Reflecting on writing my last book:
Working on my second book has got me reflecting on how difficult writing my first book was. Let me just say that so far, writing a devotional book is like a leisurely afternoon stroll in a park (with beautiful shade, butterflies, puppy dogs, and no allergies) compared to writing my memoir. Before writing that book, when I first said the words, “I grew up in a cult” on a public/social platform I was threatened, Insulted, Ridiculed, & Cursed.
Don’t get me wrong, most people were supportive of me sharing my story, but there were also many from the cult who wanted me to be quiet. As a people-pleaser by nature, those negative interactions sometimes felt overwhelming, despite the support I received. When I declared on social media that I was writing my first book, and the topic was revealed…oh boy, more curses, blackmail, threats, and manipulative statements. Saying that I was writing about my life growing up in Branhamism and outright calling it a cult in front of a mixed audience made my stomach tie itself around my heart. It was not a walk in the park to say the least; passive aggressive statements and straight up aggressive statements from old friends and strangers kept presenting themselves. Even at least one sermon that I know of preached against me in the Message believer’s church. By God’s grace I saw it through.
I’m so so thankful for the strength God gave me to write and share my story. On a daily basis I was praying for God to be with me and bless my writing. Even though I felt like one of the least equipped, I could not ignore the tug on my heart. When I published “Where the Willow Weeps”, my memoir about leaving Branhamism, I was a 21 year old gal fraught with anxiety and panic attacks, longing for people’s approval, and very non-confrontational. I would not have written that book without the Holy Spirit giving me the calling and the strength each and every step of the process. Not much has changed, except I’m a couple years older. If I could go back in time, I’d do it all over again even though it was one of the hardest things (emotionally) I’ve ever done.
I want people to know that religion doesn’t have to be a toxic place. If you read the Bible for yourself, slowly and surely you will see that Jesus is a friend to the vulnerable, confronting injustice and speaking up for the marginalized. You don’t have to EARN GOD’S LOVE. It’s a free gift to all who repent and believe. Oh and by the way, you’re allowed to doubt – Jesus’s disciples did all the time. The Bible teaches us to go out into the world and share the GOOD NEWS of the gospel because it is good news. It’s not rules and regulations, it’s recognizing that you are sinful, even when you try to white knuckle it and avoid sin, your heart is still sinful. It’s relying on God for strength in following his actual biblical rules, and when you fail it’s repenting and starting again. Jesus took on your punishment for sin so you don’t have to be good enough. Because He loves us despite our failings, not because of our self righteousness. He loved humility and is near to the repentant broken heart.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)
I was taught to be careful who I shared the teachings of Branhamism with, because people wouldn’t get it. I was taught to avoid people of the world because they might influence me to sin. That’s not the Biblical message. That’s a teaching that’s meant to keep you from leaving a toxic group. A teaching that limits your exposure to other teachings and makes you less and less accepting of people unlike yourself. Yet Jesus, and his disciples breached a variety of cultural/social barriers regularly.
I wasn’t a Christian when I was a part of Branhamism. I can’t speak for everyone in Branhamism, but the doctrines that I was taught and believed, denied the full sufficiency and supremacy of Christ and His Word. I did not display true fruit of the spirit that would be evident of a heart saved by the work of God in me. I was an avid rule follower but not a true follower of Jesus Christ. I was a true follower of William Branham. For a few years after leaving Branhamism, although I was a Christian in name, I did not understand the gospel and my need for God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.Romans 8:9 (ESV)
In the spring of 2018 everything changed. I was confronted by my own sinful nature and need for God. I dedicated my life to Christ and took it one day at a time. This past Easter Sunday, I was baptized as a public proclamation of what Jesus has done for me.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
I was raised in fear, and subsequently live with the effects of anxiety that mess with my body and emotions. Still, I will use my voice to say, “God is good, full of justice, mercy, love, and grace”. He welcomes your brokenness, and will help you with your doubts. I grew up in a cult, but have, by God’s grace been set free. I’ve experienced the free love of God first hand despite my shortcomings and I want people to know about Him.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32 (ESV)
To anyone who’s tried to shut me up: I won’t stop saying that Jesus is the only way, and I won’t stop speaking out against a cult that claims to be Christian but downplays the words and deeds of Jesus. To the best of my limited capacities, I will speak the truth.
To listen to the episode of “The Modesty Files” podcast that I was recently a guest on, and learn more about my unique experience with ‘Branhamism’ click here. Or search “The Modesty Files” wherever you listen to your podcasts.
To find my book on Kindle or paperback, “Where the Willow Weeps” and see my story in riveting detail, click here.
To join my email list for my next 2 books, (a devotional book for people struggling with anxiety or depression and a comprehensive guide to mental health from a Biblical and clinical perspective) click here.