Archive by Author

Free to Tell Your Story

28 Aug

For the first decade after Beth left home, she and her siblings didn’t speak about certain events in their childhood. Their family rules included never talking about the past and never talking about what happened unless the person you were talking about was there. Beth and her siblings tried to cope with their CPTSD alone—until one of them tried to commit suicide.

To people who’ve never suffered narcissistic abuse, such rules might sound good and even biblical, but ACoNs know the recovery mantra is true—that we are only as sick as our secrets—and there is nothing sicker than an entire family walking on eggshells around a damaged childhood.

Even when we forgive our parents, the stress of a dysfunctional childhood demands that we pay attention to our pain and the best way to deal with it is to talk about it with people who get it. The most likely people to do that are our siblings because even if they are different ages and genders they are still the only other witnesses to our shared childhood.

When one sibling starts to talk or visit a counselor, narcissistic parents will do several things to stop the communication. They will at first remind everyone of the taboo of talking outside the family. Then they will try to scapegoat and ostracize that child. Then they will send in the flying monkeys armed with Bible verses like Matthew 18. Like one Bible verse will counteract all they have done in the past to abuse. Once again, welcome to religious narcia.

Hummingbird Liberty, CherilynClough.com LittleRedSurvivor.com

Prints Available Here

It’s frustrating to deal with well-meaning Christians (who have little idea what it is like to be raised by a narc) who imagine Matthew 18 is the solution. They claim Jesus commands us to hash out our issues with the narcissist before we can talk to anyone else about it—including a counselor, but they are wrong. For one thing if talking to the narc about it had worked in the first place, we would not be in the position of having to talk to a counselor now.

In such discussions, a portion of Matthew 18 is taken out of context while the rest of the chapter is ignored altogether. When Jesus says to leave your gift at the altar and go and make things right with someone, He was simply speaking against hypocrisy. He wasn’t suggesting we spend hours arguing with our abusers. And He wasn’t telling us to not tell our stories.

When it comes to keeping family secrets, the people who lie and gaslight us have given away their right to privacy when they abused us.  If you have any experience with religious narcs, you know such conversations go nowhere. Christian narcissists are both self-proclaimed victims and Pharisees and if there was anyone Jesus preached against—it was the Pharisees.

So no, Jesus was not talking about victims of childhood abuse in Matthew 18. How do we know? Read the rest of the chapter.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—
those who believe in me—to stumble,
it would be better for them
to have a large millstone hung around their neck
and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
-Jesus

Did you hear that? This is Jesus talking to the little child inside your heart. He is telling you that what happened to you as a child—the beatings, the yelling, the lack of empathy was NOT okay with Him and it’s not okay with His Father either—

See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven
always see the face of my Father in heaven…
Your Father in heaven is not willing
that any of these little ones should perish.
-Jesus

Jesus welcomes the child inside of each of us. He wants us to remember our childhood innocence and wonder and our pain. He knows we have been so bruised and damaged and we are afraid of many things in life and He wants to heal us. He knows we need other people who can validate our pain and share His love with us. Jesus knows the only antidote to our fear is His perfect love (1 John 4:18) and sometimes this only becomes tangible through other people. This is why healing happens in small groups.

No matter what the narcs say, God sends holy angels to watch over and comfort us. We might feel lonely, but we are never alone. And no matter how abusive the people who raised us, God does not want to lose us because of the sins of our fathers and mothers.

It is God’s desire to draw us into relationship with Him. And that often includes finding safe people to share our stories with. Even the passage quoted most often from Matthew 18, can be applied to narcissism. Jesus knew narcissism would rear its ugly head—

If they still refuse to listen,
tell it to the church;
and if they refuse to listen even to the church,
treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
-Jesus

What a fitting description of how to deal with a narcissist. Narcs refuse to listen because they don’t want to remember what they have done to hurt us. Jesus says there is a point where we just have to walk away and possibly go No Contact.

Today Beth and her siblings talk about their parents—not in some demeaning way, but to remember and heal their wounds. They do not need to bring their parents into the discussion because they already know their parents won’t say sorry. What they need is the validation that comes from shared pain and finding ways to make healthier choices in their own lives.

So the next time you are telling your story and someone pulls out Matthew 18, ask them if they have read the rest of the chapter.

The True Dawning of Women’s Rights

26 Aug

Today marks the 95th anniversary of the day women were given the right to vote in America. We take it for granted, but 100 years ago women were shut out of having a voice within the laws of our nation. We’ve come a long way baby! Except in fundamentalist Christian circles where women are still being treated as second class today. Even as recent as this year, votes in my own denomination have been proclaimed to keep women in their place for the most sinister reason of all—that God counts Eve as less than Adam.

There was a time when Jimmy Carter was laughed at for saying he was a “born again Christian,” but those days are over as the last few decades have shown his commitment to treating people as Jesus would. Carter and the Elders of many nations have addressed the issue of violence against women. They claim fundamentalist religions where women are not treated with equality is one of the primary causes of abuse. Carter is so convinced that he left his beloved Southern Baptist church because they refused to ordain women. He made a statement at the time that bears repeating:

“This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

“At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

“The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us.” –Jimmy Carter

Pink Dawn, CherilynClough.com, LittleRedSurvivor.com

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Fundamentalist Christians point to the Bible Patriarchs to justify and excuse their subjugation of women under the title of male headship. It’s true, the Patriarchs all practiced male headship, but they practiced polygamy and slavery too. The problem contributing to this male headship confusion is choosing to read the Bible through a lens that omits the light of Jesus.

For most of the history in this world, women have been considered to be inferior to men, and under the authority of men—either their father before marriage, or their husband afterwards, but I find it hard to believe God would design Eve as the crowing act of creation to be subjugated to Adam.

