Hello! Welcome to the Quivering Daughters website. Please note that this site is no longer being updated with new material but I hope you find the archives helpful. God bless you.

Love Song, IV — Mystery

continued from Love Song, III — Death

She sat across from me, knuckles clasped white except for streaks of mascara swiped from her cheeks.  She didn't know why she came; she'd stopped to turn around many times. But here she was. No coffee, thanks.

"I was given up for adoption at birth." Words trembled between shaky lips. "When I was 14, my parents who adopted me put me back in the children's home. I found my biological mother and went to live with her. But then she kicked me
out . . ."

Her life spilled in fragments through chattering teeth. By the time Hannah turned 27, she'd been married and divorced twice, had an abortion, given a daughter up for adoption, birthed three other children, been in and out of rehab, and became an alcoholic. But years of hardcore drug use made it hard to remember things. "And I also died," she said. "I overdosed on heroin and the only reason I'm alive now is because my boyfriend knew to stick me in a tub of ice and shock me back. But I was dead. I really was. That's another reason why I can't think straight." She showed me her arms, crisscrossed and sculpted by life, each a story of blade, of pain. "But I'm a neat freak. And I love to sew." She showed me a quilted coin purse, dark and eclectic. "I sew all the time. It keeps me focused." She looked at me with tears. "Can I give you a hug?" she asked, almost shyly. "Thank you for listening." Then like a fragile doe, she bolted away and I never saw her again.

I went home and cried for hours.

Sisters of Sorrow

Children born within a Quiverfull or religious, conservative family have the reassurance of knowing we are, above anything else, wanted. This is a fundamental element of a Quiverfull life. Yet I wonder how many of us sometimes feel, deep down, more like Hannah? Given up at birth. Rejected by her adoptive family, then yet again by her biological mother. Married and divorced ~ not once, but twice.

Not good enough.
Not good enough.
Not good enough.

Unwanted. 

Roots of Darkness

The pressure to look like a godly woman, controlled by performance-based love, acceptance, or approval, is nothing less than a death sentence for many girls raised within a fundamentalist environment. For example, you are probably familiar with this simple directive: "Smile." Or its twin siblings: "You need to smile more," and "Turn that frown upside down!" We learn at an early age what emotions are acceptable, and which are not. We learn to reveal only that which is positive, "godly." Yet when truth whispers otherwise, when reality is that we want or need to cry, or rage, or be spontaneous, and yet we stifle what is real in favor of what looks better, what looks Christ-like, what looks like a godly, joyful spirit, what does that do to our hearts? This form of fake-it-til-you-make-it is deceptive. And deception does not lead to healing, nor to life.

We read the words of Jesus, "The truth will make you free," and yet as we strive and struggle to attain the level of perfection established for us, required of us ~ freedom grows distant. This is cognitive dissonance in its most disturbing form. It is confusion, for it is done in the name of God who is not the author of confusion, but of peace. What is peace? It is the state of being at rest. And in the furious trampling of the ancient paths, worn down by the Pharisees of old, rest came not to my weary soul. 


A Depressed Perfectionist Finds Grace

I've carried Hannah with me now for years; she's etched on my heart as her cries echoed my own.
Not good enough. Not loved for who I am. Not accepted "as is". There was always more I could be. More I should do. Things I ought to do. The shoulds and oughts of life tormented me daily, hourly. Despite what I heard, what messages conveyed, what was real to me is that I, an ungodly, full-of-the-flesh blight of the earth, needed to be cut off from life, broken down, remolded, smothered.

There is a reason I've titled this series "Love Song", but more accurately it is a mystery. My spiritual journey, a story longer than time allows here, culminated one beautiful starry night when Love came home. But first, first my childhood dream would come true.

I had to die.
To be continued: conclusion

So I Married a Fundamentalist Family

Four years ago, a trail of beaded lace swept along the plush burgundy carpet as Margaret walked down the aisle to meet the man of her dreams. She'd always remarked upon the significance of that journey past old familiar pews, bedecked with luscious bows of fluffy tulle, fresh roses, and smiling faces. "It's like the slate was being wiped clean," she says. "The past and future connected when we joined hands, but everything became new." She grows quiet; hazel eyes flicker with shadows. "Life started over."

In the bliss of a newly-wedded life, Margaret and John were unprepared for the dormant roots biding time within her heart. When two years later they sprouted green with life, husband and wife were rocked in ways they'd never anticipated. "Poor John—he didn't realize he was marrying my mom and dad, too," Margaret told me. "And even though there are some good things from my life, somehow it's the hard stuff, the struggles and issues, that carry over." She laughs with rue. "Why is that? Why do we have to be so human? It's taken a long time to get back on track—God's helped a lot, but there are still many things we're going through, that if I'd only known about before I got married, would eliminate some of the struggles we have. You see, I left home, but my mind, my emotions, ideas, everything else about me—they stayed behind."

My parents always said, "You marry a man, you marry his family." In many ways, this is very true. And sometimes, he marries yours. What Margaret shares is experienced by many young wives adjusting to the realities of a new home environment. It doesn't mean marriage loses its luster, but that unexpected dynamics may arise and create unique trials largely unaddressed within traditional counseling and lay resources.

My husband, one of two, still laughs remembering the first time he met mine. "I'd never even heard of someone having that many kids," he admits. I took this psychology major to a family picnic for his inauguration to conservatism. The older ones surged to meet him with grins and hugs and jokes about the Name Test coming later. The younger ones stared. "Hillary's boyfriend," they whispered, mouths gaped and eyes wide. But it didn't take long for reticence to flee and soon they were sneaking up, poking and prodding like he was from outer space, then running off in a cloud of giggles.

It was new for them, too.

"John is so patient with me," says Margaret. "But he couldn't understand how I'd read the Bible and hear my dad's voice in my head. My father was a pastor and all I could hear was the Word thundering down from the pulpit or at the dinner table. Thou shalt not . . . thou shalt not . . . it followed me everywhere, over every little thing I did. And sometimes it was hard to hear what John was saying, because my family was so ingrained in the core of my being. Even though I tried to listen to my husband, sometimes my dad would drown him out in my own head. But I didn't mean for it to be that way."

Margaret illustrates one of the practical problems of codependency, or enmeshment, within an unhealthy or dysfunctional family.

How do you leave home emotionally?

________
Names and identifying details have been changed to preserve anonymity.
Image credit: stock.xchng

Considering a Godly Response to Unhealthy Authority | Guest Post

By James A. Karpowitz

In a prior post I cited some examples of unhealthy authority, that which is abusive, domineering or controlling or which serves its own purposes and personal security. So how do we as believers respond to the abuse of authority in a godly manner? Since the scope of Quivering Daughters addresses issues within the family structure, my comments will be in that context. You can, of course, make other applications as you see fit. It’s difficult to get down to specifics without knowing more of a given situation but knowing what to do with a specific situation starts with some general guiding principles.

A godly response begins within the heart prior to any external, observable actions. Jesus addressed the heart motivations of people, those unseen components of our lives defining why we do what we do. This is an important truth to understand because you may have had your own motives wrongly questioned or criticized by someone either in authority or in pseudo-authority. If you want them to question your loyalty, just refuse to be manipulated and dominated. If you want them to doubt your spiritual maturity, don’t accept a burden that isn’t yours to carry. However, if you want to be labeled “rebellious”, complete with a tee shirt and a certificate suitable for framing, just take a contrary position to a person trying to claim (or subject you to) authoritarian rule in your life. Trust me, it will work. Is it rebellious, however, to make a personal decision as an adult that may or may not be in concert with a decision your parents would make? Is it rebellious to make decisions, period, rather than waiting to be told what to do? Is it rebellious to disagree with a husband concerning a matter of, say, a child’s well being?

A Virtual Party with Elizabeth!

