thoughts in the fall of 2016 / expanded spring 2017
Beginning . . . devotional thoughts and missionary stories
I started this blog back in 2009, after I had undergone a period of spiritual darkness and then a great uplifting of soul. For the previous several years, the Word of God had been opening to me in a way I hadn’t seen it before, and I was seeing Jesus.
At the same time, 2009, I was beginning to write my Hidden Heroes series of true missionary stories, which have been a tremendous encouragement, seeing the ways the Lord is working all over the world, how He is revealing Himself in utterly surprising and even astonishing ways to people of all tribes and tongues and nations and languages. So at that time, my desire was to pour out what the Lord was giving me, both in my time alone with Him, and through the missionary stories I was writing.
Eventually the missionary books and other biographies I write for children were upgraded to have their own website, which you can see here.
So then this blog was simply for my devotional thoughts. If a few friends read it, I was happy. If one person said, “That really helped me,” I was ecstatic. When I got eight comments on a blog post once, I was bowled over.
But the Lord has a way of turning things around and upside down and inside out, you know what I’m talking about?
Background . . . domestic abuse
In 2006 I had been introduced to the darkness and evil of domestic abuse in fundamentalist and evangelical churches, through the experience of a new friend. My learning curve was extremely steep—when my friend told me later that I had said hardly anything the whole first year I knew her, I told her it was because I was just listening and learning. At that time, Lundy Bancroft (Why Does He Do That?) was one of the best sources for understanding abuse, and when my friend gave me that book, I read it twice, highlighting and underlining, and asking her questions.
I never expected to write about abuse. I wrote books for children and teenagers. But I cared about my friend.
For about two years I joined my friend in her church counseling sessions and through that personally witnessed how church leaders didn’t fully understand abuse, its effects, or how to help those who had been targeted—and as a result mishandled my friend’s situation. Again, though, I was silent, this time because I was sure the church leaders must understand abuse and how to help better than I did as a complete neophyte. This was incorrect, and I eventually saw the abuser succeed in convincing them that he was the victim and his target was the perpetrator. This experience was an immensely important education for me.
Background . . . sexual and spiritual abuse
In 2012, through another friend, I was introduced to the darkness and evil of sexual abuse in the evangelical church and the spiritual abuse that enables it (spiritual abuse is very often at work in domestic abuse situations too, but that hadn’t been a focus of my learning before). Again, when this friend asked me to read certain blogs and other resources, I took her plea seriously and got as educated as I could. Again, my learning curve has been extremely steep and I’ve made mistakes. This friend and others have been very patient with me.
More than one person asked me if I was planning to write about these topics, and I said, “No. I write biographies and missionary stories.”
Beginning to write about abuse
Because of injustice and the ignorance I saw among the people of God (an ignorance that previously had been mine), I began to be informally outspoken, thanks to social media, primarily Facebook (almost all those posts are public somewhere on my Facebook wall beginning in the fall of 2012, and no, I don’t count you a stalker if you scroll through to find them).
I felt especially passionate about the need to look at matters of abuse both Biblically and logically, and with a team of fellow administrators I began to do this at BJUGrace. I was told my analysis work was helpful.
It was around this time I also began to connect with others who had not only a similar passion, but ministries dedicated to exposing abuse in the evangelical church and helping those who have been victimized through it. Those connections eventually led to what I said I wasn’t planning to do: working on books about abuse. I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with two pastors, Dale Ingraham and Jeff Crippen, on books on abuse that you can see on the Books page of this website. In the fall of 2016 I wrote my first solo adult book, one that highlights some of the spiritual abuses that hold the other abuses in place.
I was pleased, in Unholy Charade, to be able to include several first-person accounts from my friend (and her adult daughter) who had first introduced me to domestic abuse. These are some of the most disturbing accounts in the book.
Writing on this blog
It was only in the past year or so that this blog about joy in Christ began to be used as a platform for me to expose and speak truth regarding spiritual abuse. I finally saw how the two purposes meshed.
So if a blog called “Here’s the Joy” sometimes sounds a bit like grappling and wrestling, it’s only because of where the Lord has taken me. I know He’s the source of the greatest joy, and I’m thankful, over and over, to drink of His Living Water, and to offer a cup of that cool water in His Name.
If I sometimes sound too strident when I speak, forgive me. Know that I spend time—behind the blog posts—in tears. Yes, ironic, I know, for a blog called “Here’s the Joy.” An enigma, I suppose.
But can we hold them both at the same time? Knowing of the great evil being perpetrated in the world by the wicked—on an intensely personal level—and at the same time knowing the deep riches of joy that are to be found in Jesus Christ?
I believe Jesus did.
Let’s follow Him together.