18: The Secret Lies Within
Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's pretzels, grew up in a loving Amish-Mennonite home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where feelings were not often put to words. As an adult, she lost her nineteen-month-old daughter in an accident, and things got worse when she opened up and confided in her pastor. Anne tells of how trauma and tragedy changed her, and the healing she has found in God.
About the Guest
Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s pretzels, tragically lost her nineteen-month-old daughter. When she confided in her pastor, things only got worse. Anne tells of how tragedy and trauma changed her, and the healing she found in God.
18: The Secret Lies Within
Anne: But that particular morning as the guests were leaving, I stood by the door and was waving goodbye to the guests and in the meantime, I noticed Angie slipped out of the house. I never said goodbye to her. I never hollered after her or anything. I just watched her go around the corner and I heard just these horrific screams coming from right down at the end of my yard. Immediately I said “No, God, not Angie.”
When I went to the door, my dad was running toward me with Angie’s body in his arms and just all he could say was “She’s dead. I think she’s dead. I think she’s dead.” I just—I couldn’t look at her. So that was the beginning of a whole new life for us.
Kim: From the FamilyLife podcast network, this is Unfavorable Odds. I’m Kim Anthony.
Unfavorable Odds is all about finding hope and help in those seasons of life when things get pretty difficult. Jesus has promised us that whenever we walk through those dark valleys, He will always be with us. We’ll never have to do it alone. So on each episode of this podcast, we’ll be talking with people who have learned how, in those dark places of life, to draw their strength from Jesus.
At some point, most of us will experience tragedy or trauma of some kind. If we’re not careful, it may come to define us and reshape our lives. And you know what, there are a lot of us who have dealt with or are dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse which has become evident in this #MeToo era that we live in.
Trauma and abuse are a part of Anne Beiler’s story. And that name is probably not familiar to you; but if I call her Auntie Anne, you’ll probably know who I’m talking about because of the pretzel. She’s the founder of that company. A place I’ve been to in malls and airports time and time again. The tragedy and trauma she went through; it nearly cost her everything.
She’s written a book; it’s actually her memoir called The Secret Lies Within: An Inside Out Look at Overcoming Trauma and Finding Purpose in the Pain. When we sat down together, Anne talked with me about how bringing her secrets into the light actually helped her to conquer shame and start the healing process.
Okay, I have your book right here.
Anne: Okay; excellent.
Kim: Anne, I must say—as I was reading your book, The Secret Lies Within, I almost felt like I was going through a therapy session.
Anne: Good! Really?
Kim: Yes! Absolutely. It was so well written and the way you talk about why things happen the way they did was powerful. I think anyone who reads this book is going to walk away with tools that they can use to help avoid some of the things you experienced; or either help them to get out of some things that they’re currently involved in that are not healthy.
So you grew up in a traditional Amish community. Paint a picture for me of what that was like for you.
Anne: So growing up on an Amish farm and my mom and dad were hard working farmers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. There were eight of us kids and very traditional family life which was more normal, I think, for many people back in the day not just the Amish community. It was more mom and dad and the kids on the farm.
I always felt like my upbringing was safe, almost idyllic, in the fact that as a kid I never wondered where mom was / where dad was. I was never beaten by my mom and dad. They never hollered or screamed at us. There was no drama in our home. It would have been just eight kids on the farm working hard / playing hard.
I’m sure there was a lot of complaining. I don’t remember doing it, but my mom had a little sign up in the kitchen and she said it every day: Today is a good day to stop grumbling. [Laughter]
So, I’m painting a picture that might sound almost picture perfect, but it really apparently was not. But I don’t remember ever fighting with my sisters. There are three of us girls and five boys. All of us, we don’t remember fighting. We just were not allowed to fight.
So having said all of that though, mom and dad were great parents. They cared for us and they never told us they loved us because they didn’t have to. They showed that to us by providing for us every day in the best way that they could. They taught us the values of hard work and loving your neighbors—teaching us about God and taking us to church every Sunday.
There were no excuses like headaches, or I don’t feel like it or whatever. The guidelines and the boundaries were very clear, and I would say very healthy. As we went to church every Sunday and learned how to trust God, how to respect each other, and the Bible stories and all of those things we learned as kids—and when I look back on my life what I remember most, and what is the most important to me, is the fact that we were able to sit together at our dinner table every night for every day that I was at home.
I got married when I was 19. But there was never an exception to that. Being able to sit around the table remembering those conversations—I don’t remember what we talked about, but I just remember that feeling of being together with my whole family around the dinner table every single day three times a day. That to me really set the foundation for a pretty healthy view of family life and that’s what I set out to do.
Kim: It does sound like an idyllic life—kind of picture perfect, huh?
Anne: It sounds like it. Obviously, it was not perfect. [Laughter]
Kim: In your book you talk about the different way that your family handled emotions. What was that like?
Anne: Well you know as a kid I didn’t understand that. You know you don’t know what you don’t know. I had no idea that there were ways to express our feelings and emotions. Coming from a family that really—my mom and dad never said I love you. I told you that earlier but that was not part of our culture or even our conversation on a daily basis.
There was a line my mom used all the time as well and she would always say “Little children, love each other. Do not give each other pain. When one speaks to you in anger, do not answer them again.” So it was great. I always felt like that was a sweet little line that mom used, and I felt like it was very appropriate. I know what she was trying to say is don’t be arguing with each other and just be kind and loving.
But as I’ve grown and experienced life’s pain and things that have happened to me, I really find myself at a disadvantage as far as being able to talk about how I feel. I never remembered ever coming back from a school and telling my mom that I had a bad day at school or if somebody may had been unkind to me or—there was none of that.
In a way—in a very subtle way—it taught me that it’s really not okay to talk about how you feel. Now we could laugh and carry on and argue and have crazy talk around the table, and those kind of things were all above board. We could do that as much as we wanted. But when it came time to being mad at each other, we were not allowed to be mad and we were not allowed to really tell each other how we feel about each other.
So growing up then it really put me at a disadvantage and made me feel—as I would put it today—like maybe I was silenced in some way. Although my mom certainly didn’t mean to silence us at all, but as I grew up, I feel like that seed was planted very deep in my little girl’s soul. So it just meant that I had to pretend everything was okay.
I remember clearly when my brother in law was—at the time he was my boyfriend’s brother and he was killed in a tragic cycle accident. I clearly remember going to work every morning after Sonny was buried—and he was a very good friend of mine—and I wanted to cry and talk about Sonny, but I didn’t know how to do that.
I would come back from work and I would lay on the couch and put a pillow over my head and just cry ‘til I was done crying, and nobody noticed, or nobody came to me and comforted me. So, we had to keep our feelings inside and really not let anyone know how sad or bad we’re feeling.
Kim: What do you think would have happened if you did share that you were sad?
Anne: I don’t know. I feel like mom would have been—she would have certainly been kind and loving because that’s how she was. All eight of us kids—when my mom passed away in 2012—we all agreed that mom never raised her voice. None of us can remember ever our mother raising her voice toward us.
So I know that if I would have gone to mom, she would have probably heard what I said and then she may have said “It’ll be okay.” I can almost feel like she would have said that to me; but there would never have been engaging in conversation about how I’m feeling. I think that she would have comforted me as best she could have, but we just didn’t know how to talk about how we felt.