Some proponents of male headship say Adam knew God first, but like a cartoon recently stated—Eve had her own thing going on with God while Adam slept. Some say Eve is less because she sinned first, but Eve was deceived, while Adam willingly sinned. The blame game really gets us nowhere because as members of the human race, we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. I’ve heard preachers say the ground at the foot of the cross is level, but sadly some would like to consider themselves of a higher value than a woman. The ground is either level or not.

Did God command male headship? If we read the story in Genesis, we see that Adam and Eve had to leave the garden because they were damaged by sin. And I might add they were now paranoid. After all they were hiding in the bushes from their Creator and friend who was still treating them kindly. Paranoia and control ruin relationships—just look at all the divorces caused by both.  Sin damages our ability to see each other and treat each other with other-centered love.

God saw what was happening with Adam and Eve and told them Eve would now cling to her husband and Adam would rule over her, but this was never God’s original plan—it was a description of what sin has done. No longer would they serve as equals and one, but they would be at each other’s throats unless someone was in charge. Adam was physically stronger so he won in power, but Eve would still try to outsmart him. Male headship is a very sad picture, because two people can’t be one unless they are both equal parts. The problem of considering self above another affects all of humanity and this is why Jesus came—to destroy the devil’s work.

The way Jesus treats women brings light to the dynamic between men and women—but only for those willing to think outside of a box created by the devil in Eden. After the fall, the world was plunged into darkness for at least four thousand years. The life of Jesus is the beginning of the dawn that must have shocked the men and women of His day.

Jesus Breaks the Social Norms for Women

  • Jesus Ignores Ritual Impurity Laws
    Women were considered unclean at certain times for bleeding, but Jesus allowed a bleeding woman to touch Him and then He rewarded her with healing (Mark 5:25-34).
  • Jesus Calls Women into His Inner Circle
    This included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and “many others” (Luke 8:1-3).
  • Jesus Uses Terms That Treat Women as Equal to Men
    When He healed a woman of an evil spirit He called her daughter of Abraham which gave her the dignity and status of any son of Abraham (Luke 13:16).
  • Jesus Converses With Foreign Women
    The Woman of Samaria (John 4:7-5:30).
    A Canaanite Woman (Matthew 15:22-28).
  • Jesus Allows Women to Study at His Feet 
    This was a place for only male disciples, but Jesus affirmed Mary and promised this place would not be taken from her (Luke 10:38-42).
  • Jesus Calls and Sends Women to Preach the Good News
    The Woman at the Well led people to Jesus (John 4:7-5:30).
    Mary was given the first resurrection sermon and isn’t it ironic men have been giving this message for centuries often at the exclusion of women preachers?

Jesus came to restore what was lost in the fall. He came to unite all humanity as equals so we can be one again—not just in name, but in reality. One between husband and wife and one in the Spirit of Jesus which will lead us to be one with all the various parts of the body of Christ. This oneness leaves no room for anyone but Jesus to be the head.

Can you see the light? If you are awake, the light has already come, but many continue to live in the darkness of male headship. It’s a false religion where Christians claim to represent God’s character but fail to treat women as Jesus does. Men can use God’s name to offer women the lessor seats in the church, but someday God’s dawn will shine for everyone to see. Whether men ordain women or not, God is bringing the dawn and no man will be able to stop it.

Jesus brings the dawn—one heart at a time. Jesus. Is. The. Dawn.

For look, darkness covers the earth,
and total darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will shine over you,
and His glory will appear over you.
-Isaiah 60:2

Jimmy Carter TED Talk

Jimmy Carter Losing My Religion for Equality

The Status of Women in the Gospels

Andrew University Unique Headship of Christ Statement

A Short History of Headship Doctrine in Adventist Church

Let Your Voice Be Heard

7 Aug

When people take the time to write out their stories, I am so honored. My goal in building this website was to help ACoNs* realize they are not alone. When you share your stories with me, you remind me that I am not alone either.

This week I received a letter from someone who wrote, “How do you feel comfortable writing your stories with what I am assuming is your real name and a real photo of yourself?”

It wasn’t easy at first. Seven years ago, my first website had a story about a little girl who was beaten for talking in church. I did NOT reveal that I was that girl or that it was my father who belted me. This led to me being accused of lying in that story. I confronted my parents and explained the very fact that if they knew who it was, it proved it was a true story. Otherwise it could have been one of many stories I told on that site.

After their gaslighting for hours, I almost doubted my memory— after all I was only seven. What helped me was my own clear memory of that event and the fact that my parents have always said I have an elephant’s memory. Since then I have learned from Dan Allender that such memories are seared into the mind of a person who is in trauma. If you are a little seven years old girl being beaten with a belt over and over by a 230 pound man, you are in trauma. It was probably not as traumatic for him, so he probably forgot about it.

Before I shared my actual picture or said my stories were about me, my parents spoke to nearly everyone in my family about me and called me a liar. They even wrote a letter to a judge to discredit me in a custody battle when I stood up for a child to have contact with both parents. Relatives stopped speaking to me. I have bent backwards over and over to reach out to my parents but as long as there are lies between us—not lies I told, but lies they either choose to believe or promote about me, we really can’t have much in common.

Don't Be Afraid, CherilynClough.com, LittleRedSurvivor.com

Print Available Here

My parents never did agree with me until several years later when I went to their house and tried to make amends. In this conversation, their denial was obvious. I said to my mom, “You allowed me to eat my dessert first that Sabbath. And I know you once told me you hated when Daddy punished me in anger, so what happened to you?”  Her reply was that Daddy had to hit me with both sides of the belt because I jerked around so much while he was beating me.

Yeah, so this is what many ACoNs are dealing with, but this incident helped me realize I am the only one who can speak for me. This really hit home when my Grandma hurt her hip and they immediately took her to the hospital and burned all her diaries. It felt like they took away her voice before she was even gone.

Another time, a church member had me over to his house and told me I should stop calling my parents’ names like narcissists, then maybe they would want to have a relationship with me.  This person meant well. He would never do to his daughters what my father has done to me. He can’t imagine how painful my reality has been. His children slept in beds and went to school. He doesn’t realize my parents’ behavior is what has caused me to call them narcs. Only another ACoN or therapist can understand such truth.

