The following is an atypical blog article. It is a clearing of the air; born of the need to be true to who I am, to not be dishonest. I feel this is the best way to get this message to the people back home. I will not be forcing my views on anyone. This blog's purpose (sharing our life experiences as full-time RVers) has not and will not change.
Why haven't I been able to write?
I haven’t been able to get a blog article together, and I finally figured out why. Though we’ve been busier than normal, that hasn’t kept me from writing. What weighs on me is knowing that I’ve been keeping quiet about my faith and convictions, and why my life has taken the turn it has. There are hundreds of people back in Ohio and West Virginia whom I love very much and who perhaps wonder what on earth I’m doing with my life and why. Even if you aren’t wondering, it feels dishonest to let you keep on assuming that I’m happy just because I’m newly married and traveling full-time.
I recently went through a big life change. My metamorphosis took place over several years, and was a journey of loss of health, loss of faith, desperate questioning, seeking, and finally finding. Denial and deep anger made appearances. Frustration and grief, guilt and sorrow - all these were familiar to me as well. Confusion and a deep, deep loneliness were consistent themes. Thankfully, that chapter closed and a new one has begun with acceptance and joy and healing.
In the interest of being honest, I feel the need to share the source of my joy and happiness. I feel obligated to share what I know to be true, in hopes it will make a difference in someone else’s life.
Most of you know me from my years in the work. I continue to be confident of my calling to the ministry. I struggled to be sure of God’s will for me and I have no doubts that being a worker at that point in my life was exactly what he planned for me. I am absolutely sure it was God’s way of preserving me and keeping me safe for just the right amount of time.
I am just as confident that God called me out of the work. He began preparing me for this about a year and a half before my health failed. The first thing he began showing me was that His next step for me would bring misunderstanding and disappointment from many. I was absolutely terrified and in extreme denial when this began happening (a little more than a year before I left). It was not the ideal outcome of how things were “supposed” to happen for a worker. Pride and a deep need for approval made this especially hard.
My commitment to God’s will wouldn’t let me say “no” to anything He plans for me - the exact same conclusion I had reached when he let me know he wanted me to go in the work. Still, it was a long road to acceptance on my part. I don’t think I’d fully accepted it even when I left. By that point, both my physical and mental health were extremely depleted….
Also coming to my awareness was a growing unease with the overall administration of the work, and the methods of our ministry. (I mean with the whole worldwide system in general, not just one person’s administration.) I couldn’t put a finger on anything in particular, and I sure didn’t have answers for what exactly should be different. I didn’t believe we were truly going out “just like the apostles did”. I lived better than many, many people (and many of our friends), for one thing. It was frustrating that there was a whole world out there to express God’s love to in so many different ways, but we limited ourselves to visiting mainly friends and contacts of our friends.
Like I say, I didn’t know what to do differently. I didn’t have energy for anything other than what we were doing. We stayed busy with visits and gospel meetings, but it began to feel a bit pointless. It wasn’t because people weren’t professing in our meetings. The friends weren’t lackadaisical or apathetic by any means; I loved you all and you encouraged me to no end. There was something unfulfilled, nonetheless; both scripturally, and in me. I stuffed these feelings waaaaaay down - my initial belief was there must be something I wasn’t believing or obeying or submitted to, to be having those kinds of thoughts. What was such a rock to me to this point, and has been such a rock to my parents and so many others, couldn’t be wrong…. There was an immense amount of guilt, and desperate praying and questioning, and a ton of fear in my heart at these thoughts. I certainly didn’t share them.
Sunday morning meetings were extremely difficult to face when I left the work. I was physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. The few times I was able to go, I felt terribly awkward and out of place (this would have been the case anywhere) and could not bring myself to take part. It often seemed that what was apparently working for others was not working for me at all. Forgiveness, especially - it was like a goal I couldn’t reach. The thought that meetings might not be where I belonged for a long time to come was crushingly guilt- and fear-inducing.
Regarding my health: I knew Western medicine was very limited and could only really treat symptoms, not root causes of my health issues. We believed that physical healing is not a post-apostolic fruit of God’s Spirit, so that wasn’t even a blip on my radar. Over the years, I turned to more holistic, alternative methods. The path I took eventually lead me to questioning just about everything I’d been taught about God, the Bible, my existence. I didn’t reach this extreme until several months after I’d left the work.
As the months progressed, I grew even more tired, but in a different way. Struggling to be totally self-sufficient, to make it on my own; to be my independent, rebellious self became totally agonizing. I was desperate to find out who I really was and who God really is, yet there was no clear path. I was still very alone, craving love, craving a place to belong, craving a chance to figure it all out and find answers I could have peace with. I was ready for someone else to take over. I wanted help. I finally pled for help, knowing I’d need to humbly accept it no matter what form it took. I thought it might come in the form of the workers….
