Monthly Archives: October 2012

Thoughts on Sovereign Grace Ministries

*This is a guest post from my husband and I thought it was worth posting. I am very proud of him for breaking away from SGM, and for being able to so clearly see the things that have really damaged a lot of people. I certainly married well, and I love him very much!*

I have spent my entire life in a huge church in the Sovereign Grace Ministries sphere. I’ve personally interacted with almost all of the SGM celebrities at some point in my life. I have personally had over a dozen peers leave SGM for either personal reasons/disagreements or for life changes. Every one of those who have left have been shut out and forgotten about after leaving. Their “friends” discuss rumors and speculation about them “walking away from God” as the motivation behind leaving our SGM church. I grew accustomed to this early on in the youth ministry and didn’t even flinch. I never thought twice about it. I was left with the impression that our church was the BEST church and in CJ’s words “The dearest place on earth.”

I was deceived. I do not blame anyone for this but myself. I want to emphasis that it was I who allowed myself to be deceived. There were several categories that I have fallen under a dangerous philosophy on;

1) When people leave the SGM sphere, they are no longer worthy of acknowledgement. They are ignored publicly, they are judged, and their “friends” openly slander them justifying their words with “We’re burdened by their decision.”

2) Small groups are small churches. The leaders of your small group have the authority of pastors, and the purpose of small groups is to discuss conflicts, sin, and accountability.

3) Humility is present when your words reflect a “humble heart”, control over emotions, and the ability to deflect compliments or encouragement.

The above are all “ideas” or philosophies that are heavily present within the congregation of my church. I say congregation because that’s the majority of the church, and as your peers, there is an overwhelming amount of peer pressure in SGM churches or even ex SGM churches. All in the name of “staying in God’s will”.

This past summer my wife and I left our SGM church. It took me a while. Over two decades in SGM and then leaving. Not as easy as I thought. In the last 3 months of our membership at our church, all of the above things shot up like rockets in our lives and we were overwhelmed by the pain that people under these ideas have caused us and others. Let me walk through each one.;

1) The mindset in issue one is horrible. It’s selfish, arrogant, self righteous, and cult like. I’ve seen it happen to close friends and even to whole families. They leave, whether because of a disagreement or because of a job in a new state, and they’re erased from everyone’s lives. No one will talk to them, and if they see them in public (i’m not making this up) they will refuse to acknowledge their presence. This happened to my wife a week ago. Someone we’ve known for years walked up to the friend my wife was talking with and said hello to the friend and wouldn’t even look at my wife. This is wrong. The greatest strength of the church is community. Just because you don’t go to the same church as someone else or because they disagree with your doctrine, does not give them any right to ignore you publicly  We are called to love and peace and community, not to what could be called persecution. Because of the above mindset, I believe that SGM has a very elitist mindset that is extremely contradictory to the whole message of Jesus and the Bible. It amazes me that members will pride themselves about their outreach groups yet turn around and refuse fellowship and friendship with members of other churches or ex-members of their church. This is very troubling to me. It’s hard enough trying to meet new people or couples in our old church, even though it had over 4000 members. Unless you were part of their Care group, or their clique, you’d either get the “let’s do it” then silence, or you’d never hear from them when you contacted them to get together. This has baffled me since the youth ministry. This is a big reason why we are backing away from large churches and SGM altogether. The elitist mindset is harmful to the community and very hypocritical of the whole idea of what a church is as presented by scripture in the New Testament.

2) I’ve never understood small groups in SGM. Why are there “leaders” when really it’s supposed to be a time set aside for fellowship and Bible study? Instead, it’s a time to share sin, often discourage each other because of your sin, go through marriage books by guys with scary mustaches, and even spend hours discussing a quote from Piper or Mahaney. There’s also this idea that care means pointing out your sin, and then telling you what to do. Questions are asked to “bring sin to the surface” and if you get emotional, you are flat out accused of being in the wrong and having a sinful heart. If you in any way question someone’s rebuke, you are rebuked for being prideful and are “counselled” to pray about what humility looks like. Care in care groups, with the exception of a few I’ve only heard of (I’ve only experienced what I am describing), is about rooting out sin, making judgments on each others’ hearts, and refusing to listen to the person you’re caring for. If you don’t agree, you’ll hear the rebuke over and over again until you say “I’m sorry, I was wrong, you are right.” This is wrong. My wife came from small churches and she immediately explained the problem. No other  “normal church” has pastor established “bible studies” that only specific members can attend based on where your pastor places you. Other churches have open Bible studies that do not discriminate based on season of life or preference for peers. The other problem with the setup of small groups in SGM is the strange misunderstanding on the whole idea of how we should care for one another in Scripture. The Bible nowhere says when we meet we should root out sin, hunt down pride, and rebuke sin on a regular basis. In fact, the New Testament encourages frequent encouragement, sharing scripture in love, seeking peace, and caring by carrying burdens and being understanding. When I read Paul’s letters and the Gospels, I’m at a loss as to where this grave misapplication of a few verses (2 Samuel 12, Matthew 18:15-17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and Titus 2:15). Do I think there are times to rebuke? Sure! We’re told that in scripture. But our fellowship should never be known by frequent rebuke and reproof.

