the hope and love and peace that Christ gives?

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Posted on March 22, 2013 and filed under the rebel diaries.

rebel diaries :: when saying no doesn't help

One of the things I love most about this submission is the way her peers rallied around her. We don't give enough credit to the younger people in our churches - they know, they see, and they understand far more than we believe.

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A rare torrential downpour exploded over the tiny Alaskan town where I grew up. The rain overflowed the gutters of our church/school and streamed down in rivulets. I laughed and ran outside to play in the rain, like I always did when these storms occurred every year or two. I twirled, face lifted to the sky, rain soaking my hair and clothes in a matter of seconds. I turned towards the glass foyer doors as something caught my eye. The janitor, Mr. Jones, was standing dead still in the foyer, staring at me holding the vacuum suspended over the carpet. I instantly felt ashamed and guilty. I folded my arms over my chest and ran inside to wait for my father, the administrator of the Christian school I attended, to be ready to leave.

Years later, Mr. Jones told me to be careful about dancing in the rain. He told me that moment of spontaneous childhood joy was one of the most seductive things he had seen.

I was thirteen. He was thirty-one.

Like in the I Love Lucy episode where the one man in the town rapidly changes hats with his roles as the mayor, police officer, and hotel clerk, in our town it seemed like we all had multiple roles. Our nondenominational church was also a Christian school and community center. I easily spent more waking hours at church than at home. Mr. Jones also had multiple occupations; he was the janitor, my middle school History, PE, and Home Ec. teacher, Sunday School teacher, and the Christian Education Leader for the church. He was in the building as often as I was. As my teacher, he sometimes called me into his classroom after school to discuss my homework, such as why I had chosen to color the map of France hot pink with purple stripes. I was painfully shy generally and uncomfortable with him specifically, so I would mumble something and try to get out of the room as quickly as possible. Other girls were also uncomfortable with him. The two other girls in my grade and I were his whole PE and Home Ec. class. We thought it was odd that he picked football one quarter and insisted that we hike the ball to him correctly between our legs. We refused to his exasperation, and continued to hand it back to him. Once, when a girl was reciting a poem to an assembly, she suddenly went blank and ran off the stage crying. A group of girls went to comfort her, but Mr. Jones had already backed her against a wall and hugged her as she sobbed. My sister confided that she and her roommate would be in their pjs when he would show up at their apartment, uninvited and sit in their living room for hours. He was known to push girls into an emotional reaction, and then try to hug them to comfort them. He was generally known among the young women as a creep. Instead of the church protecting us from him, he was endowed with power and authority over the youth.

The summer between my junior and senior year in high school, he set his sights specifically on me. I had begun to attend the adult Sunday School class he taught. I sat in the back of the sanctuary respectfully listening and quietly taking notes. He cornered me and asked if I would run the projector for the summer series on the Beatitudes. I agreed, partly because I thought it would simply entail changing the slide when appropriate and partly because I had never learned to appropriately say no or to trust my feelings.

Respect for authority was engrained to my core and to say no, solely because I felt uncomfortable around him, didn’t cross my mind.

In fact, I continued calling him Mr. Jones because he was an authority, an adult, and a teacher. When he asked me to use his first name, I refused because I wanted to continue to emphasize his authority over me.

Instead just changing the slides like he had asked, Mr. Jones required me to meet with him for hours each week to discuss the lesson plan. He ushered me into his office at the church and I vividly remember walking past the pastor’s door with the sign posted

Women meeting with the pastor must leave the door open or have another woman present.

Mr. Jones would shut the office door behind me.

He would ask me what I thought the passage meant, what my thoughts were, etc. for at least an hour every week. I would uncomfortably mumble and stare down at my teddy bear key chain, twisting it in my hands. I was dreading the upcoming passage regarding blessing the pure in heart because I knew that Mr. Jones was going to bring up sexuality. Midway into the summer, I was with him in an empty church office on a Saturday, he asked me to meet at a restaurant next week. I told him I would; probably thinking that would be better than a closed office. As we were walking out of the office, he grabbed my upper arm so tightly that it hurt.

“I want you to know that I’m asking you because I like you as a person, not because of the class.”

I said “okay” and he released his grip.