Kim: Anne, you mentioned that your brother in law passed away, and I’m so sorry about that. As I was reading about that, I could tell that it was a very difficult time for anyone to lose a loved one—very difficult. He was the brother to Jonas, and you met Jonas when you were a teenager. So Jonas came from an Amish family and I want to know what was it about him that attracted you to him?
Anne: Well Sonny, his brother, was the one who introduced Jonas to me. He told me at one point that “I’m having a birthday party and I want you to come to the party and maybe you can meet my brother, Jonas.” So when he told me about Jonas I was—I had never met him, so I didn’t know what kind of guy he was; but as soon as I saw Jonas, I knew that he was tall, dark, and handsome.
He was a little Amish guy. I mean he was an Amish guy that knew how to work, and he was really—he was funny. Sonny and Jonas were the only two boys in the family and they were together all the time. They did a body shop. They went from horse and buggies to repairing cars and that became their business.
So I met Jonas at the birthday party and when I saw him my heart fluttered and I remember thinking “Hmm, I wonder if he would like me. I mean we hadn’t even met. So that evening at the party we played a game which we called—you may have read about it in the book—It’s called Walk a Mile and as we started to play the game,
I thought “Wow! I sure hope that I walk with Jonas during this game at some point.” Sure enough, I did and when we walked together for a little while, he asked me out for a date. I was just so excited, but I had already committed to someone else—to go on a date the very same day that Jonas had asked me. So I was 16 years old and I was experiencing this dilemma and I’d never been on a date before.
Kim: Now you have two.
Anne: Now I have two for the same night. Wow! But anyway, as a 16-year-old kid, I knew which of the two guys I really wanted to have a date with. So I gathered up all the courage I could gather, and I went to tell this other guy that I won’t be able to go with him on a date. I went with Jonas for the first time in March of 1965.
Anne: And then we married in 1968.
Kim: Now after you got married, you began to attend women’s Bible study. How did that start?
Anne: You know growing up in the Amish-Mennonite culture there was two things. One thing that I firmly believe that my theology coming out of that and becoming a teenager and then a wife at a very young age, I believed that life is good, and that God is harsh. What I know now is that seven decades later, I know today that life is hard and God is good, and I’m not confused about that anymore.
But as a young bride, we set out to have our family and after six years we had two daughters. Jonas and I went from a religion—although I accepted Christ at the age of 12 in the Amish-Mennonite church and had a relationship with God. I really set out to please God and please my parents—that was my goal and eventually find a good man and be married.
So I was reaching all my goals and doing what I dreamed I would be doing at that age when I realized that Jonas and I were—it was more about religion than it was a relationship with Christ. I met a woman and her name was Jo Tan and she was from Jakarta, Indonesia—halfway around the world—and God had sent her to Lancaster County among the Amish and Mennonite people to do Bible studies.
I ended up going to her Bible studies and that’s where I began—just the Holy Spirit put something in my heart—a hunger and a thirst for God’s Word that just consumed me. I remember going to those Bible studies and feeling life beginning to blossom in my heart and my soul and this relationship with Christ was just exciting.
I was on an adventure where I didn’t know what to do with all the excitement that I felt just reading the Word of God. I’d tell my husband about it and he’d say “Hon, are you sure you’re not getting a little bit off track or maybe a little too fanatical about this Jesus thing?” I tried to convince him “No.”
So then the two of us ended up going to this Bible study and the two of us as a young couple just really got into a relationship with Christ that was life giving and it was no longer about religion or the do’s and don’ts. I still wanted to please God. I still wanted to serve God. I wanted to reach my neighborhood and kids in the neighborhood. It just became a whole new way of life for us spiritually.
Kim: Was it during that time that you began to experience more emotion with God as opposed to what you had experienced before?
Anne: Absolutely. I just came alive. I remember during that time—interesting you would ask that question because I’m just now remembering—it was during those years that I because I didn’t know how to talk about what I wanted or was feeling as a bride / as a young bride if things didn’t work out.
For example, little thing, but if I would make dinner or when I would make dinner and Jonas would be an hour late or more because of a customer or because something happened at work, when he’d come in the door I would just do the silent treatment. Jonas would call those silent treatments—He would call those spunkers.
Anne: Like I’m being spunky. I’m just shut down. He would call them spunkers and he would ask me “What’s wrong? Why are you having a spunker?” I would say “Oh, there’s nothing wrong,” and I had no words to describe why I was feeling upset or mad or—So that’s the way I carry my silence into my marriage.
So when I began to become alive in Christ, I began to understand those spunkers were not necessary. We actually worked on that area of our life, so I was able to overcome the little spunkers that I was having. Which, of course, life took me to much bigger issues than that small issue I just mentioned. I believe the Holy Spirit did open me up in ways during that time that were very healthy for me; but my initial response to anything was still pretty much retreat.
Kim: Was it out of those Bible studies that you began to attend—that a church started to form—more and more people started to gather together?
Anne: Yes, absolutely. Initially the Bible studies were maybe 10/20 people and then they got bigger and bigger. And then out of those Bible studies, there were 11 of us that decided we actually wanted to build a church and we built a charismatic church on my dad’s farm in Christiana, Pennsylvania.
We built a church that was big enough to seat five or six hundred people—beautiful, beautiful chapel in the woods on the corner of my dad’s property. We were living this life in the Spirit just becoming acquainted with the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the life in Christ—all those things. It was the most exciting years of our life. It was about seven years that we experienced that—from 1970 to about 1977.
Kim: As you describe it, I almost picture in my head that you came from a life of black and white and now, things are now in technicolor—vivid color.
Anne: Great description, and black and white being the Amish culture is very black and white and even the Amish-Mennonite there’s not a whole lot of gray area. It’s either—It’s black or white.
Kim: And as this church began to grow you needed to find a pastor.
Anne: Yes and we found a pastor out of Houston, Texas and he came into this community of completely—Amish and Mennonites—they’re integrated in the communities. It’s not just Amish and Mennonite people living in Lancaster County.
Anne: So it’s all kinds of people but it’s a very, I want to say, influenced the whole community by Amish and Mennonite people. There’s so many of us. This pastor coming into this early new church that was—It was a Holy Spirit filled church. People were coming there on a weekly basis. We would have revival meetings for 13 weeks, at one point, every single night and out of that revival meeting we were the talk of the county, let me tell you, and as people—because it was all new.
It was during the Jesus movement in the ‘70s, if you have heard people talk about that, and it was reaching deep into Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. We were just so excited about it. At the same time, we were the talk of the county and people from everywhere just began to talk about Victory Chapel. When we brought this pastor in—He was a very charismatic kind of guy and was a great preacher and everybody loved him.
Under his ministry whole, literally, whole families would find Christ on an evening, or during a period of time, whole families would be coming to that church because they found Christ and were filled with the Holy Spirit. It was a very, very—spiritually, it was the most exciting times of our lives. We were discovering things about Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church, the body of Christ that we had never, never known before.
Kim: So things are going great. You had this wonderful church and you and Jonas were raising two beautiful little girls.
Anne: Yes, and all I ever wanted in life really was to be a good wife and have my own family.
