Monday, November 07, 2005

Broken lives
More real-life stories from readers. ATI cannot be blamed for all of this family's suffering, but notice the Institute's holier-than-thou response.

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I grew up with ATI, I even went to the first CI they held in Knoxville, whenever that was. My mom followed all the rules for raising a good, upright family. My dad appeared to be a moral father, doing things right down to a wisdom search at the crack of dawn. They had 7 kids, I'm the firstborn. We were with the program til about two and a half years ago, when my mom discovered that he was looking at porn. She took her first step away from the submissive wife deal by kicking him out of the house, saying he couldn't return til he had seen a counselor and confessed to everything. She got more of a confession than she was expecting. Turns out my dad was hiding his pedophilia behind the whole "good ATI father" facade. Needless to say, our lives were turned upside down immediately. The government started investigating the situation, sending DCF (Department of Children and Families) agents over to our house unexpectedly every once in a while. My parents wound up getting a divorce, which was necessary because my father did not seem to be actually sorry for what he did, making excuses and justifying it to no end. If my mother had stayed with him, she would have lost the kids. So she divorced him. She wanted to stay in ATI at first, appealing to the higher powers in the system, explaining our situation, but they insisted that she had done something morally wrong by divorcing my dad, regardless of his HUGE issue. She the moderator for an online ATI mom's group, but they kicked her out of that too, and the other moms in the group gave her the same opinion that she should have stayed submissive to her husband.

Anyway, the next year or so was a blur of various legal struggles. My mom was struggling hand and foot trying to make ends meet, trying to keep her kids, going to school so she could get a real job, and trying to find a job in the meantime. Listen, I loved my mom before this whole thing started, but I never admired her as much as I do now. For a while, the court system was trying to blame my mom for the whole thing, saying that if she had been married to him for 16 years, how could she not have known? Eventually, and after a whole lot of stress, painful reality checks, and rude awakenings, they decided she was a good enough mother to keep her kids and let the case go. They never did convict my dad, but they left the case open so they can convict him later if the evidence arises.

During those two years, I was so angry at everyone it was unbelievable. I hated ATI, I hated my dad, I was even mad at my mom. I wasn't allowed to know for a while why he wasn't there anymore, I only knew that my dad had suddenly dissappeared, so I didn't know who to blame. I buried myself in "bad" music. I screamed with Linkin Park, Evanescence, and P.O.D., among others. My brothers and sisters and I huddled together in one of the bedrooms sometimes just crying and talking, trying to figure out among ourselves what the hell was going on with our family. We didn't understand, our family had been such a role model to everyone around us. On a side note, have you ever noticed the way a lot of ATI members take pride in not being proud? We did that. Anyway, we got through that period with the help of a lot of people, mostly NOT ATI. We had been going to a large contemporary church in our area, occasionally thinking we should probably find a different one because it was so not ATI. But they helped us so much. We needed food, clothes, yard work, help with housework, a whole lot of stuff. Everybody helped. We had people coming over to help watch the kids, people cooking for us, people cleaning for us, it was beautiful.

All in all, our rude awakening did us a lot of good, I think. Granted, none of us have completely gotten over it, we still have plenty of problems, but ultimately we're better off. Now I'm 18, in college, supporting myself and renting an apartment with 4 other college kids (guys too, horrors!), and still learning to function normally in society. My family is doing fine, the house is usually clean now, my sister knows how to tile a floor, and my mom is working in a pediatrician's office. My mom and 16 year old sister are in college, my brother is in junior ROTC or some such kid military thing coping with his anger. We're all still kinda screwed up, but we're still moving along. Keep this site going, please!

-Anonymous

42 Comments:

Anonymous A pig I am! Oink! said...

They thought she should have stayed married to a PEDOPHILE!?!?!? My gosh.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. That is sad. And they say this program has helped so many families.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story brought tears to my eyes. .... Yes, I am not surprised that ATI / IBLP believes it is never right to divorce even in these kinds of circumstances.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Never-ati'er said...

I always find it sad, yet not surprising, how people that are not "In" the circumstances are so quick to point out how one has chosen the wrong path, like here where your Mom has divorced. I would say your Mom is a very courageous and strong person to have kicked your Dad out knowing that this would be a VERY tough row to hoe.

Even more embarrassing is how the "typical" church member is so quick to burn their own church members at the stake for going against the church way. I must applaude your church members for their support during your family's time of need.

