No one expects to meet their abuser at church.
Girls raised in evangelical fundamentalism are expected to become deferring, submissive wives and mothers. It’s to be their highest (and only) ambition.
For this, they’ll receive God’s favor. Their husbands will call them blessed. A Christian woman’s servitude reflects her heart’s commitment to Christ. In order for Him to Increase, she must decrease.
The rub is that there’s no endpoint to submission. Christian women can submit themselves to nonexistence. And as long as dinner is served, the children are cared for, and she puts out in bed, the patriarchs don’t have a problem with this. A woman’s valued for what she does, not who she is. And if a man wants something, a woman is not allowed to say no.
My deeply dysfunctional marriage was full of violence, pain, cult-level legalism, and violence. I’d used every tool at my disposal to persevere, make the best, and press on– for fifteen years and with five children. Within the realm of biblical womanhood, I used every ounce of power allotted to me.
But when I had to run for my life because my godly husband was going to kill me, I knew my life in the church was largely to blame. They called mental illness spiritual warfare. And our pastors sanctioned the violence in our home. Reformed leadership instructed and encouraged the practices I suffered under.
My story is about life in church-sanctioned domestic violence. It brings readers into the restrictive religious world of Calvinism, Federalism and Dominionism––systems of belief influencing our news headlines today.
High-control religion is reshaping our politics, our laws, and our elections. Readers will recognize cultural clues, like the lifestyle depicted in shows like the Duggar’s Counting On and the news headlines about Jerry Falwell Jr and Donald Trump, and the Supreme Court Justice’s belonging to a headship cult. When elections are close, and voter suppression is in the news, who suspects the impact head of household voting has on the final counts?
The celebrity Christian pastors and leaders of the protestant patriarchy have woven an intricate web as they share one mutual goal: white male supremacy and dominance while they wage war against the modern culture of the west. This is intentional and strategic and I was a player in their game. They can’t achieve dominion without the women at their side––but they’re master manipulators in how they get the girls to comply.
The American Burka is the story of how I turned a light on the secrets and sorrows that had become my Christian life, and what it took to break away and find freedom.
It’s currently with an editor and I’m seeking representation now.
Early readers have called it:
“powerful rip-the-bandaid-off truth-telling”
“brave, bold work, crisply written, innovative and compelling”
“a story that kept me up all night, crying for you, trying to get to a stopping place.”
“a look into the meta-world of fundamentalism in America.”
“What surprised me most was the sort of fundamentalism you describe in a mainstream church. That short of shit was going on right under my nose and I never saw it.”
Are you longing for freedom and healing from religious trauma and church-sanctioned gender and domestic violence? I’ve created a list of amazing people who have played a part in my journey. You can access it here:
Healing on Purpose
I recently returned to my 100 Happy Days project, the 2021 version. After a lifetime of “suffering for Jesus” and waiting for heaven in order to be happy, I now embrace my life for what it is and I live in the present. No bypassing, no wishful denial, no toxic positivity.
It turns out, dear fellow exevangelical, that life on the outside is full of ups and downs without any magic formula for happiness. Healing requires bulldog devotion and a multi-faceted strategy for trauma healing. This happy days project is just one light-hearted attempt to nurture joy within me.
There’s a highlight under my profile on Instagram of the first time I did this—a photo project to document a happy moment in each day for a hundred. My rules:
🌞use my big camera on a timer. Catch myself in the act of being happy
🌞no selfie poses or looking straight at the camera
🌞I must be in it
The last time I did this, I blew the top off my definition of happiness and what it looks like, what conditions it requires to exist, and how I’m impacted by actively waiting for “the happy moment of the day.” I discovered a new depth of gratitude. And I created a stack of some of my favorite photographs that I put in a book and regularly return to with love. This was absolutely the best time to do it again.
I completed my 100 and simply kept going. Others have joined in and it’s been a ton of fun. This idea originated with the 100 Happy Days Project. Check them out! It’s a project that will change your mind and your life.