megan.

the chosen path.

I awoke this morning in the usual way: a grab for my iPhone to check the time, followed immediately by a slide of the finger to open the text messages sent by my sister Grace in the wee hours of the morning. She doesn’t sleep so well these days, even though it’s already been nine months.

I can’t believe it’s already been nine months.

Her words fill up my screen, and I think yet again of how grateful I am to at least have some nightly relief from my plague of existential thought experiments, lamentations for loved ones lost, and endless processing of the onslaught of newness. Sleep is a natural escape from these mental gymnastics, but it’s a degree of relief that Grace is often denied.

“This article makes me angry at the writer.” It’s a link to a Slate piece written by an American-born woman, the child of first-generation Indian immigrants. She’s seventeen years into an arranged marriage she didn’t want and tried hard to avoid – but tradition has a certain amount of inertia that can be nigh impossible to overcome, and at twenty-two, she felt ill-equipped to take it on. It’s not an option to say “no,” she writes: “the stakes in our honor-and-shame-based family were too high.”

As I read the article, I’m trying to understand which part of it raised Grace’s ire. It’s a story we’re intimately familiar with, at least on the broad strokes:

There’s a girl. Girl’s life is on a track built by those she loves toward a place she desperately wants to avoid. Girl sees three options: (A) convince the track layers to change its course; (B) jump the track, creating an unbridgeable rift and losing loved ones; (C) continue on the track in order to keep loved ones, suffering losses of another sort instead.

Option A failed this woman; her family dictated her track, and they refused to hear her pleas for change. And what is left? The choice is heart-wrenching: losing family or losing all real freedom to choose your partner in what’s arguably the most important and intimate relationship a human being can experience. The woman chose to lose freedom – and though she got to keep her family, she still grieves all that choice cost her. Reading her story, I mourned for her, too.

By the time I finish, I still can’t see which part of the essay has so angered my sister, so I ask. Grace says that the woman made her choice, so she has no right to complain. I’m certain my face shows my puzzlement, so Grace explains: “She got to keep her family.” And then I understand.

The woman had made the choice that we didn’t. We got the freedom, but she, the family. We could choose our own path, but she got the love and support of those nearest her heart. We could now see the world without the blinders of entrenched tradition, but she could be there for her siblings’ birthdays, for her nephew’s first day of school, for her parents in their old age. We’re all allowed to mourn our losses, and keeping that to ourselves doesn’t make it any more legitimate – just as sharing it doesn’t make it any less so.

I understand, little Grace. I want them back, too, so much that my whole body shakes with the sick sadness of the choice we were forced to make, so much that I retreat to sleep so I don’t have to feel that way. I want so badly to hear Mom happily call out for me, “Miss Meg!” I want to laugh with Gabe as he stockpiles the bacon when the other boys aren’t looking. I want to watch “Tom and Jerry” with Zach at lunch, and see water shoot out his nose when an unexpected laugh overtakes him.

That woman should’ve never had to make the choice that she did. Us, either. But we have to remember that we still have a choice. We can still try to change the ones who lay the track. We still have hope.

Don’t lose heart, sister mine. Let’s make that our choice.

– megan.

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70 thoughts on “the chosen path.

  1. It is never easy, choosing which path you must take. Do you lose your loved ones, or do you lose yourself? Selfish as it may sound, you guys had to make the decision to remain true to your convictions and the things you felt were right. The price was hefty, but one that had to be paid so that you and Grace could discover the truth about the world and truly see who and what you two are. With you, I pray that your family will awaken and see that you’ve not turned your back on them, you’ve just truly turned your heart and face toward the God that you knew was out there all along, not the one you were taught. I hope that one day, you can be reunited with your family and that they, too, can make a mends with this world that looks at them in disgust. You’ve made tremendous strides already. They, too, can do the same.

    Much love to you, Megan. And to Grace as well.

    • Aurélie says:

      You are both amazing women. I have so much respect for you, and I’m so sad you had to make such a difficult choice. Most of us only have to deal with shades of the ramifications your freedom to choose brought to you. Love and courage to you both.