Are you lonely for new friends, inspirational reading, and encouragement? Once again Elizabeth Esther is hosting her Saturday Evening Blog Post. (And yes, it is Sunday as I write this. I am woefully behind ~ and WHERE oh where has November gone?!!?) Please visit her virtual home to share a link from your own November archives, meet new kindred spirits, challenge your thinking, and become uplifted by others making their way along the path of life. I chose to link my Praise post because it is so important to remember the good things, the lovely things, the things worthy of praise, and to give thanks for all. Have a lovely weekend!! :-)

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Authority | Guest Post

I am happy to welcome James A. Karpowitz to Quivering Daughters! Please enjoy his guest post:

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Authority

By James A. Karpowitz


Authority is supposed to be a tool for good. You see it in the world when a policeman corrals a speeder or nabs a robbery suspect. You can observe it in a military command structure, keeping an entire army operating as a cohesive unit. In a Christian context, it’s difficult to argue from scripture that authority ought not to exist. God places spiritual leadership in the church. The Bible does say that the husband is the head of the wife. God does have parents exercise authority over their children by setting reasonable parameters and limits for their behavior (no Jason, you can’t attend that unsupervised party or practice your Tae Kwon Do skills on your little sister). I’ve heard much in conservative Christian circles about submission to authority over the years. I would like to see more emphasis on how healthy, functional authority is supposed to operate. Having acknowledged that authority does have its proper place, it is equally important to recognize that authority is not intended to be an end in itself, that it can function in an unhealthy manner and that it can even be falsely assumed. I just finished a bowl of cereal and it occurred to me that authority gone bad is like milk gone sour. It may have started out good but it ended up bad. Unfortunately, authority can turn unhealthy despite the best of intentions. I want to examine a few ways that authority can curdle, so to speak. The primary context for our discussion here will be Christian relationships between parents and adult children, husbands and wives, and pastors and their flock.

Quiverfull Daughters | Praise

Aside from God and my husband, the best gifts I've ever received have been from my mom and dad. There is so much I appreciate from the sacrifices they made for us, from the life we lived. Obviously, the scope of Quivering Daughters encompasses many controversial, painful, and largely unaddressed elements of a deeply conservative life and their effects on women.* This doesn't mean that every feature, in and of itself, is negative or generates negative ramifications ~ but the daughters of patriarchy find little Bible-based encouragement for the struggles they face. As God laid on my heart to write, study, and delve into these matters, I sorrowed to discover that the depth of these things is much worse than I expected. Therefore, it may appear that all we ever discuss on Quivering Daughters is the "bad stuff"; and while I believe it's essential to raise awareness and search the Scriptures regarding these things, today I want to step aside for a few moments and muse upon the good.

For there is much good. 
There is so much for which I give thanks,
which lifts my heart to God with praise.



Stories of Thanksgiving

Special note: I hope that you will leave your own stories of thanksgiving in the comments, so that I and others can rejoice with you!


THINGS MY PARENTS GAVE ME

~ trees to climb in, a forest to hide in, fields to get lost in, a creek to splash in, a garden to plant in, arms to hug in.

~ my first-ever sewing kit, and after I deemed my first-ever floppy dolly too ugly to survive, my mom fished her and her pink-crayoned cheeks out of the trash and tucked her away in that "special drawer" moms always have.

~ They gave me a family. They gave me each and every one of my ten sisters and brothers, who became new heads to kiss, new fingers to curl around my own, new little warm bodies to nestle in my arms . . . and who amaze me with sharp, creative minds, generous hearts, quick wits, forgiving spirits, welcoming, happy faces.

~ a real, live, adult Bible for my 7th birthday, with a leather cover, soft satin ribbon marker, and words of Christ in red. That Bible I've carefully packed away, for it is loose-leaf now, and almost every page is colored, underlined, noted, and fingermarked by an eager child. I think I almost cried when I realized I needed to get a new one, after years and years of love. There is something so friendly, so familiar, so comforting about the words which grew up with me, even as binding faded and the brilliant gold letters slowly flaked off.

~ rich knowledge of Scripture. After the near-mental-breakdown I experienced and the necessity to stop everything for a time, the word was waiting, living and powerful. What a blessing for which I am eternally, humbly grateful, for had I not this foundation, to start from "scratch" would have overwhelmed me completely.

~ life. As full moon coated earth with silver,
firstborn drew firstbreath.
 
~ Ahh, now this, this I think is the best thing EVER, and from my dad when I was 12 . . . to him I owe a thousand-thousand thanks for my first journal. That wonderful black book with its pristine white pages begging to be filled ~ it might as well been handed to me from God Himself. If I could offer praise for only one thing, ever, it would be to my father for this journal. His sister gave it to him when he was 16, he told me. And he'd carried it, for years and years. And something told him the Holy Spirit prompted him to give it to me. For God knew that journaling would essentially save my life.

~This one makes me smile. I don't think my parents ever knew, but when I was a teenager and Focus on the Family became heavily involved with True Love Waits, I wanted desperately to have the "key to my heart" ring and identify with the campaign. I tried to hint, I think . . . but to no avail. This thanks is two-fold: they did give me a ring I wanted. It made me think of Ireland; very celtic, this band, with a tourmaline stone and delicate knot work on the sides.  And I am thankful I never became swept away in the True Love Waits crusade. My true love did wait, but without the flair, without the drama, and without the austerity of a "movement".

~ in similar vein, neither did we subscribe to the teachings of Gothard. I give praise for this, for my parents saw wisdom in refraining from the legalistic nature of his training.

~ my parents gave their lives. Wholeheartedly. They believe strongly and live unwaveringly. No sacrifice is too great for the convictions they hold close, and they demonstrate this everyday.

~ freshly-squeezed lemonade from my mom after hard work in the sun. Just for me. I'm sure you can imagine the implications of this.

~ home-education. I so appreciate learning at home in an environment tailored to the pace I needed. And what fun, to crack open those fresh new books from Rod and Staff! It didn't hurt, either, that we were "done with school" hours before "real school" was through for the day.

~ encouragement: a dress form upon completion of my home education. A capo, when I [unsuccessfully] attempted to learn to play guitar. And mom's words when I, overwhelmed from feeling I wasn't the kind daughter they wanted: "At least you love the Lord," she said. "That's what's important." And ohhhh . . . I do. So very, very much.

Thank you for introducing us.

_____________________________________________________

*I write about and for women because I am a woman, not because these things aren't equally as devastating on men.

Love Song, III—Death

 . . . continued from Love Song, II
God, why did I have to be born? I just want to die . . . 

A deeply Christian, teenage girl who wants to die is not a simple soul to explain. As a little girl, I was relatively "good" in the sense that I yearned to please and could not bear to be in the wrong, to be guilty. My sensitive nature sent me to tell my parents when I needed a spanking. As a young woman, I was not "rebellious" as many define typical teenage angst; I struggled with things like being patient and sweet to my younger siblings, trying to say and do all the right things, and with severe depression because no matter what, I felt as though I never measured up to what my parents wanted—I was too artistic, too dreamy, too worldly in their eyes. But, “I don’t know why you are so depressed," they said. "You shouldn’t feel that way. You are just reacting from the flesh.” 

The flesh, which we were to crucify with all its desires. The flesh, which made it impossible to please God.  The flesh, the old man which needed to die.

I blamed only myself for not meeting the implied ideal, and cursed the stupid "flesh" which haunted every moment of  living. I was the one who "had different values", who was "going a different direction". I felt like a failure, a disappointment as I set a "bad example" for those who looked up to me in all things. My years became an endless cycle of trying, failing, religious effort, and trying again. I grew weary while life dimmed.

