Episode #79: Emma’s Evangelical Upbringing Story

In this week’s episode, we dive back into the subject of our evangelical upbringing and how it impacted our lives. If you missed Part 1, Elsie’s story, be sure to listen to it first, as it lays the groundwork for many of things that Emma shares in this episode.

Thank you for letting us share this little glimpse into our lives growing up. These two episodes are a topic that we heard from so many of our listeners/readers over the years that you wanted to hear more about, so here we are. It’s an intimidating thing to share, as it’s impossible to boil something as impactful and complicated as this down to a 30-minute podcast episode, but we tried!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

As always, a huge thank you to this week’s sponsors! The podcast wouldn’t be possible without our brand partners, and we love sharing their offers with you! Be sure to check out Issuu, Agility Beds, Magic Spoon and Modern Fertility for the ABM listener deals.  

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Episode 79 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast, here’s part two on growing up conservative evangelical Christian in the Midwest. This time I, Emma, am telling a few stories that impacted me and how I’m still dealing with some of the lingering issues from this time in my life still to this day. And if you missed it, we had a part one where Elsie shared her experiences growing up, and I likely will reference some of that. So if you didn’t hear it, you might want to go back and listen to that one first. So when Elsie and I were preparing for this, I really wanted to make sure that I kind of organized my thoughts: one, but also shared some pros, as well as some of the things that impacted me negatively. Because growing up in the church, I don’t think it was all negative. I think there were a number of positive things. And I just don’t really want that to be 100 percent lost. But I won’t lie. The negative things impacted me a lot more and you’ll hear that. So anyway, I’m just going to go through a few — three things on the pros list. And these are very random. And these are not the only pros. I kind of was just sort of trying to put some lighter stuff on here, I’ll be honest. So here’s some pros and they’re kind of lighthearted.

Elsie: Emma is a very balanced woman.

Emma: (laughs) Thank you! OK, so pro number one of growing up in church: I got really, really good at taking notes during lectures. Another word for a lecture is sermon. (laughs) So and this turned out to be a very valuable skill when I went to college at our church, the youth group sat all the youth in one kind of area and it was up front and to the right. So you really couldn’t pass notes or talk during church. And we were, it was definitely, as Elsie mentioned in her episode, it was a kind of competitive atmosphere and it was a little bit militant. There is a lot expected of us. So you would not have been fooling around during church anyway. So when I went to church, I always had my Bible with me, a highlighter, a pen and my notebook. And I would take very good notes during every single sermon and I would go through an entire notebook. And I for years I had these, like, filled up notebooks that were like things I bought from, like Delia’s. You know, they had flowers on the outside because I was like, you know, a 14-year-old girl. But they were filled with sermon notes. And this was a pro because when I went to college, I was really good, really practiced at taking very good notes during a long lecture. I can — I have a very good attention span. And I think part of it is from church. (laughs)

Elsie: I agree with that one for sure. It was like — it’s definitely a positive thing to learn how to really listen and learn and engage in what you’re doing. So.

Emma: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. So that’s on the pros list for me. And again, that’s a little bit of a lighter thing. But still, I do appreciate that. OK, next one is I feel that my introduction to learning about personal finances happened at church. So sometime when I was in youth group, we did some kind of Sunday school unit, probably on Dave Ramsey. I’ll be honest, I don’t 100 percent remember.

Elsie: Dave Ramsey is a little bit on our shit list now because he has been having a big covid party, but he teaches some good stuff that is very accessible in that culture because he’s like the main author that everyone listens to.

Emma: Yeah, for sure. And I just — I didn’t grow up really learning about personal finance anywhere else. And I’m not a super math-y person or really a financially minded person necessarily. But I definitely took to this. And after this Sunday school unit, I started seeking out other personal finance books. I think the church gave me the impression that taking care of your personal finances was a godly thing to do. You should be tithing 10 percent. You should be giving back when you can. Sometimes there was too much emphasis put on that, I would say at times. But I do think thinking about giving and being a generous person is a good thing.

Elsie: Absolutely.

Emma: I like what I was taught that and I liked that. I was taught that I should think about my personal finances and that that’s a good thing because I think a lot of high schoolers don’t get that message at all. So I think that was really good. And I ended up kind of just reading whatever personal finance books I could find at the library. So I got into like Suze Orman and lots of other, you know, different personalities beyond Dave Ramsey. And I still feel like I’m on my journey of learning about personal finances to this day. And I think it really started there in church. So I’m grateful for that.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: So that and then my third positive is I was really close with all my friends at church. I had a great group of friends when I was in high school and middle school. Really, really great community. And that is one thing that I still think is really great about church, is you can have a really strong community. Unfortunately, I lost that community of friends for the most part whenever I ended up leaving the church later, and that was an extremely painful time in my life, and so not to turn this pro into a con, because for the record, I don’t blame anyone at all. We were all kids. We were all just kids in a youth group. They were kids. I was a kid. We were learning to be the adults that we were going to become. So I in no way hold any kind of grudge about anything like that. But I will say once I started going to church again as an adult, I really had a hard time and I still do, connecting with people I meet at church. I can tell that inside my heart I have this distrust that I feel that they’re not going to be there for me unless I’m the right person, unless I keep going to church. And if I ever stop, they won’t love me anymore. And I think that’s kind of left over from this time in my life, which is an unfortunate lesson that I would like to unlearn.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: Because it’s not true. So anyway, those are mostly pros, although that last one turned into a con a little bit, didn’t it. Well, OK, so now I’m going to tell you some negative stories, some things on my cons list and things that impacted me and some of them I still carry in my heart today, unfortunately. So the first one is I’m going to tell a story of the summer in between sixth grade and seventh grade. So I would have been something like 13 years old, 12 or 13, maybe 14, probably 13. And so I wasn’t quite in the youth group yet because at my church, youth group was seventh grade through senior year of high school. And me and my friend, I’m going to call her Jill just because I’m not in touch with her anymore. And this story has to do with her. And I would prefer to ask her before using her real name. So I’m just going to call her Jill. So me and Jill were helping out at VBS. We weren’t really kids, so we weren’t in VBS, but we weren’t really in the youth group yet.

Elsie: It was your first year not to be a kid.