  2. I’m in tears right now, it pains me that you- both of you- had to make this choice, losing something huge either way; freedom or family. It angers & saddens me, in the 3+ yrs you & I have been friends, I’ve watched you grow, gain & lose, laugh & cry, hate & love, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about you, worry about you & hope that somehow there will be a resolution. I don’t believe in a god that would tear children from parents like this… I can’t. I have to believe that if there is a god, s/he brings us together in love, and hope that this can be true for the Phelps family as a whole.
    You & Grace are strong… so much stronger than I could ever be, and every day I am inspired by you both. But admiration from an internet friend can’t bring your family back, I know. Nor can anyone replace the family that was taken from you. But you are not alone in this world. We’re not family, but we won’t let you stumble or fall alone. You have a huge circle of friends that can never replace your family (nor should we try) but that can at least surround you with unconditional, genuine, selfless love. That beats having to suffer alone.

    PS- I don’t know Grace like I know you, but I’m a night owl too so if she ever needs to talk, I may be a stranger to her, but I’m willing to lend an ear if she ever needs to talk (just an ear, no advice, no judgement, no gossiping about her to others). I have PTSD & it keeps me up all night, so just keep that in mind (same goes for you too, but you know that!)

  3. Michael Lunzer says:

    I was reading this and my heart broke. You both always seem so strong that it is sometimes easy to forget how much you have gone through. So, and I know that it is paltry, I offer our love and affection and further to let you know that both you and Grace are always in our thoughts and teffilot. And, for however much this helps, our family is here for you both whatever you may need.

    Love to you both,
    Michael

  4. AJ says:

    I cannot imagine how your heart aches for your family that you so miss and will always love.

    Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught us time and again, there is no despair in the world. Never give up!

    Megan, I’ve watched you in WBC, and I’ve watched your departure. I wonder if I were in your shoes if I would have such courage; I’m not so sure, which is why it’s humbling to read your story.

    I add to what my Jewish brother above wrote, that I, too, include you and Grace in my tefilot. May Hashem watch over you and bless you always.

    SHAVUA TOV

  5. This woman choose family over freedom. Unlike you and Grace, she will go whatever direction the train tracks take her. There’s no way I could fathom how that must feel to be in such a situation. You and your sister did something many are incapable or unwilling to do. You broke free and went your own path knowing full well what the end-result would be.

    In case there are days where ya’ll fell like you made the wrong decision and are thinking about going back. Just always remember that you and your sister made a very bold decision and the right one. I wish others will some day see the light, and you’re able to re-unite with some of your family.

    I tend to have a somewhat pessimistic view when it comes to the world we live in. However, once hearing about what you and Grace did… perhaps there’s a some hope for humanity after all :-)

    Anyways, hope that didn’t sound too cliche and take care.

    • @Catziiis says:

      Are you a member, Bobby? Either way, you have zero right to dictate Megan & Grace’s paths. God’s call is greater than any human’s…

      • Bobby Macpherson says:

        I share similar beliefs as the WBC with regards to what the Bible means. I’m trying to help Megan and Grace, not dictate to either of them.

      • @Catziiis says:

        Regardless…their place is not with WBC any longer. “You have chosen the wrong path, your place is at the WBC, not South Dakota.” -that is not help. God leads them, not you.

  6. Like others have said, I cannot imagine having to make a choice like that, which just adds to my admiration for the both of you. Not that the admiration of an internet stranger is particularly valuable, or helpful; I suppose I’d like to think that you at least know that many, many people who’ve never met you “have your back,” as it were.

    I do know about grief, and about the ache and the terror of staring down the days without a loved one. Pema Chodron put it thus:

    “…grief can reach a point where the grief is so strong that you walk around the world, and you look at people and you look at things and there are no filters between you and anything, you’re just completely open, because you have been so reduced by your grief that you no longer have a cocoon. And that it’s actually a very bittersweet experience because the grief is there and it doesn’t feel good, but on the other hand it is opening you to your world and you feel a tremendous tenderness for everything.”

    That tenderness is so evident in everything you and Grace have shared.

  7. Reading this breaks my heart. You and Grace are such amazing people. Making the choice you did has to have been one of the most painful things you could ever do, but I think in the long run it is the only true path to happiness that you could have found.