And although I cried for years, there comes a time when you realize life is too short and if our parents can’t respect us or treat us as friends, we need to move on. Despite all they have done to me or said about me, I still love and pray for my parents. I don’t hate them or blame them as some people might. I forgive them, but reconciliation would require honesty and fair treatment. I have come to the conclusion this may never happen this side of heaven. And yes, I pray for them to be there, because I love them more than just about anyone else in the world besides my husband and it breaks my heart that we can’t be close.

I could worry about judgmental church members or vengeful relatives, but then I wouldn’t be living my own life. I choose to not be a victim and the best way I know to stop being victimized is to stand up and let my voice be heard. In the Plot Whisperer Book, Martha Alderson says that the threshold— the time just after the crisis hits, is where the protagonist decides to roll over and die as a victim, or take the actions to never be a victim again. (I highly recommend this book for anyone wishing to tell their story.) We all have a crisis at different times in our lives and we get to make this choice over and over in our stories.

I have learned to embrace my story and all the messy details including my struggles with weight because of the love God has provided through some very loving adopted family members. These friends constantly validated my pain and told me to be myself. What a gift when true friends say, “Be yourself.” At the same time, we have to embrace our messy stories and that means the brutal honesty of telling about ourselves—our failures, struggles and hopes.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process
is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”
-Brené Brown

Here are few tips on writing your story:

1. If at all possible, have the hard conversations with your family. If they gaslight you or send in the flying monkeys and refuse to own their part in your pain and refuse to respect you, then you have no choice but to walk away. You might be blood related, but you are not their kind of people.

2. Remember narcissistic people always need a scapegoat. If might be the neighbor or your grandparent right now, but if you differ in opinion from them, it is only a matter of time before you become the new scapegoat.

3. When you write your stories, there is no need to assign motives to other people—not even the narcissistic ones. Remember they were once children too and probably suffered a form of abuse that brought them to where they are now. My goal in writing is never revenge. I simply hope the truth can heal others.

4. Witnesses at a traffic accident each have a different perspective and so do the members of a family. This means your parents and siblings can’t tell your story and may not know your story. Only you can tell your story. Don’t adjust your story to the perspective of others. Let them tell their own story.

5. If you are thinking of writing your story, you absolutely should. There is no person who has the right to take away your voice and you are the only one who can tell your story.

When our family members break the family bond by abusing us or lying about us to others, we have permission to walk away and tell our truth to whoever will listen. If they have tried to discredit us and silence our voices, the only way to NOT be a victim is to stand up and let our voices be heard.

*ACoNs–Adult Children of Narcissists

Dear Chris, Jesus is Coming to LOVE You–Not Hurt You!

31 Jul

Last night, in the middle of the night a twelve year old boy couldn’t sleep because he was afraid of Jesus coming. He decided to search the internet and found an old blog I wrote about fear and Jesus coming, then he asked if I could please help him to not be afraid. I wasn’t planning to write a blog today, but I can’t go to bed and sleep in peace while I know a precious child of God is lying in fear tonight, so here is a blog I wrote just for you, Chris!

When I was around your age, my church had meetings and I remember the preacher pointing his finger at me and asking what if Jesus came tonight, would you be ready? My heart would stop beating for a minute as I tried to swallow my fear.

My father used to listen to the news and say Jesus is coming, we have to be ready. Every time this happened, I too would lay awake at night scared and begging God to save me.

The worst part was all the talk about times of trouble (which were like scary apocalyptic movies) and God’s judgment and how Jesus might even say He never knew me unless I could remember all my sins and asked for forgiveness and then never sin again.

You wanna know what all this stuff is? Fear and manipulation. All of these terms distort what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. Sometimes grownups try to scare us into being good. So for a minute, let’s just set all these fears aside and think about what Jesus is really like.

If you were walking in Galilee in the first century, you might have heard about Jesus. Jesus was the guy who took time to lay His hands on little kids and bless them even when grow ups thought it was a waste of time.

And if Jesus saw a bird with a broken wing, I bet He fixed it. Jesus put mud on a blind man’s eyes and healed him so he could see! Jesus told crippled people to get up and walk and they did! Jesus once walked to a dead girl’s house–a girl who was about your age and when Jesus touched her, she woke up! Then the first thing Jesus said to her mom was to give her something to eat.

Jesus healed and loved so many people, that one day thousands of people came to listen to him tell stories all day. It was so good that no one remembered to eat. Can you imagine a man who tells good stories like that?

Then when the people were so hungry, Jesus asked if anyone had food and one boy still had his lunch because he forgot to eat it–that’s how interesting it was to hear Jesus tell stories!

So this kid had five rolls and two fish and he loved Jesus so much that he gave Him his lunch. He probably thought Jesus was hungry and would eat it himself, but nope! Jesus broke up that boy’s lunch and the Bible says Jesus’s friends had baskets and baskets of food! Enough to feed over five thousand people!

So what does all this have to do with Jesus coming? Jesus is the best friend you could ever have. He’s the guy who has your back when no one else cares. He’s the one who even if you die someday will wake you up and get you something good to eat.

Jesus is the one who planned on your talents and hair color even before you were born. Jesus creates beautiful places for you to explore. If you could be like that boy with the lunch and hang out with Jesus all day, you might have so much fun you might even forget your lunch too!

So what does this have to do with not being afraid? The secret to not being afraid is to know Jesus. Because if you know Jesus, you would know that when Jesus comes, He is going to call you by name–including even a secret name He has for you that no one else knows (Revelation 2:17).

When Jesus comes, He will make you healthy and strong enough to live forever and explore the universe with Him!

When Jesus comes, He will talk with you about every sad and hurtful thing that ever happened to you and help you understand what really happened.

When Jesus comes He will bring Angels and there is a special angel Jesus has for you that has watched over you and helped you and protected you every day of your life.