Emma: Yeah. So we were just trying to help out any teachers who needed things or whatever. We were just around and helping out and it was summertime. So it was hot. And I remember after VBS one summer evening or whatever, the pastor of our church came up to me and asked to talk to me privately. And this was a big deal to me. Like I said, I was a 13 year old. This was the pastor of our church. He’s like the main spiritual leader of our church. And he wanted to talk to me. And I just felt like really special. And he said that he needed my help with something. And he explained to me that some of the other men in the church, like elders or deacons or whatever, had spoken with him. And they had noticed that Jill’s shorts were very short. And could I talk to her about how her shorts were too short and she was becoming a woman and she needed to dress more modestly? Because if you don’t dress modestly, then you’re sometimes making other men stumble or sin because they think about you in a sexual way. And I remember just feeling…so…I didn’t know what to say to him, to this grown man who is asking me to do this. And I also, like I was the same age as Jill and I was also wearing shorts. And I didn’t know that men thought about us in that way. I knew that, you know, I had crushes on boys and things like boys my age, but I never pictured like a man my dad’s age thinking about me in that way. It was a very strange introduction to thinking about yourself as a sexual object. And I also was just at an age where, like I was growing. I like my body was changing. I think I had just got my period in sixth grade. So I was still kind of a kid. And also when you’re that age, you can’t have a job. You don’t really have your own money, you don’t have a driver’s license, you can’t drive. So all the clothes you own, your parents buy for you or your guardians or whomever. So Jill didn’t really have like she had just gone through a growth spurt. Basically what it was was she had she had just gone through a growth spurt and she was taller. And her clothes from the previous year that her parents bought her didn’t fit as well. That’s what happens when you’re a kid and you’re growing. So it was just this very weird moment and weird introduction to becoming a woman where it just felt like I needed to be ashamed of my body. It was my job to police myself and police other women my age, and that older men, much older men, my dad’s age, possibly were thinking about me in sexual ways. And I needed to know that that was just part of life. And that really impacted me a lot. I’m a pretty sensitive person generally I think would impact anyone. But looking back on this story, I think it’s pretty fucked up.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: But at the time I didn’t really have the language for that. This was. The spiritual leader of my church, yeah, a man that I looked up to, and so I just thought that this was a normal ask and that this was something that I needed to do. And we’re going to take a quick break in here. A word from our sponsor.

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So that was a big theme. And Elsie talked about this in her episode was needing to dress modestly and that you need to keep yourself sexually pure and that you need to cover your body and not let other people lust. So on the flip side of that, here’s what’s kind of strange about my experience in the church. So Elsie and I are sisters. We’re about two years apart, two and a half years apart. So a lot of times in high school we would share close like literally the same dress or the same shirt. Like I would wear it and two weeks later. Elsie would wear it. You know, we’re sisters. We share clothes. Yeah. And there were many times where Elsie would get in trouble for wearing something that it was immodest and I wouldn’t. And I, I wore the same thing. And so in a very — and it’s not that I wanted to get in trouble. I was definitely a very follow-the-rules person. But it just in a very weird way, I learned from the church that I was not sexy. I was not the kind of…I didn’t have the type of body that was going to make men lust. I just wasn’t you know, I never got in trouble for that sort of thing.

Elsie: It’s so sad, Emma. I like can’t get past this one. This is so messed up and sad.

Emma: And I actually I think that’s a little bit why I kind of got into personal finance stuff. I think I sort of started to get messages around the way I looked and the way my personality was that I just wasn’t really going to fit the mold of what men were going to desire and also like just what a godly woman was. So I needed to make my own money and do my own thing because I just wasn’t going to…I probably…I always thought I wouldn’t get married. That’s kind of what I grew up thinking from the messages I got at church, because beyond the dressing modest stuff another thing we were told very often when we were in high school, when we were in middle school, you know, when we were being taught the Proverbs “a wife of noble character who can find” we were taught that one day when we married, our husbands would be the head of our household and we would be the helpmate. And that, you know, our husbands would be the spiritual leader of our household and we would be the secondary. You know, and I just didn’t have the language for this at that time in my life at this age, but I just didn’t see myself fitting that. I just felt that it’s not that I. I thought so. I should also say, like our church was the type of church and perhaps Southern Baptists have updated this since then. I have no idea. I haven’t kept up. But women could not be pastors. Women could not be deacons or elders. Women could be involved in children’s ministry and youth ministry. They could teach other women’s Bible studies. When women did come teach and teach the entire congregation, they would give them a music stand to stand behind. They would not stand behind the pulpit. And it was just a very clear, you know, message for a young woman to see, which was that I was not going to be a leader because of my gender, because of my sex. And it’s not that I wanted to be a pastor or that I thought of myself as a leader. I just didn’t see myself being the helpmate. I didn’t see my you know, I saw the women that were pointed to as these are the great examples. And I just didn’t see myself fitting the mold. And I knew I also wasn’t sexy. So I was like, I guess I’ll just never get married. I’ll probably end up like a missionary in another country who runs an orphanage or something, because I’m just not…I don’t fit this mold and I don’t know why, but I want to be a godly person. So I guess I’ll just find a different path because I can’t fit in here with who I am.

Elsie: My heart is breaking.

Emma: So, um, so, yeah, so I just always I think this was a big motivator for me to, like, be really good at school and to be really good at…I just always figured I’d have to take care of myself, so…sorry.

Elsie: No, no, Emma, I’m so proud of you. They taught they emphasize the like man and woman roles a lot in our experience…

Emma: Yeah a surprising amount for high schoolers. (laughs) Like, uhhh…

Elsie: Yeah, they talk about it all the time. So it’s something that for me, I, I never questioned it. I just thought, OK, in a good marriage, you’re not equal. But your husband will like, act like you’re equal, you know, and in a bad marriage…

Emma: Yeah, he’ll be nice to you.

Elsie: …the woman’s is like trying to like be equal or trying to like, make decisions for her husband. And that’s bad. Like, that’s basically what I learned growing up. And then now that I’m, you know, in a marriage where we like, believe in equality completely and make our decisions together completely, I think it’s really bizarre that we’re that we’re taught that that’s impossible. You know, that like that kind of equality just won’t work, like according to the Bible because it fucking does work. So I think it’s it’s one of the parts of the Bible. I think that’s overemphasized and super oppressive and also just like bizarre that people believe that that’s like the only way and that it has to be that way because I feel like if you just tried it the other way, you would see very quickly that it’s so much better and it’s not that big of a deal.

