A Bit of a Weirdo – Jo’s Story

For a long time, I believed the humiliation and shame perpetrated on me by church leadership when I became pregnant for the first time was fair, warranted and just. It was only in the years around my faith deconstruction, in therapy, and in conversations with people who’d never been involved in evangelical church culture when I began to realize what happened was abuse and indefensible, even in light of my own “moral” failures.

What should have been a special time of enjoying growing a life within me, of celebrating my first pregnancy with the love and support of my friends was instead an episode of my life filled with deep shame and regret – a time of feeling guilty, singled out and exposed. As my body grew, so did the squeamishness of my spiritual leaders, who grappled with the realization I wasn’t going to just disappear into the ether and make things easy for them, instead pressing in deeper to my faith and raising my expectations as I became increasingly vulnerable and in need of support.

I can never get back that time in my life. What should have been a time of joy and anticipation surrounding the birth of my first child was instead a period of judgment, shunning, exposure and shame.

It was beholden on me to begin to heal myself – along with the father of my child, who went on to become my husband with whom I had three more children – and the trauma and grief I carry to this day is still a wound I’m working through in therapy every single week.

Hear chapter one of my story in this podcast. Please note I take no moral high ground, hold nothing back, and name both the actions perpetrated upon me, and my actions which instigated the events in the first place.

I don’t abdicate responsibility for these actions…..however, I’ve never given up hoping one day, those who’ve abdicated responsibility for the abuse perpetrated on me might ask for my forgiveness and own the damage they did.

And sadly, if anecdotal evidence is anything to go by, such abuses as I experienced are still being perpetrated today.

For those who prefer YouTube for your podcasts, here’s Ep. 1 of my Leaving Hillsong podcast with Tanya Levin.


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