3) Finally the one thing everyone can understand coming out of SGM; the humility philosophy. In scripture, humility is all about your heart. In SGM, and churches who have been associated with SGM, Humility is your highest calling in life. To my peers, humility is present when you say words like “I’m saying this with humility” or “I want to be a true friend and be humble by sharing this.” I’ve also been to countless care groups, birthday parties, and events where you’re asked “to bring an encouragement” to share during about an hour long awkward period where everyone puffs up someone else. “You’re so humble” or “You’re so Godly”. This is the most contradictory practice I have ever experienced. It’s actually comical. If you respond to anyone asking a question with any kind of emotion, even if you have been abused, hurt, or scared, you’re not being humble. If you’re not being humble you can’t get married. If you share a viewpoint that’s not in line with your care groups, you’re not being humble. If you have an opinion that is not popular, you are not being humble. From what I can gather, if you are submissive to everyone, conforming, quiet, have low self esteem, and use the right lingo you are humble and things will go well with you. You’re can’t know your own heart, you can’t know yourself better than others, and you can’t disagree because that’s not being humble. After all these years at an SGM church, I don’t want to be humble. I’d rather stand up for my convictions, my faith in God and scripture, and be willing to say “I think you are wrong” than have this false face of humility. Humility is about the heart. Many people like to use the verse about “out of the abundance of your heart, the mouth speaks” to trap anyone who said something that’s not humble enough. I hate that. That makes me mad. It’s irritating. It’s not helpful. Right now, I have no clue what humility is because I’ve been sucked into the weird SGM humility face idea that it’s all about outward stuff.

These are basically my three biggest beefs with SGM churches. I know I am not alone. I’m so relieved to be out of that mess. I hope that my thoughts can give encouragement to others who feel the same way but have been shut down. Speak the truth.


With that in mind, and without further ado,

Chryssie Rose

Where is my Defender?

Psalm 68:5 – father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

Being the oldest of  large family has placed a heavy weight on my shoulders. I have never felt that weight more strongly than when one of my siblings, or multiple siblings, are in any sort of danger. As more of my siblings made their appearances while I grew up, the heavier the weight became, until one day I was faced with the stark realization that I had missed my childhood.  I was never a carefree, happy little girl, kicking up her heels in the sun, and running through fields of wild flowers.  I had to be the perfect example for my siblings, and I needed to be in charge so they didn’t make daddy angry, or make mom upset.

I was my siblings’ parent.

I was their defender, their warrior.

I protected them.

But no one protected me.

No one told me that I wasn’t supposed to be mother, father, protector, or defender to my siblings. No one told me that it wasn’t normal to be very mature for my young age, or that I raised my siblings while my mom dealt with the youngest children. This was normal for me, and this is how I grew up. I know it’s not good to have had so much responsibility for my siblings, but I can’t give back what has already been placed on me. I do not regret having had so much responsibility, for it taught me to love much, and it gave me the strength to handle big situations. It has made living marriage that much easier when it comes to budgeting and keeping meals on the table.  I am good at what I do because I have done it all of my life. I know how to cook good, healthy, hardy meals.

I know how to stand up for and defend my friends, my siblings, my husband. I know to become the mama bear when someone mistreats anyone close to me. I know because I have been doing that all of my life.

I have a heavy weight when it comes to my siblings, and I would fight to the ends of the earth to keep them from being damaged any further by the man who is their dad. I fear for them because of how hard it has been for me to break free from my dad’s influence over my faith, my life, and my health. I have taken the brunt of my dad’s influence, but I couldn’t always protect my siblings from being grabbed and dragged to sit in the bathroom when they disobeyed. Nor could I protect my sister from being dragged by her hair half way up the stairs because she talked nasty to me. I have alternately felt like a failure when it comes to my siblings, and feeling helpless and angry at the injustice they have endured.