Dreamy and emotional, my artistic little girl soul craved life—but even more so, the assurance of love.
I’m trying to think of something I can do to make dad love me for reasons other than the fact that I’m just his daughter. There is nothing about me, other than me being his child, that he would love me more than say, if Jane Doe was his daughter. It’d be the same. I wish I could make him proud of me, something other than being his daughter. What I’m saying probably doesn’t make sense. I can’t describe it. But there’s nothing extraordinary or uniquely lovable about me, his daughter, that anyone else wouldn’t get just the same if I was non-existent, and someone else was his 1st daughter.


But lately I’ve caused too much stress. Like the mistake I made the other day . . . that was the pits, and dad admitted that he was disappointed in me and I should know better than that. I am so immature, I stink. I want to do better. I pray and pray but I don’t change. It’s frustrating. I better change the subject before I start to cry. I’m so fat. I’m so immature. There’s nothing outstanding about me. I’m so ugly inside. At least God loves me. And I know mom and dad do, it’s just that other than the fact I’m their daughter, I haven’t given them any reason to love me. I’m trying to think of something.

Love Song, II—Shadows

 . . . continued from Love Song, I
"We ought to obey God, rather than men. Even when He hands us the crucifix and bids us Come. 
And so we come, and die."

People always asked me if I wanted a large family. “You gonna have ten kids too?” A relevant question—falling on shadowed heart. “Well, probably not ten . . . ” I let trail off with a smile. I used to say I'd done everything a mother has, except give birth. While I’m sure that’s not the case, living in close quarters with several younger siblings afforded me much practice for mothering. I tried not to complain, but it left me exhausted. At sixteen, I wrote in my journal:
I hate myself. I am a jerk. Mom acts as though I hate the kids. I am such a rotten person. Mom told me how I have lost all my patience with the kids, that I am not patient anymore. I try so hard. What will it take? I try and pray and instead of improving, get told I have gotten worse! I’m so discouraged. I hate being impatient with them. I know I am sometimes. But it must be all the time, because mom says what she said. I’ll never become better. It’s so frustrating and it hurts. I wish I was so gentle and sweet and mom never had a reason to say anything like that. I hope God can use me. Use me, this clump of imperfection! This mess of impatience! This blob of sin!
As a perfectionist first born, my perceived failures as a sister and daughter, as “Happy Helping Hillary” fueled intense depression. Name-calling was not allowed, of course, yet subtle labels stung worse than petty words. Bossy. Impatient. Frivolous. Worldly. Dreamy. Impractical. All were bad. “You aren’t good enough,” messages sneered. The harder I tried to measure up, the louder they shrilled.

Sanctuary


We lived in a land far away, my sisters, brothers and I. At least it seemed so; surrounded by acres of field and wood, we scoured every inch of ground and knew every rut forged by deer. In spring, we exulted upon the Bridal Path—a dark, verdant knoll plush with ferns waist-high, fringed by Dogwoods dripping white blossoms. In summer our feet sank into gripping sands of the Sunny Meadow, which we raced across to pet horses who eyeballed us from neighbor’s pasture.

When we discovered a steep, long hill perfect for flying down on bikes, we rose at dawn and fought dewy webs of spiders who wove all through the night a mystical corridor, which caught our faces as we rode through. And after we dashed back to the frantic calls of parents who woke to find us vanished, the spiders sighed and shook their heads in despair, rolled up their sleeves, and set to work again.

Years and years we dwelt there, a sanctuary with shadows.


I knew where to go, when shadows lengthened, and darkness ached. You could always find me within the pine. Warm, fragrant silence emanated from serene timbers which anchored our land. We swayed in unison with summer, these trees and I, sharing a common bond, with our heads in the clouds. Lush branches with flowing green tresses hid me lovingly, inviting me to stay for long, lazy moments and dream, unrestrained. Home to a billion cicadas and the mournful cry of the whippoorwill, they regally presided while my child-fingers scrawled thousands of pages in my little books. They asked no questions, kept all secrets glimpsed over my shoulder.

I turned and returned to that safe place; I lay on soft, velvety needles while catching twinkles of sapphire sky. It winked at me and gently teased, spurring jealousy—for that great blue expanse did not know her fortune, to live next to God.

On this day, wind blew softly, warmly. My elbows bore tell-tale crisscross from leaning on the ground when I rolled to my stomach and picked up my journal. My eyes drifted “up there” while I scribbled. God, why did I have to be born? I just want to die . . .

 . . . to be continued.

Love Song, I — Calling

Iam the oldest of eleven children. Ten siblings ~ all of whom I love with every breath, every prayer, every passing day.

Boxes stuffed with letters line closet shelves; photos surround me when arms cannot. They are so precious, these little souls, cast from Emmanuel's image and walking, living, running along the crust of earth. But all the little heads outgrow kisses I've planted. Time snatches youth and etches years into face. Hearts shift, thoughts change.

"Why are you doing this?" asks fear. Anger. Uncertainty. They lash out, indignant, afraid.

The most painful place of all lifts broken eyes to hills. There is only one answer, really. "Because He said."

Because He said.

This holy tragedy 

"When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." 

In his book "The Cost of Discipleship", so writes one of my favorite martyrs, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A preacher and theologian executed  for resistance against National Socialism, his prison writings and books linger still, preaching grace and the calling of God ~ a calling which consumes all, a great, refining, jealous fire.

It is the calling of the cross. 

How do I respond? I wring my hands with tears. Obedience hurts. It breaks hearts; it divides. It endures accusation, misunderstanding, exile. Sometimes it kills. It willingly bears torture in faith that better things will come. Obedience requires us to wait in the pain and darkness, to weep and ache with the unknown while feet tread the faithful, steady path carved for us on Golgotha.

"Follow Me."

We ought to obey God, rather than men. Even when He hands us the crucifix and bids us Come. 

And so we come, and die.

to be continued . . .

Saturday Evening Blog Post



Join us once more for a gathering at Elizabeth Esther's! Link a blogpost of yours from October in her little McLinky and then write a new post and link to her blog, explaining why you chose the article you selected.

I am choosing to refresh the subject of Bounded Choice. It is a powerful tactic of control used by many within family, church, and culture ~ and we need to be aware of its forms and effects.

Enjoy making new blogger-friends and reading thought-provoking, inspiring material!

Sparrows Flutter



Sparrows flutter, falling
And the King of Heaven sees.

 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, 
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
  He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading
of it?”
  So he answered and said, “
‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”  

And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” Luke 10

We cover our heads according to first Corinthians eleven.”

I gazed at this solemn young woman, who eyed my bare locks with mournful conviction. She shifted the baby on her hip and spoke again. “I have a book you can read if you want to. It explains why people who are obedient to God cover, and God blesses them.”

I hesitated. At 12, I had only a vague concept of head-covering; most of what I'd seen was pictured in our Mennonite home-schooling curriculum. But the veiling on this new friend was very different; it reminded me of the illustrations of Mary in my mother’s King James Bible.

“Okay . . .” I said.

She sensed my hesitation. “I didn’t want to at first either.” Her voice gained strength. “But then I realized it was only my flesh, and we are called to deny ourselves. I promise you—it's worth it. I feel so much closer to God now, knowing that I am in His will and following the Bible. And knowing I'm protected helps even more.”

We stopped going to traditional church when I was eleven or so, for even they were rampant with worldliness and error. We began meeting with other families at home, and gradually moved from Sunday to Saturday as our Sabbath fellowship grew increasingly conservative.

During these gatherings, forty or fifty people milled about our modest house—not hard with all of the little ones in attendance—or ran around the farmyard. Early in the morning, my sisters and I gathered our biggest pots, monstrous cauldrons capable of bathing small children, and tediously picked through gallons of dried pinto beans to boil with onions, garlic, and spices. As people arrived, gigantic yellow bags of chips and huge blocks of cheese piled on the table. Over time, other families appeared and the studies, topics, and discussions centered more and more around Mosaic requirements, the keeping of feasts, or other traditions which encouraged biblical living. This time of fellowship was fun and enlightening, providing a break from routine; but looking back reveals how easily roots of legalism become twisted around vulnerable elements of the heart.

