Still here — emerging from a slough of despond
Last year I promised to revise my book Not Under Bondage and publish the revised version in paperback, e-book and audio-book formats. I have made substantial progress but am still some way from publishing the revised version. I apologise for the delay. I got sidetracked and slowed down by Covid (didn’t we all?) and I put too much time last year into sharing Covid-related content on my personal social media accounts.
Another reason the book revision has gone slower than I expected is that I realised I needed to revise the chapter on Malachi. That led to me writing an academic article Malachi 2:16, ancient versions and English translations, and how they apply to domestic abuse. I have had feedback from a few academics about that article; their feedback was helpful but they were not persuaded by my argument that Coverdale’s translation is consistent with the Hebrew text of Malachi 2:16. I will take their feedback into account when I revise the chapter of Malachi for my book.
For several weeks I have been despondent and almost burnt out. I am getting better slowly. I’ve just returned from a short holiday visiting some relatives who live in the country. My brain went to mush while I was there, but at least I stopped feeling so guilty for not doing much in the way of reading or writing for weeks.
My mind is slowly picking up the pieces of the jobs I left hanging in the last several weeks. I am trying not to resume doing all the things I was doing before. I’m trying to only do the things I like doing and the things that will add to my blogs and the revised version of my book.
I have grieved a lot about how other Christian advocates disrespect me and ignore me. I can’t promise that grief is over and done with, but I’m wanting to not dwell in it anymore. I hope I am right in sensing that God has humbled and chastised me as needed and is helping me put the grief aside and get back to writing. It was probably inevitable that I would get the cold shoulder from advocates because of my incisive critiques of some well known advocates.
In my slough of despond, I almost decided to never write again. But when asking myself “What will I do with the rest of my life if I never write anything else?” I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer. I enjoy gardening, but I don’t think I could fill out the rest of my days by devoting myself only to gardening. And the truth is, once I get into a solid writing task, I enjoy writing. So I am going to continue writing, but I will write for me.
When I say I will write for me, I don’t mean I will just publicly diarise my own petty life and my angst. My writing will still set forth my understanding of God’s word and his precepts and how those things are mistaught to the detriment of abuse victims. Therefore, I believe that what I write for myself will still be the kind of thing that will set people free of their abusers. But if it does set people free of abuse, I want to view that as an incidental spin off, not my primary goal. I have to make my primary goal looking after myself, or I will fall into another slough of despond.
From years of observation, I know that my writing effects very little to no change in church leadership and church attitudes. I also believe it effects very little eternally-lasting-change in victims of abuse. Many victims find my writing too academic, too deep, too theological. Many church leaders find my writing unimpressive, not sufficiently academic, and they perceive it as personally insulting because it firmly and doggedly confronts their long-held beliefs. I make little impact anywhere. Too bad. God made me the way I am and I can’t help it. He made me with an incisive logical mind and strong emotions with high empathy. I can’t change myself to better fit the audiences. When I persistently try to change my writing to fit those audiences I want to give up and die. I wept writing that last sentence. The victims that want to feed on memes and milk and have their feelings boosted without doing much work — they don’t like my writing. Most church leaders don’t know about or don’t like my writing enough to endorse it publicly. I am easily wounded by both of those audiences and I don’t recover quickly.
I know for a fact that some people have gained benefit from my writing because it helped them get free of their abusers, but then they’ve gone back into the world to follow their own lusts. I’m not writing for them: they grieve me.
Other people benefit from my work but never publicly recommend my work to others or share links to my work. I am discouraged by my readers & followers who are not at risk of abuse but who are simply lazy or play it safe, who sit on the fence, who don’t stick their head above the parapet to expose falsehood, who don’t point Christians leaders and advocates to my work, who don’t show any public appreciation for my work.
“Pay it forward” has long been one of my principles for living … I’ve done it for everyone else for so long, it’s about time I “paid it forward” to myself for a change. So I will write in my way, for me. If my voice reverberates to nothing down empty corridors, so be it. That’s the way you made me, God.