Kim: But then on September 8, 1975 the unthinkable happened. Take me back to that day.
Anne: Yes. Angela was our second daughter. She was 19 months and 12 days old. It was on a Monday morning. We had guests overnight and we were enjoying our breakfast together. As they were saying their goodbyes, my sweet Angie slipped out our double wide trailer. At the time, we lived on the farm where mom and dad were. So we were a few hundred feet apart and our kids were back and forth all the time. So we never even thought about where the kids are. They were either at my house or my mom’s house.
But that particular morning as the guests were leaving, I stood by the door and was waving goodbye to the guests and in the meantime, I noticed Angie slipped out of the house. I saw her walking across the grass, and I thought “Hmm, do I want to call her back, or do I just want to call mom and say she’s on her way?” Because she still had her nightie on, and I hadn’t changed her diaper that morning.
So but the busyness and the emotion of the moment I just decided I’ll call mom and say Angie’s on her way. So I went back into the house and I never said goodbye to her. I never hollered after her or anything. I just watched her go around the corner. When I went back to the house and I reached for the phone and when I did, I heard just these horrific screams coming from right down at the end of my yard.
I knew immediately that Angie was gone. My heart just said—Immediately I said “No, God, not Angie.” As I stood in my kitchen and just screamed for a while, my phone—I never got to the phone for my mom—the phone dangling off the wall. I just walked around a little bit because I knew it was her. When I went to the door, my dad was coming / running toward me with Angie’s body in his arms and just all he could say was “She’s dead. I think she’s dead. I think she’s dead.”
I didn’t know what to do. I mean, what do you do when you experience trauma or tragedy? I feel like you just go into shock. I didn’t know what to do with her. He laid her on the ground. I remember picking her up, just kind of running with her, but I remember thinking I just want to run away with her.
So the next thing I remember is that I ran up the driveway and my dad behind me and we both, just instinctively, we knew that we needed to take her to the emergency clinic that we had about two miles from our house. So my dad drove there and all the way down to the clinic I couldn’t look at her. I just—I couldn’t. I just remember that she was lifeless, but I didn’t want to look at her. Because that to me was admitting that she’s gone or something. I just didn’t want to see that.
So I walked into the clinic with her that morning. I actually laid her on—just laid her on the desk and said to the nurse “I think she’s gone.” They put me into a room / whisked me into a back room and the doctor came in and said, “She’s gone.” I—at that moment, you just really don’t believe it. I was there by myself at the time. A few minutes later Jonas came. They got ahold of him. Those were in the days before cell phones. So he finally came into the room.
I remember we pulled the sheet back from her and I said “Hon, I think if you pray, God will bring her back to us.” I had the faith to believe you know and he just said to me “Hon, do we really want to bring her back here right now? This pain that we’re feeling.” I said “I guess not. I don’t know.” So that was the beginning of a whole new life for us.
Trauma and tragedy changes us, and I think that many people really don’t even know that—that fact. That’s part of my book is to help people understand that when you experience tragedy and trauma your life is changed and as a Christian, sometimes, I think that we feel like we’re exempt from that but we’re not. Now can life go on and at some point, be okay? Yes, I know that too, but in the moment, you really don’t know how you’re going to get through the day. I think another piece of that was realizing that she was gone.
We drove back to my house—my mom and dad’s house. My mom met me at the end of the driveway, and she said to me “Anne, I think that Fi thinks that you’re mad at her.” Fi is my sister who had run over her and I had never once thought about her. I was only thinking about our loss. It just stunned me. It put me into another shock, almost, thinking “Oh, I need to be strong for my sister Fi” because I loved her dearly. I knew it was an accident; never blamed her. It was never about: why did you do this? I can’t even hardly say that today. It’s just ridiculous. Why would I have even thought that? I didn’t.
So but when my mom said “Fi thinks that you’re really mad at her,” I thought “Wow. I need to be strong. I don’t need to talk to her about how I’m feeling because I can’t imagine”—and you know, Kim, it’s taken me years to really understand how deep her trauma was. I get that now, but at the time, all I wanted to do was be strong for her. So that meant I needed to stuff my feelings one more time, and that’s what I did.
Kim: As I think about your sister and what she has gone through as well, I’m at a loss for words. Because I can’t imagine the pain or the feeling of being responsible for such a tragedy—knowing that it’s an accident. It was, of course. There was no intentionality behind it but wondering: were there ever times when you wondered “Why? Why would this happen?”
Everything else is going wonderfully. This is the best you’ve ever felt. Your marriage, your daughters, your church—so many good things are happening. I was talking with someone just recently and he was telling me that he always thought that if we were good Christians—if we did the things we were supposed to do, then good things are going to happen; not the bad. But when the bad does happen, we’re at a loss for words.
Anne: Yes, a loss for words. I began that journey that day—like I asked God “Why?” My line that life is good, God is harsh; and I set out to be a good girl. I know that I was pleasing God, quote, but that’s why it became such a conflict. Like I really believed that with all of my heart. I know today that that’s bad theology. As I said: God is good, and life is hard. I’m not confused about that today, but I was back then.
The question for me was “Why? Why did you let this happen?” I believe that God answers prayer. I believe that when I ask God to take care of my children, that He will take care of them. I believe that if I ask God—you know the Bible verse that says if two of you agree on anything as touching the earth it will be given to you. I stood on those promises. So why?
I was so confused, and I became—I want to say angry at God because I didn’t understand Him. Then I became angry at my husband for not being able to comfort me. Then I was mad at myself for not being able to talk about how I’m feeling. So all these things are happening in my body, in my heart, and in my mind and there was only one thing left for me to do with all this spiritual knowledge that I had at that time was to withdraw and as we withdraw, then we find ourselves being alone.
But as many people in the body of Christ we have withdrawn but we keep moving. We keep going to church. We keep reading our Bibles. We keep praying. We keep ministering. We keep working. We just keep moving. But at the same time, we’ve taken a posture in our heart to withdraw emotionally. So in that place then—I love the quote by Dr. Richard Dobbins. He’s passed away, a couple of years ago, but he was a man that helped me so much with my theology. He said, “Anne, alone we die, but connected we live.”
So I believe that it’s Satan’s greatest—one of his greatest strategies is to make us feel alone. As we’re isolated, there’s no connection / no real connection to anyone. That’s when we begin to live in this place of loneliness and that loneliness inside of me grew. My grief got bigger. I wasn’t able to talk about it. Jonas and I would say things—We would talk about Angie’s death and the accident, but I don’t remember ever saying “I’m really sad today because Angie’s not here.” That would have been—I know it sounds silly but that was—I wouldn’t have known how to say that without completely falling apart.
So I had to stay strong and then I would cry alone—when I was by myself—which was every single time I was alone, I’m crying. So in that place then, I remember crying out to God for just—I just need to talk to somebody. There’s got to be somebody that can help me. I knew I was—the distance between my husband and I were like the great wall of China. It was firmly set in place after a few months. We still loved each other. I made dinner for him every night. I was a housewife. He was the provider. We had our one daughter that was—that we were still loving and trying to care for—LaWonna.