I both admired and envied that gentle, quiet, covered young woman. She'd married young, and secretly I wondered if she truly did have God’s special blessing for her simple dress and hidden curls. Surely He must love her more, I reasoned, since she faithfully demonstrated self-denial and unworldliness—the absolute pinnacle of virtue.

Godly—everything she was . . .
. . . and it seemed to me, everything I was not.

Link to Grace

In the Roman world of Jesus’ time, there were many moral problems.  There were famines, wars, diseases.  There was harsh poverty and decadent luxury. There was political corruption, intrigue, abuse of authority.  There was embezzlement, treason, armed insurgents who plotted to overthrow the government.  There was pornography, homosexuality, promiscuity, bestiality, and pederasty.  There was legalized prostitution, infanticide, and a corrupt system of entertainment that glorified gratuitous violence.
But when God Himself came to earth as a Man, he chose to vent the brunt of his moral outrage at one specific class of people:
Upstanding religious people who lived moral lives and had good Biblical theology.

Read the rest of the article here!



A Different Perpective: She is No Longer Quivering


Over a few short months, a mother of seven from Nebraska has made headlines as she abandoned her Quiverfull life, launched a website and message board, inspired a play, and started writing a book based upon her experience. Scheduled to appear on an upcoming episode of the Joy Behar Show, Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering is hosting a fun event November 1-4 designed to foster community and garner awareness of some of the painful aspects of fundamentalism. Featuring around-the-clock, live NLQ chat, this would be an excellent opportunity for any of you with questions or thoughts regarding Vyckie's experience as a Quiverfull mom, or to share your own! Stay for fun activities, games, and lots of cool prizes.

Please be aware that many of the viewpoints expressed on NLQ may or may not reflect those of Quivering Daughters. I believe that it is important to understand as many perspectives as possible, and to see the abundant, varying effects a Quiverfull message can have on others within our culture.

Feel free to discuss your thoughts here, as well! :-)

Biblical Womanhood

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice . . .
That’s what little girls are made of.

The sculptor rejoiced. This new world lilted and undulated before him, raw and shimmering with newness, innocent and fresh, full of hope and promise. "Good, all is good!" he proclaimed, each moment unfolding before him in living color. He loved the way edges of light interlaced with darkness; he smiled as dolphins flung themselves from the deep and launched towards heaven. And with particular tenderness, he watched the man he'd formed from earth make his way throughout the garden, calling all creatures to himself. "He looks like me," he mused, and sighed with the fullness of life.

Life is good.

The artist surveyed the work of his heart, the outpouring of his spirit. "One thing more and it will be perfect," he promised, and with heady anticipation caused the creature who looked like him to rest. "Just you wait and see what I have for you . . ."  he sang with joy. With intricate precision and tender love, his hands set to work.

She shall be called Woman . . .

Eve: the only work of art, in the genesis of life, sculpted from a living being.

Life, from life.

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man 
He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Gen. 2:21, 22

The pinnacle of creation

Is this not a ravishing thought? The God of heaven and earth spoke light into existence; He caused hemispheres to find their place. He formed man and beast from dust, yet woman was tenderly contoured out of living flesh—life from life—by the very fingertips of God.

Although Old Mother Goose thought she had the recipe for maidenhood, the Creator of Eve knew best. Heart, body, mind, and soul . . . sculpted in the image of He who is Eternal . . . that is what little girls are made of.

To thoroughly comprehend the devastating effects of patriocentricity and abuse—spiritual, emotional, and otherwise—on women, we must first develop a deep understanding of who we are and who God is. It is only then will we discover His heart for the crown of His creation.

Imagine the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. Is she a mother? Or a bride, with veils of gossamer spilling down her back? Or an angel, wrapped in light? Is she soft and enchanting? Or fierce and strong, like a warrior? Do her lips smile sweetly and whisper words of loving-kindness? Do her eyes swim with the depth of tenderness? Are her hands gentle? Do her arms embrace with comfort and nourishment?

I try to imagine the woman of Eden. What did the mother of all humanity look like? The most beautiful and intricate of God's creations, woman is also a complex, powerful entity who baffles mankind and can change the face of history. (See this link for a few more examples.) For many under patriocentric teachings, the identity of womanhood is conflicted and convoluted—even in some cases, reduced to lucrative exploitation. I believe that God’s spirit is grieved by this, for it denies His heart and makes shallow the depth and strength of this glorious reflection of His nature.

The Essence of Womanhood

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; 
male and female He created them.Genesis 1:27

To stifle, belittle, and dismiss any aspect of womanhood gravely limits and misrepresents our Creator. He has chosen, in a manner which I believe is very deliberate, to reveal precious elements of Himself, through us—for as women, we have the ability to reflect Him in beautiful, unique ways. In this article I will explore three facets of femininity which unveil the pristine glory of God.

•    Givers of life
The very heart of the gospel draws upon distinctions that are inherent to the most raw, vulnerable, and intimate aspects of womanhood . . . birth. Jesus illustrated this when He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) What an honor, time and time again, to represent salvation through feminine language! For those who have not yet experienced, or cannot experience the unparalleled glory of motherhood, let the words of Ann Voskamp fill your spirit with a perspective to refresh and renew your sense of purpose. In her blog A Holy Experience, she writes:
We never cease to be with child. Those of us who have birthed, and those of us who never have. We may make spaces within us for all of humanity, for their dreams, their stories, their hurts, their lives. Do we not, over the years, line our lives with the stretch marks of love? The privilege of carrying a soul is always ours. We may choose to never let our wombs languish empty. Always we may open and welcome another person to find nourishment and comfort within the empty places we have made just for them.—Ann Voskamp
With each soul reborn, each spirit comforted, and each mortal nourished, the mother-heart of God is revealed.  Venerate and rejoice! For what a lovely avocation to be bestowed: the art of giving and sustaining life!

•    Flesh
Mystery. Succulence. Harmony. Perception. Sensuality. Our very embodiment as a womanly being gives tribute to the wisdom of God when we observe the natural order He has placed within our flesh. How often do we hear, “It’s just your hormones!” Or, “You must be ready to start your period!” Such disparaging remarks severely abuse the handiwork of God, for not only do they attack and diminish the exquisite mystery which courses through our frame, but they also discount the supreme intelligence of the One who authored our existence.

Those raised in nature or familiar with the elements can attest that a woman’s cycle often naturally follows the lunar phase of the moon. Some say that childbirth also bears witness to this phenomenon. Consider what an exquisite correlation to have! Reverenced for years in poetry and song, the silent, ethereal presence of the moon affects both the pull of the ocean tides and the feminine portal of life. With naught a word, she reduces mankind to hushed whispers and lights imagination with still, serene beauty. Like a pearl, she radiates—her luminous orb rising and falling with faithful precision. Ruminate upon the forethought of God and His kindness, for certainly he knew the consummate rapture the moon would invoke among those of a womanly nature. To thus acquaint the two so intimately is tender indeed.

"No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon, and the stars for a light by night…” (Jeremiah 31)
Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! (Ps 148:3)
The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory. (Ps 97:6)



The image of God is hereby reflected within intimate details inherent to your femininity. Curse them no longer, and do not let others do so. You've been chosen to portray an exclusive facet of God, which cannot be fully known by others. Learn to embrace the voluptuous realm of your womanliness and let the heart of God be revealed through you.

•    Expression
The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zeph. 3:17)
Although this is not limited to women, emotional expression is a deeply reflective attribute of God. How many times do you endure verbal lashes? “Just get over it!” “Stop your crying!” “You shouldn’t be so upset!” “Don’t be so sensitive!” Sadly, these words smother the heart of those who feel and who express the depths of soul. Many authoritarian families spend much effort downplaying and belittling emotion. Using Biblical texts such as “A fool vents all his feelings” (Proverbs 29), the act of expression is often treated as sin. Many women are taught that emotions are like chaff, which must be beaten and discarded—ungodly by-products of worldly desire and life in the flesh. Subtle messages communicate that emotions don’t matter, that feelings are foolishness to be gotten over, to rise above.

