Our Fears Reveal Who Our Savior Is

This was hard to write.  I have been wanting to explain my long hiatus, but it has been difficult to decide what to include and what to leave out.  God–just help me tell the Truth and TRUST YOU to do the rest…  Help me rest in the knowledge that my clarity of thought and having things figured out doesn’t save me.  YOU do. 

————–

My hair is falling out in clumps right now.   That’s not a metaphor or some other figure of speech.  I mean: I just got out of the shower, and everytime I try to shampoo or condition, I pull away clumps of my own hair.  The tub drain is full of it.

After drying off, I draped a T-shirt and sweatpants over my body, like sheets hanging on a clothes line.  I’m swimming in my Pajama Uniform because my loss of appetite combined with intermittent diarrhea leads to drastic weight loss.

This is how my body handles emotional fatigue and anxiety.  

So, why have I been so worked up?

Well, by most standards, the last couple months have been a series of nightmares–and, unfortunately, I’m not JUST talking about novel viruses and locusts and sacrificing the family business on the altar of Government hysteria. I have written almost nothing about the personal Hell I have been facing, while the Doomsday News continues to feed Fears in the background.  

It started with online threats against my loved ones–which is becoming increasingly normal for people who write about the culture on the internet…

In this case, my dad endured a solid two weeks of baseless claims and proud death wishes, which spilled onto me because I’m one of the administrators of his Facebook page.   There’s no way to give the background succinctly or to convey the depth and breadth of the vitriol, but here’s just a taste of what was directed at me: 

5.14.20 Please God Take This Family (EDIT)

5.14.20 CPS Call

It went on and on and on…  via email and private messages and even a couple calls to the business phone.

One Mobster went so far as to stalk everyone connected to my dad, spending HOURS going through the Facebook profiles of my husband and sister… I got a text message from Tabby at 10:30pm, freaked out and not knowing what was going on because she had 52 notifications from a complete stranger, “laugh reacting”  baby photos of my niece:

5.14.20 Rebecca Anderson Crazy

 

So, in the middle of this unsettling behavior by countless, unhinged strangers, it was impossible not to be affected spiritually/emotionally by the evil onslaught:

4.22.20 I Hope Im There to See It

5.30.20 Wanna Watch Your Parents Die

While all of this was being drilled into our heads, it become clear that we were in need of a safer place to share our blog posts and memes, because Facebook takes the side of the Violent Troll Hoarde.  Our platform was censored multiple times (and, even as of today, we’re still unable to live stream, because Dad posted a meme with Hitler’s likeness, saying “Mandatory Quarantine is the Reich thing to do.”)   Yep.  We’re being reported to DCS and put in Facebook jail over a picture of Hitler. 

And while trying to figure out what to do when (inevitably) we are permanently banned from our social media platform–the systemic Injustices just kept rolling in…

My family learned first-hand that the social services system is just as broken as Facebook’s “hate speech” algorithms… Our Government’s way of handling problems/reports is just as cold and unreliable as the robots that determine what can and can’t be said on the Internet. 

At the beginning of May, my nephew had been asleep in his infant seat on the countertop, when he woke up, arched his back, and wiggled to the floor.  He appeared to be okay, but I told my sister to call his pediatrician, just in case. And the pediatrician referred her to the ER for an X-Ray and CAT Scan, both of which showed he was fine.  There wasn’t a scratch or a bruise anywhere on the kid’s body.  Buuuut…. Unfortunately, my sister is a young, wiry, soft-spoken white girl who was wearing sweatpants and a messy bun that day.   She came to the hospital without her husband because the COVID restrictions said “only one parent.” So, some anonymous Emergency Room Nurse didn’t even wait to do the X-Ray before calling the Department of Child Services and reporting possible neglect.

Skinny white girl? Rough neighborhood? She’s probably a crack whore who can’t keep her kids safe, right?

When the DCS social worker arrived, she told my sister bluntly, “I don’t know why the hospital called us when he’s not hurt.”  But they still had to come to my house and take pictures. They went to my sister’s house and took pictures.  They took pictures of her older child and an old scab on the baby’s forehead.

And, through internet searches, eventually we discovered that even UNSUBSTANTIATED reports in Indiana would remain in our state’s permanent records for 24 years and could be used against us if another UNSUBSTANTIATED claim was ever made. 