In the meantime, I got pregnant with our youngest daughter LaVale. I was so excited about having another baby to hold. I couldn’t wait for her birth. In the meantime, my pastor came to me and asked me if I’d want to come to his office and talk to him about how I’m doing. I was like flabbergasted. I’m like sure why not. Everybody loved our pastor. So I went to his office with just great—just hope / such hope.
Kim: Yes. Because you were finally given permission to talk / to express your emotions.
Kim: What are you feeling right now, Anne?
Anne: I remember that moment clearly—the feeling of being able to talk. I thought to myself “Wow! This is really good. I can talk. I do have the words if somebody helps me.” And then before I left his office, he took advantage of me physically.
And Angie’s death took me into great deep grief that I didn’t know how to verbalize. Then I decided after that happened to me, I didn’t understand the world of abuse and I didn’t know what to do with it. Of course, I know now what I should have done would have been just to tell my husband, but I couldn’t do that. I knew that nobody would believe what I would tell them so that day again my voice was taken from me. It was stolen.
Kim: When I think about how you grew up, you weren’t taught to express your emotions; if someone harmed you, you weren’t taught to speak out against that or to stand up for yourself, so I can see—I can understand how you being put in that situation and being trained the way you were, whether it was intentional or not. Okay, what do I do now? Who do I talk to?
Anne: Exactly. I decided that day when I left his office that I would keep that a secret, and that’s why I named my book The Secret Lies Within. The things that we believe in our secrets, most of them are lies. That’s Satan’s domain.
Kim: Yes, and that’s why he isolates us, so that he can whisper those lies—
Kim: —and we have no one else to combat them.
Anne: Absolutely, and we believe them as truth. But you don’t even know you’re believing the lies. So that began my very dark journey into this world of sexual abuse that I knew—I didn’t even know what that was. I’d never talked to anyone about it. I didn’t know about the word: abuse of spiritual power. I knew nothing about it.
All I knew was that what happened wasn’t okay and I’m going to keep it a secret. Secrets over time will destroy us. I kept that secret for nearly seven years; never saying anything to anyone. The longer it went, the more time lapsed, the more I knew that I could never tell, never tell and I am stuck in this place of darkness, despair, no hope for tomorrow. This is just the way life is and there is no way out.
Kim: Now, Anne, I want to take you back to that time and the reason I’d like you to talk about this, if you’re comfortable, is because there is someone listening who is going through what you’ve been through and they are not understanding the abuse of power and they don’t know what to do. They don’t know how they even ended up in that space. I believe that what you have to share will shed the light on this type of abuse and I believe it’s going to help someone.
Anne: I can speak to that in so many ways and so many things I can say about it but what I understand clearly today is that abuse of any kind—sexual abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse; in my case it was sexual abuse and mental abuse. What I know about that is that it isolates you so deeply that you really believe that you don’t have a right to say anything.
And what I want to say to women—and let me tell you my story is not isolated; I am not alone. There are millions of us out there who have experienced this, and we don’t know what to do. The thing that is so confusing about it is that we become completely attached and completely dependent on our perpetrator.
What I want the audience to hear and understand clearly is that abuse is a crime. You know I’ve talked about this so long and people will respond to that and say, “But forgiveness is important” and I will say “Yes, it is important,” and that’s been part of my journey. It’s in my book. But I remember clearly exactly what happened and abuse is a crime. It’s a crime that can be tried in the laws of the land.
So if we understand that about it, then that hopefully will give you a voice to say that: this is what’s been done to me or this is what’s being done to me. It’s a crime. You can actually take these people to court. You can turn them in. They make it so difficult to do. They make it very difficult.
Kim: When you heard people say to your comment or just expression of your abuse that “But there’s forgiveness; forgiveness is important,” did you think that they were telling you to not do anything about it? Just let it go.
Anne: Sometimes, sometimes. And someone telling me that I must forgive it felt, silly as it sounds, I felt like I was being controlled by somebody telling me what to do and then I felt guilty all over again. Like I don’t know how to forgive. I’m not sure how to do that. I’ve never experienced this tragic. So what I tell women today or anyone that talks to me about it, I tell them you can take your time. You can think about this, but you don’t want to hang onto it for life.
What really helped me, Kim, more than anything: many, many years later, I was praying about this. It was on Easter Sunday and I know that as believers, Jesus is our example of forgiveness on the cross and I was reading that story again and as I was reading it, for the first time I saw it differently. What I believe is that some pain is so deep that it’s more difficult to forgive someone than it is for someone that stole a piece of candy out of your house; or someone that didn’t give back the coat that they borrowed; or someone that may have said something hurtful to you—maybe a friend. So there are levels of forgiveness.
When I look at the story of Jesus on the cross, for the first time I really heard what He said. Jesus carried the whole weight of the whole world from the beginning of time to the end of time and He said “Father, would you forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing to me.” He didn’t say “Hey, people, I forgive you for hurting me.” He implored His Father to forgive them and, in a sense, He said “Father, would you forgive them for my sake because they don’t know what they’re doing.”
In that moment I realized that I could ask the Father to forgive my perpetrator because that felt doable for me and that really helped me to forgive him and release / release him so that the pain and the anger wouldn’t continue to impact my life. From that day to this if I feel anger—He also abused our oldest daughter when she was a little girl and that’s probably—it is the greatest burden that I carried. Sometimes when I think about that, I just have to say “Father, would you forgive him because he doesn’t know what he did to us,” and I’m okay with that.
I’m sorry this is so heavy.
Kim: No, it’s okay.
Anne: My tears and my feelings right now are the memories I have of them. I truly am not angry about it anymore. I’ve released it. There’s no guilt; there’s no blame. I just know the facts and I remember and there are feelings involved in that.
Anne: And that’s okay. That does not mean you haven’t forgiven just because you feel or get emotional about it. Forgiveness is about making a choice. I have forgiven. I will continue to forgive. It’s a lifestyle that we live as believers and it’s an important part of our walk with Christ. But when you don’t feel it’s within you, then just tell the Father: Father, will you forgive them/him/her for Your sake because they don’t know what they’ve done to me. There’s a release in that that just got me on the path to forgiveness where it’s been forgiven, and I know that in my heart.
Kim: Anne, may I share with you a little bit of my story in terms of forgiveness? And I want to just kind of hear your thoughts because there were some things that were done to me when I was a child and it took some time for me to even realize that I had been hurt. So I had to first recognize that I had been hurt by someone. Then I chose to forgive with my words, and I thought I had forgiven with my heart. But I realized years later that I was still holding on to some unforgiveness. I believe it’s because I had not gotten to a place of healing where I was strong enough and healthy enough to forgive.
Kim: So as I hear you talk about forgiveness, I wonder if that is something similar where you can verbalize it and you can desire to forgive, but perhaps you may not experience that freedom that comes with forgiveness until you’re able to process your pain and to heal—allow God to heal you and bring you into that place where you can say “Ah, yes, I am. I’m there.”
Anne: You described it very well. I don’t think I need to add anything to that. I think forgiveness is a willingness on our part. I want to and as far as I know, I have. But then, like you said, later on you get these feelings and you’re like “Huh, I thought I forgave that.” But you know what, then you forgive again.
Anne: I think you mature in your walk with Christ. You mature in your abilities to forgive and to understand. I mean, a five-year-old doesn’t understand forgiveness like a 50-year-old. You know what I’m saying? So I think as a kid it’s harder to maybe come to terms with the reality that “Yes, I have forgiven.”