Dear sister, this is not truth. When we consider that feelings are a gift from God, placed within a woman made in His image, what does that imply? If your upbringing has both discredited and condemned you for expressing feeling and emotion, bring those hurts and lies to the feet of God for healing. God felt no shame in articulating the feelings that emanated from his heart. Contemplate a brilliant sunset—myriad colors of vibrancy, flung across the face of the heavens with the rapture of a painter. Or music, when melodies and harmonies all convolute into swelling symphony causing joy and life to spring from within! These miracles cannot come from a God who doesn’t feel. And women in particular reflect this attribute—dwelling in lusciously sculpted flesh, representing softness and beauty and sweetness and fire, having the incarnate ability to cause empty places to come alive, simply from being who she is without apology.

Turbulent or joyous, angry or apathetic—what we feel can be an invaluable standard to measure the homeostasis within our spirit and self. If you have been injured by the lie which teaches feelings don’t matter, stop to reassure the little girl who aches within. Know the truth—that God created them, and in His kindness, chose to reveal part of who He is through an expressive heart. As a thermometer checks and reflects temperature, let your emotions be a valuable guide which reflects the innermost conditions. Even anger can bring Him glory. The book of James cautions us not to sin because of anger, but to be. Examine what you feel before God; seek him when you question why you feel certain things. Seek to know the hidden roots which may indicate when something is amiss internally, but believe the truth: emotions are necessary for a healthy life.

Jesus and women 

One of the most moving passages in the New Testament reveals an invaluable glimpse into the tender side of God, through the heart-stricken lament of His Son. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13: 34)

What an emotional outpouring! It is this same Jesus, made known to you and I, who transformed the life of one broken, desperate soul while His feet walked upon this earth. And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment I shall be made well.” (Matthew 9) Consider this Jewish woman. Twelve years of uncleanness. Twelve years of sorrow. Twelve years of loneliness and isolation; likely without even the comfort of a human touch. Twelve years of lost wages, dwindling hope, and despair. Twelve years of bearing the oppressive weight of the law:
‘If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on shall be unclean. Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whoever touches anything that she sat on shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If anything is on her bed or on anything on which she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening . . . If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her as the bed of her impurity; and whatever she sits on shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her impurity. Whoever touches those things shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. (Leviticus 15)
Into this world walked Jesus. Imagine her fear—yet also the desperation that drove her to grasp the hem of his robe! For even that small touch would render Him unclean, according to the law, and yet twelve years of agony drove her to seek a New Way . . . the narrow way of life, which few find. But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour. (v. 22)

Other translations quote Jesus as saying Take heart! Have courage! In addition to the healing of her body, consider the impact on her soul. Instead of disdain, she was welcomed into the presence of God. Instead of turning away, He made her whole. He looked at her—oh, imagine the love in His eyes! He received her in her shame, when all others would have turned away or recoiled from her touch. He commended her for going against the religious law out of faith that a better way had come. He comforted her, for she still felt trepidation, despite her faith. In one moment, He took away her uncleanness. He brought life to her body and healing to her heart. She was touched by God in the midst of her impurity, while all others in the name of God rejected her.

What a life-giving response! And it is His response to us, as well, those of us wrought with the effects of spiritual abuse. He makes way for us a new path, out of the darkness and shame that comes from those who substitute the voice of the law for the voice of God.   

Have courage! Take heart! He does not reject you. He will look at you with love in His eyes. He will receive the faith you offer Him—even as a seed so small within a forbidding forest of fear. “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12)

A Passionate Calling

As you learn to express and feel with the exuberance of living, seek the nature of God to learn the balance that is crucial with this element of femininity. There is . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3) To those scathed by false teachings . . . come alive! Find joy in being! If you paint, fling your acrylics with abandon. If you sew, create masterpieces of beauty. If you play music, serenade the world with melody! Find something that moves you, something that inspires you. Did you know that these things are gifts from God? Your talents and tastes make you unique and special; furthermore, pursuing these things brings our Father glory and honor.

So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom . . . (Ex. 28) See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship. “And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver—those who do every work and those who design artistic works.” (Ex. 35)
Purpose within to discover your calling and to listen to the little girl who yearns within. Be the woman you were created to be; live fully and freely, with healthy balance, with your identity firmly rooted in the image of He who is Eternal. Embrace your womanliness, rejoice in your femininity. As you go forth and break free, carry with you the knowledge of God’s exquisite love. He will lead you through the darkness.

What other ways does God reveal Himself through our femininity? How has He made Himself known to you?

Exploring Bounded Choice

Within an emotionally and psychologically abusive group, the concept of choice is a delicate matter.  Statements such as "You aren't held by chains; you can do what you want", which are then followed by dire repercussions if an unpopular or wrong choice is made, demonstrate the confusion inherent in such environments.

In his article "Bounded Choice: The Illusion of Flexibility in a Controlled World", Dan Krimm states,
Bounded Choice: The Big Finesse
Henry Ford was said to have stated that his new Model T, the first assembly-line automobile,
was available "in any color, as long as it's black." The economic incentive to constrain
choice in a mass-produced world is very strong. However, there is also a strong political
incentive to constrain choice, as it allows citizens' behavior to be controlled more easily,
reducing threats to power over society. In the present day, these two incentives increasingly
are working together even while many of those in power do everything they can to obscure
that fact.
The "Big Finesse" is to induce people into thinking they are exercising pure free will and
personal choice while at the same time constraining their options with regard to anything
important to the exercise of real power. It's easier to control people if they are not aware
that they are being controlled, because they will not even think to resist the control.
Bounded Choice is more commonly known as the (negative) Double Bind. Here is an example from Wikipedia:
The classic example given of a negative double bind is of a mother telling her child that she loves him, while at the same time turning her head away in disgust. (The words are socially acceptable; the body language is in conflict with it). The child doesn't know how to respond to the conflict between the words and the body language and, because she is dependent on his [sic] mother for his or her basic needs, is in a quandary. Small children have difficulty articulating contradictions verbally and can neither ignore them nor leave the relationship.
Implanted Seeds

Bounded Choice affects both spiritual and practical aspects of life. When subtle messages determine the thoughts or behavior of a tender young heart, serious questions can arise regarding the exact nature of God and how He relates to His children. The level of disorientation promoted by this form of communication is devastating. And since God is not the author of confusion, many automatically assume the responsibility for error, adding further detriment to the situation.

Those raised with the double bind as a method of control learn that recovery can be especially daunting. Leaving an authoritarian climate only to realize the challenges of making simple, daily decisions is not unlike a form of culture shock.

Illusion of Freedom

Setting aside the controversial nature of adult autonomy within extremely conservative families, let's regard freedom as a neutral issue for the moment. Many authoritarian parents and leaders insist that adult offspring or followers are free to make their own choices. A case may be presented and wishes understood, but when the verbal statement communicates: "It's up to you," anything less than that is dishonest. Here I referred to "baited choice", which is similar to the deceptive practice of retailers who lure customers only for them to discover that all is not as is portrayed. If an adult is given the option to make a decision only to suffer manipulative ramifications as a result, they truly do not have "free" choice.

Consequences 

To be clear, what I refer to is not the natural consequence of an unwise action. Mistakes will occur as we learn life. I wholeheartedly advocate seeking the input of godly, wise parents, friends, pastors, and Scripture, while most importantly, seeking the will of God and direction of the Holy Spirit. These things do not insulate against every mistake, but mistakes are essential to learning. God can use them effectively in our lives and does not condemn us for them. This certainly isn't an appeal to apathy or willful sin, but a reminder that He is sovereign and faithful and His love is not dependent upon our performance or how high we measure up.