Emma: Yeah, it turns out equality is real and it is a real possibility in the world. Yeah. Yeah. But yeah, I just felt very limited and I felt very that I needed to make myself very small since I was a woman.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: And, you know, I did for a long time.

Elsie: Oh my Gosh.

Emma: And I also just assumed that I I didn’t fit and that that didn’t mean that God didn’t love me, but I just wasn’t I just didn’t fit. So I just, you know, was going to have to do something else. So anyway, so that was kind of some of the sexist things that I dealt with growing up. And I didn’t even, you know, realize at the time what you know, that they were sexist. But so there was that. Switching gears, another thing I was taught growing up that I now strongly disagree with is that homosexuality is a sin. So this was something we were taught many times. Elsie talked about this a little bit in her episode. And we were just you know, I never really questioned it until…I never really questioned any of the things we were taught. That wasn’t really part of it. You weren’t really supposed to do that. You were supposed to take the notes and execute. It wasn’t really a seeking, ask questions, pick this apart type atmosphere.

Elsie: Right.

Emma: So at a certain point, I just left the church and I wasn’t really going anymore. And I was around my senior year of high school and into my first year of college. And I actually think that age is kind of a time a lot of people go through this where they just kind of start to, you know, question some things they were taught growing up and see if they hold water for them. And I definitely went through a time of that. And I remember — so I ended up majoring in philosophy in college. And I think it was in large part because it was an atmosphere where I could continue to kind of look at some of the big picture questions that were in my heart and in my head, but not through the lens of religion. And I think I really kind of needed a place to do that. And I really liked it. I felt like I finally was getting to think critically in a way that I had always craved, but I never had really been able to before. And so I really, really appreciated that. And…

Elsie: That’s amazing.

Emma: …also I had a bunch of friends. The philosophy department was not very big, so I had a bunch of friends. But anyway, I had this one young man, we’re not in touch anymore, so I’ll just call him Drew. But he was gay. I knew he was gay. He was openly gay. And I — we became really good friends. We’d sit by each other a lot in classes and things like that. And it’s like he missed part of it we’d share notes or vice versa. You know, we were friends. So anyway, I knew he was gay. And I one day was like, hey, I know this is a such annoying question, I’m sure, but do you mind if I ask you a little bit about that? And I’m actually really embarrassed of this story because I hate the idea of putting on someone else to answer your questions. But I also think I didn’t know who else to ask. And I had grown up with such a narrow point of view on homosexuality.

Elsie: You were trying to learn.

Emma: Yeah I wanted to hear from him. But I also think I kind of put that on him and that’s really not his job to educate me. So I anyway, so I feel very embarrassed about this story, but I was probably 19, maybe 20 years old. I’m not sure. Anyway, I was like, hey, I grew up in church and they taught us that homosexuality is a choice. It’s something you choose and that it’s a sin. And I don’t really believe that anymore. But I just would love to hear what you think about that. I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, you know, and he was like, oh, yeah, I’ve heard this. I grew up around here. (laughs) You know, he was just really, really gracious about it. Like I said, we were friends and he was really kind to me and just shared with me his perspective. And he was like, well, let me ask you this. When did you choose to be straight? When did you first choose to be a heterosexual? And without thinking at all, I was like, oh, I didn’t. I just, I just like men. I was just born this way. And he was like, me too.

Elsie: Awww!

Emma: Yeah. And that was the first time that had never occurred to me.

Elsie: What a little angel. What a smart college student.

Emma: Yeah, he was awesome. He’s awesome. Drew’s a really cool guy. He’s just real smart. Real sweet and. Yeah. And just he wasn’t condescending to me and he definitely probably should have been but he wasn’t.

Elsie: He could have put you in your place for sure.

Emma: He really could have and probably should have. But he didn’t. He just answered my sincere question and. Yeah. And I think that made it really clear very quickly. And it also I immediately was like, wow, I never questioned this. I just accepted it and now I need to dismantle it. It made me start questioning a lot of things I’d been taught at church and dismantling a lot of the things that I just took for granted because I had been a kid and I hadn’t really looked at them critically. And he really opened my eyes to that. And I really appreciate him for it. And yeah. And so I was like, oh yeah, it’s not a choice. That’s just total bullshit that I was taught. Cool. Moving on from there, so.

Elsie: Yeah like we had never grown up with any gay friends or I guess we should say any openly gay friends, and in fact, you know, there were like people that would like stand up on stage in our church and like tell stories of how they used to be gay, but then they overcame it. So it yeah, I think, again, it does take like some time to, like, dismantle all of that in your brain and then build it again. I never questioned it either. And I never I, I just assumed that it was true.

Emma: Yeah, I did, too, and then as soon as I talked to someone about it who was not didn’t show me, he was very open and very helpful. And I’m still to this day, very appreciative to him for like talking to me in love and not just putting me down, which he totally could have done. And now we’re going to take a short break and hear a word from our sponsor.

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Emma: I went through a phase after that for many years where I was just kind of dismantling. I wasn’t really, I don’t know, maybe I was angry at church in some ways because of some of the hurt that I had gone through. But I definitely just was more questioning. Just questioning. I just wanted to look at it critically and pick it apart kind of without too many feelings. And it can take time to do that whenever something very traumatic happens to you. Like sometimes you can’t think critically about it right at first, or at least I can’t. It takes me a while to kind of let the feelings come and then go and then look at it again. So I had many years where that’s really what I was doing with my faith was I didn’t really feel like I was abandoning it. I just didn’t know if church was going to be part of my life because I had so much baggage from it. And I just kind of was seeking out spiritual things in very different ways through lots of different like books and audio books. And eventually when podcast started being a thing that and I had lots of different friends who had different backgrounds and different faiths. I had moved to L.A. after college and I just met a much more broad range of people. And I just really opened myself up to look at it all critically and try to learn. So that was it for many, many years for me. And I didn’t ever know if I’d go back to a church in the Midwest until Trey and I started dating seriously and eventually got engaged and got married. And church is very important to Trey. And he grew up in a church that was very different from the one I grew up in. His was much more, you can ask questions. It’s much more centered on basically helping with poverty issues. And it’s just kind of also, I guess I would define it as liberal.

