In the Spirit of Full Disclosure


“Your story is yours and no one else’s. Each sunset is different depending on where you stand.” Al Andrews, from Andrew Peterson’s Adorning the Dark

Over the last ten years, writing has become a therapeutic way for me to make sense of my world and my faith. I started a blog 6 years ago (to the day) as a systematic way of studying scripture and sharing opinions. In so doing,  I also found a camaraderie with others that were interested in the scriptures or topics about which I wrote. Shortly after I started that blog, varying parts of my seemingly formulaic world started falling apart. However, with a few choice quotes, and familiar Bible verses, I could still explain it all away and make everything fit into a nice logical space. 

Until I couldn’t.

For over two decades of my life,  I sat under a teacher that drew crowds and adulation ad nauseam, and I was a good student. Through his Bible studies, I learned a lot about the Bible, but mostly I learned how to center each story around me, or in other words, I learned how to “apply it to my life.”

Horrifically, that “pastor” was caught being a sexual predator, and even though I would never defend him, I was such a faithful loyalist to the church, I wholeheartedly defended his moralistic teachings and the enormous kingdom he had amassed. I became so good at explaining the Bible as it relates to us, complete with “to do lists” and bullet points, that I began writing for other online publications in addition to my own. About the same time my husband became a pastor, and consequently I became a pastor’s wife which was a whole new world to try to understand. Predictably, the further down the rabbit hole we went, the less things made sense. I watched as scripture was used to control the benign behavior of some and then excuse the malicious conduct of others. Little by little we seemed to step fully through the looking glass at which point writing became impossible.

Along with the confusion, came devastation. So much loss. Most of the losses were too complicated to understand myself, never mind share about on a blog. I hardly knew what was true. The answers we fought to find seemed just out of reach. Trust was broken. And we had to walk away- not from God, but from those we really believed were our “family.”

During this time I had developed an unexpected community on Twitter. People who are willing to help me hash through difficult concepts without giving me trite answers. People who simply say. “I’m sorry for your pain,” without a silver lining tagline. People who encourage me in ways I didn’t know I needed encouraging. People who think differently than me, but are willing to stick around and discuss. People who make me laugh all day long. And my favorite, people who have shown me how to disagree with kindness and even humbly concede to being wrong. 

What I found in 280 characters or less, (or more with the occasional thread) is that my situation is not unique. Realizing I wasn’t alone has helped me heal in ways I desperately needed. All throughout this year I kept feeling the urge to write, but felt paralyzed by the pain of losing the only faith community we have known for 25 years. Instead of writing blogs, I was writing down difficult conversations I needed to have. I was writing down topics to discuss with my therapist. I was writing down timelines to try to make sense of what happened. And despite feeling like I would never have any thoughts worth writing again, deep down I wanted to believe that someday soon I would be writing for truth, beauty and goodness again. 

So here we are. Ready or not. I am writing.

I am writing to share my stories, because so many of your stories have helped me. I am writing to grow my understanding, because I have so much to learn. And I am writing to heal my wounds, because “communicating fully is the opposite of being traumatized.” (The Body Keeps the Score, Kolk MD, Bessel Van Der)

Most of the reasons that were holding me back from writing were about image. What if my writing friends think my writing is awful? What happens when I am wrong, again? What can I say without saying too much?  What do I really have to gain? In the end, everyone has to weigh their own risk vs. gain. Personally, I have always erred towards being too vulnerable, and have learned the hard way that many will not care for your story. Some will hear it and dismiss it, argue with it, or forget it.   But I have also experienced many joys through the connection that only telling your story can bring. And while these reasons are quite enough, the moment that tipped the scales for me is when I realized how many women and men are legally being kept from telling their stories. This made me realize the true gift I have to be able to tell my story to anyone I choose, and that is a gift I cannot waste. So for all of those that have been silenced, I am taking this risk for you, in the spirit of full disclosure. 

