I have always loved writing. It's something that flows naturally to me, and even if no one ever saw a word, I just like it. After all sorts of insecurity, I've finally realized that it's beautiful to admit that I don't just enjoy writing, but there are others who enjoy reading what I write. That's incredible to me, and by the grace of God I've quit pretending that getting all squirmy when someone thanks me for writing is humility. I'm admitting that it's pride. How about I just go forth and learn along the way, never forgetting that I'm a gal who needs Jesus because my heart's always gonna be screwing the pooch?
That's been pretty damn freeing.
Wouldn't ya know, I have also found my passion about why to write, pretty much the moment I quit trying to hear God's calling. He's clever that way.
But first, you need to know a bit about me.
I'm a girl who was basically born into incest. My mom has reason to believe my biological father began sexually abusing me as young as a week old. Yes, that is horrifying, and yes, I feel like a burden just for saying it out loud. But if I am a burden for telling you something that happened to me that I had zero control over then so is every other sexual assault victim, and I would never let one of those precious people believe for a SECOND that they are a burden if I could do a thing about it. As such, I cannot escape the truth that what happened to me is heavy and hard but it's real and true. If you can't handle my story then you can't handle this real, broken, desperate world we live in and that says a lot more about you than it does about me. I say that like I believe it; eventually, I hope I actually will.
I wasn't just sexually abused as an infant. Due to grooming and manipulation, this abuse continued until I was almost 5 years old, and thanks to a very flawed justice system, happened again from ages 7-9. I was also physically, emotionally, and psychologically abused in my impoverished home by my mother and stepfather; this in conjunction with the sexual abuse by my father made me very vulnerable to other predators. At least 5 other men (that I can remember) made advances or forced themselves upon me in highly inappropriate situations. They ranged from teenaged male babysitters to grandfathers, including my own step-grandfather. While my mother was a champion in my corner against my biological father, I eventually stopped telling her about others because after she blew a few off it simply hurt more to tell her and be downplayed than to simply keep it to myself.
To add to this heavy burden was difficulty fitting in at school, with peers. I was so desperate to be loved and wanted somewhere that, when being hella smart and the top of my class and in active leadership in just about every extracurricular activity possible still didn't earn me acceptance, I sucked Christianity right on up when exposed to it by a classmate. It started with being told I had a pretty singing voice the first time I ever visited youth group at 16 years old, which was enough to get me to come back. This meager bit of feeling wanted culminated in me sticking out youth group because I began to believe that if I could keep Jesus' teachings then he'd give me a fresh start. Hit the reset button on generational sin, if you will. I wanted to get as far away from poverty and chaos and darkness as I could. My singular dream was a home and family where we all wanted to be there, so loving that kids from homes like my childhood home wanted to be there, too.
But, unfortunately for me, the myriad ways I had been abused didn't stop when I surrounded myself with Christians. In fact, being victimized and abused caused me to be viewed with suspicion, made me guilty by association. I willingly bought into a system of legalism and performance, believing that if I could just become like Jesus enough I could finally earn the acceptance and love of my spiritual superiors; my desperation backfired and farther maligned me, once again, in favor of good kids from upstanding Christian homes.
They were clean, I was messy.
Their parents gave money to the church, mine did not.
They were wanted, I was not.
My college church hurt me deeply, and so after graduation in 2005 I ran as far away as I could, to do Teach for America on the other side of the country in eastern North Carolina after being born and raised in Washington state. I was disillusioned with church that, while still judging everyone around me for drinking, my two years in TFA essentially were churchless. I tried a Baptist church that a few other TFAers attended near my home, but finally gave up when the preacher said, from the pulpit, that any sermon not part of marching through a book of the Bible verse-by-verse was sin with no Holy Spirit, and that Jesus' water-into-wine miracle in the Bible was actually water-into-grape-juice. As well as all other wine, obviously. If you couldn't see that you were wrong. You just needed to know Greek as well as the preacher, obvs. Suffice it to say, one Sunday morning I just didn't feel like getting up and I never went back.