Even though I am married, and no longer see any of my siblings on a regular basis, I still go through spurts where I feel like the weight has grown. It is heavy and frustrating when none of my other siblings seem to take me seriously, or believe me when I get upset over their plight. Am I seeing things? Am I being too emotional and making things up? I feel alone sometimes in bearing this weight. My heart breaks for my siblings, and I pray that they will one day be able to heal from my dad’s abuse.

I am once again contacting the pastors in charge of my family, and begging, challenging them to heed my siblings’ pain. I am weary of bringing my issues forward and not feeling like anyone is paying attention to me. I will not give up on my siblings, but I do get close to doing so many times.


Chryssie Rose

The Classic Knee-jerk

I am in a vicious mood tonight, and I believe it is a classic knee-jerk reaction to allowing my mind to accept and revisit pains in my past. My husband and I visited a place today where I have many, many bad memories. Even though this place holds a lot of bad memories, there are also some good ones, and I seriously hadn’t thought about the bad memories at all recently. It helped greatly that my dad was not there, nor were the rest of my family. There was nothing reminding me of those difficult memories, or so I thought.

Events soon followed that brought back everything. And I discovered that I was willing to feel, and feel hard the old bitterness and anger that I first felt when wounded. Memories of past words, comments, manipulations, unhelpful advice, and sad memories were actually felt for the first time today, and it has left me viciously angry and zealous for the well being of myself and a few close friends.

All it really took for me to make the transition from the peaceful, at ease, and comfortable me that I was this morning, to the spitting-nails, boiling frustrated me of this evening, was laying eyes on the one person I realized I have a boat load of serious issues with. As the time got closer to meet up with her, for I hadn’t seen her in a very long time, my hubby and I started wandering around, my thoughts being that maybe I’d run into her. I suddenly saw her, and a shock wave rolled over me. A very vivid memory of being in the same position hit me, and I remembered why I had simply walked away the last time.

[….I have, in a blind rage, stood by and watched this woman tear down one of my closest friends, and scorn her because of a guy. I have had her try to manipulate me into believing that separating from a very bad family situation wasn’t in God’s will, and that I should stay home where I belonged. I have been blatantly ignored while she, and other friends, made plans to go out together, all while I stood or sat there next to her, without being included. I have, on multiple occasions, tried my best to confront her for the offenses I saw, and was shut down before I could get the words fully out. I have been shut out of her life when I bring up concerns, and welcomed warmly when I agree with everything she says. She has discouraged me from believing in a scripture that brought me great hope, instead told me not to get my hopes up that I would ever be healed….]

I finally caught up with her, and my hubsand and I sat down to chat for a few minutes, but I found my mouth glued shut, and only brief answers were allowed past my tightly closed lips. I was inwardly surprised at how simply being in her presence shut me down. Just like that, I was quiet, I felt like I had to defend every thing I said, and was getting riled up at every little nuance of something she said, did, or reacted to. I sat there quietly, inwardly, grappling with my anger and frustration, and felt so unsure of why she was setting me off. Then it hit me. I had never been able to accept that she had hurt me, that she had hurt my friends, and that now I was watching her scorn another friend of mine. I purposefully forgot what she had done so I could keep the friendship, although shaky, that I had with her on a level plane, and that is no longer acceptable to me. I cannot heal from the hurt, anger, and frustration I have felt unless I can accept that she hurt me, and I can move on.

For all of the years that I was under my dad’s influence, and in an unstable emotional environment, it will most likely take just as long for me to relax, and not react, in a stable emotional environment.  Being married to a man who is very stable emotionally, and is willing to chill when I am blowing up, makes a world of difference in how I am reacting now. I am learning to recognize the people who I can’t be around without being reminded of my dad and reacting emotionally to normal things that should not affect me. I cannot be around people who scorn those who don’t agree with them, or call them out on their issues. I cannot be near those who shun family members for choosing to break from from ancient family chains, and who make you feel like you are worth next to nothing when they question your opinions. I cannot be around those who are loving, caring, happy, and accepting one minute, and then the next around cold, rude, and patronizing. I need real people with real feelings who, no matter how ugly or good, will freely share those feelings.  I will not willingly stand by any longer, and watch my friends get treated like crap. If a  family treats one of their children like they are dead to them simply because of differing opinions, then shame on them.  Situations like mine with my dad, and others of my friends, make me very grateful for the band of friends I am forming who are willing to stand by me, and constantly remind me of what is NORMAL, and what is not.