The ATI mom's group that your mother was part of has missed out on her wisdom, lessons learned, and life's experiences that any one of them could face themselves, if not for the grace of God. It may have helped them by having her "out of sight, out of mind", but I suspect, your Mom also benefits by not having to deal with the straight and narrow minded. When you are thrown a curve ball, you can let it pass by and hope it isn't a strike or take a swing and do your best. By doing nothing, one has chosen not to try...it is obvious your Mom is a player, not a spectator. Too bad she was moderating in a group of spectators! :)

And lastly, I applaude your local government for finally seeing that your Mom was doing her best for you and your siblings, even though it took for a while for them to see the truth. Our government is not perfect, but with God's guiding hand, they can do the right thing.

Let the healing continue...

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. I came from a single-parent home myself. My father left my mother before we joined ATI, and, even though the divorce was not "her fault," people still blamed her indirectly within the program. When my mother was having problems with us during our normal, tumultious teenage years, Mr. Gothard once told my mother to her face in front of one of my siblings that it was amazing we had turned out so well in spite of my mother (who had singlehandedly reared us). Yeah, way to support a single mom. When an extended (yet close) family member of ours was found to have similar problems to that of the father in the above post, Mr. Gothard blamed my mother (again, to her face in front of one of my siblings) for not bing close enough to God to predict and prevent this family member's moral demise. Ironically, this was said to her during the time Mr. Voeller had been having an affair right under the noses of the HQ staff for almost a year. Of course, when that all came out shortly thereafter, we, as a family, couldn't help applying that same logic to Mr. Gothard for obvious reasons.

After hearing Mr. Gothard say so many things personally to me and my family that have gone against what he even teaches, I really hate what this program has done to this family, my family, and others. Those who insist that ATI is innocent in its motives should really experience what it is like to have Mr. Gothard try to personally "fix" their family and then see what happens. That's when you realize how screwed up ATI really is.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That made me cry (I only cry once a year). What an unexpected thing to come about. Good on your Momma for handling her business. That is a super suck deal & it sounds like you are coming up really well. Glad that this hasn't jaded you from church people. Sounds like they really came through for you. (Surprises me though, I don't attend anymore) Glad that you & your family got the love that you needed. Billy G is an idealist and never has any answers for people that live outside utopia. Much love to you and your family.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Vegan Hunter said...

To the OP ... I admire your strength and your will to move on.

If only this story were an isolated incident.

In the mid/late 80s, ATI and many families in the program came down very hard on a woman who'd kicked her H out when she found out he'd molested their teenage daughter. The daughter had serious post-trauma syndrome and couldn't cope at all when the father was around, but BG and many in the program "rebuked" the woman for "tearing her family apart."

To the OP again ... good for you for living with guys. I've found normal contact with regular guys/men to be an important part of the process of finding some kind of balance in my views on men.

3:45 AM  
Blogger prairie girl said...

This post brings up something that I think needs further exploration.

We were in the ATI program for about 10 years and have been out of it for another 11 years. We knew a family whose father also was a pedophile and was seen as the perfect homeschooling family. It is interesting...we visited in their home and everything, I mean everything was perfect.

We have also known those in weird fundamentalist camps, as in Hyles-Anderson. At one point, a group of pastors in Indiana tried to hold Jack Hyles accountable for his weird sexual practices but never were able to get any traction. At that same time, it came out that quite a few young men from H-A had molested teen girls they worked with as preacher boys in these churches. One of them was in our small hometown.

I am just wondering why this is the case. Is it because perverts are attracted to fundamentalist churches? Is it because these men are sexually repressed?

My own guess is that it is just like what we have seen in the Catholic church....it is all about power and control rather than sex. But one way that these people exhibit their control-freakness is to sexually use others. These church scandals aren't about sex, they are about power.

My heart really goes out to those who are so bound up in this madness. There are no formulas for raising Godly children, for being Godly people. It is by God's grace alone that we make it through a single day.

A few weeks ago I was a speaker at a retreat for homeschooling mothers. I talked about building a relationship with your children rather than placing your kids in some sort of program where they are expected to follow man's rules. I knew there would be a few ATI and other likeminded moms there. I think that so often the mom is the one who so desperately wants her family to be a godly family and she will put pressure where it needn't be.

