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Hello! I'm Ashley.

I’m a Christian feminist, writer, speaker, TV producer, news pundit, ordained reverend, and abuse-victim advocate who educates churches and secular communities on abuse. I’m the founder of The Courage Conference, for survivors of abuse—and those who love them.

An Open Letter To “Prodigal” Children

An Open Letter To “Prodigal” Children

Dear Friend,

Maybe no one has actually said the words to your face (or maybe they have), but you know they are disappointed in you. You are the “prodigal” child.

It’s the whispers behind your back “they are not walking with God right now.”

The pointed sharing of Bible verses.

The loaded phrase, “we are praying for you” with the unspoken ending “and we hope you get right with God.”

You know there are prayer chains being sent and the prayer meetings being held on your behalf because, back in the day, you used to be a part of them.

With all the guilt and shame being directed your way, some days you even start to believe it yourself, “maybe I am just a rebellious, prodigal child.”

But that’s not really true, is it?

I don’t know exactly why you left, but I’ve spoken to enough “prodigal” children to know that it was probably something serious. Maybe it was abuse, maybe it was a coverup, perhaps it was unbearable control and legalism, or hypocrisy, or maybe the environment you were in just wasn’t big enough for your growing questions.

It was probably difficult for you to leave. You likely thought about it for a long time and stayed longer than you should have. You tried to work it out, but the black and white thinking couldn’t adjust to your realization of grey in this world.

You knew you would lose a lot by walking away, but you also knew you would lose more of yourself if you stayed.

It's even likely that you are in touch with God now more than ever before.

You may not hear this from them, so I want you to hear it from me:

I am proud of you.

You did the right thing.

Sure, if you could go back in time you’d probably tweak a few things, but in the end you did the best you could under the circumstances.

I know it hurts, some days more than others, but those are growing pains. You are growing into your own beautiful person with your own intelligent, justice-centered heart. Out here things are different, and change can be scary but you’ll adjust. You’re resilient that way. You’ve survived this long haven’t you?

It’s important that you find a supportive community of people who understand, people who are learning to be healthy. As they say, you will become like your five closest friends, so pick friends who inspire you to greatness, who are deeply compassionate, and who want you to be yourself.

And I know it’s in the back of your mind… “is God mad at me?”. The answer is no. God isn’t up there judging you. God wants you to do well, and God cares a lot more about you as a person than God cares about a system. And on that note, just remember that God and the system are two completely different things.

Out here I’ve actually found God to be a lot more like an empathetic friend than some cosmic killjoy. Maybe you could ask God about that, but only when you are ready.

All this to say, you are not what they made you out to be.

You are brave.

You are beautiful, inside and out.

You are stronger, and wiser than you think.

And, you are so very loved. Just the way you are.

-Ashley Easter

p.s. Keep asking questions… they keep you humble and they set you free.

When Patriarchy Pressures Men

When Patriarchy Pressures Men

God Does Not Use You, Survivor

God Does Not Use You, Survivor