When Jesus comes, He will show you good friends and beautiful music and brighter colors than anything you’ve ever dreamed of before.

Jesus is coming to take you to another life where you can ride giraffes and elephants and sleep with snow leopards.

Jesus created every cool thing in nature on this earth and He has more things to show you than you can imagine.

People who are afraid of Jesus try to make other people afraid. I’m not afraid anymore–that’s why I can tell you the secret of not being afraid is to know Jesus.

The only reason you would ever be afraid of Jesus is if you don’t know Him. But if you want to be safe and know Him, you can read about him in the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you do this, you will see that there is no reason to be afraid of Jesus.

Even if you have done something wrong, you can still tell Jesus because His middle name is forgiveness and He doesn’t hold grudges. And if you are worried about hell, write back to me and I will show you from the Bible that no one is going to burn forever. People have misunderstood the Bible. God is love, not mean and revengeful.

Jesus says if you hear my voice follow me. And John the guy who knew Jesus personally for years, said we don’t have to be afraid if even the judgment if we know Jesus, because Jesus’s perfect love will take away all of our fear (Read 1 John 4:18).

Well Chris, I hope this helps you sleep better tonight. Talk to Jesus and ask Him to help you know Him so you can not be afraid. He won’t let you down. You can always write me with more questions if you have them. But for tonight, just know that Jesus loves you more than you can imagine and he has good plans for you!

Can’t Get Saved Through the Lizard Brain

No Longer Freaked Out By the Plagues

Afraid of Jesus Coming?

God is Your Shelter

Standing in the Gap

21 Jul

Some sweet, kind soul at church last week expressed how glad they were to see my face because they thought I might be too upset to come to church now that the Adventist Church has voted no to allowing divisions to decide on ordaining women. I couldn’t help but chuckle because they must not know me very well.

Virginia Davidson, Davidson Originals, http://www.davidsonoriginals.com/

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Of course I disagree with the vote and no, I don’t believe it is ever God’s will that anyone be discriminated against for their gender or race. But I’ve also seen all kinds of crazy in this church and I am mature enough to not be swayed by what anyone else does in the name of God. My faith depends not on any conference structure made by humans—but on Jesus alone.

My family tree has many broken branches where people have taken detours or walked away from God altogether. When I realize how much religion is abused, I can hardly blame them.

My great, great grandfather Arthur Mellish studied to be a clergyman in the Anglican Church. His father was a rich banker and the family had friends in high places. The family and many important dignitaries came to Arthur’s ordination at St. Paul’s Cathedral. All went well until Arthur was asked if he had any questions. Suddenly he wondered out loud why the church kept Sunday instead of Saturday—which caused the ordination to come to a complete halt. Later that night his father knocked on his door and gave him a one way ticket to America on a ship named “The Baltic.”

Arthur Mellish had shamed his parents and now was disowned by his family and exiled to America in 1883 at age 21. He never went back home to England. It must’ve been a sad journey not knowing if he would ever see his family again or have someone to understand him, but he moved in across the street from a beautiful young woman named Sedora who caught his eye. He soon discovered Sedora and her family were Seventh-day Adventist Christians. His family may have abandoned him, but God had been standing in the gap for Arthur and he was soon married to a woman who celebrated the Sabbath with him every week.

These wonderful people were my grandma Veronica’s grandparents. When she was eight years old, Veronica’s mother asked her to attend a séance with her, but Veronica was convinced it was wrong, so she walked a mile to Arthur and Sedora’s home which she found full of love and music and great talks about God. When her mother returned, Veronica said her mother’s eyes were hard and she knew her mother’s love for her had grown cold.

Arthur Mellish stood in the gap, between the Church of England and Adventism. Between those happy with the status quo and those who had inquiring minds. Between England and America. And He and Sedora stood in the gap between their daughter-in-law’s beliefs and God. By standing in the gap, Arthur and Sedora represented God’s love and truth to Veronica.

Decades later, when I was young and bounced around by my family’s dysfunctional habits, Grandma Veronica stood in the gap for me just like her grandparents once did for her. Her memory still stands between the struggles of last generation theology and the gospel of grace. She stood between men with frail egos and women of God. She stood between misrepresentation of God and the love of God. Veronica (and my Grandpa Don) stood in the gap for me between fear and faith, instability and trust and between false beliefs and God’s love.

Even though Arthur & Sedora and Veronica & Don are all gone now, they all stood in the gap and their faith is why I am here today. And in case you thought I would break this tradition, even though there is no merit to being a sixth generation church member, the blood runs thick to say I would not walk away from the church and message I love, but it is now my turn to stand in the gap.

I will continue to join with my brothers and sisters around the world who plan to show up to church wearing black to signify our mourning with yellow scarves to show our faith that Jesus is indeed bringing the dawn. And I will continue to write about our mission to show God’s character and how is has been maligned by this vote.

I read a friend’s post saying “I’ve never left my church, but it feels like my church has left me.” This seems true. In a church founded by a woman preacher who supported women preachers, this idea of women preachers being less than their male counterparts is a strange concept and does not resemble our pioneers or our Savior.

Whether people can see it or not, our world church family has a gap—more like a gaping wound, but if you are thinking of leaving, please don’t.

Now is our time to stand in the gap—

Between controlling leadership and grassroots believers.
Between male headship and the headship of Christ.
Between hierarchy and the golden rule.
Between exclusion and inclusion.
Between the tares and the wheat.
Between the elite clergy and the priesthood of all believers.
Between distortions of God’s character and God’s character of love.
Between the church militant and the church triumphant.

Jesus Himself is our peace and He has come to stand in all of our gaps. Even now, Jesus is bringing the dawn and no one will be able to hold it back.

I looked for someone among you who could build walls
or stand in front of me by the gaps in the walls
to defend the land and keep it from being destroyed.
But I couldn’t find anyone.
-Ezekiel 22:30

I am willing to stand with Jesus in the gap, are you?

