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by Brenda Lee

I’m gazing out my bay window at some birds, perched on the bush in my back yard. Gadzillions (is there such a word?) of snowflakes covered the city of my hometown in Golden, Colorado , last night and the birds are obviously hungry and cold. Like all of us who have come out of a cult, they are survivors in the harsh winter environment, and yet they continue to sing! I dust the railing of my porch with some breadcrumbs, knowing that even though they may not know and trust me their burden for today will be a little lighter. It’s a miniscule act of kindness, but one that helps me appreciate how far I’ve come in my own life.

I used to be like those birds, scraping for every crumb in my life, hopeful that someone might recognize my pain and offer me some hope. Inside, I was bitterly angry. Why was I put on this Earth as a young child to suffer so as a young slave of the Watchtower? How dare my Jehovah Witness family turn their back on me when I finally said I had had enough! Who created this master plan to make my life so difficult?

Then I realized that our struggles in life make us stronger, instill in us compassion for others, and propel us to set goals for our lives. They are literally the wind under our sails. Without them, we go nowhere.

If I had known as a child that my life today would be so incredibly blessed, the burden I felt daily, like the one those birds are experiencing outside my window, would have lightened. So often I felt abandoned as a child and young adult. I failed to see how many crumbs were actually being thrown my way. Instead, it felt like I was alone in this world. This is why I entitled Chapter 1 of my book “All Alone in the World.”

Sometimes life is incredibly painful and can test us to our limits. However, we should never give in to victim mentality. Don’t stop living with hopes and pursuing your dreams. And don’t ever forget the indomitable spirit you have inside. Tap into it and accept the crumbs, wherever you find them. For when you do, you’ll find that gentler times, warmer days, will be right around the corner.

Lee is a regular bullet columnist who has appeared as a regular on the TV documentary The Secret Lives of Women “Cults” segments. She has written several pieces in our starting rotation but her first essay for the bullet was on Mothers Day “An Author’s Reflection on Mothers Day…” She overcame her mother’s (mis)using religion like a scalpel in a power-mad effort to break her will, only to write a powerful book of revelation and triumph.

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