“Finding words where words were absent before and as a result being able to share your deepest pain and deepest feelings with another human being-This is one of the most profound experiences.” ( Kolk MD, Bessel Van Der)

25 thoughts on “In the Spirit of Full Disclosure

  1. Lauren, thank you for writing again. I have been on church staff since I was 15 (desperate church, huh?😂). That was 24 years ago. After being burned a few times myself, I now minister to those in church leadership. They need accountability and a prophet like Nathan to say, “Thou art the man”. I kept my mouth shut until 2015 when I started the old blog. I know your full disclosure will help many people. They need the raw honesty, vulnerability, and authenticity that is often discouraged in the church scene. I have full confidence you will deliver.

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  2. Wow. Thank you for your courage. I would love to know more. What was it like to get up the next morning after this happened? What was it like for you the next time you saw the pastor? Do you pray differently now? How has your theology changed and /or evolved? I am gratified that we are starting to speak out about church trauma. May God bless you deeply as you take the next steps in your journey. We are cheering you on.

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  3. Lauren, you have the gifts of relating and relatability. Your writing is not only therapeutic for you, but I sense it is also for many other hurting hearts.

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  4. Lauren, thank you for sharing about your life. What a difficult experience that must have been to leave your church – of over two decades, and of which your husband had been one of the associate pastors! May God continue healing you and your family. You write well and I encourage you to continue. People who have walked where you are will benefit. And people like me who haven’t (single, childless, no trauma) can understand what many of our sisters and brothers are experiencing. I care. And I look forward to your future posts. God bless you, friend.

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  5. You are a truth teller. You could be a pastors wife or a bartender and your work would still be needed! Thanks for being brave and speaking out when others are silenced.

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  6. Welcome back to blogging! Bless your valiant warrior heart! (Prov 31:10 a chayil woman!) Thank you for using your voice to encourage those who have been harmed and challenge those who are causing the harm!

    This line epitomizes spiritual abuse: “I watched as scripture was used to control the benign behavior of some and then excuse the malicious conduct of others.”

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  7. Hi
    Thank you for this story. I greatly appreciated reading it, and it reminded me of how I was in the same similar situation, accept in my case the pastor berated people in the pulpit, stole money from the church, and I was horrified and upset. I have been a Christian for 13.5 Years, I spent the first 12 under his leadership, even though for most of that I was living in another state and city. I also was living with one foot in the world, and one foot out, and about two years ago, God got my attention really quick while going thru counseling, I fully surrendered to God. I fell head over heels in love with Jesus, and discovered my spiritual gifts. I am a prophetic person, and its both humbling, and great.

    I want to tell you, that I am praying for you, and that God will continue to use you in places that you cant begin to imagine, I pray that your blog will be a light shining so bright in dark places, that you will bring people to come and know Jesus like never before. I see these spiritual gifts in you that God is going to use.

    I hope that you are have a great and blessed day, and I cant wait till you write another post. do you just sit and write, or do you use pen and paper before writting?

    God Bless
    Your Brother In Christ
    V/R
    Donald

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  8. “I am writing to grow my understanding, because I have so much to learn.” Wow, that’s someone whose words I want to read–a person who writes to learn and not to teach, and in having such a motive actually teaches so much.
    I don’t remember how I found you on Twitter, but be encouraged that halfway around the planet, here in Australia, you’re an encouragement to people. At a time when my faith is hanging by a tender and slender thread, I am grateful for finding this place of encouragement and honesty that you have given to us.

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  9. I appreciate your words and the heart behind them. I am the son of a pastor who was abusive and controlling. I ran from God, became a scientist, and science (and CS Lewis) brought me back to God – reluctantly. I’m now a pastor dedicated to just telling Jesus stories and trying to love others gently. I thank God for where I am but I still can’t thank Him for how I got here. I imagine you feel the same way. Peace, sister. I don’t know you but I am proud of you.

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  10. I look forward to reading more. Remember, leading the way is often lonely and risky, but you may give courage to others in the community you left, when they come to terms with things in their own time.

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