So here’s to all of the fellow Black Sheep out there. I toast to our health, our peace of mind, heart, and body, and to the love that only true friends can give.

With that in mind, and without further ado,

Chryssie Rose

On College and My Highest Calling

“Nope, I’m not going to college.”

When asked about going to college as I got closer to graduating highschool, this was my usual response. A lot of people wanted to know what my plans were for my life and seemed quite interested in my future scholastic intentions. I got a lot of disappointed looks when I answered with a great big resounding NO. My reasons for not going to college caused even more disappointment, but I couldn’t understand, nor did I want to, why.

I proudly explained that going to college wasn’t where I felt God was leading me, and besides, I couldn’t learn anything in college that would help me be a wife and mother. I was so confident in my reasons that I didn’t bother to even consider possible (good) reasons why college would be something to think about. I am only now seeing how robotic my reasons were and how sucked into the quiverfull culture I used to be.  I would watch my mom wrestle with all of my siblings and I saw how miserable she was and desperate for company and peer relationships. I knew I didn’t want to become my mom, but I didn’t think I had a choice. One day I was going to get married and start becoming a baby making machine. I was going to have tons of kids, probably watch my body fall apart, and would be stuck at home with a bunch of crazy monsters kids who would suck my life away. I would then make it to the last child graduating highschool, suddenly left with the stark and despairing knowledge that there was nothing left for my life. All because motherhood is the highest calling for women, and that’s what God wants from us women.

That was my foreseen inheritance, and I was, blindly, willing to walk right into that.

Being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia towards the end of my school years at home was the first major thing that started changing everything. I went from being very active, easily beating my siblings in running races, having no problem keeping up with my schoolwork, to being flat on my back, no energy whatsoever, and I fell behind in school rather quickly. I had to completely relearn how to live and it took a long time before I was able to get through the day without feeling like I had gotten run over by an 18 wheeler. My sole purpose in life became making it through a single day without breaking down, feeling depressed, or frustrated that I couldn’t do simple things like open a door. Even with feeling wiped out physically, emotionally, and mentally every day, I still saw my future holding me becoming baby machine and being stuck at home. With the FM, I felt my chances at college, furthering my education in any way, or even having my own life, was still greatly unrealistic. I didn’t know I had a choice, or that I could have my own opinions. I was still being force-fed the ultra conservative, legalistic ideas that the highest calling of a woman was to stay home, have LOTS of kids, submit quietly and gently to her husband, and never question, never balk at his authority. Although I was force-fed these ideas, I was aware of a little glimmering light at the back of my mind and heart that kept saying I did have a choice. There was a deep part of me that cried out in anger and fought against those ideologies and was not content or comfortable to simply sit back and let that happen to me.

The harder readjusting to life became, the more disillusioned I became at the prospect of my future. I watched my mom get more and more rundown with each passing day, and if that is what it looked like to be the mom of many kids and the wife of a controlling manipulative husband, then I didn’t want that. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I now knew for sure that that was not what I wanted my life to become!

I graduated HS and moved on without another look at college. I knew I wasn’t willing to follow my mom’s footsteps with having so many kids, but I also knew that with how hard it was for me to finish HS because of my health, there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to handle college. Even though I was now, theoretically, willing to think about college, my health became the reason why I said no. I felt lost, unsure about what my convictions were on college or any sort of furthering of my education.  At one point I actually seriously considered taking a college class, but then I got a full time job and I no longer had any time or energy left to deal with more classes or homework.

Then I got married and did the unthinkable! I supported my husband while he was in college and couldn’t get a better job for the first 8 months of our marriage. I wasn’t available to start the big family I was supposed to have which was my highest calling, according to the patriarchal/Quiverfull movement. Instead I was bringing in the big bucks, taking care of others’ kids, and my husband pushed through school. Still I wondered whether or not I regretted not going to college. Yes, at this point, I seriously wondered if I had made a mistake.

But I had no time to really dwell on that potential mistake. I was being run down by a crappy job and as soon as my husband got a significant raise, I quit and came home where I have been for most of the past year. Only in the past 6 months have I really thought about my reasons for avoiding college and also with regards to what my highest calling in life was.  And I have reached some very revealing conclusions.