Elsie: It’s definitely a liberal church.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: But it’s sort of like we’ve got traditional — a traditional American church, like…

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: …they still have like the praise and worship band and like kind of a traditional trendy church, if that makes sense. But a little more liberal on their beliefs.

Emma: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I actually really align with a lot of the beliefs of the church that we had been attending that we kind of still attend, although it’s been covid year and now we don’t really attend together and, you know, whatever. But anyway, I kind of align with a lot of the things they teach, but when I first started going back to church with him, I probably was like twenty six, maybe something like that year before we got married, got married when I was 27, I started — I’ve talked with my therapist about this, and this is my kind of present-day struggle, is I have this thing where I basically have what feels like sort of small panic attacks when I’m at church. It especially happens during worship music. What happens is my heart beats really, really fast. I can feel it beating really, really fast in my chest. I start to sweat a lot. I get like sweaty armpits. So I’m very strategic about what I wear to church because I get sweaty. Yeah, I know. It’s pretty gross. I’m sorry.

Elsie: You need like some paper towels up there or something.

Emma: Yeah, I pack like tissues in my bag because I also pretty often cry and I’m not having a spiritual experience. I’m just — it just feels like my body is reacting and I don’t know what it means.

Elsie: Like releasing old trauma?

Emma: Yeah, I guess so. It just it feels like I’m panicking, but for really no reason. Like I’m like I’m just at church and there’s just music playing and everyone here is nice. And I believe in a lot of the things that the sermon is going to be about. And but I just have these things and it happens. I thought at first that it was just I was like, OK, you just haven’t been to church in a long time and it feels similar, so you just need to get used to it. You’ll be fine. And eight years later, I still have this and it’s just made it where I feel like I can’t enjoy church. I feel like one of my favorite parts of church is the community, the people. And I feel like I just don’t feel like myself when I’m at church because I feel like I’m having kind of panic attacks. So a lot of times how I cope with it is I sort of I’m disassociating from my body and zoning out because I don’t want to sweat and cry and, you know, my heartbeat in a way that makes me feel like I’m going to die. So I’m I — if you’ve ever met me at church, you’ve met a really weird version of me because I just don’t feel like myself. And it sucks because I would really like to connect with people at church. I would really like to connect more with the messages. Many of them I really believe in. We’ve you know, I love so many of the community projects and the emphasis on eradicating poverty that our church is about. I love that. I think that’s really the only true religion — that and love. But I just …and so I kind of resent the way I grew up because I feel like I now have this thing that prevents me from getting to be involved in church in the way that I actually would like. And it also, of course, caused some issues in our marriage because church is really important to Trey. And I would like to make that a part of my life, too. But I just can’t get past these weird panic attack things I have. And it’s super frustrating and it’s really frustrating to feel like you’re not in charge of your body and that you can’t control your reaction to an environment.

Elsie: Yeah…

Emma: And anyway, like I said, I’ve been talking with my therapist about it more recently, and she’s given me some additional ideas and things that I can try the next time I go. This year, I haven’t been much because of covid, so I don’t even know, you know, when I’m going to go to church next. But I also am like I have a feeling church may be a part of my son’s life one day. I want to be a part of that too. I don’t want this thing where I can’t connect because I’m kind of disassociating from my body all the time. So, yeah. And it’s just really, really embarrassing. And it’s been a big kind of thing in my life and I don’t like it and it makes me resentful. (laughs) So yeah. But I have some new things to try the next time I go and I’m excited to try those and I’m, I’m hopeful. But I also think if those don’t work, I’ll keep talking to my therapist and try something else, and that’s fine too.

Elsie: Yeah, I had the response to worship music as well and also specifically like the music at Hobby Lobby, because I worked at Hobby Lobby during like the darkest time of my life and the music fucks me up like it really does. Like I try not to go there specifically to avoid the music. I like it when it’s Christmas time and they play Christmas music because it’s like a break from it. But for our job, we sometimes have to go there. Yeah.

Emma: And it’s frustrating too, because Trey plays music.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: And I love to hear and play music and I always have and I think it’s really cool that he’s into music and but it makes it where I can’t enjoy it when he’s a part of the worship band because I yeah. I have this weird reaction to worship music that I thought would go away by now, but it hasn’t. And it’s super frustrating.

Elsie: Yeah, no. OK, so Jeremy and I both have it. So when we’re searching for a new church to try for the future, we’re going to try churches that specifically do not do praise and worship music, that only do traditional hymn music or no music. And so it’s like our workaround because we just both, like, hate it more than words can express. And it is because it takes us back to a time that isn’t healthy, you know?

Emma: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s like, I love this church, my present day church. Like, there’s no — it’s not the same, but some of the songs are the same and it just it’s just there’s something in me…

Elsie: I think it’s giving you like sensory memories.

Emma: Yeah, I guess so. And yeah I mean it is so. Anyway so that’s my present day. I actually would like to connect more with church, but I have a really hard time with it that’s why. And I’m still on my journey with it. But I really believe in love and I really believe in finding ways to give and to get involved to help with poverty issues.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: And those are big emphases in many churches and in the one I’ve attended. So I’m a big fan of that. But yeah. So that’s where I’m at on my journey now. Thanks so much for listening. We’ve been really nervous to share very much about this topic because we never want to take away from somebody else’s positive experiences, but hopefully us sharing some truths from our own lives doesn’t feel that way to you. And we are very grateful to have a community where we can share. So thank you for being here and thank you for listening.

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  • I can’t believe how much I could relate to both of your stories. The “shame” parts just bring me to tears. Thank you so much for your incredible vulnerability. I had literal chills listening to both episodes. I grew up with Pentecostal missionary grandparents who would speak in tongues to “heal” us when we were sick. That among many other things were incredibly traumatizing & once I had the life experience to question my experience I veered away from religion all together. I have always though felt like a very spiritual person, & since becoming a mom I’ve searched for more inclusive, compassionate spiritual paths. Recently I’ve started reading work from the secular theologian, Meggan Watterson – her books on Mary Magdalene & the Divine Feminine are bringing me so much healing. Mostly I just wanted you both to know how much it means to hear relatable stories of what it’s like to grow up with an evangelical upbringing. I felt understood

  • Thank you both for sharing your experiences so openly. I was raised Methodist in south Louisiana and can identify with so much of your experience. I recently stumbled on Nicole Sachs and the “Cure for Chronic Pain” and it’s been really helpful in working through old trauma. She has a specific journaling process she recommends and it helps with chronic physical and emotional pain, just any stuck emotions or traumas. Her podcast has been super inspiring and I’m really curious to see how doing the work long-term helps. Just thought I’d mention it in case it resonates with you! Thanks again for all you do.

