The other day I was driving to Gabby's house and it was one of the first really cold fall days. It occured to me that four years ago, I was being kicked out of Mercy because I was "too much" and they honestly believed I was possessed or something. At first as I thought about this I felt very sad, hurt, ashamed and defeated. As I processed this more, I began to feel anger in a new way. Everything they said about me was actually pretty wrong. So, I mentally composed the following letter to them:
I am 31 years old now, a successful program director in which lives are saved every day, and I have people in my life that are healthy and good to me. When I came to the program in St. Louis, I was very hurt and very broken. The desperation I felt then is something I will never let myself feel again. In fact, I believe that because I was so broken the intent was to fix me and exploit the success as you all increased your marketing around human sex trafficking. I believed that Mercy was the way to heal my heart and prepare me to live a Christ-centered life. I believed that all the "love" and "attention" and "Jesus" was the way I would relearn how to be a well-adjusted, God-fearing adult. I was so very wrong.
After a very short period of time in your program, I was taught that people are just people and God is all. The way in which the staff would pray over all of the girls and tell us how much they loved us also juxtaposed the very point you were trying to make. Your program put itself in the role of an authority, and despite believing that you were all trying to do what God had told you, ultimiately you completely retraumatized me. I do not think any person at Mercy is a bad person, but I do believe most of you are badly guided and stuck in what social pscyhology calls "groupthink". If Nancy Alcorn doesn't believe in it, then it must not exist! That is why you failed me, and you failed to follow your own belief in God.
I do not believe in the God that you all do. Why? Because the God that is good, and maker of all, and binds our hearts together would never give the authority to throw a traumatized woman back to their abusers because she is "of the devil". The God that I believe in knows that science, and psychology and human connection all play vital roles in undertanding the experience of others. EMPATHY is of the God that I believe in.
What Mercy taught me was that people ARE just people, and even the "good Christians" are sometimes pretty unhealthy, and ungodly people. I was taught that the only way to healing was to find my reasons for living, and find a real family that can actually show me that through their love, something bigger is out there and guiding us. I don't need to be isolated on a hill in St. Louis, completely saturated in Christian only music and books. I am capable of hearing things, seeing things, and reading things are that not Christian and every day choosing to go to my job that actually does make a difference in peoples lives that does NOT include judgement or isolation. In fact, my entire job is to be non-judgmental, emapthetic and non-directive. Hurting people need a place to land, without lies and broken promises, a place with boundaries and educated people to help. Hurting people need resources and not a club of pretty girls with stories of triumph.
Mercy, I forgive you because I know the heart of many of those that I crossed in St. Louis. Forgiveness however does not mean forgetting, and it does not mean that the energy I now have from letting go of resentment will go unnoticed. My voice is much more powerful now, I am getting it back and I know who loves me for real, and I know I have a purpose...and it was never to be your success story.
I survived. And I did it without Christian music.