Why Mary Dyer Deserves Her Own Google Doodle

18 Jul lwjas0416

This is a repost form a blog I wrote three years ago.
Recent events show me that Mary’s story will always be relevant until religious freedom is universal. 

Mary Dyer willingly walked to the gallows and hung 355 years ago as the first woman martyr on American soil. She had waited her turn at the gallows before. She watched her fellow Quakers die while she stood with a noose around her own neck. The first time, the noose was removed due to a last minute appeal from her son. She’d been warned to leave Massachusetts and never come back, but years later she came back to appeal for religious freedom.

Born in England, Mary Dyer married Puritan William Dyer in 1633. They immigrated to Massachusetts where William became a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Company and held many important positions. They were admitted to the Boston church two years later. Mary was described as “fair” and “comely.”

At this point Mary was not a Quaker, but she was an open supporter of Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson. Hutchinson was the midwife who dared to teach women about God while women sat around waiting for a delivery. Her father had been a minister and she believed that men and women alike could hear from God and teach others. Mary probably met Anne at one of her births.

When Mary went into labor on October 17, 1637, she called for Anne. After hours of pain, Mary gave birth to a stillborn daughter. They knew that such a birth would be fodder for the imagination and superstitions of the Magistrates in Boston. At the advice of a well-educated doctor, they buried the child. The birth remained a secret for months.

When Anne Hutchinson was excommunicated from the church and cast away from society on March 22, 1638, Mary Dyer walked beside her. Someone asked who was that woman supporting Anne Hutchinson? Another replied, “The mother of a monster.” This remark was overhead by Governor Winthrop who immediately had the body exhumed. The baby was falsely described by Winthrop with such horror as to make it appear a curse from God—

“…It had two mouths, and in each of them
a piece of red flesh sticking out;
it had arms and legs as other children;
but, instead of toes, it had on each foot three claws,
like a young fowl, with sharp talons.”

Now it was Mary’s turn to be cast out from society, but her husband was well respected and they found refuge in Rhode Island. Then they went back to England on a political mission with Roger Williams. While living in England for five years, Mary began to follow George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. His teaching of the “Inner light” was similar to beliefs she learned from Anne Hutchinson. Mary returned to New England preaching the gospel wherever she went. These two women are considered by some to be the first feminists and women preachers of the New World.

The Puritans of Boston–despite fleeing their own religious persecution, had no tolerance for Quakers. In the five years since Mary left, things had only gotten worse in the New World. While other Quakers had been preaching and starting congregations all over the territory, laws had been enacted against–

“the cursed sect of heretics … commonly called Quakers”
which permitted banishing, whipping,
and using corporal punishment
(cutting off ears, boring holes in tongues).”

Upon her return, Mary, who was unaware of these new laws was immediately captured at the ship and thrown in jail. Her Quaker papers were stolen and burned. She was put into a dark cell with the window blocked to keep the light out. Because of her husband’s prestige she was set free on the condition that she never talk to anyone about her beliefs and leave Massachusetts at once. Mary went back to Rhode Island and preached everywhere she went.

Other Quakers found refuge in Sandwich, MA where freedom was granted to all religious beliefs. These men started a Quaker congregation that has met continuously to this day. Eventually spies reported these men and one of them had his right ear cut off. The struggle for religious freedom had immigrated to the New World along with the people.

Mary had been up for martyrdom before and despite the fact that she had been warned to stay away, she refused because she firmly believed that everyone should have the freedom to worship as they choose. She came back to appeal to the governor for freedom and chose to make her life an example. After she was hung, her dress blew gently in the breeze.

“She hangs there as a flag for others to take example by,”
remarked an unsympathetic bystander.
That was indeed Mary Dyer’s intention –
to be an example, a “witness” in the Quaker sense,
for freedom of conscience.”

©Lars Justinen/Licensed from GoodSalt.com

“In 1959 by authority of the Massachusetts General Court,
which had condemned her nearly 300 years before,
a bronze statue was erected in her memory
on the grounds of the State House in Boston.
A statue of her friend, Anne Hutchinson,
stands in front at the other wing.”

Mary Dyer found a cause bigger than the New World. Although she endured the loss of privacy and dignity throughout her persecution, she went to the gallows with a gentle smile on her face saying—

“My Life not availeth me in comparison to the liberty of the truth.”

So whether Google ever makes a doodle to celebrate the spirit and life of Mary Dyer, or not, I offer her up as an example of faith and freedom of conscience to men and women everywhere. Mary could have walked away, She had many opportunities to avoid such a death, but she chose to take a stand for freedom of conscience.

Mary, like Jesus, chose to lay down her own life for a greater cause–

No one can take my life from me.
I sacrifice it voluntarily.
For I have the authority to lay it down
when I want to and also to take it up again.
For this is what my Father has commanded.
– John 10:18

Mary Barrett Dyer– Notable Women 

Early Quaker History

Mary Dyer Blog

God Calls Women

16 Jul jahas0093

Reposting this blog from three years ago because it is just as true today.

When God created Adam in all his perfection–God declared that Adam alone was not enough–so God created a woman. God created both men and women in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), but there is something unique about women. When God created Eve, God called her an “ezer kenegdo” which has been translated to mean many things including help mate–as though all a woman was created to do is carry a man’s water bucket.

According to Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, this term “ezer kenegdo” can also be translated “sustainer beside him” and is only used in twenty other places in the Old Testament (examples include Deut. 33:26, 29, Psalm 121:1-2, Psalm 20:1-2, Psalm 33:20 and Psalm 115:9-11). Every other time the Bible uses this term it refers to God Himself as a Lifesaver, so when woman was created in the image of God, she was created to be a lifesaver.

God’s enemy would squelch this lifesaver image of God inside a woman and has tried to limit her role to whatever selfish, sinful man throws at her. As you think of the Bible stories below consider how each woman had her part to play as an ezer kenegdo.

 ©Janet Hyun/Licensed from GoodSalt.com

When God wanted someone to carry and nurture the human race—God called a woman (Genesis 3:20).

