I am often drawn to books about people who grew up in conservative Christian circles who wind up abandoning their faith because of the pain in their past (like Jesus Land). I want to understand how the faith that so empowers me has hurt other people so badly. And I want to know how God’s people too often lead others away from God instead of toward him. Many such spiritual memoirs end with the author swearing off religion, but in Girl at the End of the World, despite a childhood of emotional, spiritual, and physical abuse, Elizabeth finds her way back to faith, not through the fundamentalist religion of her past, but through the mystery-embracing truths of Catholicism.
Then I realize: She isn’t just Jesus’s mother. She is the mother of our Lord and Savior. Mary is important.
I touch my tender belly and think of the twins growing inside me. I’m not just a mother either. I am important.
The thought breaks over me like the rising dawn of a new day: What if God is pursuing me through the gentle love of His Son’s mother? What if, knowing that all the masculine roads to God are blocked for me, Jesus has sent His mother to lead me back to Him?
The granddaugher of the founders of The Assembly, Elizabeth grew up in a religious cult. She writes about the pain of her childhood and the intense anxiety it provoked with raw honesty that absolutely draws the reader in. She isn’t hesitant to expose herself, her family, or her faith, and because of that, her story is a beautiful portrayal of brokenness and hope.
Elizabeth Esther grew up in love with Jesus but in fear of daily spankings (to “break her will”). Trained in her family-run church to confess sins real and imagined, she knew her parents loved her and God probably hated her. Not until she was grown and married did she find the courage to attempt the unthinkable. To leave.
In her memoir, readers will recognize questions every believer faces: When is spiritual zeal a gift, and when is it a trap? What happens when a pastor holds unchecked sway over his followers? And how can we leave behind the harm inflicted in the name of God without losing God in the process?
By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Girl at the End of the World is a story of the lingering effects of spiritual abuse and the growing hope that God can still be good when His people fail.
Release Date: March 2014