That’s when I first started losing sleep, trying to decide what I would do and who I would trust when Injustice happened to the people I love…

There were hundreds of strangers online telling us we were awful humans who deserved to be punished, so I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if enough of those strangers tried to recruit the State to silence us the way Facebook had.

My sister, understandably, said she will never again feel safe taking one of her children to the ER “just in case.”  She will ALWAYS wonder whether someone will file a false report.

But that wasn’t even the end of our encounters with Government officials this season…

Just a little more than a week after my nephew’s hospital visit, my 9-year-old daughter told us something no parent EVER wants to hear.

As my husband tucked her in for bed on May 8th, Cami suddenly fell apart and sobbed, “Something happened outside, but I don’t want to tell you!!!” 

Alarmed, my husband asked her what was wrong, but it took another minute or two while Cami struggled to find the courage and the right words.

Then our firstborn baby said: “D_____ made me do sex with him.”

D_____ is the 14-year-old neighbor boy. 

I wish I could describe the buzz of racing thoughts and emotion as we tried to figure out what to do next.   Is there a manual or a flow chart for this???

Who’s the first person you should tell, when your daughter says the neighbor lured her out of the yard and shoved his finger inside her?

Ideally, you’re supposed to call “The Authorities” for Justice when you’ve been victimized. But I couldn’t help wondering whether “The Authorities” would blame US for letting the 9-year-old play in the backyard unsupervised.  How would it look, having DCS at my house TWICE in two weeks?  Would our homeschool be investigated? Would we be charged because some family members visited, while our city was still locked down for the Virus? Would we be told that nothing could be done about D_______, because he has diagnosed behavior disorders, so all he needs is more medication?

So many thoughts.

Such a feeling of helplessness no matter which path I took. 

I felt confident we could help Cami understand that she’s not to blame and then counsel her through the fear and embarassment. But, are we allowed to handle her trauma as a family?…or do we HAVE to call “The Authorities” to prove we’re not trying to hide anything?

Within a few minutes, I decided we needed to file a police report because it seemed we were expected to do that…but not really because I felt like it was going to solve any root problems with D_________. 

And then I had to tell my daughter that she needed to find the courage to describe what happened AGAIN—this time speaking to a perfect stranger in a uniform–because (as I explained) they were going to try to help… 

I had to say this to her, even though I’m not convinced myself that the State is able to “help” in any meaningful way. 

—– 

So, the last few weeks, I haven’t known how to condense my many trains of thought into a succinct blog post.  

I’m losing sleep and losing hair and trying to find just a little peace and security in an age where EVERYONE seems to be anxious and angry about everything…

There have been a million different blog topics that have occurred to me lately:  

-The ways we use mental “disorders” to excuse abuse

-The way we create “systems” to solve problems, and end up making them worse

-The way the Church acts as a middle man to call the “Professionals,” but we don’t offer many answers ourselves

-The way the media insists certain people have MORE of a right to feel violated and afraid than my family does

I want to write the words that will unite all of humanity, so we can understand each other perfectly and live in a glorious utopia, free of Bad Feelings, for the rest of eternity.

And I could spend weeks trying. 

But, what I have to ask myself now is: “What am I really afraid of?” ….then I need to be prepared for a hard answer.

Am I afraid that I’ll lose my reputation and lose all my friends?

Yeah–probably. 

Am I afraid I’ll be the victim of an Unjust system that punishes good parents and makes excuses for terrible ones?

Definitely–for sure. 

Do I worry that I’ll be misunderstood by everyone–including the people I THOUGHT were part of my “tribe”–and no amount of careful blog-writing and truth-telling will save me from that pain?

Yeah–apparently I am. 

…So, maybe I’ve been depending on friends and the State and my Writing Skills to be my Saviors from trouble, instead of submitting to God’s will?

Ouch.

Maybe my fears are revealing where my Fallen Idols have been? 

I need to be honest about why I’m so worried about saying things “exactly the right way.” Is it because I want to glorify God with the gift of communication He has given me and be used as a small part of His big plan?

I wish.

But, in truth, I’ve been trying to write the words that will GUARANTEE to protect my family from Injustice, because I don’t trust that God will be enough for us when we suffer. 

Do I want to have a “tribe” of loyal friends because I want to be a blessing to them and encourage them in the Truth?  No…   

To be honest, I want friends for the sheer numbers, to make me feel more powerful because it’s hard to walk onto the battlefield of life without a giant, visible army. 