Being a mother and being a submissive wife is NOT my highest calling, and never will be. My goal in life is not to blindly submit to my husband, but instead to serve along side of  him as equals and to enjoy fellowship with him as we live life. Becoming a baby making machine and popping out child after child until I rip my body to shreds is something I will never do either. My life’s joys, loves, wonders are not founded in or conditional on whether or not I’m married or have born children yet. This life of mine before kids come along is becoming absolutely amazing! I am thoroughly enjoying life, and I feel no lack in my spirit. When God sends a baby, then He sends a baby, but I am not going to base my whole being on waiting for that child.  There are several checks in the deepest corners of my heart about wanting to have a baby, and I’m not 100% I really am ready to become a mother.  I still carry a bitter taste from watching my mom with my many siblings. My worst nightmare is to become my mother and be trapped at home frustrated with my life raising kids. The other side is that I know children are a good thing, and I also have the freedom to change how my husband and I raise ours. I do want a baby because they are precious and I do want that blessed responsibility of raising a new life. But I don’t know if I am truly ready. And the best thing is that is completely okay. My highest calling is enjoying God and glorifying Him.

I believe I need more time to figure out my thoughts about college. I’m not ready to admit I want to take a few classes, but nor am I ready to admit that I never will. I’m sitting for awhile on the fence, watching and learning from others’ opinions. It is with cautiousness that I am expanding my views on college and finding those little compartments in my heart where I’ve truly desired to do more with my life. I can say this with confidence though; I truly regret not taking more writing classes, or taking the classes I did take more seriously. I am finding my writing here, and on other blogs I have, to be a bit rusty and lacking. But I am rediscovering the art of the imagination and finding my voice once again.

So I really don’t know where I stand on taking classes or pursuing some sort of degree. It’s still a work in progress for me, and I have yet to reach a solid conclusion. I can, although, confidently say that I do not want to watch my last child head out the door to college and have forgotten what it means to live my own life. I really want to make sure that there  is still something of me left, and something of me that still has life left in it.

With that in mind, and without further ado,

Chryssie Rose

Breaking Free – This hard journey I am on – Part 2

I have spent most of my life suppressing my emotions, not dealing with them, and sticking them as far back on the shelf as I could reach. I wasn’t a big fan of letting pain really touch me, and instead of working through the betrayal I ultimately felt from my dad, I just simply moved on without considering what it really meant. Or I thought I could. It’s so much easier going through life suppressing emotions instead of letting them really affect you.

This has been the major source of much frustration to me over the past few years or so. I have been shut down emotionally so many times, and I am shaking free, awakening, from that constraint. It really has been constraining to my enjoying God, loving church, digging into my bible and having my hunger for more enjoyment in life satisfied. If I have felt anything, it has been frustration, anger, bitterness, cynicism, and loneliness. I often find myself asking how I should feel when something good happens, or when my trust is betrayed, or even when I read a verse that seems to apply to my current set of circumstances. I do believe my heart unconsciously wrapped iron bars around my emotions and heart to protect itself, and I want to break free from those bars now. Even if those chains have been for my protection in the past, I want to FEEL again, I want to be free to feel the emotions that come along with life’s happenings. I want the freedom to feel and then explain and know exactly why I feel what I do.

It is with dizzying bliss that I have begun discovering the art of putting real feelings into understandable words. I am reveling in the anger that has surfaced when my trust recently felt betrayed. I love feeling hurt when I can put into words why I feel hurt. There is something about being able to put into words exactly why you feel hurt, betrayed, angry. I believe that to really understand and FEEL feelings like joy, peace, calm of spirit, and happiness, I have to be able to understand and feel the pain in my past. I can’t say that I’ve got it all figured out, but I do know this. I have been able to find greater peace the more I have been able to really feel the pain and anger I’ve kept locked away for years.

Through feeling these emotions, I have been able to actually clearly understand why I felt anger, or pain, or felt like my trust has been betrayed. Instead of just shutting down, and pushing away, the emotions difficulties (and pleasures) have raised in me, I am working on welcoming those feelings; good or bad.

There is a weird part of my locked up emotions that feels it is wrong to be happy, or joyful, or to show that I am enjoying something. I am still working that one out, and trying to understand the shyness I suddenly get when I feel happy, or at peace, or joyful. It’s like I have this weird idea that I can’t show those feelings or someone will accuse me of being false, or will wonder what I am hiding. Isn’t that a bit messed up? I’m really good at showing harsh feelings, such as anger, disappointment, distrust.  But I don’t know fully how to show excitement and enjoyment. I still feel detached from my surroundings.