    • Listening to both your stories breaks my heart. Humans in any church so often screw up and make irreversible mistakes as far as influencing congregations. The flip side of your story is my story. I was raised by liberal parents, we attended a liberal church where i sort of zoned out , bored by the messages. We sang hymns which were lovely. There were no strict rules for teens – just more of an intellectual focus on theology . Nothing compelling about church … no strict guidelines… so what did my friends and I do? Follow the ways of the world
      In the 90s (I’m 46) … have sex shamelessly, drink, drugs – (I grew in a big , fun city)get into a ton of trouble because we could! I walked into a Baptist church at age 23 just broken, empty and depleted from my partying and bad choices. I was incredibly touched by the spirit of God during praise and worship. I had never heard music like that before! My life has never been the same. I now seek stricter guidelines for my own children out of fear they will go off the deep end like I did. But thank u for your perspective as it helps me be cautious about not ever shaming them or being too controlling. I hope for total healing for you both ! ❤️

  • Hi Emma, it’s Emma. 🙂 Just chiming in to say how much I have appreciated both you and Elsie sharing your experiences with church and lasting consequences. Your description of your panic attack symptoms were spot on for me (although I have a different trigger). It IS so frustrating to not be in control of your body, even when you know logically that you’re not in any real danger. I’ve always struggled calling them panic attacks, but the more I look back on those experiences, the more I know that’s what they were. Anxiety medication has helped me. Sending some good vibes your way that you and your therapist find what works best for you. <3

  • Ladies, I loved hearing about both of your stories so much. It really feels like I’m going on a walk with my besties talking about life. I’m so sorry you experienced so much shame. Your stories opened up my eyes to ways I may have shamed people in my life in the past and helped me reach out with grace and love. Thanks for being brave. Love above all else.

  • Emma & Elsie, I really appreciated both your episodes. I listened to each while taking a solo hike on a mountain right near my house. It was the perfect scenery to listen, think, and process. Even though I grew up with a much different religious background, you all sharing your resilience, trauma, and processing, helped me continue to process some of my own trauma & grief with my divorce from last year.
    Wishing you both the continued space to heal & process & bloom! xoxo

  • Oh Emma, I just want to hug you after listening to your experience. Thank you for being so brave and open in sharing this with us. I am NOT a psychologist, but has your therapist ever mentioned trying EMDR? It helps people process trauma and PTSD, and it can really work. Again, I am not a doctor and I don’t know if this would help with your specific trauma, but it sounds like you really want to find ways to work through this so I just thought I would throw it out there as something worth looking into. Wishing you the best on your spiritual journey. xoxo

    • Yes. I have some other things I’m going to try first, but that is one thing we’ve discussed.

  • I appreciate the honesty and thoughtfulness in these posts. As a teenager we used to have posters on the youth classroom walls that compared losing your virginity to being a chewed up piece of gum (aka trash). Sex before marriage? Gasp! I thought I was ruined for life. When I slept with then fiance I felt like I needed to wear a scarlet letter. I was so ashamed of my “promiscuous behavior” and I knew no one would want the trash I had now become. So despite a less than stellar relationship, I got married abused. I wouldn’t trade my kids or the experiences I have had. But I still have a lot of sexual shame

  • Just listened and wanted to thank you for sharing your stories Emma & Elsie! I really enjoy these more personal episodes, the fun shopping ones are cool too, but neat to sort of “get to know” you all more!

  • Hi Emma, I just think you are so brave and hearing the story of your journey is so powerful and I really admire you (and Elsie!) for having the strength to tell it. I just wish you all the happiness in the world, you will make a wonderful mother and I wish you all the best for your journey going forward. Xx Amber

  • I really appreciated this podcast. My parents both had traumatic childhood experiences in the Catholic Church so I was raised with some Catholicism (they wanted me to have some religious foundation), but also suspicion based on their stories. I keep seeing the Evangelical church popping up in the true crime reading I’m doing so I was so curious to hear about your experiences. I know friends of friends who have joined the Evangelical church. In 2016 it became clear from their politics (and what they shared) that they don’t believe women should hold power, and they were suddenly outspoken about being anti-LGBT as well. They didn’t stay acquaintances. It just seemed bizarre that they would suddenly join something that seemed so sexist, homophobic and anti-equality when they hadn’t even been raised in conservative homes. Your podcast was really interesting and I shared it with some friends. Thanks so much for sharing your experience:)

  • Emma,
    How beautiful. I have never heard those topics spoken w/ so much, heart. I was raised Baptist as well so you allowed a window for me to realize my own pain with it all. I’ve just been living with it, I suppose, that’s what women do. I’ve always been a “Prove It”, type person. If the pastor said something, I would dig and prove it. I think in all the “proving” I did, was just an indication that my spirit wasn’t settled with the rules of the church. So over the years, I drifted from one brand of religion to the next, Baptist, Church of God, Pentecostal…I’ve even been to Hindu, Zen, Buddhist, and yogic philosophy. All these things, searching for understanding. The truth of Christ was the one thing I didn’t question. The one thing I loved. I think I was just looking for an expression of it, that fit me.

    One thing I researched that I thought you could appreciate was the study of Jesus’ life before the priesthood. Him being born into the Essen culture. This wasn’t considered a religion back then by the Jews. But it was a feminine culture granted by his Mother Mary that prepared her for Jesus’ birth. It was Mystical and non-harming. Learning about Mary’s life and heritage helped me to feel important as a woman in a man’s religion. Helped me to see myself as God sees me and not as the church does so much. I have a wide variety of spiritual disciplines and though I can respect them all, the love of Jesus just melts my heart. I was wounded by a male-dominated idea of worldly religion in an entire world that said I was to be seen and not heard. Perhaps a feminine study of faith can help you too. Today, I still love all expressions, but I only identify as a Jesus lover. I know God as the father for the fatherless. The church, the people, the rituals….are just culture to me. For good or bad. I am reminded daily of Isaiah 2:22 which basically says to not put your faith in mere humans, for they are as fragile as breath. It’s you Emma, and your heartsong. That’s all that matters. No matter what church you go to. 😉

  • Thank you for sharing such a personal experience! I really enjoyed these more intimate episodes.