My husband's first love
Dennis’s driving passion is for God the Father and His truth, as given to us in the Bible. He has given years of his life to studying for himself what God says in His Book about many, many different things. His story is his to tell; if you ask, he might share it with you sometime. I can say this much with confidence: his foundational motivation is to know the truth for himself, so that he can follow it. Matthew 7:22,23 started his quest; too many preachers giving pat answers to his questions instead of showing him where to look in his Bible drove him to look for answers himself. He wrote down what he found.
When Dennis came, he wasn’t what I’d ever envisioned for myself. He was exactly what I wanted, however. He offered love and a place by his side. He offered freedom to be exactly as I am, what God created me to be. He possesses a deep love for, and offered first-hand knowledge of, God and the Bible. Both those things sold me.
His manner of writing and teaching is hard to swallow if there’s any sinful pride in you at all, and I was full of pride and rebellion and independence. His passion for what’s true and his frustration that many people reject truth in favor of more palatable lies sounds like arrogance to willful, prideful, self-justifying ears. I was extremely familiar with the Bible; how could it say anything different than what I’d been reading most of my life? But I had to know, I had to parse it out for myself. Nothing else was working, and I felt I owed it to myself to give his study results a chance.
Dennis spent 5-plus years on Bible study, searching out what the Bible really says about many, many things. If I wanted to know what was right, I either had to do the same for myself, or take advantage of the labor he’d already spent. Doing it myself was frankly overwhelming - I was making two major life adjustments: living on the road full-time, and being a wife. My physical and mental strength hadn’t yet been restored. So I ate humble pie and began to look at his book.
He’s right. What he’s learned is the truth. He hasn’t dreamed up something that isn’t there. He hasn’t devised a new way to understand God. He hasn’t created a way to serve Him which fits how he was raised or what he wants to believe. He certainly hasn’t brainwashed me. (You know how strong-minded and independent I am.) He’s searched out and written down what he’s found, which is the truth. The truth about what God’s law is, and that it’s different from Moses’ law. The truth about which law was abolished and which is eternal. The truth about what the Bible means (what it says). The truth about the (pagan) origin of Sunday worship and rest. The truth about what God cares about and loves and hates.
I should note that Dennis is very methodical in his writing. He typically begins with a question: “What does the Bible say about ———?” then studies every verse, with the several verses before and after it, containing that word or words. By and large, his books contain Bible verses, copied and pasted. A smaller portion is the definition of the words pertaining to the topics he’s studying. His own comments are an equal or even small part of the text. Very infrequently you’ll find references to historical writings, as in his teachings on the origins of various holidays.
A lot of it has been very hard to swallow, for various reasons: mostly because I had convinced myself (or had been taught and accepted) that the Bible is open to interpretation; because I tried to make the Bible match what I wanted to be true, instead of what is true; because I didn’t read the Bible with a good dictionary and a Strong’s Hebrew and Greek reference; because I didn’t deeply search things out for myself.
There are, of course, things that we were taught and which I believed that are true. But I want to be all right. And I am responsible. Once I became of age (and there is an actual age of accountability that God has set), I became responsible for what I believed and practiced (and to my shame, taught others). I made choices to continue dis-believing God and his book. I have no one to blame but me. No one will be able to point to anyone else (God or man) on the judgment day and say “He is responsible for my sin; I am not.” I must, and do, accept full responsibility.
My personal experience
I’ll just share a a bit of my personal testimony. I struggled on and off with back pain for years. Last summer and fall it worsened to the point that I was constantly bent forward and to the side. It became such a struggle to walk in this posture that I used a cane to support my leaning body. It became necessary to use a wheelchair if we were in big box stores. Life in general was extremely uncomfortable.
I wanted desperately to be free from pain and able to walk normally. But desire alone does not bring forgiveness and healing. Only my full acceptance of and obedience to God’s word, manifested by confession to Him and repentance, allowed healing to begin. It was not instantaneous, but gradual. Within several weeks, I was free of the cane. I have been able to walk with a straight back for months. I continue to notice changes here and there week by week. Also, I have been off anti-depressants for over six months. No relapses.
God’s word is real. It works. He will always honor it; he cannot lie.
There’s a psalm, the fifteenth, which I have always loved. There is a quality in there which I thought I knew a little about, but now I’m not sure. “He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not” will abide in God’s tabernacle, and dwell on His holy hill. There’s not much more to say about that. It speaks for itself, as does the rest of the Bible. My faith is strong in some areas, and in many it has much room to grow.
I am most satisfied when I am searching out scripture for myself, when I am learning about God and finding things out for myself. I am most content when I am in subjection to my husband and trusting him and my Father God in heaven; when I am submitted to, and accepting the truth; when I am staying repentant, and doing what’s right. I still have so much to learn. I am so very thankful for God’s great patience and mercy toward me. I am also so very thankful for Dennis.
I wish, pray, and hope that many more would accept the truth. I pray that others would study the Bible as thoroughly for themselves, and believe what they find. We have far more control over our lives than we are taught to believe.
(Psalm 40:10) I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.