When God wanted someone to protect and watch over baby Moses—God called a young woman (Exodus 2).

When God wanted to preserve and train His future leader Moses—God called a pagan woman (Exodus 2:10).

When God wanted someone to lead others with timbrels and dancing to celebrate the victory at the Red Sea—
God called a woman (Exodus 15:20).

When God wanted to show He can use anyone–even prostitutes—God called a woman (Joshua 2).

When God wanted to reveal His true prophet to the leper Naaman—God called a young woman (2 Kings 5:1-19).

When God wanted to protect and nurture the seed of God and the hope of the world—God called a woman (Luke 1:29-38).

When God wanted to remove the custom of stoning to reveal that His grace is greater than our sin—God called a woman (John 8:1-12).

When God wanted to break the tradition where only men could sit at a Rabbi’s feet—God called a woman (Luke 10:39).

When God needed people to support Jesus financially—God called many women (Luke 8:1-3).

When God wanted an evangelist to reveal the Messiah at Jacob’s Well—God called a woman (John 4:28).

When God wanted to anoint Jesus for the incredible work He was about to do—God called a woman (Luke 7:38).

When God wanted to announce Christ’s resurrection to the world—God called a woman (John 20).

God has not changed. His character is the same through all times, traditions and places—God still calls women today.

Do you see this woman? I came into your house.
You did not give me any water for my feet,
but she wet my feet with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but this woman,
from the time I entered,

has not stopped kissing my feet. 
You did not put oil on my head, 
but she has poured perfume on my feet…
Jesus said to the woman, 
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
-Luke 7:44-50

Of Perfume, Tears and Grumpy Old Men

When Women are Called and the Church says No

Captivating 

Good Girls Get Angry

15 Jul

While I was growing up, I was taught never to show my anger. My parents didn’t allow children to throw tantrums, so I watched my younger siblings being beaten with a belt over and over until their wills were broken. I believe this happened to me too, because for most of my life, I have been unable to access my anger.

Growing up in an environment where I was told that “good girls don’t get angry” only caused me to absorb all kinds of abuse starting with the physical and emotional abuse doled out by my parents. I have been on a journey of healing. As I write out the stories of my childhood and reframe them, I have finally discovered my anger and my voice.

When I write about my childhood, and most ACoNs* say, “Yeah me too.” All narcissistic families have similar patterns. No matter how much we love some people there is nothing we can do unless they are willing to be honest and treat us with respect. Most ACoNs realize this will never happen because narcissists care more about being right than having a relationship and they don’t change when they get to church. This is why many church leaders wield power over others with an appalling lack of empathy.

I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Last week they held a vote over Women’s ordination to decide if different world divisions could decide for themselves about ordaining women. People from all nations voted, but some nations voted in blocks due to their local politics. The air was charged with politics and hate even to the point of booing a former president. Not only is our current world president firmly against women’s ordination, he used his position to push his own agenda on the rest of the church.

Of course the vote was no. Considering all the nations represented, I see no way it could be yes, because we are talking about nations where female mutilation is practiced and male headship is common. Such cultures ridicule the thought of woman leaders. I just had higher hopes for our American church leaders. Unfortunately, the false doctrine of male headship appears to be swaying a lot of votes despite the fact that our seminary has refuted it. For those of us who believe women are equal to men this has been a travesty.

I personally believe the vote and all the politics around it have misrepresented God’s character to the world. I believe the God who created women, also calls them. We see this in the life of Jesus from allowing to Mary to sit at His feet like a disciple, to His calling of the Samaritan woman at the well who brought her entire town to meet Jesus. When Jesus rose again, He gave the first message about the resurrection–not to John or Peter, but to Mary and ordained her to give to the men who were hiding in an upper room. It’s obvious for those willing to see that God calls women.

Can't Hold Back the Dawn, Virginia Davidson

Order Ampersand Pins Here

Since the vote a week ago, we have been told from the top down to stop talking about women’s ordination. They say the vote is over and now it’s time to get on with our lives, but that leaves a crippled church limping along by respecting only half of the members. I don’t believe it’s over until the church endorses women with equality.

This affects more than women pastors, it affects every woman in the church who has gifts to share but has been accused of usurping a man’s role for sharing Jesus. It trickles down to the little girl who wonders if God loves her as much as her brother. Despite how our leadership acts, it’s important to note God is not a narcissistic Parent–Jesus showed us by kneeling down to wash dirty feet that God cares about every person and if the Father sees a sparrow fall, how much more does He care about how a woman pastor is treated?

This last week, many of us wore black clothes and ampersands to church. The ampersand represents men & women working together–not men over women, nor women over men, but a complete and equal partnership. We wanted to show our mourning and solidarity because through this vote, fringe beliefs have hijacked our church and distorted God’s character to the world. The Seventh day Adventist church has NEVER supported male headship. It came into the church from Bill Gothard and most never dreamed this could happen.

So this week, we are regrouping. We who understand that God created Eve equal to Adam before the fall. We who understand that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work and restore us back to equality. We take joy when we read Paul saying there is no male or female in Christ, yet we are now subjected to a splitting and often abusive church family who condemn us for following Jesus and our own conscience.

Several TV preachers are so against women pastors that they have been writing books and posting videos proclaiming women’s ordination is a tool of the devil. One after another of my friends–including myself, have been told we are being deceived just like Eve and under satanic influence merely for serving God with the gifts He has given us.

Jimmy Carter and the Elders who have studied this around the world say that male headship contributes to the abuse of women all over the world. Our own church seminary has refuted the practice of male headship and our historian George Knight has given us a rundown on what exactly ordination means in the video below, but few seem to be listening to his logic.

There are people who would rather see men in power than work beside women and this includes our president. Ted Wilson has gone so far as to avoid being on the platform when a woman pastor was commissioned–something already approved by the church. If he truly wants to represent Christ, then why not pray over a woman who has dedicated her entire life to serving God? Jesus laid His hands on children and blessed them, should we give women less?