Am I helping anybody by worrying about being misunderstood, or worrying about being stalked/threatened, or worrying about being deplatformed, or worrying that my kids won’t get a hashtag and national attention when they encounter Injustice because nobody feels like rioting for a no-name, homeschooled white girl?

No. 

And shame on me for putting my hope in “national attention” anyway. 

I confess that I’ve been sinning at the root of my fears.  I’ve been binging Scary, Negative News and letting myself be carried by “what ifs” and inspired by the anger of equally-anxious mothers all around me.

I’ve been tempted to believe there’s something I can do to fix “the System” all by myself, if I correct enough Bad Reasoning on Facebook. 

I haven’t been trusting that God has a plan for me and my loved ones, whether I’m enjoying the privilege of a beach vacation with my perfectly healthy children…or whether the FBI forces their way in and burns all of us alive, and then the whole thing is lied about by the media. 

It’s not my world to control–and nothing I do will change that. Activism cannot save me. 

God’s love and his Providence is where I choose to place my hope.  


I need to lay off the stories about homeschoolers having their children taken away and white boys being shot by police and smalltown Christians having their small businesses closed by false accusations from godless heathens…. 

Or, at the very least, I need to recognize the ways these stories have led me to build IDOLS in the hope of protecting myself. 

 So how about you?   

Have you been watching too many violent videos and seeing your son’s face on them lately?   Are you feeling kind of hopeless and out-of-control, in a world where everyone is a conspiracy theorist and it’s hard to know what’s true? (Are you losing a little hair and still can’t turn off the Doomsday Documenataries, like me?)   

I’d like to suggest, humbly, that you should pay attention to those emotions because they reveal who we think is In Charge. 

Who are we trusting to sort out the messes in our lives? 

Who are we trusting to bring about Justice?  (And if it doesn’t happen on our time table or in the manner we expect, are we going to fall apart?  Riot in the street?  Blame Facebook?   DO SOMETHING to FIX IT?)

I understand the temptation completely… 

Let’s both repent of turning to saviors that make our flesh feel better (temporarily), but cannot save our souls.


P.S. Since this post is already VERY LONG, I’m stopping it here. 🙂  But I want everyone to know that I’m open to questions and comments about the many things I’ve had to leave out.   One thing I want my kids to understand is that the Truth sets us free.  That’s why I’m proud of Cami for finding the courage to tell us the truth about what happened to her.  We told the truth to the nurses at the hospital and to the police officer in our living room and to the elders at our church.   We don’t regret telling the truth, even when the result doesn’t seem fair. 

…And we are happy to share the truth with whoever asks.   That is, as long as the social media algorithms allow us. 😉 

16 thoughts on “Our Fears Reveal Who Our Savior Is

  1. KimL

    Amanda, I’m not as eloquent as you, so I don’t have the words to tell you how sorry I am that you and the Branyan clan are experiencing such turmoil. As a Christian I’m supposed to not question why such injustices exist; however, like you, I’m human and I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that ultimately God has our back. No one — even the trolls — deserve such treatment. I’m just going to say that I’m sincerely praying that you all will experience God’s peace soon.

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      Your prayers mean a lot, Kim!
      I can honestly say we’ve been experiencing an AMAZING amount of inexplicable peace. 🙂
      It’s only when I get on social media that I’m tempted to try solving the world’s problems with the world’s solutions. When I keep my eyes on Jesus, I rest easy.

      Thank you for the encouragement!