I pondered what that sentence meant. It completely confused me. I like you as a person?!? I believe it was intentionally vague. If I had responded “Is this a date?” he could of easily shamed me by my assumption that he would want to go on a date with me, when really he was just valuing me as a person. Conversely, if I later said I assumed this was platonic, he could have said “But I made it clear that it was a date.” I am a person who normally has difficulty reading between these lines in social situations; he completely befuddled me. On the dreaded day that we discussed the “pure in heart” verses, he brought me up to “the Bluff”, a local scenic view, and relentlessly quizzed me -

“What does purity mean to you?”
“Do you think if a guy says ‘that girl is foxy?’ is that pure?”
“When does it become un-pure?”

I remember being so incredibly miserable, cringing at every question and mumbling “I don’t know” over and over, but being careful not to cry so he didn’t have an excuse to hug me. When the class ended, Mr. Jone’s pursuit of me increased. I would receive letters from him in my school locker accompanied by a Hershey chocolate “hug” candy. I would pour over these letters with my friends trying to see if he was romantically interested in me, because then I could “break up” with him or if he was mentoring me which would be inappropriate in our church because we were different sexes and I could get help from church leadership. I fastidiously kept the letters as “evidence”. I didn’t understand that Alaska’s age of consent is 16, so he was doing nothing illegal.

However, because he was in a position of spiritual and educational authority over me, it was abusive.

His pursuit continued to escalate. He came to my work. He sent me flowers for Christmas. He gave me a stuffed beaver for Valentine’s Day (the beaver was promptly hung by the neck in my closet- even at my innocent age I knew the sexual connotations to beavers!)

I finally felt I had enough evidence that he was pursuing a romantic relationship with me even though he never explicitly said so. I went away to a Christian winter camp and came back with enough of a “spiritual high” to try to face him. I felt like because I hadn’t been brave enough to tell him no, that I was “leading him on”. I called him and told him that I did not want to meet with him alone anymore. He asked to meet me in the school cafeteria and told me that I would just need some “time to get over our age differences”.

I had used up my courage in that one “no” that he refused to acknowledge.

I felt guilty that part of me liked the attention of someone singling me out and calling me special and thought I wasn’t clear enough. However, my peers were aware of the situation and one friend asked her mother how to get him to stop harassing me. Her mother told her she just didn’t understand because I was more mature than most girls and was in a relationship with him.

A church elder actually approached me and told me how much he “envied” my relationship with Mr. Jones because he was such a wealth of knowledge. This proved just how ambiguous this relationship was. Why would a married elder “envy” a romantic relationship but why would he let a mentoring relationship continue? I mustered enough courage to go to my female youth group leaders and asked for help. I explained that he was continuing to follow me, try to meet with me, and leave me notes when I had no interest in a relationship with him. My youth group leaders assured me that they would get their husbands to confront him.

I later found out that they never did.

Eventually, I gave up talking to the adults in the church about it. No adult in the church would stand up to him or even talk to him about the inappropriateness of the relationship. A teacher, who had been through abuse herself, did notice the closed doors and talked to my mom about it. My mom asked “Are you having problems with Mr. Jones?” I told her I was but not the extent of it. I think as far as my parents were aware, I was dating him. I wasn’t comfortable with talking to them or asking for help. My friends banded together and helped me the only way they could. With a high school of about thirty close knit students, everyone knew about the problem and stepped up even without my asking. I tried to have several girlfriends with me. If I sat in a pew, I was always in the middle with other teens on either side me. I didn’t even go to the bathroom alone. I am so grateful for the many times the other kids protected me.

Mr. Jones cornered me in the hall during an event so a male classmate of mine walked up to him, interrupted and started conversing with him to allow me to escape.

Another time I was eating a sandwich in my car before performance practice. Mr. Jones got into my car and began to ask why I was avoiding him, why I wouldn’t talk to him, and why I wouldn’t be alone with him. Another student, ran up to the car, knocked on the window and said “You’re needed inside now!” I ran with her inside and asked what the emergency was.

There was none. She was just rescuing me.

My boss helped too, sending me upstairs whenever she spotted him drive into my work’s parking lot. He never completely stopped pursuing me until after my freshman year of college, when I was able to break all contact with him. Later, when I had completed college, gotten married, and moved back to my home church, the new pastor would ask Mr. Jones to pray before the church service when he was in town. He would stand up and the congregation would applaud. My husband and I met with the new pastor to tell him my story and why we felt like the applause and public prayers were inappropriate.

While I was telling my story, the pastor fell asleep.