I am breaking free, and it is such a long road ahead of me. I can barely dream about what the end will bring, but I know I’m going to be going somewhere. For right now, I am going to just keep working on feeling my feelings, and totally embracing those feelings I’m uncomfortable showing. Just be aware, I may blow up in someone’s face as I react to the deepest feelings of a feeling I may have. I have a funny feeling that it will take a bit for me to even out as I continue to uncover real emotions, and that I will go overboard to really feel a feeling. I’m pretty sure that’s okay though, right?

With that in mind, and without further ado,

Chryssie Rose

Breaking Free – this hard journey I am on

Not that long ago, there was a little girl, struggling with trying to understand why her daddy wasn’t seeming to care whether or not God had spoken to her, or why he insisted he knew her heart. She didn’t understand how not agreeing or understanding her dad equaled disrespect and dishonor. She didn’t understand why her mom continued to let her dad manipulate her mom. I was that little girl.

I was the “perfect” oldest daughter of nine, submitting to the authority of her parents, not questioning, nor seeking my own way. I read all of the books I was supposed to read, agreed with everything, and only talked with those who I agreed with. I honestly was quite a pushover and I remember many times of having conversations with some of the older girls I knew and wondering where they came up with their stuff. I remember thinking that they seemed so weak, and almost like robots. But then, I was wrong, of course, because they had all of their scripture verses to back their stances up, and I can’t argue with God! Right?!

I remember one particularly interesting conversation with a friend of mine. She is also the oldest of her family, and extremely pro-Vision Forum, Patriarchy, and Quiverfull ideas. Like, extremely for it all. Or at least was, when I last saw her. I had become very weary of living at home, I was 18, had a job, and had been offered a place to stay with some friends, so I was seriously considering moving out. I hadn’t told my parents, but I knew they weren’t going to be happy. I had also, around this time, really started wondering if I really had things right. I had that nagging little voice in the back of my heart that kept saying something’s off. I just didn’t know how to respond to that feeling, or how to answer for the uneasiness I constantly felt. So when I told my friend that I was planning on moving out, and that’s what I felt like God was telling me to do, she immediately told me that that’s not following God, and that a daughter was supposed to remain at home under her father’s authority. I totally did not agree, but I didn’t know how to disagree. I had no idea why I didn’t agree either, other than feeling that was what robots did, and I was no longer willing to be the quiet, mechanical daughter. I felt frustrated when I expected her to be sympathetic, and understanding. She brushed off my tears and aching heart when I explained how I couldn’t handle life at home anymore. She told me that a good, Godly daughter stays at home under her father’s authority (and she quoted some obscure verse from the old testament) and told me I should stay home. I got off the phone call feeling very confused and not understanding where she was coming from. I also knew that I didn’t agree, but I didn’t know how I disagreed, but I knew I did, but I almost agreed because she was very convincing. Yeah, messy. She even told me that she didn’t know why I was thinking about moving out since her and I believed the same things. Uh, no, I just had never told her that I found “So Much More” to be so much crap, or how I didn’t agree with what a daughter’s place was in the home, or how important family was above everything else.

That year was really frustrating for me. I had support from good people about moving out, but at the same time, I had too many people opposing me, and convincing me of otherwise. My parents convinced me that it would be incredibly damaging to my siblings if I left, and besides, how was I could to be able to provide for myself since I didn’t have a car. Because I didn’t know how to argue against them, and because I still didn’t have much of a spine, I went with it. But it was under protest, and wasn’t something I enjoyed. I remember feeling manipulated but so unsure of how to fight it. Oh the tears, the heaviness in my heart, the ache of wanting something more and to escape from the prison home had become. I was the strong one, I kept my siblings together. I protected them, the best I could, from my dad’s rampages, and yet, I was losing it. I seriously felt like my legs were melting beneath me, and I could no longer stand strong and steady. I even broke down twice in two years, and asked friends to come pick me up. Towards the end of that year, I got up from the dinner table in the middle of my dad yelling, and I walked out. He yelled after me that I should just go, because that’s all I ever do, I run away from my problems. I couldn’t handle it anymore.

I was done.

