In February, 2011, I had recently joined a “survivors group” of young people (I like to pretend I can call myself young) who were figuring out how to break free of a cult-like organization called IBLP/ATI (Institute in Basic Life Principles/Advance Training Institute). At a young age, I had become involved in this institution, my Mama even trying to get us into the homeschooling program, My dad stopped her by threatening a lawsuit, which was awesome. Her abusive ways would have made the isolated life of homeschooling unbearable for us. When the board heard about my dad’s threats, they “prayed about it” and God told them not to allow my Mama to homeschool us. Funny how that happens.
The survivors group was exactly what I needed at the time. I was beginning my walk out of Christianity and religion as a whole. This group was all over the spectrum. Some were still struggling with what they felt was the bastardized definition of ‘grace’. Some still believed in the inerrant and infallible word of God. Some, the ones that I gravitated toward, considered themselves “apostates,” against the grain, if you will. Some of them were even rabid atheists.
So I began to blog. I walked out of religion as I wrote. My blog became very popular in that circle. I found my voice in the anti-fundamentalist crowd. I befriended (I pretend) bloggers like Libby Anne from Love, Joy, Feminism, Lewis Wells from Commandments of Men, Steve Wells, the author of The Skeptics Annotated Bible, etc. My blog was getting 1000 hits a day, sometimes 5000, when I did a series.
People began to come out of the woodwork and asked me to publish their stories of religious or sexual abuse. I did that. Some religious people fell or went into hiding. Others ignored me and moved on with their lives, hurting more victims. Some of those that had their stories published turned their futures into something beautiful. Others are still struggling, but are still beautiful. Still others are drifting around.
Then I watched as bloggers in my sphere became popular. They not only had found their voice, but others found them intriguing. Worthwhile to start a movement that branched out from anti-fundamentalism, moving into more mainstream causes. Fighting homeschooling abuse. Fighting for the rights of women and minorities. They made money at what they did.
But I got bored. I had written for my journey out of religion and now I was done with the subject. I watched as the survivors group added more people who breathlessly thanked the group for helping them get out. Years after I had worked myself out of the need for explanations of why women didn’t need to wear dresses, and grace vs. works, and other weirdisms that the normal world doesn’t give two shits about, I was spent. I didn’t care about it all anymore.
But it was all I knew. And it was what most people had come to my blog for. Anti-religion. And it got my page hits. And I was addicted to page hits.
So I pushed myself to keep writing. Then I found that I could create havoc on my blog if I pushed a juicy morsel in politics. The pitchfork subject of the day would bring in the screamers. I could harness the angst of my choir by just saying a bad word about Trump. About Tony Perkins. Ted Cruz. Name the right-leaning politician – I could find and write about good dirt. I enjoyed spouting off faux rage. I tried to be articulate, but nobody cared about wisdom. That’s not what drives page clicks.
It wasn’t long before I discovered a common thread that wove its way through my blogging. Something that I enjoyed doing. Something that brought freaking tears to my cheeks, every single time I touched someone with my words and stories.
I loved writing about my kids. My own life. Normal stuff. Day to day goings on. Slightly embellished for a good laugh, but mostly, not embellished at all.
Last night, my two oldest daughters asked me for the links to my two blogs. A few minutes later, I heard them giggling. Then laughing loudly. Then spontaneous reading aloud to their siblings or me, the subjects of my ancient posts. They read stories from 2011. 2016. Stories of school. Parks. Simple things. We laughed together about the realizations that I wrote about each kid that still held true today. Fred and his girlfriends. Laura and her need to have everything be fair and in control. Felicity and her warmth. Analisse and her freakishness. Jack and his perfect love. Renaya and her…well…she’s just everything you want in a kid.
In short, my heart was full. My kids were appreciating what I wrote.
“Renaya, did you read that thing I wrote about God, the other day?”
“Nope! That’s boring.”
My audience is small. And they are who I want to write for. I love them with everything I am.