I spread my life out on the table. My editor and I sifted through the pictures, newspaper clippings, poems I’d written as a child. We were looking for the stories, the driving questions, the point of conflict, the resolution.
And we found it.
But not before I curled up in a chair and broke down, weeping. My editor fetched a tissue. I pulled my knees into my chest.
I wept because he’d asked me a question that pierced my very soul. He asked: “In the book you seem so detached from your babies. Why is that?”
I couldn’t answer for several minutes because my whole body was shaking.
He’d asked the hard question, the horrifying question, the good question.
It broke me, but I told the truth.
The truth is: yes, I experienced childhood trauma. Yes, bad things were done to me in the name of God. But the truth is that I also perpetuated the pain because I believed this was what God wanted me to do.
The only way I, as a mother, could implement the child-training methods was by detaching myself from the natural mother-child bond. I detached myself from my children. I went cold. I went numb.
God, forgive me.
The utter shame of this swept over me in the conference room and I could hardly breathe.
I did the horrible thing. I participated in the evil system.
I didn’t tell this story in the first draft of my book because we got out of the cult before my children were old enough to remember any of it. I didn’t tell this story because I eventually rejected the child-training methods of Mike & Debi Pearl.
But still. Initially, I participated. I missed the early bonding with my first two babies. The saving mercy is that I DID STOP. I have to keep telling myself this or else I will simply collapse under the weight of shame. I did stop. I finally stopped the cycle of abuse.
My third child was born free.
I bonded with my third baby. I held him. I nursed him whenever he wanted. I let him sleep in my bed. I poured all of me into him. I was free to love him. And it was a Revelation.
And I rebuilt the bond with my older children. Today, my oldest children have scant memory of those early years. They are assured of my love. I have asked their forgiveness and God has restored the stolen years. He is still restoring.
I am loving them and loving YOU by telling the truth of my story–telling the truth until it hurts.
Because I know there are mothers out there who bear the quiet, shameful secrets of spanking their children in the name of God. I know there are mothers wondering if the bonds broken by religious abuse can be restored. I know there are mothers wondering if a broken will and broken heart can be mended and made whole again.
I’m telling my whole story now because I want you to know I’ve been there, too. I’ve done that. I weep for the lost years, too.
And yes, restoration is possible. Reconciliation is possible. It’s never too late. Even when it seems like it’s too late, it’s not. Restoration may look differently than you expected–it might look messy and patched-up, cobbled-together.
It may look like you simply forgiving others because they knew not what they did. And you forgiving yourself because you didn’t know what you were doing either.
But the answer is yes. YES. Yes, you will be healed. Yes, you will be made new. Yes, the God of love makes all things beautiful in His time.
I am rewriting my book now.
I’ll be disappearing for a bit.
I’m prepping for a long, deep dive back into the book. This time, I am telling the whole story. I am telling the whole truth, so help me God. I am loving until it hurts.
I have six weeks to complete this deep dive.
Pray for me in this silence? And pray that I remember to come back up for air.
Pray that I love and that I write until it hurts.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts
there can be no more hurt, only more love. –Mother Teresa