Anyway, some random thoughts. X-ATi guy, keep up the good work.

4:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something interesting I just heard...Oak Brook College of Law has seen a huge increase in enrollment this year but 75% of the new students do not have ATI background.

4:06 AM  
Blogger prairie girl said...

Check out this site for a great read about spiritual abuse in fundy circles. It will blow your mind.

http://holycall.com/jspurgeon/tales/TFTT1.HTM

4:09 AM  
Blogger joy said...

"My brothers and sisters and I huddled together in one of the bedrooms sometimes just crying and talking, trying to figure out among ourselves what the hell was going on with our family."

That could be my family. Different scenario but similiar results: rejection by many calling themselves Christians. How easy it is to "discern" the "root cause" of a terrible situation and point a finger at the offending parties. But did Jesus ever command us to deliver edicts? He did not. But He did command us to love unconditionally.

When my family was going through our dreadful time, I learned that everybody has a story. Everybody has had something happen to them that has shaken their core. And everybody desperately wants to be loved.

So I read these stories of hurting people rejected by the church (and para-church) and I see people around me who are going through rough times and all I can do is love. I cannot right any wrongs or fix their problems, but I can love them. Unconditionally and without reserve. Because that is what Christ does for me.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wise woman to get herself and her children out of that situation!

As far as ATI's response to her divorce, that's typical and seems to be the reaction of most of those in the ATI program. Truly sad and heartbreaking!

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow...i feel for you and your family. you're mother is a trooper, a survivor, and a true protector of her children...and that runs circles around being a "saint" anyday. if she'd stayed with your dad, the heartache and hurt would have totally destroyed all of you. i work with sexually abused children and can't tell you how many times i've asked myself why the mother didn't get away from the boyfriend, husband, etc. staying for "love" is no different than staying for pride and no better.

bless you all. keep you friends now...they'll help you through. and keep each other safe, although everyone does need some time alone to catch bearings and find their identity now. i'm so glad you all love each other, and you have a perfect example of that in your mother's actions.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Vegan Hunter said...

Prairie Girl, while your tip to the moms about building an authentic relationship with their kids rather than binding them to a system of rules is a good one, I'm not sure that those who need this advice are able to understand it. In my family at least, the parents chose the program because they were incapable of forming wholesome relationships with their kids. (Their relationship with each other is a related mystery.)

My parents desperately =need= a rigid structure outside of themselves in order to survive. If they hadn't found ATI, they'd have found something else. After they left ATI, they found Jeff Barth, Jonathan Lindvall and other "leaders", and of course continued to use ATI/IBLP materials.

Presumably not all ATI parents are this way - I knew plenty of ATI families where the kids seemed to communicate much more openly with their parents than we did with ours and where the parents took actual interest in their kids as humans - but the rigidity will certainly draw those who need it.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow.... you really did this well.... yeah, I'm the sixteen year old sister.... ATI guy your awesome!!! I love what you do here.... but I have a question.... do you guys think EVERYONE is as messed up as this? I mean could it be that we empower these types of people by sheltering families.... I do belivew that there is a line between what is good and bad and what is and is not appropriate for some people.... but when there is such a face value put on things, I mean all we start to focus on is how we LOOK to other people (example: the whole long skirts and such) we LOOK like we're "striving for excellence" but in the end, we've only created a clever disguuise for a really sick human being.... maybe I'm all wrong.... I do that alot, but it just bothers me that we've cleaned the outside, but the inside is all massed up.... you know in every shelter, there's alot of shadow, this rings true in shelterd llives as well.... shadows are very good places to hide....

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

16 and in college. same here. x-ati same here. what school are yopu going to. i'm going to a community college in richmond VA and i am planning to transfer to VMI

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comunity college in Floria.... cool....