    I would like to request a topic for a show if you consider suggestions please? On a previous goal setting episode Emma mentioned intentionally trying to cultivate her clothing style. I am interested in this idea. I’d appreciate hearing from ABM about different styles for your whole wardrobe and not just a single look.

    If there is already a post or episode discussing this can you please point me in that direction?

    Thank you!

  • Hello sweet Emma and thank-you for your beautiful story. It is yours alone…and yet….so many parts of it will resonate with so many. Myself included.
    My only words for you are to listen to your body. I had the same experience….crying and panic attacks during worship, having to go sit in my car for a long time while I hyperventilated. Long story short…I eventually read Bessel Van der Kolks ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ and realized how interconnected it all was. I could ignore it no longer. Our bodies are speaking to us, showing us the truth of stuff we need to deal with. It’s called religious trauma.
    Love to you . You are a beautiful soul and most certainly not alone.

  • You guys might enjoy Leaving the Witness by Amber Scorah. She was raised a Jehovah’s Witness and had many experiences similar to yours. She also spent time as a missionary in China.

  • This was really deep, personal sharing for a private person! I admire your courage so much.

    I’m also very triggered by church. I’m not interested in going now but I wonder if I ever will. So, also, super not into giving advice but is your therapist familiar with EMDR? I’ve heard good things!

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • Hey Emma. Thank you so much for sharing. I am an evangelical Christian but I was fortunate to not have experienced many of these things that caused so much pain and trauma for you. That said I did grow up in a very broken and abusive family that I have spent many years healing from. I wanted to share because even though I believe the mantra of my life is that God has been faithful to me I still have had to do a lot of work on myself. He has brought me to a place of healing and recovery, and in that given my my own family with a loving husband and beautiful children. But there have been deep scars of trauma that I still suffered from, I believe this is because trauma is also a physical part of us, hence why you have actual physical reactions in church. Our bodies memories are just as strong as our minds. All that to say, I have been doing what is called EMDR therapy with my counselor for the last few years. “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders” I had never heard of it before, and if you haven’t I’d highly recommend it, it had been incredible how it has worked in my life to fully heal deep wounds that I thought just had to learn to live with. Check out the website emdria.org to lean more about it and to find a licensed counselor. It is a sub specialty so if your therapist doesn’t do it I would try to find one that does in addition to your current therapist.

  • Thank you for being so open and raw. I also received the message that I am not the kind of girl that men find attractive…not from church, but just in general. I ended up marrying a man who had told me he would never marry me. Perfect right? 15 years and 3 children later, he told me he was bi sexual and needed other partners. It ended in disaster, yet, I am still here.

  • Actually, the Bible says nothing about homosexuality; that line is about boy molestors. It wasn’t until in English translation in the early 20th century that it became homosexuality, to reflect the culture of the time.

    • THIS!!!
      This is so important to say!

      Another example: the whole humans as having dominion over Nature is a fraud. The Hebrew word is radah, meaning taking care of, guard and protect. So, guess what, environmentalism, not abuse of animals and resources!

      I so wish that people who define themselves Christians would do the due diligence needed to understand their sacred text.

  • Thank you so much for sharing both of your stories resonated in different ways.

    I was not raised Christian but was in and out of care and a troubled childhood with trauma so at 16 I left and took care of myself. I was lonely and scared and at the same time I was in the process of getting a diagnosis for a mental illness. At the time I was lonely and wanted answers and was groomed by a Christian group. I ran to it hook line and sinker because they offered something I thought I needed. Then all of these conflicts about what they wanted to teach the anti stuff. The male and females separated for bible study and so much talk of sin. I kept trying to be more like those raised that way and couldn’t. I felt love bombed and controlled. I joined a praise band. Eventually when I was 23 I just left and even through it was such a short time 16 to 23 I still carry some stuff. And the freak out about sequel stuff. I find watching any Christian evangelical stuff on TV really triggering.

    I had to force myself to listen today and went back and listened Elsie’s and so glad that I did because it made me realise it is okay to be a bit fuc**d up about this stuff.

  • You guys… SAMESIES. Thank you both for sharing your stories. I also grew up in an Evangelical church home in Kansas as a child. I had similar experiences with the church coloring my views on my body and sexuality. Do you remember the “true love waits” campaign? My parents gave me a very beautiful chastity ring and had me sign a purity pledge, before I even reached puberty. I’m convinced the shame surrounding sex from these teachings had lasting effects on me to this day (I’m 39 now). I was always so ashamed of my changing body. When I first got my period I didn’t even tell my mom for many months because I didn’t want her to think I was turning into a woman. Similar to Elsie’s marriage story, because of the purity pledge I got engaged WAY TO YOUNG at the age of 18 because I didn’t want to break the promise I’d made. Thankfully we broke up before getting married!
    In highschool I started asking challenging questions at Sunday school. I was quite shy as a kid, and my questions were completely in earnest. However, the youth pastor thought I was being disruptive and eventually asked me to leave youth group. I internalized this, thinking I was a bad and unworthy person. Once I moved away from home to college I stopped going to church and started taking comparative religion classes which really gave me the opportunity to question deeply held assumptions I’d learned, much like Emma described her philosophy courses.

    What I miss most about church is singing. I loved being in choir and the music. I also valued the community and friends. I can’t imagine going back to church now though. I wouldn’t be able to be myself there.

    Finally, I also am an EQUAL partner with my hubby. It works really well! They should try it, agree.

    I really appreciated hearing both of your stories. You weren’t alone!

  • Emma, you are the best friend everyone wishes they had (unless they already have an “Emma :D). I really appreciate your vulnerability and empathetic perspective. You are a kind person. I was raised evangelical in this weird, conservative pocket of California. I’m spiritual, but I left the church sometime around when my first marriage dissolved bc–like most good, Christian girls in my area–I married straight out of college. I really felt your comments on worship music! I think it’s exactly what y’all are saying: the sensory experience places you back in that tumultuous period. Those painful experiences as a fragile, young person that you couldn’t quite explain. I hope you keep healing, going to therapy, and loving yourself. You are lovely!

