Thu, 3 August 2017
Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Bonnie & Clyde. They wish to remain incognito. They are a middle-aged married couple in a southern state in the US. And their story is almost as amazing as their personalities.
Bonnie was a normal college kid who participated in normal college kid stuff. But her southern Baptist upbringing tainted normal exploration and caused her to sink into a deep well of shame, fear and dread. She thought she was too far gone for Jesus. Until she participated in a Walk to Emmaus when she was 23 and the prodigal daughter came out a complete radical christian. She was ultra involved and ultra committed to Jesus. She even created a purity retreat for high school girls which espoused the whole purity ring/marry jesus/ save your virginity thing.
They married a year after meeting following the prescribed orders to marry a spouse who loved Jesus more than each other. Fast forward to hell: Clyde became abusive, domineering, controlling, and mean. Yet, they plastered on masks and continued to be in leadership in churches...pretending. When they moved back to Bonnie's small home town, things got worse and it was harder to hide. Finally Bonnie sought outside help; the intimate terrorism was unbearable. But that backfired. The reaction of the church, their Christian friends and my family was completely unhelpful and disheartening. She was afraid for her life, separated from Clyde, and filed for protective orders against him. .
On her own, Bonnie began deconstructing her faith, listening to podcasts and reading books. She gained personal agency for the first time in her life. She moved back in with Clyde because she didn't trust him to be alone with their two sons and felt strong enough to weather the storms of Clyde's temperament and abusive behavior. Bonnie educated herself on Clyde's mental illness and learned how to manage someone with borderline personality disorder. She could see a good person underneath the symptoms. She knew a good guy was in there somewhere and wasn't quite ready to give up. Eventually Clyde stopped going to church too. Bonnie kept her new humanism to herself and practiced asking Clyde questions and listening. Ironically, she applied 1 Peter chapter 3, normally a despised verse for oppressed women. It says, "Wives submit yourselves to your husbands, so that even if they refuse to believe the word, they will be won over without words by the behavior of their wives." But she spun it to win Clyde over to the truth. Over time, Clyde warmed to Bonnie's strong love and Clyde started deconverting on his own. The anger, the combative behavior, and the judgmentalism faded out. Today, he is an agnostic/atheist and his BPD symptoms are gone.
Before we get into our talk with Bonnie and Clyde, let me read an email I received this week from Mary in California. She writes,
I just listened to your most recent podcast, the one explaining the prayer in the Oval Office, and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your commentary. Your unique contribution is helping us distinguish the worldviews with which, as children, some of us were programmed. What I’m seeing more and more is that although I have broadened my horizons, I don’t realize the “factory-installed” [early childhood indoctrination] default settings that undergird everything. You are, week by week, helping me distinguish that, and I’m deeply grateful.
Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.