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

vegan hunter---RIGHT ON! some people are so torn down before, during and after their conversion experience (or any religious "transformation", including immersion into IBLP)that they feel they are totally incapable of having a good relationship with their kids. there's so much fear of failure (and Gothard totally preys on it.) he has never tried to empower parents to love their children unconditionally.
it's OK to protect your kids from TV, church youth group, grandparents and other unbelieving relatives, kids clubs, babysitters,public school, sugar, white bread, prescription drugs, organized sports, Barbies, the Beatles, and college, BUT...
living with a pedophile is OK? even a separation with hopes of reconcliation would be living in ignorance of the situation and danger. something is seriously wrong here. now we know that his stand for parental protection is conditional, just as conditional as parental love.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey...not sure if it's acceptable to pass on helpful links on this blog, so set me straight if needed. i've been doing a lot of research regarding spiritual abuse and those who decide to leave fundamentalism. my own experience in ati definitely has something to do with this. this family will be healing for the rest of their lives, and that is a good thing, not negative. sounds like they have the basis set---a strong, protective mom who is willing to go to any lengths to protect herself and her children, even ostracism by the authorities she was indoctrinated to revere. finding the right resources for yourself is a step in the right direction.
one helpful site in particular is this one...
http://www.marlenewinell.com/

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's sad is that in many of these mega-organizations, not just ATI, you'll find some pretty messed up people who hide behind their rules that lurk in leadership As long as they look good, play the part and drag the party line, their life outside the micro world can be completely corrupt. I think ATI has gotten to the point where the original intent has been severely diluted and you have a lot of the aforementioned people in leadership. It's not surprising they've had Mr. Voeller run away with a staffer, the poster family McKim’s testimony ruined by their run away children, many problems with promiscuity at the training centers, and Mr. Gothard's brother playing the Casanova with young HQ girls early on. Much like the Catholic Church and its recent problems, when you preach rules that have no real life applicability, regimented traditions and a system where access to God is based on deeds and your connection with your authorities, SIN will creep in.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Semirrahge said...

Wow.

What incomparible tragedy. You and your family all have my sympathy and support, for what it's worth.

To those of you who wonder why these fundie programs tend to hide paradoxically perverse behavior...

First of all I don't think that the progams CAUSE this behavior. Everyone is always responsible for their own actions, right and wrong. Nothing makes anyone bad, the same as nothing makes anyone good. That comes only from within the person. It's not IBLP's fault that these men do evil.

Secondly, I want to add that fundie programs attract people like this because those people are stuck.
I am someone who understands the drives that would push someone to do these horrible things. My personality leans toward oppression, perversion, depression and selfishness. In the past I struggled desparately with deep, manic depression, sexual perversion and sadism.
By God's grace and infinite mercy He has granted me freedom from these leanings, but it has been a long and very hard road.

I want readers to know my past so they can understand that I truly mean what I say next.
I know what it feels like to be that father who molests his kids. I know what it feels like to be the person who stares at a gun, contemplating suicide.
I know how it feels to want to inflict pain on others.
And by extension, I understand what would drive someone to inflict pain upon themselves.

I live today without antidepressants and without psychological help. These problems were between me and God, and I knew that we were the only ones who could fix them.

Now, maybe I can stop rambling and get to my point. :)
People who do these things in secret are ashamed of them. It takes a very long time to bury that sense of shame and guilt.
They know they are doing wrong, but they can't stop. They feel out of control and powerless to change their lives. And, because they hurt so much, they can't admit to anyone, even themselves, that a problem exists.
They are, moreso than anyone else, desparate for anything to help them feel better about themselves. They are willing to do just about anything to stop the pain inside.

These fathers who escape the the fundie way attach themselves so wholeheartedly to it for a couple reasons, but mainly because they feel they are finally taking action against these issues that plague them.
They feel that by raising their families in these rigid, structured ways will prevent by sheer force the continuance of the problem.

What they fail to comprehend is that the problem is not the actions, or even the thoughts behind the actions.
The problem always boils down to pride, selfishness and the unwillingness to submit to the control of anyone but themselves.
For years I fought submission to God because there were things I didn't want to do. When I realised that by following my will for my destiny, I was actively destroying my life; and at that point I realised the truth: Following God couldn't be any worse than where I had taken myself.

However, I digress again. The point remains that people like this place rigid structures of behavioral limits around their lives in order to force themselves out of their flaws.
There are habits I began years ago that are so strong I STILL do them, even though the behaviors I fought with them are no longer an issue.
However, all those walls do is force you into ever more creative ways to get around them. And the more creative you get, the more suspicious you get of others.
So these fathers fear their children will follow in their hidden footsteps and apply their restrictions indiscriminately to their families.

There are other reasons for parents placing harsh rules on their familes, but invariably they all boil down to the same root issues.