I do allude to an environment which responds sinfully to undesirable actions. Here are a few examples of real-life situations that many of my Quivering Daughter-Sisters have faced . . .
  • manipulation: withholding love or affection, silent treatment, shunning—even up to complete excommunication; appealing to others—worried about what others might think
  • labeling: foolish, stupid, ungodly, rebellious, unsaved, not walking with the Lord (remember: only the Lord truly sees the heart!)
  • passive-aggression: shaming through prayers or "sharing"; patronizing, disrespectful, or condescending treatment
  • overt aggression: raging; hot seats; intense, exhaustive criticism sessions, either privately or with others present
True, natural consequences to a mistake or choice are not manipulative. But it is not a natural consequence to deliberately retribute another person for having a differing belief or making a choice which does not reflect one's personal conviction. An argument may be made that "Carol is free to make up her own mind, but she knew what would happen if she decided to wear pants", for example, "and therefore she chose to be left out of our family photo". This is not free choice, it is bounded choice: controlling or ensuring the outcome of a situation using emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually manipulative tactics. If this occurs throughout a lifetime of subtle training, then it truly is the Big Finesse as Krimm so aptly describes:
[inducing] people into thinking they are exercising pure free will and
personal choice while at the same time constraining their options with regard to anything
important to the exercise of real power. It's easier to control people if they are not aware
that they are being controlled, because they will not even think to resist the control.
Many in favor of the double bind argue that it is out of concern for another's well-being—spiritual or physical—and a form of "tough love" which prompts their behavior. "If I didn't say anything, that means I didn't care", "Would I let them walk off a cliff without speaking up?" "I am just helping them to think" and "They need to learn wisdom" are all types of statements generated by those who genuinely do feel responsibility / love / alarm / anxiety towards those important to them.

But when everything is stripped away, most often a root of fear lies at the base of these and similar defenses. It is here that one has the opportunity to seek the face of God to help strengthen one's faith, because fear seeks control—knowing the outcome, ensuring predictability; whereas faith hands control back to God and says, "I'm willing not to know, but to rest knowing You."

Quiverfull Daughters —The Aching of Esau

You never show us what you write.” Mom looked disappointed.
“I will!” I assured her. But what? My young mind riffled through notebooks, scanning titles, stories, songs. I always felt too shy, embarrassed to reveal my scribblings. Despite me “telling,” a sister already derived ecstatic glee over long, flowy descriptions of self-deprecation, crushes, and struggles in the journal I tried to keep private; I wasn't about to draw more attention to myself. What did I have that was safe enough to show?

Saturday Evening Blog Post at Elizabeth Esther's!

Need inspiration? Hop over to Elizabeth Esther's blog "Kids, Twins, and Laundry Bins" for a wealth of lovely links. I chose to highlight my recent post "Quiverfull Daughters—Little Mothers, Little Sisters" since I am planning a short series on the topicand I added a poignant bit from my journal as a young teenager to illustrate the feelings of stress and exhaustion inherent on daughters within a Quiverfull family. Check it out!

Elizabeth is a wife, mother, and author with a spunky sense of humor and lots of energy. You will love her!

The Sanctuary of Life

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10

Life. A simple word pulsing with complexity. As you reflect, what images come to mind? Answers emerge from the day-portraits of our years—fun, stressful, challenging, hard, i-wish-i-were-dead, boring, exciting, an adventure, depressing—but I wonder: how often do we ever say, abundant?

And what is an abundant life?
I believe that it is full, when our every sense is alive with wonder, expectancy, and thankfulness for God's grace and mercy. When we awake with purpose and live our moments along undercurrents of joy, even when tears fall with frustration or sadness, when we fume over traffic or agonize over an aching child. For when we are full, we are free to feel. When we are full, knowing we will not be rejected but are welcome just as we are, with no effort of our own, we are free to blossom, free to live and taste what God has given us to enjoy.

With no effort of our own
. . .

Women acquainted with spiritual abuse know the depth, the burden of always trying. Of always doing, hoping to measure up one day and find approval within lined faces of austerity. Always darkness, there, for we are taught that it is the will of God to heed the voices which grieve us, which communicate that our best is never good enough.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11

These words of Jesus illustrate His heart for those burdened and exhausted from the law. Quite a contrast to the realities of our everyday agony while we stumble beneath the weight of  shoulds and oughts. These obligations shrill loudly, leaving us ashamed and guilty, as though fingers wag in our faces and declare aha! See, you are worthless! You are stupid! You can't do anything right!

Oh, dear friend! I know the torment of these obscenities! We could, each of us, list dozens of items which remind us we fall short.
  • I should read the Bible more
  • I should have dinner ready by now
  • I should exercise today
  • I should pray harder
  • I should wear dresses
  • I ought to speak more kindly
  • I ought to turn the other cheek
  • I ought to be happy
Don't truly good Christian women find these things easy? In and of themselves many of these things are good—however, all too often those of us raised in authoritarian environments consistently feel unacceptable, perpetually bearing the shame of disapproval. We are subtly taught we must perform or properly behave in order to receive love, affection, or attention, but even our hardest efforts leave us dry. It's confusing, overwhelming, and spiritually exhausting: why do the daily disciplines of godliness leave us feeling empty, drained, unloved? Why do we not feel rested as we kneel before the feet of Christ? 
To the contrary: we sink deeper into shame, proving to others and Jesus how weak, ungodly, and worthless we are.

Shame vs. guilt

It is important to understand the difference between guilt and shame. Healthy guilt produces repentance, restoration, and growth. However, shame drives us away from God, further from His healing rest. It enmeshes with our core until our very identity is toxic with lies—error that becomes the foundation of all we believe about ourselves.

To identify the roots of your feelings, it helps to ask:
Does this make me want to run to God? "Forgive me father, for I have sinned."
-OR-
Does this make me want to run away from God?  "I am so wicked; God cannot look upon sin. I just need to go and die."

Guilt is feeling regret over a committed wrong, externalized, and within proper context. I did a bad thing and I regret what I did. Shame is an emotion of perceived wrong, but internalized: I am bad. I always do bad things so that means I am worthless, no good, and should have never been born.

It can be extremely difficult overcoming a lifetime of shoulds and oughts. By ourselves, it is impossible. But Jesus wants you to become free. No more formulas, no more works, no effort. You don't need to do one more thing to receive His love, His freedom, and grace. He says, Come. Drop everything you are doing, and rest. Let me give you what you need. Let Me be your source.

What would your life be like, if you simply stopped? If you answered His gentle beckoning? Consider His words an invitation to sanctuary. Let Him allure your tired and weary heart—and you will find rest for your souls.

A whole new life awaits.

This is an adaptation of an earlier post. 

"An End to Guilt" — Featured Article

Do you wake up and apologize for living? Do you struggle with guilt, shame, self-condemnation? This article will help you discover the truth of God's love.
An End to Guilt by Gregory Reid

Quiverfull Daughters: Little Mothers, Little Sisters

I’m having a bad day today. I’m just so tired! I’m so tired of working—there is always something that needs to be done and dad is never satisfied. I’m tired of being overwhelmed with everything. I’m tired of washing dishes every night, I wish that the house would stay clean for 2-3 days—the kids are always cutting up paper, getting out toys, splashing water all over the bathroom sink, getting mud and sand all over the bathroom floor. I’m tired of doing laundry—there are mountains of it daily and I am tired of putting clothes away. I’m tired of people not doing their jobs; I’m tired of my brother’s arguing and endless supply of unnecessary words (though he is sweet a lot and has been a lot today), my sister’s constant fits and defiance and screaming, I’m tired of getting mad at my brothers and sisters, I wish I were perfect. I absolutely abhor the thought that every idle word will be judged . . . lately I have been doing some self-analyzing, or examining—I’m trash . . . I’m sick of disappointing God.
This is a tiny excerpt from the journal I kept growing up. Outsiders look at words like these and quickly assume roots of laziness sprouted in me, but words cannot do justice to the constant extreme tiredness I felt, the heartache, the struggles, my guilt over impatience and failures, copious amounts of stress, even mental fatigue . . . even before I turned 14.