    As it so happens, I inadvertently found myself attending Grace’s high school graduation a few years ago (even though she herself was not there, but rather was across the street protesting). It’s a long story, but I ended up there through the friend of a friend, who I won’t name here. One of her children was also graduating and I was surprised to discover that this child knew Grace, and said she had had nothing but pleasant interactions with her. I pondered: how was it possible to have pleasant one-on-one interactions with a person who was part of a family so consumed by hatred for the rest of the world? Now I think I understand. In her heart, Grace wasn’t really yet consumed by that hate, and neither were you. Ultimately, you both found the strength from somewhere to break free of it.

    Instead of the path of hate, you chose the path of love. You sacrificed a lot to do that, but I can’t help but feel that in the long run, you will gain so much more. That’s what I wish for you both.

  8. They always told me boys weren’t supposed to cry, but these somewhat aged eyes welled up with tears of empathy on reading your blog post this morning.

    From early childhood, I was always different. Life is not easy for those who differ from social norms, and it became even more difficult with the onset of adolescence. There were few, if any, resources available for those whose emotional lives colored outside the lines in the late ’50s and early ’60s. For many years, I kept half of my true nature hidden from those with whom I should have been closest.

    My parents never really knew me, and it left a void that has never healed. They are both long departed from this world, but I still only reveal my true nature to trusted friends.

    Watching Louis Theroux’s documentaries, and others as well, I felt a great sadness for your family. They are such good people at heart, though I obviously disagree with their methods. For your sake, and theirs, I hope that they will see eventually the same light that set you and the others of your generation on your current paths.

  9. Reblogged this on Lisa McColgan and commented:
    I’ve read this a bunch of times today. I don’t know what I would do if faced with this kind of choice. What I do know is that Megan Phelps-Roper is an astonishing writer, and I -for one – am very grateful that she has chosen to bring a whole bunch of internet strangers “with” her on this journey.

  10. Thank you so much for writing this. I don’t know you or your sister – but like many others, I’ve seen documentaries about your family.

    My heart broke as I read this post – and I also felt a small tug of familiarity. I had to make a choice to walk away from a parent – to choose freedom and to protect my own children from what I was not protected from. It is such an incredibly difficult thing to do. Even though you know that walking away is the best thing to do, indeed, the ONLY thing to do – it is not natural, it is not easy and it is very, very painful. For me, as time goes by, it does become easier – but at times when life is more difficult than usual, I do find myself wishing that I had that soft place to fall, that unconditional love of a parent – I mourn for something that I never had.

    Please know that you and your sister are not alone – there are many of us out here, mourning the choice we were forced to make, mourning for families that we had to walk away from. Thank you for sharing your struggle with us. Thank you for being honest and real with us. Thank you for making the choice to love yourself.

    Much love to you and yours xo

  11. Mike Calkins says:

    I’ve learned not to trust “certainty”.

    Far too often, a decision in which I was “certain” turned out to be flawed at best, dead wrong at worst. I think this is because “certainty” by nature shuts off reception to conflicting information. When I’m certain I don’t notice a nuance or subtlety that might lead me to another decision.

    So I’ve learned to trust doubt. Doubt is my friend. It keeps my ear to the rail eager to gain new information. It keeps me on my toes ready to adjust course based on new information. That doesn’t mean I’m indecisive, it just means I’m not wedded to my current circumstances.

    You and Grace have probably experienced a great deal of uncertainty the past 9 months. As meaningless as this may be, I think that means you’re on the right track. After all, it was your experience of living with certainty within The WBC that caused your doubt in the first place.

    You now have your freedom. I argue that you also still have your family. They are merely “asleep” with certainty. I hope and pray that they come to question their beliefs as you, Grace, Lauren, and others have done. Imagine the joy when you reunite.

    The one great comfort of doubt is that it makes room for hope. Certainty accommodates nothing other than itself.

  12. Megan,
    You girls are dear. Some good thoughts to remember:
    Phillippians 4:6  “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

    1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”

  13. sam says:

    Miss Phelps, you n I come from very different worlds. You have come from a world in which you were brought up to believe almighty god himself didn’t like people, he didn’t like anyone, he didn’t like gays, Jews, trees, people who have girlfriends, vegetarians (n I’d have to agree with that one), you grew up in a world in which the good lord himself didn’t like One Direction… HELL NO! Let me tell you somethin, you were stupid coz you n I both know that Harry Styles was sent to us as a gift from God to congratulate us for doin such a good job. But ya got smart, ya got out and you joined a new team. So if you want your family back you do one thing. Lift weights like I know you can as you told my man Louis, cook yourself a steak seasoned with I don’t give a crap sauce, take a can of whup-ass and get marchin to their house all the while shakin it and shakin it and then kick the door down and open that sonnabitch all over their bible bashin monkeys asses! If theirs something you want, take it darlin, coz time changes nothin, doing things does.