The truth is no one is capable of love until they love God.
For years I knew that I didn't love anyone. I couldn't, because I didn't love myself. (Ok, this is a tricky issue, but I will spare you the psychology for now.)
I didn't love God, because I was terrified of Him and His Wrath. I didn't love my parents because they (I told myself) could never understand me and my problems, and they were also avengers of evil.

But knowing I didn't love caused me ages of grief, and only in the last two or three years have I truly understood that God LOVES me personally, more than anyone else in the world - more, even, than I can comprehend.

So the problem with fundie groups is that they do not understand that sanctification - the process of becoming holy before God - ONLY comes from God.
I believe that this comes from a lack of faith, which comes (in part, at least) from a failure to trust in God's word.

I don't know if I made my point, but I think this has gone on far too long.

What do you think?

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Matthew Sesser said...

Semirrahge, right on. I know exactly where you're coming from. I don't hate ATI because it's not the problem. I do hate satan because he destroys lives and I hate sin because it seperates people from God's love and mercy. If only everyone would repent and THEN turn from their wicked ways. Anyway, great post.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Semirrahge, I have rarely read something so open and honest before. I think that every single one of us X-ATI guy readers could admit to our own dark secrets and shadows, but are too afraid. For you to come out and lay it on the table is admirable.

Your post makes me think of the love of God - a God who loves us so unconditionally and picks us up and holds us when we hurt. Without Him, I don't know where I would be.

Thank you.

5:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok.... sixteen year old sister again.... I see alot of wisdom in what you say.... I agree wholheartedly with many of the points you brought up, but it's so hard to.... I want to say forgive, but thats not the word.... maybe excuse this behavior, although your right that they join programs like this to show a better life than thier own.... but I mean.... have you ever heard the saying "what you don't know can't hurt you"? I disagree, I never knew about my dad, but it hurt me, I started to look at pornography at a very young age, I was constantly hungering for attention, but all this only made me feel dirty (I realise that it's not my dad's fault for these, they are my own sins) but if I had known about my dad I would have been able to fight this along side of him.... basically if he wanted to make OUR lives better, shouldn't he have STOPPED DOING WHAT HE WAS DOING???!!! I have to go to school.... but I'll come back to this in a bit....

5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

.... ok but I if the fathers wanted to change things, shouldn't they have brought about the change by using the wisdom searches, or by the relationship they had with their homeschooled children, what about the relationship with their wives? why is it that all of the basics about childcare and marriage were disregarded? isn't truth the basis of all relationships? is confesion only for the Catholics? what happened to a strong role model? if we hide our sins in the shadows, eventually they overpower us. I can't try to say I hate my dad for what he did, but he broke my heart. I forgave him for everything he did, but he never was sorry, he got off home free, he lives his life as he pleases, it's my mom who crys at night, it's my brothers who are lost without a male role model, it's me and my sisters who feel abandoned, yes we've forgiven, but we still hurt. what is freedom if there is no repentance? I hate injustice!!! this is all so wrong, nobody can ever win, and yet everybody loses.

6:56 AM  
Blogger prairie girl said...

Whie I agree that some people place themselves in circles with legalistic standards because they want help, I also think that there are many people who honestly believe that there is a formula for themselves and for their children that will bring about success. It comes back to a bad theology, a wrong view of who God is and what role he plays in our salvation and our walk.

I just finished a book that I think would be helpful to anyone reading here who is struggling with who God is. While I do not subscribe to all of what the author says, he seems to be able to strip away all the useless stuff that is tied to Christianity and the whole book is the most real thing I have read in decades. It is called "Blue Like Jazz" and the author is Don Miller. Check out his website at
www.donaldmillerwords.com.

I am recommending this book to anyone who has been through spiritual abuse and has a hard time even believing that God exists.

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the 16 y/o sister...i can attest to the tragedy of parents not being open with their children about struggles and problems. my mom felt so strongly against immorality that it became her complete vision and goal in raising me and my sister. her past "failures" and hurts caused her to experience guilt and pain in a way that i feel took over her life. becoming a christian, to her, and joining up with gothard's teachings really did, she thought, "give her a new approach to life", one that could completely erase and undo the past to the point that it would not affect her or her kids---ever. that's a total, all out LIE. then, when my sis and i came of age and started experiencing life on our own...making some normal but not-so-smart decisions, my mother came completey unglued and managed to nearly tear our family apart with her rejection of us. she had wanted us to think she was perfect, but it would have been more helpful to me for my mom to talk to me as a woman who faced the heartbreaks and decisions of normal life. learning to deal with men as human beings, not as authority figures who make all the decisions would have been a nice start. for you, having a father who treasured (with realism) your sexuality and need to understand the normal stages of sexual interest and development would have been great. he was neither comfortable enough nor healthy enough for that, and you suffered for it.