We left that church soon afterward. I googled Mr. Jones about seven years ago and found out he was a pastor and the head of the youth department. I emailed him to ask him to please never be alone with a female student and explained to him how much he hurt me. He apologized and said he had thought of himself as about my age and told me that no one had ever approached him to talk to him about the inappropriate relationship. My story could have been much worse. He could have been sexually abusing me behind the closed doors, but if he was no one would have known. I was lucky. Instead of squelching my spirit this experience has made me passionate about protecting children. I work in Child Protective Services. I am proud to be part of a church that when I saw a grown man pursuing a child, I told my pastor and he had a long, uncomfortable conversation with that man. I am proud that our church performs background checks on anyone working with children. I have told this story to my friends, who told me back similar stories, to my husband, who wishes he could have protected me, and to my children, in hopes of protecting them, but I have never written it because to write it down in black and white is a betrayal of good people who I love and respect but failed in their responsibility to protect me. But I’m writing it now, because I need to speak out in hopes that this story will protect another child by opening the eyes of a parent, youth leader, teacher or pastor.

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Posted on March 21, 2013 and filed under the rebel diaries.

rebel diaries :: it's a miracle i survived.

Some posts leave you breathless. This is one of those. No words - just tears at the bravery of my dear friend who decided to share.

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::Trigger Warning - Rape Apologism, Molestation, Spiritual Abuse::

It's a miracle I survived at all.  

No one wants this story. No one signs up for it. No one volunteers. When you hear stories of abuse in the church it seems like this far off horrible thing that is happening. You may pray and ask God to protect and heal, you may even shed a tear or two...but what do you do when it is not so far off? What do you do when it is someone you love? What do you do when it is your brother, sister, daughter, or friend? What do you do when it is you...?

I didn't want to share this story. Not in the least bit. Others who have walked where I have walked don't need me to speak up for them...I need to speak up for me. They haven't lost their voice, but somewhere along the line I have seemed to have lost mine. So this is me. This is me taking it back.

It's hard for a 12 year old to decipher the meaning of "Spiritual Abuse" much less point it out when it's happening. Who am I kidding, its still hard for me to even think this could possibly qualify as spiritual abuse. 

The church I grew up in looked like any other small baptist church on any given street corner in the Bible Belt. Pretty stained glass windows, nice pointy steeple, and enough floral print dresses to last a lifetime. For the first 11 years of my life there was only one pastor at this small church and he was a man who deeply loved Jesus and his people. He was kind and generous. Humble and strong. He was a great man that would be greatly missed as his family moved north to lead another congregation. 

After the search committee brought in the rounds of young guys vying for their first pastor gig the church finally decided to "call" a man in his early 40's with the "cutest little family you've ever seen". Things started off normal I suppose. I mean, what 11 year old can tell the difference in preaching style when almost every southern baptist preacher sounds exactly.the.same. I thought it was odd that he often spoke of himself in the third person. He loved the praise of people and most times took credit for all those amazing "church programs" that were put into place. He was oblivious to the fact that everyone hated those damn things. "If you really love Jesus..." he would say in order to get every bible believing person to exercise their "gift" of service and hospitality. And sure enough, in order to get those jewels in their crowns, people lined up. Hook. Line. Sinker. For some reason, people adored him. I could never figure that part out. I was 12 and AWKWARD...but even my awkwardness didn't seem to compare to the trouble he had in regular conversation. 

Enter stage left: the pastors kid. For the sake of story, we can call him Andrew. (This is not his real name, so no worries, my goal here is to tell my story NOT to throw him under the bus.) He was the star athlete. Not just football player. Athlete. If it was a sport and it was in season, he was playing and he was "the best out on the field...who knows he might even get a scholarship." Just like his father, everyone adored him. He was cute and funny and smart and talented. I mean, really, what wasn't there to like about him. 

The youth building that sat right behind the main church building was old and constantly smelled like sweaty teenagers. But for some odd reason I couldn't wait until I was "promoted" and got to enter legally. There were pool tables, foosball, tons of awesome couches, video games, and loud music. Who wouldn't want in on that, right? 12 years old. Finally granted entrance. I told you, I was awkward, so I was drawn into the small back room with the big screen television and mario kart racing. The room was probably only technically big enough for 4 or 5 people but often there would be 8 or 9 crammed in there, packed like sardines, in order to successfully complete a video game tournament. "This is the life" I thought. "It doesn't get much better than this."