  14. @Catziiis says:

    Having to be without family is tough-I was disowned from mine at 16. I understand your pain, loneliness & having to cope without the support base you had. Blessings to you & Grace on your journey.

  15. Sharon Phelps says:

    Hi girls, this is Sharon, I don’t know if you remember me that well or not. But I must say the memories flooded in when I read “Miss Meg”. I just want to say that while it never goes away the pain does ease some over time. It helps me to remind myself that while it was a choice I made to leave, I did nothing wrong. I’m not the one who said you have to think and act and believe what I say or we won’t love you. That is the choice they made. I hope little Gracie can find someway to accept her choice and not go near the road I traveled because of the inner turmoil it can cause. Nate seems to be a good person to help you through things like this. I mean look at everything he had to endure growing up and is turning it into a way to help others.

  16. Hi Sharon,
    I know I never experienced meeting any of you folks personally, but I want to mention that God has a good plan for everyone … even if he or she has made bad decisions and chosen harmful paths. As far as Nate, whom you mentioned, from what I’ve read, he hasn’t proclaimed faith in Jesus. And even though he may have better ethics concerning some things than those he left, he is still denying himself the ability to live life abundantly. As a matter in fact, he seems to be claiming himself as an atheist and that is all it takes to miss out on life in Jesus in this world and the next!
    I previously have lived in various communities. Even though some are worse than others, some are much better than the way the world lives. Even after leaving a lesser esteemed environment, a person should let Jesus have His way in his or her life and God will turn it into a life of joy and gladness without grief or regret! Here is a link to to a page I made about Westboro and other communities: http://www.clrc.net/thought_persecution/kicked_out.html

  17. Reblogged this on Liberal baptist and commented:
    I made the choice to reblog this, because I have followed this “church” for a long time now, and I must say that I admire these two young women so much. It is one thing to go against something that your family believes, but knowing that going against them is equivalent to cutting them out of your life…courageous and admirable is all I can say about Megan and Grace! God bless both of you. Hope to meet you one day!

  18. Lee Quin says:

    There is no path chosen by God. We make our own choices. The views taken from the WBC are from the bible lets not forget. People like to take what they like from the bible and make it fit how they want to live. I don’t know how Megan and Grace feel about religion since leaving the WBC, I am interested to know if it is still as strong as before.

    • Lee Quin, with all due respect, you do not know “there is no path chosen by God”. that is merely your opinion. Yes, you can take anything from the Bible out of context, which is what WBC had done. True Christian churches do not believe anything near what wbc claims. They are a cultic sect.

      • Lee Quinn says:

        Kimberly, the context taken from the WBC is from the bible I thought. and we do make our own choices in life. I can say that as a fact, unlike the assumption that a certain god exists.

  19. Dee says:

    Robert Frost once said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

    That holds true in this case. Most people would not be able to choose between their families (even as harsh/fundamental as they can be to outsiders) and discovering their own path without that support system. Dismantling any system of beliefs you’re taught all your life, even as hateful as they seem, must be really tough on a person.

    Best of luck to you, Grace, Lauren, Libby, Sara, Sharon, and everyone else who left the WBC. Hope you find the peace, happiness, and security you deserve.

    • We can sit here, we can debate for years who’s right, who’s wrong but in that time, nothing is being done. People aren’t being fed, houses ain’t being built, while you fight, argue, discuss or scrutinize every little thing about Gods intentions, you miss his primary one. For us to live. If God created us for the soul purpose of worshiping him then I don’t like him, don’t fear him and damn sure don’t wonna spend eternity with him once I die… But… If he created us to excel, to care about each other, to grow and embrace life, to adapt and change and create an amazing place for my nieces to grow up in then I will dominate the shit out of that… But he better stay outta my way because if theirs one thing God has taught me for a fact, its that I never believe in anything or anyone more than myself, not Harry Styles, not the government or some Church or even the good lord himself. God wants you to be in control people its why he gave us free will! In EVERY sense. So read your religious texts, quote whatever verse you need and worship to find solace by all means, but most importantly bring something of yourself to the world, God has seen it all before… We haven’t. ;)

      • Dee says:

        “you fight, argue, discuss or scrutinize every little thing about Gods intentions, you miss his primary one.”