Admittedly, my  perspective is from one who became a little mother—a child compelled to adopt care-taking roles earlier than most, earlier than healthy. But the Quiverfull life doesn't only affect the oldest daughters. Younger siblings experienced the "bossiness" of my perfectionist self, my efforts to "help", to keep things efficient and under control, efforts to be obedient and pleasing to God and parents, and the pressure of trying to live up to expectations both I and others laid upon me.

Just as I received the frustrations of petulant brothers and sisters screaming "You're not the mom!" and "You're not the boss of me!", they felt the pressure of having not only a dad and mom telling them what to do, how to behave, what to think, and how they should perform, but an older sister who attempted awkwardly to carry out mom and dad's wishes within the family.

Quiverfull Parents

As numbers swelled with mommy's tummy, more and more household details rested on my shoulders. I am filled with sadness that instead of mom, many times my dear brothers and sisters suffered a surrogate "mom" who was often more frazzled and worn out than our real one.  And while my siblings never understood the angst inside, the internal war, nor heard my nightly secret sobs to "help me be loving and sweet and kind", they did hear the demands, the rages, the lack of sleep, the short-temper. They saw a red face, harsh mouth. They witnessed the public admonitions to be patient and to pray about my attitude. What influence did it have—on both of us? They did not deserve this injustice. The younger children needed quality parental attention just as much as the older ones. Their needs were just as important as mine.

In a Quiverfull family, everyone is affected, for good, for bad; in healthy ways, and unhealthy. Mothers devote body and womb to pregnancy and the effects of hormones while cultivating new life. Fathers receive new life to provide for, to raise, to hold before God. And the children born into this environment bring unique strengths, needs, desires, challenges, and personalities, all precious in the eyes of God.

Blessings, yes. But serious blessings.

We all sacrifice something. Those who adopt a Quiverfull life have the privilege of choice—cognizant awareness and deliberate, intentional selection of lifestyle based upon conviction.

I beseech Quiverfull parents to humbly remember that your children do not have the freedom to choose, as you have. Your children are unable to seek God's will, count the costs, and go forth with full knowledge of what lies ahead. Please have grace and mercy upon these little ones, who often sacrifice quality time with mom and dad because other needs arise, who often become hands and feet and shoulders while caring for others; who sometimes struggle in silence, trying to reconcile the true nature of God with what they see and hear on a daily basis. Ones who perpetuate the pressure they feel, and react to the demands presented them; ones perhaps never completely understood—children created with individuality, in Imago Dei.

I beg parents to put forth the effort to know your children individually, for just as God has blessed you, He has made them, singularly and unparalleled, with each soul relating to others, themselves, to God, and the world, in special, precious ways. It is destructive to blanket an entire family with the same parenting formula. Each child needs parenting based upon the uniqueness God has gifted them; it takes time, energy, and discipline—a challenge, even in smaller families—to attend offspring with such tenderness, but such is the responsibility of mothers and fathers.

Quiverfull Daughters

If you are firstborn, do you feel as though you've grown up too fast and lost your childhood? Are you burdened by unrelenting expectations? Are your parents too busy with the younger children to spend quality time with you? Do you feel as though they call you a "blessing" because of what you do, not who you are? Do you feel perpetually exhausted?

If you are middleborn, do you feel overlooked and overshadowed? Are you old enough to have a lot of chores, but too young to have certain privileges? Do you feel unnoticed, unimportant, insignificant? Too old to crawl into your mother's lap or enjoy playtime, but too young to do anything fun?

If you are last, do you feel that you have five other mothers telling you what to do? Do you feel you never have a break and that everyone tattles on you? Do you feel that you never do anything right, that you are compared to successful older sisters? Does it seem you pay for your older siblings' mistakes? Did their problems cause your parents to exercise more strictness or control?

These are mere samplings of the emotions and struggles experienced by daughters within a quiverfull household, for if there is imbalance within a family, all daughters will have pain. But I believe that as quiverfull daughters, our place in the family is distinctly chosen by God. He knows our strengths, our weaknesses, our futures, hurts and sorrows.  Whether we are first, middle, or last within our family, our lives bear His handprint, His heartprint.

While we often feel lost in the shuffle, He who sees a sparrow fall knows your deepest dreams, hopes, and fears; He holds gently secret tears that water your pillow at night. Your exhaustion, performance, and service, the demands, pressure, and austerity you feel does not miss His eye. He knows your cries, your loneliness, your longing to matter to those you love, to feel important in their eyes, to feel special. To feel that you are a blessing.

God designed us to seek Him face to face, to discover His will for our lives. As children of the Perfect Father, sisters to a billion souls, we can rest, knowing He loves us individually; but until we truly believe in His love for us, we will experience difficulty understanding how we bear significance to God Himself—and wounds remain unhealed.
Dear Heavenly Father, You know the thoughts and dreams You have of us, to give us a hope and a future. You see the pain lurking with the hearts of quiverfull daughters; you see the pressures they feel and the expectations placed on them by others, in Your name. I beg You to make Yourself known to these precious sisters, to make Your love known in deep, significant ways, so that they see how truly You adore them and grieve for the hurts and sorrows that they feel. You created them, just as they are, and yet so many feel discouraged and selfish for having feelings, dreams, desires, and needs in the first place. Comfort these dear women, and lead them on a journey straight to You. Heal and restore them, I ask You; give them strength and wisdom as they go forth in life. Be glorified in them, dear Lord, and may their families see You in their daughter's life. Thank You that You love us and want to be known by us. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Update (Updated 9 / 15!!)

 Update: Life is an adventure and as I mentioned here, sometimes I make plans and the Lord refines them for me. :-) In the past several days, I have had a schedule change, gone out of town, my husband's grandfather passed away, and numerous big and little events conspired against the deadline I gave myself. Perhaps in my zeal I spoke too hastily. This book has been commissioned from Him since the beginning, and the timing is in His hands. Thank you for understanding.
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This is a very impromptu post today :-) . I am working feverishly on my book and hope and pray to be finished with writing within the next 6 to 8 weeks, Lord willing--then on to editing. I say that, knowing He has other plans sometimes. :-) I am also putting together a personal blog which will reflect a bit more personality, feature other topics, and not always address the heavy subjects found here on the Quivering Daughters blog.

My newsletter is in the works and you can always find me on Facebook. :-)

This book is very much a journey for me, complete with all of the joy and pain that comes from digging into wounds and exposing raw, deep places. Just today God re-shaped the ending into something that sent me to my face, weeping. My heartfelt desire is that all of my sisters in blood and spirit will know the absolute joy which comes from the power of God transforming heart and mind through His Spirit and truth! He heals, restores, and ministers in ways I never dreamed possible. No words can do justice to the beauty of His mercy, grace and love.

My posts may become a little more sporadic ;-) while I streamline my attention to this book. To all of my friends and readers--thank you for your patience. Thank all of you who have taken  time to send notes of encouragement and lift prayers to our Heavenly Father on my behalf and for this book. Although He has appointed me to carry, and to labor with these words, He is the breather and giver of life. May He be glorified.

I remain His handmaiden.

Guest Post by Provender: "Dealing with a Sense of Futility After Leaving a Spiritually Abusive Situation"

I am honored to welcome Provender to Quivering Daughters.