But as you get older and you mature, some of these feelings and these thoughts come back, and I think once again “I release them” and “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’ve done to me,” and I forgive. I choose to forgive and that’s what we continue to do. I believe that. That’s the way it’s been for me. I believe that we need to be patient with people as they go through their own journeys of forgiveness. Hold their hand through it—
Anne: —and let them know God is there. God is gracious. He’s forgiving. He’s patient. He’s longsuffering, and forgiveness is a choice.
Kim: It is. And it’s a good choice.
Anne: Yes; Amen. It sure is.
Kim: What are some warning signs that we might not recognize while we’re in an abusive relationship?
Anne: If you’re a Christian and you’re a believer—you’re following Christ with all of your
heart. You love Him body, soul, and spirit—one of the warning signs can be if there’s just something in your heart that makes you say “You know what, I should or I really need to tell somebody about this.” Because that day walking out of the office something said to me “You need to tell Jonas.” But I said, “I can’t.” But I believe today that was the Holy Spirit telling me what to do.
So one of the things to pay attention to when you’re walking into something that you’re totally unaware of and it starts to go wrong and you’re feeling like “Hmm, this doesn’t feel right,” then that’s a very good indication that you need to walk away from it. Now I think in the book I’ve given some—maybe some tips about what a perpetrator really looks like; what they’re trying to do; and how that you can respond to that. But just right now, just off the cuff, I’m saying: number one, pay attention to those moments that you find yourself in a place that’s uncomfortable—number one.
If you’re in the middle of an abusive situation and you’ve been there for six months or six years or however long it’s been—I’ve talked to women that have been in situations for many years and they’re still there and the only advice that I can give to you is that you really have to start paying attention to your heart and your desires. If you feel like you’re being abused, it’s time. It doesn’t matter where you’re at in this relationship. It’s time for you to step back, gather all the strength you can, and the courage that you get from God, and ask Him to help you, and begin to move away from that situation as quickly as you can.
As an adult, it’s easier for you to do that than a young girl that may be listening to your program. But even as a young girl—I heard a story not too long ago of a seven-year-old girl who’s being abused by her 14-year-old cousin that was living in her house for seven years. At the age of 14, she told her mother what had been going on for seven years and her mother, thankfully, believed everything she said. They took him—They reported it to the police that very day and this 14-year-old was put into a juvenile home at that time.
As mothers listening, pay attention to your children. When they come to you and they say something has happened that doesn’t feel right, mothers, please pay attention to your children. I’ve heard of devastating stories about girls that would tell their mothers and their mother did not believe them. The devastation of a life for a child that tells that is not believed is devastating. So moms, believe your children. Do some research. Be a private detective for your children and find out the facts and turn the perpetrators into the law—take them to court because that’s your right.
Kim: Anne, what makes a woman stay in a situation like that?
Anne: Well, for me, it was fear of what he would do to me; fear of what would happen if I walk away. Would my husband—would he ever find out? If he does, would he leave me? If my husband leaves me and my perpetrator’s mad at me, I’m left with no one. So, it’s really fear-based. There was so many times I thought I was going to leave him, but he would say things that would make me be so afraid.
The other very evil part of this all: I was so dependent on him that there was no one in the world that I believed understood me and even, in some weird way, cared about me—because they do enough of kind things for you / to you that let you believe that they really do care for you. So we stay because we’re dependent on them and because we’re afraid that if we leave them, there will be nothing left, and “can I make it on my own?”
I remember telling my perpetrator: “This is it. I’m done.” I have that story in my book and he laughed at me. He said, “You’ll never make it on your own.” It’s a mind game. But my anger at that time became my servant. I was so mad. My anger served me well that day and I remember laughing at him and I said to him: “Oh, yes I will. You just watch.” He said, “You’ll never make it with Jonas.” I said “You watch; I will. I’m going to do it without you.”
But for months after that he would call me and stop me and there were sometimes I almost caved because it’s that strong. So I understand women and I want women to understand it’s evil. When I use that word, I know what I’m talking about. It’s evil because how can a man—and my sisters were also involved with him at the very same time. We didn’t know about it. It’s in my book. They tell their stories. My own daughter—I didn’t know about until she was 25. But this is the work of the enemy.
It’s evil to the core and I would like to say—I wish I could say that we were able to put this man behind bars, but we were not able to do that. We were able to take his license from the two denominations that he was a part of. We were able to take his ministerial license away from him but that wasn’t enough.
But we couldn’t legally take it any further because there were not enough women that were strong enough and courageous enough and we didn’t have enough money. You know there’s all these reasons. These perpetrators know exactly who to prey on and we’re weak. We’re just too weak to fight this—I want to call it evil and when—
Kim: Yes, it is evil.
Anne: I want you to understand it is straight up evil. There’s nothing else to describe it. Once you know that, there’s something inside of you that gives you the power that you need to get out of that relationship—when you understand fully and completely it’s evil, then you’ll find a way out.
Kim: In your book you say, “Like blood and water, wounded people trigger the internal radar of a predator.” How do you get away from that? If you have been wounded and I have been. These words have fit my life.
Kim: At one point, I thought “Do I have something written on my forehead that brings these people around me?” What is that?
Anne: When we’re engaged in that kind of evil, we become—I’ve often said I didn’t know anything about that world, but I discovered the tools of the dark world. I discovered them just as you learn the tools of the kingdom. You begin to understand how to walk in Christ. In the same way, you discover the tools to survive in the dark world / in the world of evil. And it’s in that world that we become familiar with the spirit of deception. We become familiar with the spirit of lust and greed and manipulation—all those spirits that we’re engaged in as we engage in this life with this perpetrator.
And when you come out of that—even after I came out of that, for months it seemed to me that that was written all over me somewhere—like: how do guys know? How do they? But it’s a spirit that we carry. In the spirit world, they’re familiar with each other. You understand? Just like in the spirit of Christ / in the body of Christ, we know each other. There’s the gifts of the spirit / the gifts of discernment. Like you can feel and sense and discern. Well, in the evil spirit world, it’s the very same thing.
So until for me—until I was completely free from his power which took me some time. Because I had to fight against it for months afterwards. But there came a point in time when I was done and there was no more. I no longer felt like this was written all over me or like somebody knew something about me that I wasn’t telling. How do you know? But it took me a long time to get out of that world—beginning to fill my mind and my heart with thoughts of the Word of God and Truth which is why I finally was able to write this book The Secret Lies Within.
There’s no other way to come out of that world until you begin to expose the lies and you do that through the power of confession found in James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer says you cannot do this and be proud at the same time. And that was the beginning of my new life when I began to open up and be truthful with my husband. It’s really all about bringing our deeds into the light and to walk in the light as He is in the light. And then we have fellowship one with another and then the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
And yet we’ve been taught to just look good, smile anyway, praise the Lord anyway, and God will get you through. Well let me tell you. I believe there’s more to it than that. I believe it’s all about bringing your deeds into the light—of Christ, yes—but bring your deeds into the light with another brother / another sister. Be open and honest. Confess one to another and you will be healed. That’s why I wrote the book.
