Encourage one another {YOUR wonderful emails and stories}

A few weeks ago, I was feeling discouraged. I take a lot of risks writing so vulnerably online and it seemed like I was getting a near constant barrage of criticism. I knew that I got positive feedback, especially in the form of personal emails or FB messages, but for whatever reason--it felt like I got more criticism.

I decided to start paying closer attention to the many messages I receive from my readers.

To my great delight (and surprise!) I discovered that, proportionally speaking, I receive WAY more love than hate. My perception of being "constantly criticized" was simply not true. The truth is that EVERY SINGLE DAY people email me to say how much my writing has encouraged or helped them!

I don't always have time to reply to each email so instead, I began posting some of these encouraging/awesome emails on my fan page with a little note of thanks to the sender. And guess what? It was like an Encouragement Cycle began. People read the emails and then started encouraging the person who wrote the email AND each other!

Each day I look forward to opening my inbox because I know there will be a little gift of encouragement waiting for me. I wanted to share some of those encouraging emails, here, because spreading the love and encouragement is so important for those of us who have survived abusive church experiences.

It's SO important for us to know we're not alone. As we each recover and learn to thrive, knowing others are cheering us on is so very empowering. 

I just wanted to tell you how much your blog has meant to me in the past couple weeks. I stumbled on it and you have been the most sane, helpful and reassuring voice I've heard on all of this in...well, ever. I was raised fundamentalist, homeschooled, homechurched, Michael Pearl's training methods, us girls wore only skirts and I was given a copy of I Kissed Dating Goodbye for my 16th birthday. Everything you write about resonates with me so deeply...I have a lot of anger and alternate between being overly emotional and completely shut down. Your blog has made me feel a sense of kinship that was sorely lacking. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. --C.

I found your blog and it was like a huge weight was lifted from my soul to hear someone else speak with such clarity the things I have been feeling inside but it seems no one gets. I grew up in a church that was so very cult-like. I endured 25+ years of spiritual abuse. Even when you leave, the things you have been taught don't suddenly go away. They are THERE, in your brain, telling you what to do and not to do, judging every situation just as strongly as before. But reading your posts has really opened up my eyes to things that I needed articulated. Thank you so much for your blog and your honesty and openness. --J.

Elizabeth, I laughed so hard! Sometimes you just need a good laugh, thanks for making my day. --K.

I was born into an abusive fundamentalist church. I still feel trapped by it sometimes but reading your blog and seeing your life unveiled in all its beauty and freedom gives me hope and determination to choose my life for myself, never to let anyone make me feel less than, and to choose to believe that God loves me no matter what - even when I mess up. --B.

I am a 19 year old Christian feminist who is fed up with the majority of American Christians. Your pieces are a breath of fresh air for someone who is tired of thinking they are the only one who wants to see Christians fight for something that actually adheres to their values (slave labor, poverty, that whole lot).Thank you so much for your blog, you're awesome! --L.

I just have to tell you how much I appreciate your blog. I was raised in a 'cult' fundamentalist church...I am still working my way out of it..struggling w. guilt and all the stuff that goes w. walking away. It is all such hard work--but so worth it! Thanks for your voice and "using your words" to make a difference. You are impacting lives you don't even know about.--C.L.

THANK YOU, it was SO encouraging to read that someone else out there had a story similar to mine. Except, for the longest time, I never knew that something was "wrong" with it. [My mom] believed in Y2K, system crash, military take-over, war, famine, disease, death all around me - and if I was lucky, I might get martyred for Jesus, so I needed to start toughening up now so that I could say "Yes, I am a Christian" without fear...even if torture was implied or a gun used against me. I would not be where I am or who I am today without God and his love + his care to place certain people in my life to help me along the way. He has been my best friend. But there are still days when I wake up and I feel like I'm in the woods again, alone, praying that he will see a reason to let me survive. Living like this for so long is not something you can just shake off, as you well know. But on the days I DO feel the wave of freedom break over me again, I sing and dance and write and take pictures and hug my husband, to help me remember that there IS so much to live for. Right now, this is enough. --S.