  • I loved both Emma’s and Elsie’s stories so much. I’ve been thinking about them a lot. I admire you both for for having come out on the other side without hatred in your hearts. You seem to be trying not to shame or belittle the people who hurt you. That’s definitely the harder path when you’ve been hurt. Anger and disgust hurt less in the moment than grief and sadness, but are more destructive in the long run I guess. I think I’ve often responded with rage instead of compassion because rage gives me a false sense of safety. Like, “they can’t hurt me anymore because I’ve got my anger as a shield now.” I went to a church school, youth groups, and VBS and was affected like you were, but I think the impact was softened a little because my mom wasn’t religious. So the religious perspective wasn’t my whole universe. I knew there were other perspectives. It still hurt me though. I have lifelong self esteem issues because of it. So I feel angry on your behalf when I hear about this stuff. I hope to become more like you, reacting with love instead of anger. You’re setting a good example in the world.

  • Listening to this reminded me of an emotional breakdown I had years ago at church. I quit going to evangelical churches and started going to Episcopal/Anglican churches. Those are now home for me. I went a year ago in England to service and it felt very comfortable. So sometimes changing the type of service is helpful.

  • Thank you for sharing your stories, and I have experienced some of the same! I would love to know, Emma, what kind of church you are attending now, the one with the emphasis on serving the poor. That’s where my heart is also. I’m still searching for a place to call home.

  • So first off, major kudos to y’all for being vulnerable and sharing your stories, I know that can be painful. And it takes a lot of courage to do so.

    Ok so I’m apologizing now for the long response that I’m about to give!

    While I know y’all are sharing your stories and opinions about how y’all specifically were raised, there are some comments made by Elsie that I wanted to address.
    For someone listening to this that may not be a believer, it sounds almost like you’re saying the Bible can be oppressive and wrong. As a Christian, that’s not truth- the Bible is perfect, because it’s Gods word. Its us, people (and yes mainly Christians) that mess things up and make the Word seem oppressive and awful.

    I didn’t grow up in a church that emphasized the marriage element y’all described (Methodist from liberal south Florida here) but I now attend a church that is conservative and believes this view. So I can kind of see both sides. Sadly, I don’t think we Christians explain the man being the head of the household thing well which is why so many end up feeling the way y’all did, which is awful!!
    I honestly believe (and have seen in my parents marriage and my own) how we can model what the Bible says while also being equal partners. I don’t think it has to be one or the other.

    But going back to the point of the Bible being Truth and therefore not wrong- I disagree with homosexuality not being a sin. It clearly states that the act of homosexuality is a sin. However, aren’t we all sinners in our own way? And sin is sin, there’s not one that’s worse than another. I believe that it’s not our place to throw stones and make people feel bad for their sins, we should only love each other In spite of ourselves, because that’s what Christ did.

    I love that both of you are still on a “journey” as you called it. I feel like that’s how it should always be. We should always be asking questions and seeking truth.

    • Hi Kellie,
      Thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate it 🙂

      Just to clarify I actually do believe there are parts of the Bible that are oppressive and wrong. All Christians ignore parts of the Bible. I’m not saying that to be rude- I really believe it in my experience. I read the entire Bible a couple times in high school and there are a lot of things in it that the majority of Christians choose to ignore. There are also topics that over-emphasized or perhaps misunderstood to fit current American Christian culture.

      Thank you so much for listening to my opinion. XX

      • Elsie,
        I always find it interesting when people say they are Christians and believe the Bible can be wrong.
        Don’t get me wrong, we Christians muck it up for sure. But if the Bible is the Word of God and God is truth, then how can the Bible lie be wrong? That’s saying either Gods lying or you are.
        I understand this is not the space for a debate/discussion. But I am curious about your thoughts and would love to discuss via email if you wouldn’t mind.

        • Personally I view the Bible more like poetry than a manual. In the church I grew up in this means I am not a Christian by their standards, as a requirement there was to believe the Bible was the perfect word of God. I don’t view it that way and it’s fine with me if that means I am not a Christian by some’s standards.

        • Thank you Emma for putting into words what I could never adequately express before. I’m tall, for me that lead to the world signalling to me that I was perceived as less feminine. I too thought I would never find love because of it. (I did but I struggle with my self-perception still.) Other women usually don’t understand why this is painful to me. You made me feel so much less alone <3

    • Hi Kellie – as someone who was been deeply immersed in church culture and is now separated from it and reflecting, please consider historical context when you make claims like “homosexuality is a sin.” This has been preached and taught from the pulpit only in one way to support that claim. Culturally, homosexuality is condemned in the context of r*pe and other horrifying events, NOT a consensual, loving relationship between two people. The whole “Bible is perfect and black and white” argument does not hold up. I would suggest that you take some time to dig into backgrounds of certain texts and explore meaning for yourself. The Bible is absolutely subjective and we as humans all interpret it differently. I would also ask you to consider the fact that if a certain text of any kind makes a group of people feel like outcasts or shamed, then “love” is very thinly veiled to those people. Just food for thought!

    • Elsie and Emma- I urge you to think of how it must feel for your LGBTQ readers to see a comment (in 2021!) professing homosexuality is a sin…..and seeing the blog owners respond to the comment without pushing back on that assertion. I know you guys aren’t bigots, and don’t mean to imply that. Just asking you to think about it how it must feel as a gay person to encounter such casual bigotry while reading a diy blog. Thanks for sharing, and sorry a commenter put you in a difficult position!

      • I also found this a shocking comment to read in 2021. The Bible was written down by people who said God spoke through them, and Kellie, as you said, people “mess things up.” The Bible is objectively outdated because it was written thousands of years ago. When the New Testament texts were introduced, people stopped adhering to lots of the Old Testament stuff about mixing fabrics, marring the edge of their beards and eating shrimp. Maybe it’s time to update some of your other beliefs, especially the ones that are incredibly damaging to your fellow humans.