Kim: That’s why you wrote the book. Do you think there are any physical attributes or lifestyle choices or the way a woman carries herself that would attract a predator? Is there anything that we’re doing—aside from the spiritual side that you just mentioned—is there anything that women are doing or the way they carry themselves that you think attracts a predator?
Anne: Well, hmm. Boy, that’s a loaded question. Let me just think about that. I do feel like our behaviors, of course, can attract a predator. In my case, I was not behaving inappropriately at all, but a predator sees the woundedness in someone. They have the discernment by the evil spirit; I just believe they can sense when you’re in trouble and they know exactly who they’re targeting. They’re looking for women in trouble, women that are weak, women that may have experienced tragedy.
For example, my sister then was also—He did the same thing to her after the tragedy that she experienced. Both of us were in a very deep place grieving. So in the spirit world I feel like yes, they know exactly who they are looking for. I also believe as believers and as women in general that if we really understood the difference between men and women, we would act appropriate but more appropriately and we would probably even, maybe, dress appropriately.
That sounds so old fashioned I almost hate to say that because I’m like “Wah, I mean, really?” Yes for real. I know we live in a very promiscuous and the morality of our country has really gone down. So that’s a whole other issue but as believers and as Christian women, yes, we can act and dress appropriately. We can do our best to not entice. But again, I think a lot of it is in the spirit world is where a lot of it happens. In particular with perpetrators who are looking for I think the Bible calls us weak willed women. You know we just kind of fall for whatever comes our way.
But you know what I want to say to the women, as a group of women, all of us are not weak willed. God made us to be strong willed women; not bossy, not in charge, not at any cost I’m going to be the boss or be the CEO. That’s really not the kind of woman that God created.
He made us to be strong in spirit. He made us to be influencers in our homes first and then in our world. When we find our place in Christ, as women, there’s not a whole lot that we have to say or do to get to the top—if you want to get to the top. Just be the woman that God created you to be, and what is that? I mean we could talk another whole hour / two hours about what that means.
But I know that when we find our place in Christ, that as a woman, we’re in tune with the spirit world. He teaches us how to be a woman of God; how to be humble; how to be a servant; and how to be successful at the same time. We play a great role in this world as women. I feel like Satan from the very beginning has demonized / has diminished / has influenced the woman to the point where we feel like the only way we can get anything we want is by acting out or by becoming this macho kind of woman. I’m not sure.
But there’s another way that God has planned for us. He made us influencers in this world. I believe when we find our rightful place in Christ that we’ll—and we have. There’s a great movement for women. I see that and sense that, but in the body of Christ, I feel like that we have a little ways to go. I feel like we just need to understand who we are in Christ and serve our husbands and our families and be humble servants in that way and God will take us to wherever He wants us to be as we learn that principle.
Kim: And you’re living proof of that and we’re going to talk about that a little bit later.
Kim: But I want to ask you: in situations like this, there’s a lot of guilt and shame, and in your book, you talk about the difference between guilt and shame. Can you share a little bit about that?
Anne: Well, I heard Sheila Walsh say it one time and I’ve never forgot it—that guilt says that I did something wrong. That it’s actually healthy to feel guilt when I did something wrong. So guilt says that I did something wrong and it’s meant to be the deterrent—like to say I’m sorry or to change what we’ve done wrong or whatever. So guilt is actually healthy. It tells us we did something wrong.
Shame tells us that we are something wrong. When she said that, I was reminded I never really separated the two. I was just one big bundle of guilt and shame. I was just—I wore the cloak everyday and that was what I was comfortable with. But as I came out of all the darkness and the secrets and the lies and began to understand, I knew I was guilty for sure. But I didn’t understand how ashamed I was and how that shame was the very cloak that I carried even after I was forgiven by my husband and by God and anyone that knew me that needed to. I was forgiven. I knew that but I still carried the shame.
I mean, after all, hey, come on. All the things that I did wrong, certainly, I deserve to feel ashamed. I was never able to come to terms with that until when Sheila Walsh said that shame says we are something. We really believe we are something wrong. I remember thinking wow through the 20 years of my past I cannot tell you how many times I would say “What’s wrong with me? What is wrong with me?” That was a part of my daily what I would say when things would go wrong. What is wrong with me?
So, I knew that there was a very deep problem with shame, and I was never really able to overcome that. Because when your guilty and your shame filled—I knew—there was no doubt in my mind—I deserved to be guilty. I deserved to feel shame. I mean look at what I did. I hurt my family, my husband, my children and the after effects of all of that—that big secret that I kept was far reaching.
The year was 2003. It would have been 28 years after Angie was killed—from 1975 to 2003. I for the first time I was able to forgive myself. When it happened—the story was too long to tell, but I was sitting on my chair and I had done something wrong. I had made great progress and was even talking about God had set me free and I was no longer guilty. I mean I had come a long way through counseling and through just changing my life habits. I was in the middle of this successful company, Auntie Anne’s, and things were well, but something happened.
I remember sitting on my chair that day in my house and I was beginning—Satan was beginning, just once again, scream in my ear like: you’re really not who you think you are. I mean if people really know who you are. You’re such a failure / such a fake—all these things he was telling me, and I mean screaming in my ear. I started to feel myself just going down, down, down in this dark pit.
I clearly remember saying at that time, I said, “God, I can’t go down there again. I don’t want to go back in that pit of depression. I can’t go there again.” I was just weeping. In the middle of all of that the Lord just said to me “Anne, have I not done enough for you?” He wrote off / listed off the things that he did. “I lived in heaven and then I moved to planet Earth for 33 years,” and He told me what He did while He was here. “Then they killed me, and they put me in the grave and then I rose again and today, Anne, I am sitting at the right hand of the Father and I am interceding for you.” He said “There is nothing left for me to do for you. Will you forgive yourself?”
Well I never thought about that. I never thought about forgiving myself. I mean it’s great. I forgave my perpetrator. God forgave me. Jonas forgave me. But I still felt like I deserved to be punished in some way. I knew I was going to heaven. I knew God had blessed me, but I still need to carry this.
But that moment was a moment that was so real for me and I literally fell on my knees weeping. I said “Yes.” All I could say was “Yes, I will. Yes, I will.” That was the day the guilt and the shame rolled off of my back and I have never felt it since then. Not one bit. And as I think about back then I realized that Jesus not only died for my sins—I knew that—but He carried my shame. I’m free and it’s supernatural. It truly is supernatural.
Kim: It is a supernatural beautiful thing and the thing that He wants to do for all of us.
Anne: Yes, yes. It’s His great desire and that’s what He—that’s the plan He has in place. I finally figured that out in the year 2003. Love it. It’s amazing.
Kim: 28 years later.
Kim: You mentioned how confession has played a key role in your healing process. I want to take you back a little bit. How did you tell your husband about what had happened?
Anne: Well, for seven years there were three things that I learned. During the time, I didn’t realize it but hindsight. My story today is—Looking back at all the things that I learned, I was able to put it all together in a book and like “Wow! This is what I learned.” But it was during those seven years that there were three types of confession that I discovered.
