Re-engaging the World that Shaped Me

When I wrote my memoir RUINED, I chose to not disguise the identity of my college. I was curious as to how the Calvin College community would react.

As a young woman (in 1983) I had intentionally stepped out of the world of the Christian Reformed Church and entered a different one. My new tent was Presbyterian, and it was bigger. I got used to feeling anonymous, and a bit like an outsider. This was strangely comforting. Now that the memoir is out, I’ve shed my anonymity! As more than one person has told me: “I know a lot more about you than you know about me!” It’s quite an adjustment.

As I launched the book, I re-engaged my old world. I sensed that some things had changed in the past 30+ years. For instance, I heard people give voice to words like “rape.” They acknowledged that sexual violence does happen. And there’s been some movement regarding the role of women in church leadership. On the other hand, the denomination is not of one mind on this issue. The word “feminism,” for instance, seems to open a can of worms, a debate, an argument. Some aspects of church life seem rather stuck and fearful.?

Maybe you’re thinking that the “women’s issue” (i.e. the church leadership debate) is entirely different from how a church responds to violence against women. But I believe there are connecting ligaments. Both issues are deeply concerned with the role and worth of females, and what it means to live in a woman’s body.

It’s been good for me to reclaim my heritage. I still live in the same skin I was born in. And I like to think that I have something to offer the community that formed me.

Since the book launched, I’ve spoken at Calvin a few times, and was interviewed by Lynn Rosendale for an article in the September 2016 issue of Spark, the magazine for Calvin alums. I’m grateful for those opportunities.

Maybe you know what it’s like to be born into one world, and choose to live in another. What made that necessary for you? For too many people that movement is linked to the experience of abuse.


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