I started Here’s the Joy in 2009, after I had undergone a period of spiritual darkness and then a great uplifting of soul. For the previous several years, the Word of God had been opening to me in a way I hadn’t seen it in my 35 years of Bible study, and I was seeing the beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This blog was simply for my devotional thoughts. If a few friends read it, I was happy. If one person said, “That really helped me,” I was ecstatic. When I got eight comments on a blog post once, I was bowled over.
But the Lord has a way of turning things around and upside down and inside out.
In 2006 the dire situation of a new friend introduced me to the darkness and evil of domestic abuse in fundamentalist and evangelical churches.
My learning curve was extremely steep—when my friend told me later that I had said hardly anything the whole first year we knew each other, I told her it was because I was just listening and learning. When my friend gave me a book about abuse, I read it twice, highlighting and underlining, and asking her questions.
For about three years I joined this friend in her church counseling sessions. Through that I personally witnessed how church leaders didn’t fully understand abuse, its effects, or how to help those who had been targeted. This experience was an immensely important education for me.
In 2012, through another friend, I was introduced to the darkness and evil of sexual abuse in the evangelical church and the spiritual abuse that enables it. Again, my learning curve was extremely steep. This friend and others were very patient with me.
I watched on social media as Scriptures were twisted in regard to telling abuse survivors to stop being bitter, stop gossiping, only consider their own sin, and more. I began to be very outspoken about these things. Though I was still learning myself, I felt a passion to look at matters of abuse both Biblically and logically. With a team of fellow administrators I began to do this at BJUGrace.
“Rebecca, I think your strength is analysis,” a friend said.
“Thank you,” I said. “It’s good to know I have a strength.”
I took her thoughts and ran with them. As I asked the Lord how I could help combat the evil of abuse in the church, He made it clear that combating spiritual abuse was the niche He had for me.
In 2014-2015 I collaborated with two pastors to write two books on abuse, one about sexual abuse in the church, and one about domestic abuse in the church.
Then I wrote my first solo adult book, based on blog posts I had written in response to those who were telling others to give up their rights, get rid of that root of bitterness, and stop “taking up offenses” for others.
That was the first Untwisting Scriptures book, in 2016. And THAT was when I finally changed over this blog about joy in Christ, to begin using it as a platform to expose and speak truth regarding religious abuse. I finally saw how the two purposes meshed.
So if a blog called “Here’s the Joy” sometimes sounds a bit like grappling and wrestling, it’s only because of where the Lord has taken me. I know He’s the source of the greatest joy, and I’m thankful, over and over, to drink of His Living Water and to offer a cup of that cool water in His Name.
If I sometimes sound too strident when I speak, forgive me. Know that I have spent time—behind the blog posts—in tears. Yes, ironic, I know, for a blog called “Here’s the Joy.” An enigma, I suppose.
But can we hold them both at the same time? Knowing of the great evil being perpetrated in the world by the wicked—on an intensely personal level—and at the same time knowing the deep riches of joy that are to be found in Jesus Christ?
I believe Jesus did.
Let’s follow Him together.