Hello! My name is Peggy Brown, though I am known in some circles as Abi, The Virtual Abbess, where I ponder what I have called the Purple Martyrdom. I am approaching 23 years of marriage to Robert and we have 3 sons: 21 (in 2 weeks), 18 (in 6 months) and 15. I am recovering from 8 freak injuries/accidents over the past 20 years and am finally turning a corner there (knock on wood)! We live in Vancouver (not B.C.) Washington (not D.C.).
I met Wayne after having read The Shack and being in a Missional Learning Community that was supposed to last for 12 weeks. My husband and I were invited to join 7 other couples, in January of 2008, who were burned by or burned out in ministry – three of us pastors and the rest elders or other leaders. In June of 2009, still together, we were blessed to have Wayne come up for a weekend retreat to help us process where we found ourselves and how we might continue our group and individual journeys.
This was a pivotal time for me, especially, since this group exposed me to sides of my husband that I did not know – after 16 years together in marriage and ministry. I had just suffered a traumatic brain injury 3 months earlier and it was continuing to manifest symptoms that were challenging. (Immediately after the retreat, my only brother’s wife died from brain cancer, leaving behind 3 daughters for my brother to love without her help.)
I came home from the retreat with two of Wayne’s books: He Loves Me and Authentic Relationships. Dove right into He Loves Me. So paradigm shifting as I was learning to turn away from performance-based faith. It was more than a little ironic that I was having trouble with Authentic Relationships, since I was having trouble relationally with my four sisters as I moved away from institutional church.
I am the youngest of six children to a church planting family. There was never a day that I didn’t love God. I was baptized just after my 9th birthday, a result of my first week at church camp and realizing that there was something I was supposed to do in response to my love for Jesus. I have walked with Jesus almost 51 years now. My sisters didn’t get where I was coming from…and the TBI didn’t help. I was a huge loss of spiritual connection to lose that identity as PK sisters.
I was interviewed by Josh Packard for his Church Refugees book (my story is not in the book), as I learned about it through a friend working on the book at the publisher. So, yes, I relate very deeply to The Dones. And I would have related to the group he is now studying: pastors who are Done, but stuck in ministry professions.
My husband has, in the years between our meeting Wayne and today, revealed himself to be someone who doesn’t understand relationships … and so he doesn’t have a relationship with God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. He was able to hide it pretty well during the years I served at our church and he was the Pied Piper of our young sons. But after we were spending time being authentic in our small group of burnt leaders, his true colors began to show. He wanted to be lord in our house and have a wife and children that were subservient and obedient, and definitely inferior, to him.
Three years ago (under very complicated circumstances with my health and our middle son’s), I asked Robert (who does computer engineering work from home) if he could work from his parent’s home (30 miles away) for about six months and give us a break from the deadly stress…and he did what I asked, but let me know that he considered our marriage over in the eye of God, and that I had been unfaithful to him by asking him to leave.
We continue on in a challenging dance of non-relational relationship. I am leaning into Father’s love day by day as I journey deeper into love with Father, Jesus and the Spirit. I am walking with our sons through this, as they are pretty mad at their dad…and blame the God their dad follows.
Just have a couple of dear friends locally who aren’t freaked out by our not “going to church”…and visiting at Robert’s church on Sundays to keep the door open. Looking forward to sharing the journey together here. Trusting Father’s love for us all.