Suddenly people who haven’t spoken to us for months feel a need to set us straight on our Facebook statuses. They call accuse us of being selfish or led by the devil. It would be funny if it was not real and many are relatives or old friends who feel they have the right to condemn us for not seeing it like they do. It doesn’t help that our church president is calling for us to stop talking about this and embrace unity, but how can there be unity when any part of the body is hurting? Does it not affect the rest of the body too?

The worst part is we have been told it’s over—to stop focusing on how we treat women because we need to be ready for Jesus to come. Once again, it’s God they use so they can abuse. Most ACoNs see these patterns of power over and control and recognize them for what they are, but this general lack of empathy for women is a shame for a church that says it represents Christ to the world.

In all of these attacks on women’s value, I have not lost my faith, but I have found my anger.

I am angry when Christians raise themselves above others by using the steps of Satan instead of the Steps of Jesus.

I am angry when dishonest people write books that are the 21st century equivalent to a 17th century witch hunt.

I am angry when corrupt politics invades God’s church and people are allowed to manipulate the vote and then leaders call it God’s will.

I am angry when we have a church president who shows little empathy for the pain of women and tells us to have unity while he continues to ignore our pain.

I am angry that family members have been suckered into this male headship deception and feel it is their religious duty to condemn women pastors and all who support them.

I am angry when ignorant people try to stop women from serving Jesus.

I am angry that the most important event in history (the second coming of Jesus) is being used to manipulate hurting women into silence.

And I am most angry because this vote of my church–the Seventh day Adventist church has misrepresented God’s character to the world.

So no, Elder Wilson, we will not be silent. You might have control over your cabinet, but you cannot control our hearts and thoughts. If you wish for unity, you must care about the part of the body that is hurting.

And God, in case you haven’t heard, is exactly like Jesus in character and Jesus loves and calls women.

The surge is only beginning to rise. We are many “Ezer Kenegdos”–designed, empowered and called by God.

Good girls and women get angry when we see that God has called women and our leaders will not do unto others as they would like to be treated. Yes, this misrepresentation makes us angry—the way Jesus got angry when He cleansed the temple. Mark my words. Jesus is coming physically in the future, but He has already come into the hearts of many and He is cleansing temples right now. The question our leaders need to ask themselves, is does God really see me more important than women?

Allow me to repeat this, we will NOT be silent. We are half of the army God has called and enabled to serve and even if the GC president withholds his blessing, God will continue to empower women. I have many friends around the world who are standing with us—some pledging to wear ampersands and black until this is set right. Heaven’s angels gather around us as a great crowd of witnesses.

Sure, we are staring into darkness right now, but we can see a gleam of light on the horizon. Our hearts burn within us and no one–not the president of our church, or fanatical TV preachers or the self-righteous members of our families, can stop what God ordains. You can’t hold back the dawn.

*ACoN Adult Children of Narcissists

God Calls Women

Jimmy Carter TED Talk On Women’s Abuse

Andrew University Headship Statement

Healthy Anger Sermon by Seth Pierce

The Biblical Meaning Of Ordination by George Knight

Inside Out Movie Review for ACONs

2 Jul

*SPOILER ALERT*

Have you ever wondered what’s going inside your head? Pixar has given us a new tool for this. “Inside Out,” their newest release, is a drama on the inside of a girl’s head named Riley.

Elephant Girl, CherilynClough.com, LittleRedSurvivor.com

Print Available Here

The main characters are a panel of creatures who stand in for Riley’s emotions. Anyone who’s been to counseling might be familiar with them. Joy is the most active and she often tries to help Riley by monitoring all the other emotions who are aptly named Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust.

The story begins at Riley’s birth where Joy is the first to appear. As Riley grows up with Joy, Sadness, Anger and Fear take their turns leading her thoughts. Fear occasionally pops in to teach Riley how to remain safe. Anger finds a way to inspire Riley into action and Disgust (an alternative emotion made up for the movie) works to repel Riley from obnoxious situations. But the one emotion that seems to be shoved to the back seat is Sadness—this happens especially when Joy is in the driver’s seat.

Have you ever seen those memes on social media that tell you to forget the past and be happy? While there is truth to not wallowing in the misery of the past, this story explains why we need to remember the past and allow our sadness to touch us so we can move forward to joy.

While Joy tries to keep Sadness from touching Riley’s core memories, the internal plot going on in Riley’s head is both inspired and complicated by her real life. When Riley is eleven her family moves from Minnesota to California—setting off a chain of events that is scary and painful for Riley.

When the family’s moving van gets lost, Riley is left sleeping on the floor with only a few of her familiar things. Then her father is having stress with his new job. Meanwhile everything is different out west. Wherever Riley turns in her new neighborhood, things are different than what she is used to and she eventually discovers that even pizza is not always what she thinks it should be.

At school, the teacher asks her to tell about Minnesota where she came from and suddenly she becomes very sad when she realizes she will not be seeing her old friends back home anymore. Inside her head, Joy freaks out when Sadness touches one of Riley’s core memories and tells Sadness not to touch any of them.

One of Riley stress factors is because she has no core memories of her new home to get her through these rough times. If you were an ACON who moved constantly, this is what might have happened inside your head too. When we face stressful times, we rely on familiar patterns of friends and places, but moving disrupts this.

The family crisis outside of Riley’s head causes lots of confusion for her panel of emotions inside. Riley’s is stressed about her new school and leaving all her old friends, but when her mother comes in to tell her good night, she says “Where is my happy girl? Daddy needs us to be happy.”

Riley wants to please her parents so she blocks out her own confusion and pain to smile on the outside, but this causes an inner turmoil among the panel of emotions inside her head. Fear pushes the panic button a few times, while Sadness starts touching all of Riley’s core memories. Joy feels this will ruin Riley’s memories so she tries to keep Sadness from touching them. Joy and Sadness fight it out and the result is that neither of them are available for Riley because they get lost in her long term memory vault.