The first one is what we all do. It’s the bedside confession. It’s getting on our knees, I don’t know, driving in your car, being in the shower, whatever—however it is you talk about it. For me, it was literally on my knees by my bed, every single day during all of those seven dark years, just weeping and telling God I’m sorry. I don’t know how I got here. I’m so sorry. I’m such a bad person. So weeping my way through those seven years talking to God. So we have that privilege as believers. You can do that no matter what you’re into right now. Be in touch with Jesus because He wants to hear. He cares about you. He knows what you’re doing anyway. So we have the wonderful privilege of talking to Him.
The second type is the journaling which David did. The book of Psalms. How many psalms did he write? David journaled. It’s to the point where he was so real, so raw. I’m like sometimes huh, I don’t know. I can’t even read that it’s so bad, you know. [Laughter] But we love David. Why do we love him so much? Because he was real, and we wish we could be that real and so the second type of confession is journaling. And the first type, the bedside, is safe. The second type, the journaling, is a little bit risky. Like what if somebody finds your journal when your dead and gone, you know what I mean?
I remember telling my husband one day: “So Hon, are you going to read my journals when I’m dead and gone?” He said, “Are you kidding?” He said “I had a front row seat to those journals. I don’t need to read about it.” [Laughter] I said “Okay. Okay, I’ll keep journaling.”
So the third type of confession then is the one to another confession. I say that that’s the most scary. And let me tell you; when I do women’s conferences and I talk about the one to another confession, I get thumbs up. Prayer—we can do that together. We can write our little journaling down. We can do that. But when it comes to the one to another confession, there is an obvious standoff. I can’t do that. And that’s where I feel like most of us live. I can’t do that.
Now, do I believe there is—I feel like there is a movement toward storytelling and being more open and honest and transparent. Well let me tell you; I feel like we have a long way to go in understanding the power of the one to another confession. The day that God just spoke to me and said I want you to get up off your knees and I want you to go tell your husband about your life. Wow. I wanted to stay on my knees, or I wanted to keep writing. I didn’t want to bring him into my world. I didn’t want to hurt him in that way.
I felt like I could get through. Being silent was spiritual. I thought I was being strong spiritual by being silent. I didn’t realize the secret was that bad until years later as I looked back. But that moment was—I argued with God: “I can’t do that. I want to just—please, let me stay on my knees.
I get in my little pick up truck and my palms sweating, my heart racing, everything inside of me is saying I can’t do this. But you can call it Holy Spirit gave me power—what I’m just saying: it just took plain down guts and courage. I drove to the little shop and I was skin and bones. I had nothing left to give—cannot give what you don’t have. I had nothing to give.
I liked my husband. I don’t know; I didn’t love myself so how could I love him. I was such a failure. I was unlovable / unforgiveable / unchangeable. I have nothing to give. There was no hugs. There was no affection between us. There was nothing and I went to make that simple confession—little two lines that I made—and when I was done with that, I looked at him and I looked in his eyes and I realized “Wow! I hurt him. This is really bad.” I knew the lie I believed that he was going to divorce me. I just knew for sure and I couldn’t bear that thought.
So I didn’t even ask him to forgive me. We didn’t hug; nothing. I just walked away and ran out to my car and realized that “Wow, this is bad.” I went back to my house and fell on my bed and said “Lord what am I going to do? I don’t know what to do. I know I’ve hurt Jonas,” and this is the words that God spoke to me that day. He said “Anne, he who has been forgiven much loveth much. He who has been forgiven little loves little. You have been forgiven much.” That’s what God told me that afternoon and it gave me courage but still I didn’t know what Jonas was going to do.
When he came home, he said we need to talk. We talked after the kids were in bed that night. He just said to me “Anne, I know that you’re unhappy and I knew you’d been unhappy, and I thought it was because of Angie.” But he said “I really want you to be happy so whatever it takes, we’ll do it. I’ll help you.” He said “If you need to find another place to stay or to live, let me know and we’ll plan this. We’ll do it together. If you need to pack your bags, I’ll help you pack.” He said, “I want you to know if you need to go then you have to take the girls with you because they need their mother,” and that was the beginning of hope. And I was like “Wow!”
Kim: But he was willing to stay.
Anne: He still believed in me. He still sees value in me as the mother to his children. After all of that; I was stunned. That gave me hope to—He didn’t say I forgive you. He didn’t say—nothing like that. That’s what he said to me and I said “Okay, I’ll let you know if I need to go.” I really felt like I probably was going to have to go at that point. But there was no guilt.
He didn’t blame me for anything. He didn’t scream at me or yell at me or ask me why did I do this to them/the family. That’s what he told me and that was the night I knew that, somehow, we were going to make this. I didn’t know how but I knew we would. I also believe that was the beginning, the very beginning, of the redemption that began to take place. I’ve often said the one secret that I kept had long term effects on my life—devastating—but the one confession that I made had long term effects that were just unbelievable. One simple, single, hard confession changed it all for me. That’s hard to explain but that’s the power of confession—the one to another.
Kim: The one to another which is the hardest because you have someone looking back at you. You don’t know whether they’re going to accept that confession and forgive you or if they will reject you and walk away.
Anne: Absolutely, and the Lord showed me years later that when you make that confession—when you obey that mandate like He says do this and you’ll be healed—when you do that, it’s not up to you to dictate the outcome. That’s not even part of it. He just said do the one to another and I’ll heal you.
Kim: Just be obedient, daughter; be obedient.
Anne: Exactly. Really, it’s not up to us. How they’re going to respond is not up to us. We cannot manipulate that.
Kim: This is true. This is true. Do you mind if I read an excerpt from your book?
Anne: No; please do.
Anne: I wonder what I wrote. [Laughter]
Kim: It’s good stuff, let me tell you. On page 100 you write
Growing up I thought I needed to be truthful to make God happy, but all along He wanted me to tell the truth because it makes me happy. Walking in truth, including the beautiful and terrifying process of confession and forgiveness, leads us towards wholeness which brings Him and us joy. Even when it seems impossible, truth holds the key that unlocks our prison doors.
And then I’ll skip down a few lines.
And every time we risk everything to tell the truth, I’m convinced that God’s spirit rushes into the void where that lie once took up space and He makes us whole again.
Anne: Whenever you confess, it opens your world and it opens your body, it opens your mind because God is truth. When you confess, you are walking in the light.
Anne: There is no darkness in truth. So that’s a great description of my life right now, and I walk in that every day. What I love about this principle: it’s not about just bringing the big things like committing murder or committing adultery or being abused or being deceptive. Those are the big things that I had to overcome. I mean those are the big confessions, but it works in every day life as moms, as business women, as wives, as friends to live in this truth.
Just to walk in life; to do the one to another confession. How it works for me today is living in this dark world for so long I had either a knot in my stomach or my heart hurt, one or the other. And today, when my belly starts hurting, I know there’s something off; or when my heart starts feeling bad, I know there’s something off. When my belly hurts, I’m mad. When my heart hurts, it means somebody hurt my feelings and I pay attention to that. It’s pretty easy. It’s pretty simple if you’re in tune with that.
And so what I know if that feeling in my stomach doesn’t go away after I talk to Jesus about it and after I can write about it, if I journal about it and it’s still there, then it means that I need to make a confession. I need to do a one to another. I need to pick up the phone. I need to text, or I need to tell my husband “Hon, you know what yesterday I blah blah blah. I’m sorry. I know I hurt your feelings and I’m sorry.” Kim, that’s the way I walk in the light today.