In the summer of 2006, I met my husband, and the next year we moved me back home to Washington state the day after my teaching contract ended. After marrying in 2007, we quickly became enamored with a popular young preacher 20 minutes south of our Bothell home, down in Seattle. For the mess that became of Mars Hill--and our own lives--I can say this: for the first time in my life, God was more than just a guy pissed at me for my sin. Even through the sin (ours and the corporate leadership of the church) and pain and continued spiritual abuse wrought in my life through Mars Hill, it was also there that God not only sealed Jason's and my consciences with reformed theology but began to graciously convince us that he actually really did love us, want us, enjoy us.
The awful parts of Mars Hill eventually began to suffocate us, but by even more grace God grew us, despite the pulpit, by surrounding us with resources for amazing teaching centered not on a theology of glory--becoming more and more awesome and victorious in the Christian life--but instead centered on a theology of the cross, wherein our Christian growth is in recognizing with increasing intensity that we are sinners in every way. Even our best works, even our repentance, are tainted by our sin. But our savior, Jesus, didn't just die for us. He lived for us, and, when he looks at us, God sees not our failed attempts to please him and successful attempts to please ourselves; no, God sees all the perfect righteousness of his son. It is finished. We can stop trying to earn favor with God through our good works, because we already have all the same favor as his perfect son. This then liberates us to love our neighbor not to satisfy God but because he's already satisfied with us in Christ.
Along the way, God lit a fire in my soul, and Jason's, too. Coming from a background of seeing the church be one of the least likely places for people--Christian or no--to hear the Gospel at times literally keeps us awake at night. Because, my word, the Gospel is for Christians, too! But instead of being told that Jesus perfectly kept the law for them, those in the church are told they need to be like Jesus. They need to keep the rules. Countless people are crushed in the performance machine masquerading as the church. What has become deeply important for us is ministering to those hurt by the church, by other Christians. Spiritual abuse and legalism are rampant in our culture. As I grow in seeing how deeply wronged I was by the church, by writing and conversing about it with those around me, the stories others have begun to tell me just wreck my heart.
So therein I have found my passion--I write simply about life. But woven throughout my part of God's story, what I hope encourages "all ye who enter here", is for those hurt by the church to see that their gut instinct is right--how they have been treated by those proclaiming Jesus was not sanctioned by him. Jesus meant it when he said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. As my beloved, unabashed favorite Tullian Tchividjian says, if your experience with Christianity is not that you are crushed by how you have failed to perfectly keep God's law and then gloriously lightened by how Jesus kept it for you then you have not heard the Gospel. Anything less is not Christian teaching so you DO NOT HAVE TO SETTLE for it.
Oh, friend, THIS is my great passion. That we would know how deeply, truly loved we are. I am not defined by how I was abused. I am defined as blood bought, beloved, wanted child of God. If you are in Christ, so are you. If you don't identify with Christ as your savior, I only pray that you can't escape that what you read about on my site isn't the Jesus you have so long thought you didn't need, that what you have rejected is not the real Jesus. I pray that at very least you hear about a God who died for your sins, who loves you, who welcomes you into not just eternal life after death but life now in which you can know how freeing it is to stop striving. If you reject that Jesus as unnecessary, then so be it. But I pray that you'll be rather enticed by a Jesus who "laugh[s] and share[s] stories with the thief and the whore," who isn't impressed with anyone's attempts to earn him. And all that goes for the Christians, too.
Lastly, I cannot end without admitting that a theme woven throughout my life, from which the Spirit won't let me keep away, is suffering. Apart from the abuse coloring much of my life has also been consistent health struggles, debilitating autoimmune disease for me and, though less severe, for my husband; death of relationships; the death of our church home and family through our first 7 years of marriage; and the diagnosis of both of our beautiful children, Roger and Juliet, with autism. Yet through much suffering has come much grace, the increased awareness that I cannot control this life, that I cannot earn lack of suffering. And through this I have been freed to admit my need of Christ, my insufficient ability to keep myself nor anyone I love happy, healthy, or safe. More importantly, through this I have learned in a tangible way that Jesus is trustworthy, he is faithful, he provides, and he is good.
So then, I pray this blog is a place of freedom. A place you come and cannot deny the darkness and pain that is in this world, in you, and in me, but also where you see the glorious freeing light of Jesus that shines into that darkness and simultaneously combusts the heavy burden on your soul.
I'd also like to convert a few new Seahawks fans along the way. Because #goHawks
Much love to you,
To read more I have written about:
Liberate (Tullian Tchividjian & his ministry)
The Best Team Ever