While Joy and Sadness are trying to find their way back to Riley’s thinking center, Anger and Fear take over the controls. Riley decides to steal money from her mom’s purse to jump on a bus and go back where she came from. Riley is now not only in an emotional crisis, but she is possibly in physical danger because Anger has over ruled Fear.

Joy and Sadness are still lost, but they start to talk about their favorite memories of Riley. What Joy remembers as a wonderful Joy-filled experience, Sadness only remembers as a Sadness orchestrated experience. It turns out they are both right—that Joy and Sadness are flip sides to the same core memory and that’s when Joy realizes that Riley needs Sadness to be able to experience Joy.

This goes along with Brené Brown’s research that we cannot selectively numb our emotions. We can’t ignore our sadness and still experience joy. This is where we ACONs cannot listen to our narcissistic parents or our flying monkey relatives, we can only be responsible for our own healing and that includes honoring the sad moments in our lives. This is the only path to joy.

It is only when Riley finally experiences sadness that she decides to turn back to home and safety. That includes more sadness as she finally tells her parents what has been going on inside her head and how she is sad over the move. Once she does this, she is free to experience joy again. Lucky for Riley, her parents are not narcs and they listen to her sadness.

For a healthy family dynamic, the sadness of a child must connect with empathy. As the writers of the Empathy Trap have explained narcissists lack empathy and we need all empathy to heal. When we were told to ignore our pain, it only increased our fear and anger, but we need sadness to honor our losses so we can experience joy.

I don’t know about you, but as a Christian, I was taught that sadness is bad. That Jesus loves happy girls. This is also where many Christians have failed to love others. When they tell us that Jesus needs happy witnesses or likes happy Christians, they are failing to allow us to process our pain. The most healing thing a Christian can do is show empathy for those who are hurting.

This attitude if judging someone as though they have no right to their emotions is not reflective of Jesus. Jesus was a man of sorrows. He wept because of He empathized with the pain of the people He created.

This might seem like a silly story, but it has a lot of truth in it. It illustrates the emotional struggles going on in all of our minds and explains why some people are so angry and scared. They have simply shut down and are making their decisions from the fear center of the brain.

I would recommend this movie to everyone who had a hard childhood. It’s well worth the price of admission. But even more important, I hope that all ACONs can realize we have the right to remember our past—even our sad memories because without honoring our pain, we might struggle for years to find joy.

Male Headship 7—The Headship of Jesus

26 Jun

For those who grew up with corrupt male headship I have good news for you.

For those who grew up with fathers who were more concerned with being in charged as the head of the home…

For those who grew up with fathers who hit them and controlled them because he was bigger or held all the money and power…

For those who grew up with fathers who were more concerned with their own needs than their children’s…

For those who grew up with Fathers who judged you and condemned you when you didn’t follow his religious or political choices…

For those who were belittled and abused under the title of headship…

I offer you the headship of Jesus.

The Headship of Jesus Says:

“If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest.” – Matthew 11:28-29

This doesn’t sound at all like the male headship we have learned from humans.

1. As the Head, Jesus Always Provides 
He allows the rain and sun fall on the just and unjust. No matter who you are or what you have done, He will not withhold the blessings of sunshine and rain on you. And He has told us to not worry about tomorrow because He has already planned all of our days and it is taken care of. But because He knows we will have doubts, He says we can ask Him for help.

2. As the Head, Jesus Takes Full Responsibility
For Everything That Goes Wrong. He sent Adam and Eve from the garden to protect them from becoming immortal sinners. He is saving paradise for all who will allow Him to heal us. But even greater, He came and lived among us sharing our pain, took all the responsibility for our messy lives and made up the difference by dying for us.

3. As the Head, Jesus Always Puts Others Before Himself
Jesus made himself lower than the angels and died the death of criminal. He does the work of a servant and washes everyone’s feet—not just the feet of Peter and John, but He even washes the feet of his enemies—consider Judas who had already planned to betray him.

4. As the Head, Jesus is Always Honest
This Head never lies or tricks you to manipulate you into doing something for him. Jesus not only calls Himself the Truth, but He always tells the truth and stands on the side of the truth.

5. As the Head, Jesus is Always Inclusive
This Head always welcomes us to eat with Him and He doesn’t wait for us to come to Him, He’s already knocking on our doors. No matter who you are and where you have been or what you have done, if you ask Him for help, He will never shun you or ignore you.

6. As the Head, Jesus Grants Freedom to All
This Head gave us our freedom and allows us to choose if we want to remain in relationship with Him. He even gives us a holiday each week through the Sabbath so we can have free time with Him and each other—and He doesn’t control how we spend that time.

7. As the Head, Jesus Empowers Others
Jesus treats women as well as he treats men. He has as much love for women as men. And that goes for color of skin or any position in life. Jesus loves all of us equally and bestows His gifts on all.

I Am My Own Person, CherilynClough.com LittleRedSurvivor.com

Prints Available Here

For those who claim that men should always own the headship of the home, this is how the headship of Jesus behaves:

The headship of Jesus is patient,
The headship of Jesus is kind,
The headship of Jesus isn’t jealous,
The headship of Jesus doesn’t brag,
The headship of Jesus isn’t arrogant,
The headship of Jesus isn’t rude,
The headship of Jesus doesn’t seek its own advantage,
The headship of Jesus isn’t irritable,
The headship of Jesus doesn’t keep a record of complaints,
The headship of Jesus isn’t happy with injustice,
The headship of Jesus is happy with the truth.
The headship of Jesus puts up with all things,
The headship of Jesus trusts in all things,
The headship of Jesus hopes for all things,
The headship of Jesus endures all things.

The headship of Jesus is never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

If any man on this earth wants to claim true Christian headship, this is what it looks like. No human can do this fully, but we can always be grateful for the headship of Christ. Where there is equality, both men and women should aim for this goal of being like Christ.

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