Last month was hard.
It seems like I always lose people I care about in October.
When you leave fundamentalism, usually no one from that world will listen to you, especially not a parent.
Pege and her husband were different.
I’d been kicked out of my church two and a half years before when I found out that they were hosting the former Bob Jones’ counseling director’s conference on Christian living.
I organized a protest within a few days because I felt like no one was listening to the recent articles about him and no one cared that this man had caused so much hurt to so many people spanning decades.
My friends and I stood out in the dark and cold along the sidewalk, as the police instructed us. It was one of those “now I’m on the outside looking in” kind of moments.
Some of the church people laughed at us while they drove in, probably thinking that our protest was just persecution and a sign that they were on the right side.
But one couple walked across the parking lot to talk to us.
Jeff and Pege said they weren’t sure what we were upset about, but they just wanted to hear the other side. I’ll always respect them for this.
After we talked, they were disturbed that their pastor was endorsing this speaker without mentioning the controversy surrounding him.
This began my internet friendship with Pege.
Through my cross country move and changing jobs, she often checked in with me. She asked me about my new church and I’d tell her stories of how I was healing. I’m her kids’ age, so she prayed for restoration and healing with my parents and told me about her own difficult childhood.
I didn’t always have time to respond right away between working and moving and school, but it meant so much to know that she cared.
She said my pastors sounded like what I needed all along—that my old pastor had been harsh and quick to condemn.
She didn’t always understand where all of us ex-fundie outcasts were coming from, but she loved us. When we took in another friend forced to leave home, she visited and brought us food.
After my #MeToo article a few weeks ago, she emailed me:
Eleanor, I am so sad and in tears after reading you were raped. I have no words I know that could bring comfort. I am so sorry this happened to you. You are very brave in sharing your story. This was not your fault. NO said ONCE is NO!!
I meant to answer her. After anything I write goes viral, I hide from the internet for a while.
One week later, I got this email:
Oct. 23: It is with a heavy heart that I share with you that Pege Rogers, a past member of GBC, went home to be with the Lord unexpectedly last night. She had a blood clot that moved to her heart. She went in to cardiac arrest and they were unable to revive her. She has three children all that are out of state and will be traveling home to be with their dad, Jeff. Please pray for each of them as they make this trip home and that our God of comfort would be so near to this family during this difficult time.
In tears, I typed out a reply:
“Thank you so much for writing me. I’m so sorry my email comes one day too late. You were always such a brave soul and so encouraging to me.”
Thank you, Pege, for adopting us homeschool apostates. Thank you for listening to us when no one else would.