About 6 months later, he kicked me out, and told me that he was sick and tired of dealing with me. Oh, and roughly a year and a half after my parents told me that moving out would harm my siblings, I was being told to move out because I was a bad influence on them. Serious contradiction.  I still couldn’t enunciate what it was that I disagreed with, or why, or how to back up what I didn’t agree with.  But I knew I was tired of emotionally shutting down and not facing the heartache, pain, or confusion. I couldn’t keep living like that. But I did not know how to fix it.

It took about a year after getting married and no longer living under my dad that my emotions started waking up. It helped having a very good friend to talk with who was a few steps ahead of me and was able to at least help me start figuring things out. then I kept hitting the wall. I didn’t really know what I believed anymore; did I really know the difference between my dad’s hypocrisy and God’s truth? I stopped reading my bible because I was done with being legalistic in how I read it. I stopped going to church because I felt like I was suffocating there. It didn’t help I was in a mega church, and with more than 2500 people surrounding me each Sunday, I found it so overwhelming. My husband, having grown up in this mega church, has had a bit of a hard time trying to understand what I’m working through as I unravel my past. He’s been a dear about it, but I’ve reached the point where I feel I can no longer attend this church, without serious consequences to healing from my past.

I am slowly learning how to deconstruct all of the difficult teachings about purity, raising a family, homeschooling, doctrine, importance of family, submission, and such that I was taught growing up. I am slowly figuring out what I agree with, what I don’t, and what I simply don’t know enough yet to make a decision one way or the other. Reading various blogs has helped, and I find it so fascinating and helpful having others write about what they have been through, how they are growing, and what they believe now, and why. It is such a relief to know that I’m not alone, and even though I have a long hard road ahead of me, I know that I have people who are willing to help, and will not judge me for whatever I decide, or whoever I become at the end of this.  I know there are those out there who have been hurt by legalism, and patriarchy, and I am eager to join their ranks in figuring out how to heal from the pain. It’s a hard process, and a scary one, to be perfectly honest. My whole “belief system” is in question, and the rock I stood on is getting smaller and smaller. but that’s okay, I am not alone.

With that in mind, and without further ado,

Chryssie Rose

Am I Beautiful? – the throes of longing for approval

I’m not one for girly girl posts, but I think this one is about to become one….

For most of my life, at least all that I can remember, I have struggled with feeling like an ugly duckling, a blemish to society.  I have hated and raged about the way I looked, even when I was only 7! Thankfully, at that age, I wasn’t aware of the anguish that would come later as my body changed from a little tomboy to a blossoming young woman. As time passed and I grew up, I went through so many phases with liking something and wearing it all the time, to absolutely hating everything in my wardrobe.  I would wear a sweatshirt and jeans in the middle of summer because I was ashamed of showing any of the “bacne” I had on my shoulders, or showing my slowly forming womanly frame. I was sure everyone watched me and thought I was ugly.

I grew up in a home where encouragement was not a norm, and still isn’t to this day. I have had to really work on encouraging my husband, and let me tell you, it’s a habit that’s hard to form! Neither one of my parents grew up in “loving” homes, but instead grew up in broken homes. My mom’s dad was emotionally absent and just simply wasn’t there. Her mom was an alcoholic and her oldest sister pretty much raised my mom and her siblings. My dad’s dad was a military man, bound to anger, and my dad will say that he never heard his dad say I love you until my dad was out of college. Both of my parents are 1st generation Christians and have a lot of regrets from their growing up years before becoming a Christian. Which, on a slightly different topic, is why patriarchy and the Quiverfull lifestyle appealed to them so much. It was a lifestyle that promised a much better life for their children. But, I don’t blame them for not being emotionally supportive throughout my life at home. I am sorrowful because I know they simply didn’t know how to be there for their children like that. It is my goal to try my best at helping my future daughters know they are truly beautiful.

As I got closer to my teen years, I remember watching the older girls around me, especially at our house church (yes, my family did house churches for a good bit in my young young years). They were so pretty, had really good looking clothes, had their ears pierced, and they got to wear makeup. I remember when I got my ears pierced for the first time when I was 12. I remember when I got my first little makeup kit when I was 14. I remember always dismaying over my big fat thighs, and worrying that my waist wasn’t thin enough. I thought that if my legs were skinnier, my waist thinner, my breasts bigger, or my hair less curly and frizzy, my dad would say I was beautiful, and people would tell me that I was pretty.  I can’t honestly remember right now if my dad has ever told me, I was beautiful. I am probably forgetting something. I remember one time he told me that I looked “really nice” and that was it. I don’t remember my mom telling me I was pretty, much less beautiful. The only times I can remember getting praised was on my birthday, and it would in a card my parents gave me, or when I had accomplished a great piece of music at a piano recital or audition.