Kim: That’s such a great example. I love that.
Anne: It’s a proven—It works. As soon as you confess it—You may have to pay the consequences for that depending what the grievance is but I’m talking for the everyday—the little things that we experience that just irritate us. We don’t have to put up with those irritants. We can actually walk in the light. We can talk to each other about it and confess the things that bother us or the things that I’ve done to hurt you. Over time you learn to live that way. I refuse to live any other way because it’s so much better to live in this freedom and light that I’ve experienced.
And you know what, it gets bigger and better all the time. It’s like wow! When you get saved, you’re like I’m walking in the light. I know I’m going to heaven. That’s only a small piece of it. That’s an amazing gift that God gave us. He wants us to live fully in this life through truth and light and as we do that, freedom just gets bigger and bigger in Christ.
Kim: It’s a beautiful thing. You quote Brené Brown in your book and she says “When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending” which is exactly what you did. Now tell me, how did Auntie Anne’s pretzel business come about?
Anne: Well you know my story started—as I told you—my upbringing on the Amish farm started out very simple / very safe. I started out well. Then I went through all of these years of turmoil and hurt and pain and shame, and who would believe the ending of my story could be well?
Coming into this whole other world of redemption, as I mentioned, and Auntie Anne’s being a part of that. Wow! Would never have been possible ever in my mind, ever. Even when we started Auntie Anne’s, we had no idea what God was up to but I can tell you that without that one simple, single, hard confession to my husband, Auntie Anne’s would never have happened because I know for sure if I would have stayed on that path, I wouldn’t be here today. I would be dead or somewhere else.
But the power of that confession and the redemption that began to happen that day created a platform for us / for me to be able to share my story for God’s glory. He gave us a pretzel first and then he gave me a platform to share my story. Only God could do something.
Kim: Only God.
Anne: I mean it’s just a pretzel; you know what I’m saying?
Anne: So when we started, it was never a plan of ours to start and do an international franchise company because we started out of the need—Jonas began marriage counseling after we went through all of our family issues and all of our trauma. He began to study psychology and discovered “wow, this is interesting.” He just got so intrigued with human behavior and psychology that he said I want to be a counselor.
So over time he began doing marriage counseling in our home and in the church as a free service and within a month he was so busy, and we began to—I said “Wow! Okay, I’m going to have to go to work.”
I went to work at a farmer’s market, and they were making pretzels and that’s why Auntie Anne’s was born. Because I wanted to support him, and we were able to for ten years—Auntie Anne’s fully funded Jonas and his counseling center. We saw thousands of clients in a year. We had five to anywhere from six to eight employees / paid employees for ten years through the company of Auntie Anne’s. It was just our greatest joy to do that. We would never have dreamed, never have dreamed, that out of our pain our purpose was actually born.
Kim: That is an incredible story and you tell more details about it in your book. It really is fascinating how God can take something that you thought was so small and turn it into something amazing and give you this platform to share your story. I’m sure when you first started sharing your story you didn’t plan on sharing it all perhaps.
Anne: Oh, absolutely not. No, and that’s what I want to tell women, as I’m thinking about this right now, is when you think about sharing your story, you’re like “Oh I could never do that.” I want to tell you: yes, you can, and you start small. You start over a cup of coffee with someone that you love, and you care for and that you can trust and someone that you know loves you. You have to just start somewhere.
I started with just little steps like I really did the small steps and finally, I was able to share my whole story and here I am. There’s nothing that I wouldn’t share—nothing about my life. It’s really a great place to be.
I want to encourage women that are hearing this today: just tell your story. It may not have been as deep and dark as mine or it can be a whole lot worse than mine. I know that. It’s not about comparing my story with yours or you with mine. It’s really about sharing our stories, not comparing, but just simply sharing. Because when you share your story, then God’s glory can be revealed in your life. Some people go “Oh my goodness! Wow, you experienced that and you’re still here? You’re among the living?”
Anne: The Bible is all about stories. It’s all about stories. Look at the Bible stories—the good / the bad / the evil. Some of them are so bad I don’t even want to read them, right? And yet we’re in a point in life where we can’t share our stories. I’m saying we need to share our stories so that we can feel connected to one another.
Kim: You know, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about something Anne said in our conversation: trauma and tragedy change us. The reason I’ve thought about this is because of the trauma I experienced growing up which I’ve written about in my book, Unfavorable Odds.
As Christians, I think we have a tendency to want to ignore the pain we experience. We think our job is to move out of sadness and into this place of joy as quickly as we can. Because we think that the sooner we can reorient our thinking and move from despair and grief to joy and peace, the more mature we are as Christians.
I think we have to remember that our emotions—they’re a gift from God. They’re a part of being human and more so, they are a part of being image bearers of God. No they shouldn’t control our lives, but they should not be ignored nor denied. God made us to be people who feel things deeply, both joy and pain. We have to embrace our emotions. We have to listen to our feelings. This may sound surprising but there is a lot we can only learn about ourselves and about God from our feelings.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about something else Anne mentioned: how secrets over time will destroy us. Ephesians 5:11 says that we are not to take part in the unfruitful works of darkness. We are to expose them. Secrets and shame are powerful and when these things stay hidden, they have power over us. And all the while Satan is whispering in our ears you must keep these things a secret. If people know these things about you and your life no one will love you. People will abandon you.
But when we do what Anne has done—when we bring these shameful things that have happened to us into the open—even those things that we have done that we’re ashamed of right now—when we bring these things out into the light, we are taking the first steps that will eventually lead us to seeing strongholds broken in our lives.
I’m wondering if there are things you’ve kept secret / things you’ve never told anyone because, well, because of the shame or the pain involved. I’m wondering if God is telling you today to find a trusted friend and bring that secret to light. Remember when Anne quoted James 5:16: Confess your sins one to another? What is it that God is calling you to open up about and to confess to someone today?
Anne said when she began to tell others about what happened to her, that was the beginning of her new life. Ultimately, it’s the truth that sets us free. Ephesians 4:25 says “Therefore, having put away all falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
I want to again thank Anne Beiler for joining us. In our show notes we have links to more information about Anne’s book, The Secret Lies Within. And we also have links to other resources that can help those who’ve experienced abuse.
If you enjoyed today’s conversation, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to the podcast. You can search for Unfavorable Odds on Apple podcasts or Stitcher or wherever you go for podcasts. By the way, we’d love to get your feedback, and if you have some nice things to say, positive reviews are greatly appreciated.
And if I can ask you a big favor. Help us spread the word about our podcast. Maybe think about one or two people you think might enjoy or benefit from listening and pass on the information for Unfavorable Odds. I would greatly appreciate it.
Next time on Unfavorable Odds, we’ll hear from Shelly Genovese Calhoun.
Shelly: When the first tower collapsed, of course, I was devastated for the lives lost in that building but I continued to only think about Steve. Thirty minutes later the north tower collapsed. I collapsed to the ground with it. I mean I just laid on the floor sobbing in hopeless despair.
Kim: Shelly Genovese Calhoun, next time.
I’m Kim Anthony. Thanks for listening to this episode of Unfavorable Odds.
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