What ATI Taught Me About Love: Sarai’s Story

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Sarai” is a pseudonym.

Though she can quote entire books of the bible and finds hidden pearls in every wisdom search, but does not know God’s enduring and unchanging love, it is worthless —

And though she knows her spiritual gift and receives rhemas and knows all 49 commands of Christ and spends hours working on her faith journals —

Though she knows 3/4 + 3/4 = 1 1/2 cups so that she can easily double recipes for her large family (this is where her education will end because there is no need for her to know more in order for her to care for her family one day. She has been told that an education could even tempt her in to the terrible sin of perusing a career! She knows she should be grateful to her parents for protecting her from the possibility of this temptation), but knows not the freely given love of God, all her knowledge is worthless —

And though she joyfully rises at 5 A.M., to make homemade bread and spends so many hours faithfully serving her family —

And though her body has been violated countless times by a sex offender, she joyfully bears and surrenders her personal rights, knowing it is part of a gods plan for her life… Or maybe it was not that bad to start with… Or maybe it was punishment for some unknown sin… Or maybe she did not cry out loud enough… And though she cheerfully receives her spankings and humbly bares her purple and blue stripes as a reminder of her parents love yet she feels no love….  Well it is sad. So very sad —

And though she never wears pants or listens to rock music and avoids all friendships with other foolish children (foolishness is bond in the heart of a child after all) and though she made a commitment to courtship and her father holds the “key to her heart” and though her cabbage patch doll has been burned and every sin confessed —

And though she stays under her umbrella, it does her no good. She does not know God’s love —

Love quietly obeys; love never questions authority; is not vain (let’s not forget Jezebel who was eaten by dog for her vanity. Let’s avoid purple nail polish and flashy jewelry and heavens forbid you ever wear a low cut shirt); Love summits personal rights and always forgives and forgets; love deliverers no bad reports; love bares all pain, sorrow and suffering knowing it is a gift from god to save her from her sinfulness… Or so her mama told her —

When she was a child she saw God through a Gothard tainted screen from inside her little box. She believed the lies. They where all she knew. She trusted a sin filled man named Gothard who promised a better way.

But now she is grown and has throw away the Gothard tainted screen.

She has come out of her little box and into the brightness of God’s unearned, unending, free, abiding, enduring love. She now places her faith in God alone knowing his grace, that is, his unmerited favor, is all sufficient.

Now abideth her faith, her hope and the Love of Christ in her life and the greatest of these is the love of Christ.


  • Jacqueline Johns

    Beautiful. Well said!

  • I always think it must have been a weird time to be a parent in the 1980s. Why did so many parents NEED so much to buy that hard into that system? Am I being mean when I think of my own parents as SO mentally weak that ATI/Gothard really did seem like the best idea at the time to them? Maybe I take the ability to research on the internet for granted.

    I want to ask (parents in the 1980s): have you ever hit a child? It’s horrible that first time. The next time it’s much easier. What does that say about you as a person? Kids are super annoying, I get it. Violence makes life WAY more convenient.

    The first time I wrestled a torture instument away from my mom… eh, I didn’t know what to do next. I was (obviously) much bigger and stronger than she was. Why had I put up with this for so long?

    When Bill Gothard finally got officially tagged for the shit he did, I wasn’t surprised—really, I felt nothing. I just nodded: “Oh, sure. Yep.”

    • I must have been among the last of a generation for whom the Indy training center was A Thing.

    • William Cummings

      Thoughtful and Well said Timber . Fundamentalists Absolute Certainty is an illusion that seems powerful ! Not having to ‘ Think for Yourself ‘ is Very Seductive !

  • Eleanor Skelton

  • Brenda (Brenners)

    Beautifully written. Heart breakingly true for far too many.

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