the problem with gothard is that he makes people think that they can somehow escape all heartache, problems, and learning from mistakes if they follow his formula. that's a lie, too. your family knows that. his emphasis on the power of authority separates children from their parents' human experiences, and therefore the lessons learned that bring actual wisdom for living.

the hardest part of day in a dysfunctional family is night, when everyone goes to their beds, no matter how "together" they were all day long, and only has their own thoughts and pain to lie down with them. no one to interrupt your thought process, or tell you to pretend it doesn't exist or that it's wrong to feel, or to ask you if you're meditating enough. i've been there. if someone were to have walked into our house in the middle of the night, i think they would have heard six people weeping...the walls would have given us away. i do not suppose for one second that we had everyone fooled...i've heard enough from my mom's siblings that when she and dad jumped on the religious bandwagon, they felt like it was a lousy attempt to get away from the hurt caused by both their fathers' alcoholism and abuse...and they simply substituted "god" as an addiction to ease their pain.

for that reason, i see myself as the adult child of an alcoholic now, even though i've never seen my parents drink. the actions and attitudes they display are imbedded in who they are, and no number of basic seminars, ati or even church can change that. they simply WOULD NOT acknowledge that they had any issues that couldn't be taken care of with prayer and just "trying harder". i have to do that for myself, and maybe they will later.

thank you for speaking up. i can't say that i know everything you're going through, dear, but you just keep talking. talk until you don't think you can talk anymore. bill gothard doesn't have the edge on journaling...keep one that is true, private, and honest to your feelings. there are many, many teenagers who have experienced betrayals like this...what's so sad about your case is that your parents did a great job of tying their actions and decisions so tightly to the nature and will of god that he doesn't seem to be much of an help sometimes, at lteast in my humble opinion. he will be there, though, and you can count on that. your dad is NOT off the hook. if i remember correctly, the case is still open and further evidence being collected. eventually he will face that. where your family is concerned, it's up to you guys to heal. he apparently can't and won't. heal each other, heal yourselves. god will help show you how and people will come into your life who provide love, wisdom and understanding of the situation...i know this first hand. it takes lots of time, just be patient.

much love to you all...

9:59 AM  
Blogger Semirrahge said...

I don't really have time just now to comment properly on everything, but I have to say this about justice:

God is not mocked. His will _IS_ done, regardless of how man may fight it. It takes a great effort on our part to rest in that, but given time, you will learn - as I have - that it is the truth.

Something that I have come to treasure are God's promises - not the promises the IBLP and most Christians like to throw around, but rather promises that only those who have suffered through many storms.

David was called the man after God's own heart. This man who committed adultery, then killed her husband - a man so loyal to David that he was one of his top generals, a 'mighty man' of Israel, even - to cover up his crime... This man, who we would shun as vile beyond measure - was considered by God to be next to His heart.

When I began to understand that... My heart broke before the Lord. The truth is that God WILL finish the work He began in you. Of whom much is asked, much will be required - and we who have come through the fires have given ever so much.

Those who suffer greatly do not - in contrast to the teachings of IBLP - have a greater measure of God's grace. How can you have more than infinite?
What we do have is a greater UNDERSTANDING of that grace. We can understand love, because we are loved - truly loved.

Your life is NOT a mistake, and if you strive to follow God in all things you are NOT a failure. It is well within His abilities to give His beauty for your ashes, His glory for your shame, His eternal success for your failure.

That's all I have time for now - but remember that. It's true. I'm proof.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Viki said...

Hello people, this is the writer of the post... I just wanted to say thanks for all your comments, especially those who recognized what a great person my mom is. She cried when I showed her. Thanks for the support!

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anytime! your blog is really good, too! glad you have such strong support from your bf...amazing, isn't it?!

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My brothers and sisters and I huddled together in one of the bedrooms sometimes just crying and talking, trying to figure out among ourselves what the hell was going on with our family." - And it also sounds like MY family.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Semirrahge-- Thank you for being so honest. That was a great post! (I mean the first one) I appreciate you.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous sixteen year old sister said...