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  2. Dannielle

    Amanda, thank you for telling us what you have been battling. My heart breaks for you and your family. My inclination is to want to say “I’m sorry that people are such horrible jerks.” But my apology won’t fix anything. Also, I’m not personally to blame so my apology causes no reconciliation.
    I have great sympathy for the hurt and fear you and your family have been up against and I wish that your sweet Cami has not been hurt in that way. These are things that test our faith for sure. Which means that as you turn toward THE Savior you and your Cami and Tabby, and the rest of your lovely clan will grow stronger.
    I cannot fix things for you with my words. (I too am far less eloquent than you or your dad.) But I can do my best to remind you that you know and know of girls, moms, families who have endured similar things or even worse and that they were drawn closer to the hope that does not disappoint because of it. Through those trials they have learned to rejoice in the Lord because He is faithful when the world and the people in it are not.
    I can try to encourage you by sharing with you that as a 50 yo mom of one 16 yo 2020 homeschool grad, you have helped to teach me to think critically and logically in ways which I was never taught. I have learned things from you and your dad and even the podcast ninja that have helped me to teach my daughter to be more discerning than I have ever been. She is so much like you! I think if we were neighbors, you would be one of her best friends. (And that’s not because I agree with you on every point, because I don’t always agree with you.)
    Have I been focusing on the ugly news…no, but with my husbands live if politics, my friends and family in the Twin Cities, and the fact that I live in VA, it’s hard to avoid it. I would like to be an ostrich. I am a “feeler” more than a “thinker” who has a need for community and to be useful. I too have had a long, on-again off-again relationship with depression. And I have been struggling to hold onto joy and hope lately because they have been so tied to community for me. So you’re not alone in realizing that there are still corners of idolatry in your heart. I kinda think I’m gonna keep finding new corners that need cleaning for the rest of my life…and God is not unaware of that about me or you. He loved this broken world for reasons I sometimes question, but He did and He does. It isn’t going to be our love that changes the hearts of men, it’s only His. It won’t be our words that say the right thing at the right time, but His. It won’t be my service that saves a soul, only His can. I am only a reflection and a skewed one at that. That’s what I’m thinking as I hold my tongue and choose not to post or speak.
    My family and I are praying for you and yours. You are our forever family and we love you.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Jasmine Ruigrok

      Dannielle, thankyou for your comment. Your words: “It isn’t going to be our love that changes the hearts of men, it’s only His. It won’t be our words that say the right thing at the right time, but His. It won’t be my service that saves a soul, only His can.“ brought me to tears. Gosh how I forget. When my soul writhes and aches beneath the weight of evil in this world that I feel forced to carry, I desperately need reminding it’s not my burden to shoulder. Thankyou for that grace.

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    2. mrsmcmommy Post author

      This means a lot, Dannielle. Thanks for coming alongside us… And–YES–the realization that we’re not in charge is both humbling and freeing. May His words be the ones all of us hear!

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  3. Randy Epps

    Amanda, I have felt like a part of your family since all the attacks began. I often feel deep deep sorrow for the things you, your dad, your family are going through.
    Be encouraged. I know I’m not the only one who anxiously waits for the podcasts on Mondays.
    I like being Pkarlgh, but I really want you to know that we are family.
    I realized in the last couple of days that this stupid virus is also a part of God’s creation, and the ability built into our bodies to fight it as well.
    The hatred you are experiencing, though, is not His creation.
    I watch these riots on TV, my wife screams, “What is wrong with these people?!?!”
    Life and death, light and darkness…
    We get to choose which way we bend.
    The dead in the dark, I’m not sure they get to choose.
    Please, keep running the race, fixing your eyes on the goal…you know who he is.

    Your brother in Him
    Randy Epps

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      I read your comment to Dad earlier, Randy. (My whole family spent hours together today, eating pizza and playing games…) Wish you’d been here, Brother!

      Thank you for the encouraging words. ❤️

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      Reply
  4. Josh

    Amanda, I am grateful that despite the trial and terrors of darkness, you recognize your mortal tenancies and find your trust purposefully placed in the One who saves! Things can be so dark in this world, but I am glad to see someone who despite facing backlash, stands for truth; the truth that rebukes, that uncovers, and restores. This truth is only found in Him, and those who are in Him will find peace! “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15. I often don’t comment or speak, but I want you to know that my prayers are with you. Beyond that, if there is anything this Pkarlgh (I) can do to help, it is my genuine joy to be of service to you and the clan!

    Sincerely,
    Pkarlgh

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. Liz Dean

    Amanda, my heart is breaking for Cami, and your family as you deal with this situation. I’m praying for the Lord to redeem it for His glory and her good. I don’t know what to say that would be helpful, but as a sister in Christ, my heart is grieving with you. Thank you for sharing your struggles boldly.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Jeff

    Hi Amanda I’m sorry I didn’t see this earlier but know that you and your family are in my thoughts often. I don’t believe I have any words that can accurately express the comfort I wish I could give you. I will turn the comfort to the only one who can do that. I’m so sorry for what has happened to you guys and how unfair this all is. As always you have my prayers and support.

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  7. Pingback: We’re Okay Because… | Cultures at War

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