    • Hi there!
      I just wanted to clarify on some of the misconceptions involving homosexuality and the Bible. Hopefully this will help shed some light on the matter for people who have complicated feelings on accepting homosexuality because of their biblical teachings, and/or people of the LGBQT+ community struggling with their faith.
      The word “homosexual” and “homosexuality” were not words included in any Bible until 1946, when it was included in the Revised Standard Version. The head of the RSV translation team Luther Allan Weigle later admitted that it was an oversight, and the usage of the word “homosexual” was actually an inaccurate translation of the words “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai” (which are more accurately represented by the translation of anyone whom is abusive in their pursuit of sexual encounters, a practice that was common in Greco-Roman times.)
      Here’s the snag—Weigle agreed to revise all future versions and correct the mistake, but he had already signed a contract saying he would not change anything about that version for 10 years. During that 10 year period, translation teams were working on The New American Standard Bible, The Living Bible, and New International Version Bible; all of which cited the RSV as the reason that they chose to include the word “homosexual” in their translations, unaware that the RSV team had already deemed the word an inaccurate translation, and had made plans to change to it in future revisions. So the word got grandfathered into our English translations in spite of it being agreed upon (by the RSV translation team) that it was an inaccurate translation.
      This history is something they teach in seminary training, and so it’s very sad to me that it’s not more commonly known among people who are less exposed to the history of the text. It’s no surprise that this misconception has been passed down for generations, and held in place by bigotry (because at this point, they make it very clear in seminary training that the Bible did not originally denounce homosexuality ,and that concept was something added hundreds of years later in 1946) But it’s imperative that we educate each other on this—because not only is the misconception that the Bible denounces homosexuals, leading people away from the faith, but more importantly, it has quite literally ruined/ended the lives of LGBQT+ people growing up in religious communities.
      Please take the time to research all of this! I highly recommend it. In my experience, learning about this really helped clarify the distinction between God’s word, and the biblical text. I really hope this helps anyone who might be struggling with their faith and/or their political views regarding LGBQT+ rights! ?

  • Thank you, Emma, for sharing your story. <3

    The church I grew up in was very family-centric. Like, homeschool and quiver fullers and family values. My family was one of the few multiracial families and since my parents married later in life, my Dad was working part time and my mom was the breadwinner which doesn't seem all that crazy but was like "OMG!" in the 90's. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to have a career. I knew if I didn't get married it wouldn't the end of the world for me even though I wanted marriage and children one day. It was so odd hearing so many friends and later high school girls when I worked in youth ministries tell me that they didn't have plans for higher education and were working on being good helpmeets and focusing on child rearing and being a good wife. In the back of my mind I thought, but those aren't in your control. You can't prepare for something you don't know if life has in store for you. Shouldn't you prepare yourself to take care of…yourself, first? I felt alienated and odd one out often.

    I had all these plans to do a special girls event and teach girls how to dress modestly and give them fashion tips on how to look cute without showing too much skin etc. That never happened and I'm SO glad. What would I be doing, telling these girls how to dress and feel when modesty is a personal heart commitment between you and God if you feel lead, no other's imposing rules and restrictions?

    Anyway, as I started to take a step back and see the environment better, I realized I had outgrown the church I grew up in and felt differently or opposed to some of the things they believed or encouraged. And it was liberating. My roots for faith were stifled there. I am still searching for the perfect church family but haven't given up on pursuing faith personally because it is important to me. I read Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey recently, author of Jesus Feminist, and it really helped reshape and give hope to me in the process of evolving faith. I highly recommend it.

  • Thanks for being so open and vulnerable and sharing your story, Emma. <3

  • I so appreciate the vulnerability and honesty this episode took! Emma, your thirst for knowledge beyond what you were taught is such a mature way to process your experience. I am sure your son will grow up with a more well rounded appreciation of religion because of your knowledge in philosophy and experiences with various forms of Christianity.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story Emma, I can’t imagine sharing my church trauma on a podcast without becoming a erring mess. I’m so impressed and touched by your bravery.

    Hearing you put into words the way that girls become sexualized and told they are responsible for grown men’s thoughts really clarified a lot of my own thoughts about my religious upbringing.

    I’ve fully left the church and became an Atheist and sometimes those songs of praise will still make me cry too. ?

    Love the podcast. Love you both!

  • Thank you so much for sharing about this chapter of your life. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone from the evangelical church IRL, so I really know very little about the world. I don’t know how much more you are going to share, but I am wondering how your family (who presumably brought you up in the church) felt about you leaving and if they left with you? It seems like you are still very close to your family, which is great, but would be interested in hearing how you navigated that shift as I think most people go through a chapter of breaking away from family expectations in some way and you seem to have managed to do it and still keep what is important to you.

    • I sort of view my journey through this part of my life as just that, my journey. My parents have their own journey and story with it, and through all of it we’ve been and stayed very close. I got very, very lucky in life that I have always known my parents love me unconditionally no matter if we believe or choose differently in areas like religion or politics.

      That’s one lesson I hope to pass on to my own son, the gift of unconditional love. It truly has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve received in this life. (Love you mom & dad!)

  • I appreciated both of your stories so much. Thank you for your vulnerability. I started inexplicably crying when you talked about panic attacks and disconnecting during worship music. At first, I thought I was just experiencing empathy for your story, but now I’m questioning my own trauma with this. I didn’t expect such a personal revelation today! Your stories are so powerful. Thanks again.

    • This brought me to tears, especially the part about not seeing myself as someone’s “helpmate” and never really being able to navigate that. I’ll never forget the years of not seeing myself reflected in the children’s church-teaching women or openly repressed (and often more qualified to lead) pastors’ wives. Hearing your story (and Elsie’s last month about slowly navigating back towards attending church again) has been so validating for me. Thank you for sharing!

  • I’m not surprised you have panic attacks in church. A lot of the music contains subtle messages of shame, control, and for lack of a better word, brainwashing. ( How can the message be bad if we hide it in beautiful music, right?) Your gut is telling you something real about your truth, and listening to that is important. I think there are ways we can love and be community activists and part of a caring community that doesn’t also require us to listen to the kool-aid message we are all supposed to drink in order to be part of the group. I deeply love God and I want to connect with people spiritually but I also suffered spiritual abuse at the hands of the church I was raised in..the story about the shorts broke my heart. Thanks for sharing and being vulnerable. Its so valuable to have you be willing to speak out. Love to you both

  • “I just didn’t see myself being the helpmate.”
    Tears and tears. Me too, Emma. I grew into my chest a little early and I heard over and over how men would oversexualize me so I turned that into thinking a good man would never want me because he’d think I was a slut.
    I love your DIYs and home before and afters but damn, this is what made me feel like y’all are some of my online best friends. Thank you so much. <3

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