Thank you guys.... that's totally awesome, this whole thing really made me think....

6:34 AM  
Blogger Semirrahge said...

I talk too much and tend to hijack threads. I think I'll leave this alone because it's not my intention to steal the focus from the family.

I appreciate being appreciated, of course, but my only intention for writing my story was to remind everyone that regardless of the depravity of someone, we cannot hate them for their sins.
As hard as it is... But I have found that the more I comprehend what God has forgiven of me, the easier it is for me to love others.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How can you have more than infinite?"
I love that quote~Thanks for sharing your journey and hard won wisdom.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Annie said...

Great story!
Sometimes I think we despise the things that have created us to be the people we are today.
What greater thing can we tell those around us than what God has done in our lives?
I applaude you. I applaude your mother and your siblings.
I feel proud of you all even though I dont know you!
Two Wiggly Thumbs Up,
Annie

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story. What a great testimony and hopefully one you can look back on someday and praise God for. Here's another great place to post your stories from ATI. http://independentspirits.net

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I come a bit late to the table here but I wanted to say three things:

Your mom IS amazing! Please remind her of that continually.

Secondly, Semirrahge, I always enjoy your posts. Keep being yourself.

Lastly, I really, really want to second the recommendation of the book "Blue Like Jazz." While completely unrelated to ATI, it's a wonderful book that I'd encourage any Christian to read, particularly those that have suffered under legalism.

Be blessed--and X-er, keep up the great site!

6:53 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

wow, that is sad.

I believe that the Bible warrants divorce in such a situation, I heard RC Sproul speak on the topic once.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a woman whose husband went through pornography addiction and as a child that was oppressed by ATI standards I applaud this woman for the decision she made. How dare any person say that it is okay to leave a child in a situation that is so harmful. Shame on Bill G. and his legalistic views. He must have gone through some really terrible things in his childhood to feel that he has to atone for each and every sin he has committed.

A friend turned me on to this blog yesterday and all I have to say is PRAISE GOD for all the strong beautiful people that see ATI for what it really is. God wants us, just us to love him and to serve him with everything that we possess and sometimes that means divorcing your husband. That didn't happen to me but it came really, really close. I didn't have seven children to think about.

We are called as believers to love each other and support each other and I am horrified by ATI's blatant disregard for the safety of children. God gives us instincts and sometimes we need to follow them.

To that mother... "you are more precious than gold".

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Something not so far off happened to my family when I was younger. And I know for a fact that HQ and Logan? guided my parents through dealing with the situation in such a way that my sister was the subject of continual physical abuse and hatred for the next eight years until she ran away underage. There was something about what she did (details are sketchy, I was young) that reminded my mom of her past and she resolved that no cost (including the deliberate destruction of my sister in nearly every possible way) was too high to rid the family of this strain of sin. Something about the forefathers' sin doctrine I think had her feeling very guilty and she resolved to eliminate the root cause by any means possible. Strangely enough, I don't remember my dad having any anguish over how he might have sinned so as to cause a 'leaky umbrella' exposing her to such crazy temptation. How it all happened blows my mind. We were a very sheltered ATI family for some time by then, no possibly 'ungodly' influences, couldn't even communicate to most extended family or people at church. Many nights I would come to her room so she had someone to talk to in the middle of the night. Its still hard to think about.
Anyway, on the topic of why twisted people are attracted to ATI and other rules-and-good-works kind of organizations, I can only relate why I was into it with zeal. I had a conscience that bothered me when I was doing wrong. I balanced the guilt by doing something above and beyond what I had to. And as I personally sunk deeper in wretched sin, I correspondingly developed more godly disciplines, made more commitments, and sought God more desperately. This inconsistency eventually plunged me into deep depression, and finally I discarded the good stuff and was just myself. After seven years of spiritual landslide, I just discovered a bit ago for the first time the experience of God's unmerited grace and that victory does not come from 'commitments to try harder.' Freedom. From self loathing, from the perversion of the Gospel a la IBLP (Gal 1).
Sorry I said so much. Not trying to take away from the hardship of the OP, my troubles hardly compare. Just seconding the experience and excited that there is hope.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the ATI families were not like you said they were. I want to hear both sides, not just yours. It is obvious that you are trying to justify your actions...a life in sin. I feel for you, may you realize your horrible error

2:54 PM  

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