Andrew was welcoming. Very much so. He was the pastors kid he had to be, right? On quite a few occasions I was paired up with him in one of the "epic" video game tournaments and we got along quiet well. It was hard not to like him. Then one day everything changed. 

He invited me out to the youth building one Wednesday afternoon under the guise of video games. I was in. Who in their right mind would pass that up? Things seemed all well and good...until they didn't anymore. I wasn't entirely sure what was happening, but I knew that it wasn't right. I remembered my parents saying something when I was younger about "the places your bathing suit covers" and how those places were off limits. So this, ALL of this, was strictly forbidden. When it was all over - sometimes I wonder why I didn't fight more, why didn't I do something, why didn't I run screaming out of that back room, why didn't I punch him in the face - he told me that I was now dirty...ugly...must have really been a disappointment to Jesus now. He told me that if I ever said anything that he would hurt my dog. I guess he knew how much I loved that dog...because I didn't say a word. Not at first anyway. 

I lived through this nightmare only a couple more times before I decided I would gladly sacrifice my dogs life in order to be rid of this burden. Because my family was not a safe place, I, through broken sentences and vague words, explained as best I could what happened to a trusted youth intern. In order to keep matters "in the church" and allow him to get help that "won't ruin the rest of his life" I was advised to take the matter to the pastor and let him decide what needed to be done. 

"You've had a rough year, surely my boy didn't..."
That has got to be some sort of conflict of interest, right?

Over the next several days, weeks, and years I was led to believe that somehow all this was my fault. Somehow I did or didn't do something in order to allow "sin into my life." This pastor found a way to leverage my parents sins and shortcomings against me, as if I had some part in the dissolving of their marriage, reinforcing the lie I had already come to believe. 

There was sin in my house. I wasn't to be believed. 

Sure, there was sin in my house...
but the part he missed was THIS SIN...this was in HIS house. 

I wish it was more subtle. I wish there was a way I could convince myself that it wasn't a big deal, that it doesn't really matter. But the thing is, I know it matters. I just don't want the label. I don't want to be the girl who was molested repeatedly by a pastors son, believed the lie it was her fault, and then refused to speak of it because of guilt and shame over sins she DID NOT COMMIT. I wanted this to be a far off story that I would pray over and cry over and ask God to change. I never wanted it to be my story. 

With these words I am leaving behind the guilt and shame I feel for his mistakes. I am walking with a limp, sure, but its a limp that I earned from long nights wrestling with God about who He says that He is and who He says that I am. It is not a limp that any boy gets to boast in. 

I love Jesus so much it actually hurts. Despite all the proof-texting that reduced him to an angry father or a disappointed one, He somehow showed me how much he desperately he loves me. And for that I am grateful. 

So yea, it's a miracle I survived the church. I am learning that the Church is so much bigger than a bunch of fools trying to get it all right. It is the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, in all its misery crying out to the God of healing. For it seems that we have wounded, and still wound, ourselves. So I'm begging Him to do some work.

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Posted on March 20, 2013 and filed under the rebel diaries.

rebel diaries :: a poem for the silenced.

SpiritualAbuseWeek.jpg

Today's post came to my inbox yesterday and began with, "every time I try and write my story, the words don't come....so I do the mama thing." And what came out of the next few sentences was some of the most profound and poetic images I've seen in awhile. 

Ever since I became a real grown up girl I would tell someone
"I was molested"
to see how they would react. 

I always got the same reaction: 

Oh, well you are perfectly put together
and
have no issues - see? 
People can grow up and get away from being a victim.

Know this::

Silence just doesn't come
from the times you were told
(at age six)
that God will hate you
- or - 
your parents will hate you

But when people don't stop to listen.

Silence happens
when you realize you are ruined
by the church's definitions 

And when your boyfriend rapes you
(then you accept that it is as good as it will get)
And when he hurts you 
(you realize you deserve it)
because it really is as good as it gets

But then you walk away from him and everyone thinks you are perfectly fine.

But when your husband has an affair
and you walk away
- you didn't do enough to save it - 

Nobody really wants to hear the truth to listen.

So I hide my stories
deeper
           and
                   deeper

because those who didn't listen proved to you that you shouldn't share. 

And you don't want to hurt your parents who had no idea
(it wasn't their fault)
(they can do nothing to change it now)

And because you don't want one more label.

I take it back. 

I have written my story.

- on church bulletins
- on scraps of paper
- all over I have written my story
and thrown it away.

Posted on March 19, 2013 and filed under the rebel diaries.