Dealing with a Sense of Futility 
After Leaving a Spiritually Abusive Situation
by 

I recently visited a forum of former members of certain restrictive-type churches. I didn’t have to search long to find fallout from a spiritually abusive experience. The third comment on the most recent post said this:
I don't know what is sadder, that we've left and basically no one has cared or contacted us or that we still feel kind of sad that no one cared. We left the church I grew up in about a year ago and then started going to a new bigger church. … When we left the first church, family members shunned us and treated us bad because basically, how dare we leave the little family church to go to a bigger church, one of their enemy churches. As far as they are concerned we are basically out of the Lords will and living under a curse for leaving them. Then in May we stopped going to the big church and no one cared. What's crazy is that we still haven't completely given up on the idea of going back to …[this kind of] church, we just don't know which one to go to. We are entertaining the idea of going to a different type of church but it's like we are stuck in depression and confusion and don't know what to do anymore. What is wrong with me that I tend to cling toward a religion and think about going back to these churches that were nothing but crazy drama anyways and then to top it off when we left the people didn't care anyway! We have no friends anymore and most of our family doesn't speak to us. They don't even like us enough to try to win us back!
Then, sadly, the author of the comment adds a pathetic “Lol.” at the very end.

There really isn’t a lot to laugh about here.

The comment was just the first example I could find. It is not an isolated case. Far from it. All over the nation – really, all over the world, according to the Feedjit site reader on the Provender page – individuals are leaving churches with their faith demolished and their spiritual ideals shattered, victims of abusive churches.

When churches or church leaders take the most vulnerable parts of us, our trust and faith, and rip them to shreds, the results are truly devastating.

On Provender, I link to an article called Psychological Issues of Former Members of Restrictive Religious Groups by Jim Moyers. This piece examines the great damage done to those whose faith was shattered after leaving “fundamentalist” groups.

Moyers details the effects of something he calls “Shattered Faith Syndrome.” Here is how he describes it: Having lost faith in what was once a primary source of meaning and guidance, the former believer feels lost and overwhelmed. While not all groups go so far as to prohibit contact with those who leave, a former member is unlikely to be well regarded by the faithful. Estrangement from the community of believers - the focus of social life within many such groups - will compound the sense of isolation and despair that often comes with the loss of one's faith.

Isolation and despair: the hallmarks of severely abused Christians abandoned by their former friends.

Moyers says that the psychological effects experienced by such outcasts are long-lasting. He says they often undergo a chronic “sense of dissatisfaction coupled with difficulties in finding new sources of meaning and direction.”

That certainly would describe the forum commenter above. Because controlling groups treat human reason with suspicion, Moyers says, these members too often fall prey to authoritarian teachings.

Their teachings stress “human imperfection.” The followers often internalize the belief that pride in oneself is sinful, and that results in a perpetual negative self image.

Carrying around a persistently negative self image is a horrible way to live. The toll, even before leaving the group, must be a burden difficult to shoulder.

Moyers says that many inhibitions and compulsions as well as frustration and guilt stick around long after those who leave have intellectually rejected the teachings. “Having been taught to regard every impulse as potentially evil,” Moyers writes, “the former believer may have little capacity for spontaneity and lack viable means for genuine self-expression.”

Some of the spiritual abuse checklists mentioned on Provender include “lack of a sense of humor” as a sign. Living with constant negativity is a sure way to beat out of a person any spontaneity or humor. It is no wonder people from controlling groups begin to dress, act and look the same, and often seem to have little joy.

Even after they escape or are kicked out of controlling fellowships, they still experience some of that same flatness, and sometimes things might even seem worse for a while.

After you are out, where do you find new friends? In churches your former elitist church looked down on and castigated? Unlikely. Out in the world, full of sinners and backsliders? Hardly. In another elitist group? All too often that’s what outcasts are led back to.

It isn’t unusual to find people who’ve fallen from one abusive group right into the lap of another. Wanda Mason’s story comes to mind. Also, Margaret Jones’s.

Moyers claims that when people leave restrictive groups, they lose the tenets that formerly composed their source of meaning and self-definition, “the central organizing principle of her or his life.” When you lose the core, you are suddenly open to a sense of meaninglessness or futility.

Because of this, there is going to have to be a period of grieving, and people in these situations don’t always recognize that need. Many of these groups are already suspicious of “worldly” psychology. Psychology is seen to be a system of explaining the human heart in direct competition to the biblical worldview.

If you didn’t trust psychology when you were in a controlling group, you probably aren’t suddenly going to find it acceptable when you are out. It still holds a threatening place to many. But even so, just as medicine has value, mind medicine also has value, and survivors who do take advantage of therapeutic methods may end up with an advantage.

Moyers suggests that naming your losses and also those things you gained by leaving “can go a long way towards helping someone move through a necessary grief process. The depression that an ex-member may feel is a normal and understandable response to a very real loss.”

He also points out the “double loss” that ex-members from these groups have to deal with. They aren’t understood by family and friends still in the group, and they aren’t understood by those outside. To the world, any member of an unorthodox group is probably going to seem weird. Moyers says they are therefore “misunderstood and isolated.”

Another article on the deep repercussions of spiritual abuse comes from the churchabuse.com site. Titled Spiritual Identity Crisis? this article describes the loss that comes after spiritual abuse as a void, as the stealing of our identity. The anonymous author says that when we let our identity be taken by these groups, we are “forced to manage our own identity again” after the leader is no longer a part of our lives.

The author likens the process to brain surgery. Afterwards, you have to learn all kinds of basic skills all over again. It’s not impossible, but it can take a long time.

Here is a very powerful description from the article on what happens: “When we turned our back on the pastor/group, it was equal to abandoning God in our minds. In our desire to please the group/leader, we learned to become people pleasers, which caused us to abandon our own identity. We replaced who we were on a very deep spiritual level with the identity of the group/leader. We emptied ourselves out and took on the group mentality. After we escape this process, we find ourselves feeling empty and fractured. This is not because God is gone, but rather, because we abandoned our self identity.”

No wonder we who have escaped controlling groups often wander around aimlessly, almost in a state of shock sometimes. The central core of who we are has been manipulated and distorted. When we no longer have purpose, when we have lost our own identity, everything we do can seem futile, worthless.

The author describes what can happen when you feel this way. Some will stop reading the Bible or going to church for a while. Some are exhausted and stop working to please others, focusing on self. Others find it hard even to make decisions or perform simple, daily functions. Some cannot form their own opinions. Some will struggle for years.

But the article does end on a positive note. It says that though it is hard to do these basic things, you CAN take back your life again. Like atrophied muscles, your decision-making powers just have to start being exercised again, and eventually they can get into shape.

So if you are dealing with a sense of futility after leaving a spiritually abusive situation, what do you do?

Recognize, first, that you aren’t alone. What you are experiencing is a common reaction to the manipulations of a spiritually abusive group.

Second, be careful that in your haste to avoid all the negative fallout you don’t immediately seek refuge in another abusive group. Keep eyes and ears open!

Third, recognize that you might have to take a break from church and church-related activities for a while. It might feel strange and seem wrong, but until your discernment skills are given a chance to be strengthened, and until you have “decompressed” or “detoxed” it might be necessary.

Fourth, list the negatives of being in the group as well as the gains from being out of it.

Fifth, talk about your experience and read about the experiences of others on sites such as this one. When you’ve lived under repressive systems for a long time, chances are there was an unspoken “don’t talk” rule. You feel like you’re gossiping every time you mention your negative experiences. You weren’t. You were being controlled. Now it’s time to get it all out in the open.

Sixth, pray. Even if you’re not sure who God is anymore. It’s okay. It really can’t hurt to pray.

If these authors are right, and I think they are, eventually you will be able to find purpose and light and hope again, though it may take time.


Provender
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For more, please visit Provender"A clearinghouse of sources on spiritual abuse and cult-like practices in churches and groups." It provides a wealth of information, hope, and encouragement. Many, many thanks for your contribution to Quivering Daughters.