I remember asking my mom at one point if I was pretty. I don’t remember her ever answering that question directly. I think she said something like it wasn’t about outward appearances, but about the heart. As I started going through my teen years, the acne hit, and there were many days I was too ashamed to be seen. I couldn’t control it, no matter what I did. It was terrible, and I hate, even now, looking at pictures of myself from those days. It is hard to look back on that teenager me and not feel anything but pity and sadness for her. She was so eager for approval for her sewing, her piano playing ability, her writing. She was starved for affection, aching to feel loved, to feel beautiful. Behind that stony exterior, that I got so good at projecting, was a tiny little girl who’s heart wept and ached for affection.

My married, 21 year old, self still feels the ghosts of those aches and longings. I am married to one awesome dude who is constantly lovin’ on my body, telling me how much he loves the way I look, and how much he is so rich to be married to me. Me! the older version of that little girl! He loves me! Sometimes it is too much for me, but I am slowly learning to accept it and know that I truly am beautiful. It’s really hard though. Even more so living in a culture that praises the thin shapely legs of a very skinny person, the thin flat stomach of a barbie doll, and the round voluptuous breasts of a D cup. You’re not going to see this culture praise wide hips and thighs, short waisted, B cup women. Do you know how hard it is to find clothes to fit endowed hips and butt? Or how hard it is to find a dress or shirt that looks good on some with a short torso? It sure requires a lot of digging and and usually takes awhile to find something that fits and, in my opinion, looks good. I truly believe that most women struggle with feeling disgusting and ugly. I know I’m definitely not the only one. Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier though.

I stumbled across several articles a friend shared with me a few months ago. They dealt with women who, like me, had grown up in a broken home, or with emotionally absent parents, and couldn’t see their own beauty. They shared their journey of realizing that they were truly beautiful, and how it was draining them to constantly be picking on themselves for their perceived ugliness. Those articles were another step in this journey I’ve been on in regards to my weight, body, and the perspective I have of myself. I am tired of constantly beating myself up for gaining weight after I got married because I was finally free from the stress of my family’s home and I was happy, and I finally could eat without feeling sick to my stomach. I am tired of worrying that I’m ugly and seeing pictures of myself and wanting to hide and delete every picture of me. It is embarrassing feeling ashamed of myself.  I am done with not accepting my husband’s eager pride in me and how I look.

I have made it my goal to find one thing, usually more, that I can praise my friends about, and especially praise and encourage my sisters. I know how it feels to feel ugly, and I want to make sure my sisters know that I see them as beautiful young women. It really does help my view of myself when I’m more concerned about encouraging a friend or sister than how I look.   I have made myself find one thing, or more, that I absolutely love about myself every time I look in the mirror. I am working out, and watching food amounts so I can lose the 20 pounds (or more!) I have gained since getting married.  I refuse to step on a scale because of how depressing it is to me. I work hard to make sure that my wardrobe is only full of clothes I love the way they look on me and I am comfortable in them. I have learned what times of the month I am most prone to beating myself up, and I set up reminders for myself that this is for only a little while. I know the times of the month when I feel the best, and I think I look the best. Even with doing these things, my husband still has to put up with my anguished cries of feeling fat and ugly. That still happens on many occasions. and each time he constantly reminds of me of how much he loves the way he looks.

I am learning to be constantly amazed at two things. The first is that over every single woman in the world, my husband chose me. He CHOSE ME. The short, thick-thighed, non-flat stomach me. The little girl inside the older girl asking, “am I beautiful?” Yes, he answers, yes, you are beautiful. My husband once told me, when we first start dating, that I was the one he wanted to grow old with, and he knows I will be still beautiful even then. The second, I think even more important, is that God has chosen me, loved me, wanted me, called me perfect and beautiful since before the beginning of time. I am awed that I really am beautiful, I am graceful, I am worth something. I am brought to tears as the little girl inside me claps her hands in delight.

I am learning, I am striving for my own perfection levels, and I don’t always remember that I am beautiful. I am constantly comparing people I see to myself, and tearing myself down with each comparison. I truly am my worst critic. That is, until I can again remember, I am beautiful.

With that in mind, and without further ado,

Chryssie Rose

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