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In the summer of 2011, a small online group of people began regaling each other with funny stories of their past experiences growing up in the homeschool environment of ATI (the Advanced Training Institute). It didn’t take too long for friendships to form and a sense of “coffee shop” type community to bond them. It was within that safe environment that people began to slowly open up and share personal stories, ripping off bandages covering old wounds they had received from legalistic and at times ridiculous teachings as children, teenagers, and even adults. Some stories were downright funny as you realized how odd some of the teachings were, but other stories reached to your core with the pain of abuse, strained or destroyed familial relationships, and people who looked “together” on the outside, but inside were crying to be heard and understood. The concept of Jesus was often taken to a level of legalism so acute that understanding what a real, true relationship with Him was like meant eradicating the list of do’s and don’ts and starting fresh with the idea that God LOVES and accepts ME–for who and what I am, nothing more…nothing less.
It was those stories–those raw feelings of finding out that you were not alone and your struggles and questions were shared with hundreds of others–that germinated the idea of Recovering Grace (RG). Why not have a website where we could share the stories of where we had been and what we had learned, with others of hopes of letting others know that they are not alone? And so, with a small group of people who had a passion for sharing the grace and love of the only One who can heal wounds and see beauty in the scars, Recovering Grace was born.
And here we are today, exactly one year later–and the impact of RG has grown beyond what any of us could have ever imagined. We’ve had over 135,000 unique visitors to RG with almost one million page views. Visitors from over 80% of the countries in the world have viewed RG in the past year, and in any given month, nine to twelve thousand people read our articles. The emails pour in from people all over looking for help or thanking us for sharing. But the most common words we hear are, “I’m so glad to know I am not alone.”
No, dear readers, you are NOT alone. Not alone in knowing that yes, there are people who can identify with what you have gone through or are still going through. Not alone in that your pain and story IS valid. And most definitely not alone in that there is a God who loves you and seeks to hold you in His arms and does not require you to follow a list of to-do’s in order to receive his wonderful gift of love and GRACE.
The following are some of the testimonies we have received from our readers about the impact of Recovering Grace on their lives. We would invite you to share your own comments or thoughts about the ministry of Recovering Grace using the comment box below.
What has Recovering Grace meant to you?
Like re-breaking an arm to set it properly? Like cracking open a chest to do open-heart surgery? Like medically-induced hypothermia to reset the brain? Recovering Grace has been awesomely, painfully healing. Just realizing I wasn’t alone in this was earth-shattering… I feel like RG has helped me begin to get to the deeper, more painful parts of healing–like major surgery, gotta go deep to cut out the bad, and then the returning-to-normal-function part is what takes forever (and causes all kinds of pain). –S
It’s pretty much turned my life on its head and then shaken it around like a snow globe. It has helped me realize to a much larger degree how I am not alone and therefore mostly not at fault. We were told that our feelings and opinions weren’t valid so it made me doubt myself constantly. I’m coming to accept that my opinions and feelings are valid. –D
As my focus has shifted to what Jesus has already done, I’m responding out of love and gratefulness, not fear. All of the “good fruit” we were supposed to bear, is the byproduct of living for Jesus because I love Him for what He did for me. And in that economy, yes, the yoke is easy and the burden is light and yes, my weary soul has indeed found rest. It’s been an interesting year . . . Last May I wanted to take IBLP (The Institute in Basic Life Principles) down because I was angry. Now, I want to take it down because it perverts the gospel. –R
I don’t think I can adequately express how RG has impacted my life. I have evaluated every area of my life. I have an understanding of myself and why I do what I do. I am a much better mom. I am starting to understand love and grace. I have been able to keep moving forward, knowing I am not alone. I feel things again–and I am learning to express my emotion. I have also been able to let go of relationships that I held on to out of guilt. I will forever be grateful for RG and inspired by those who took a leap of faith and started it! One of the greatest impacts on my life is that I finally have a voice! I am able to articulate to others about my past. I am also no longer ashamed of my past. I really could go on… I love RG! –K
What I have loved the most is when comments are left from people who had NO IDEA there were others out there who felt the same. I have cried and been heartbroken when reading the stories of personal experiences. At times I’ve had to step away because the pain was too much. THANK YOU to each and every one of you who put your heart and soul out in front of the world on RG. I think one of my favorite articles so far really is one of the first, Christian Karma…because it goes beyond ATI to a lot of teachings out there in the Christian world. It really helped me internalize that teaching and throw it out! –R
RG has brought a community of people into my purview that I never thought existed. The site, yes, but more importantly, all of YOU have affected me in a way so positively that it has helped me discover much more about myself, others, God, and grace in a way that I don’t think any other avenue could. My personal development in the past year has been an awesome adventure for me and God has used all of your stories to help mold me more into who I am today. So thanks to you all who have shared on RG. It has helped me process in a way that I could never have otherwise. –J
I had a sort of “ATI Lite” experience, and did not realize how traumatic the experience was for some people, and the long reaching effects it had on various aspects of ex-students adult lives. I also realized I had repressed some negative experiences/feelings regarding ATI/IBLP, and realized the domino effect it had on my life. –M
It has made me realize that I am not alone in having a childhood/young adult life that was seriously messed up by ATIA and Bill Gothard. I’ve learned that my abusers were not justified in their abuse. I see people who grew up like I did raising children with love and compassion when we often didn’t get that in our own childhoods, I see people going to college and getting degrees when we were only given a crap educational base, I see people giving love when we were frequently subjected to violence, I see nonjudgmental people despite being raised under the idea that our every emotion and thought was automatically wrong, I see us learning, adapting, and surviving and it inspires… me. –R
Many of the articles have put rational explanations on experiences that were bad but unclear to me. I really appreciate the energy & thought that people have put into working through & sharing things. –R
I found RG shortly after it was formed (I didn’t realize it) but God was leading me all the way toward truthful thinking and I’m so thankful that piece by piece I’m claiming my inner life back, making it more about God and the Bible and LESS about the cult and what I thought was truth. –L
I knew that RG had been launched but my first impression was that it was for those with ATI baggage and issues. I didn’t really have that (I thought)–I wasn’t kicked out, sent away from home, etc. [But I realized] I don’t feel so alone. There are others out there who feel the exact same way that I do and we are all beginning to talk about it. Thank you for accepting me in advance. To all of you who have reached out to me in the past. You did sooo much! To feel needed, wanted, and accepted is a hard thing to admit because it’s just admitting we’re losers. To be actually cared about is such a powerful thing. You made this awkward person feel worth something. So, thanks RG, for letting me know that I’m not alone and I don’t have to feel worthless. –B
Recovering Grace brought assurance, validation, encouragement, and sustenance into my life. Assurance that I was not going insane or suffering judgement for daring to question supposed, permanently ordained authority, but that the cognitive dissonance I was experiencing between knowing Jesus as He is and how He was portrayed within IBLP was entirely understandable. Validation that I wasn’t alone in connecting internal struggles and external abuses with direct teachings and demands from a group espousing heretical teachings and legalistic behavior. Encouragement in knowing there were others making a journey in Grace far from ATI and not being cursed by God to a life of drugs or and auto accidents to ‘take us out’, contrary to the things taught in ATI sessions. Sustenance to a heart and mind from the love, understanding, and blessings of the broken, imperfect, non-elite, beautiful hearts of those I’ve come to know as friends in the recovery groups this website has provided a place for. -R