        I don’t know if this is in response to me, but my point is that people should feel to do what’s right for them, and that losing a family in the process is not fair for them. If you believe in god, great. If not, great. I’m not one to judge. Sorry if i came off rude.

  20. megan casey says:

    Oh come on, people can be Jews or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists or atheists and get on just fine living fulfilling lives. I glad you find comfort in your belief in Jesus, but don’t be pushy. I severely doubt that Christianity is at all correlated with living better than people of other religious or philosophical traditions. Who cares what Nate’s private religious opinions are regarding Jesus? Let us avoid the sin of hurbris.

  21. I’ve followed the story of your family and church for some years. For me it has been personal because my family is similar. My father started his own church and focused on the issues of abortion, homosexuality. We had our “pickets” in various town squares in Oslo (Norway). A lot of people where upset and found a new use for eggs…never thought that being hit by an egg hurts… And having my father arrested before the 1994 winter Olympics because the government did not want to risk a national scandal with abortion demonstrations is not my best childhood memory.
    But 9 years ago (I am 30 now) I made my mind to leave, and I left. Left my family, left my friends, left everything. Just to get my freedom. It was a life defining moment for me. And it was scary, hard and the loneliness followed. I still felt free. My older brother left about 3 years before me. My 4 younger siblings where all still “locked” in and did not have any contact with me. All was frozen.
    I know your pain. I’ve felt it. And it is horrible.
    But; as time passed I’ve been able to experience something great. Over time my family started to leave. After 4 years I had 3 of my siblings “back”. And after 6 years the most insane thing happened. My mother left. She left my father, left the insanity. It took 6 years. But I got my family back…almost. My father is still in his church, which in total is down to 7 people now. Their “resolve” and “direction” is as strong as ever. But for me, I got all of my friends from the church, my 5 siblings and my mother back. It took time, and I don’t think I will ever get over how life has been. But life now is actually amazingly well. The sun shines, and I can walk under the stars and just enjoy the view instead of hoping for my family to be together.
    I truly hope you will get the same. It might take time…maybe a lot of time…but there is always hope. Just stay strong and never give up hope!

    • Dee says:

      Glad you are living a free fulfilling life now Petter. Mind if i ask what was that defining moment that caused you to leave, if there was one?

  22. I know something about that type of pain. These verses helped me much, and also continuing to love and pray for those missed, like you do .. and focusing on the future out of this place. I’m sorry for your pain. Praying for you and your sister. Thank goodness you have her!

    Matthew 12:48-50

    He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:48-50

    One more thing – There are huge doses of daily hope for people caught in religious lies at joycemeyer.com – That woman was hyper religious and was set free. Her daily messages made it easier for me to face the day at the worst of my family separation. She would likely love to welcome you into her world to share your story one day.

  23. Hi Megan,

    I just have to say that I REALLY admire you and your sister for the choice you made. I can’t even begin to imagine how much inner strength it must have taken to sacrifice something so dear to your hearts in order to live life and honor the world in the way you both believe to be right. Anyone who has made a break from religious/cultural traditions in order to seek a healthy heart/mind understands what a painful and long a process it can be, but your particular circumstances impose an abnormally heavy weight upon you and Grace.

    I don’t have any words of advice for you except to keep moving forward and supporting one another the ways in which you already are. I hope that my admiration for you is enough encouragement to lift your hearts! It takes a couple of truly beautiful people, full of strength and humility, to take the steps you have made.

    Sincerely,

    Emily

  24. Han says:

    You girls are such courageous people and have made the right decision to lead your lives away from a group of such negativity. I have huge admiration for you both and I hope you find happiness and fulfillment wherever your lives lead you. You’re so lucky to have one another as sisters, support each other always xx

  25. colin says:

    Mad respect for you. The truth shall set you free, as I once heard, and it has stood the test of time. The world is ours to explore and mold into something beautiful and full of love. You’ve the energy and the positive vibes of a large growing number of people aimed at you, so expect some good things to happen. Though there may be dark times, those are illusory. Good tidings and fortunes on your journey of life!

  26. It takes much more energy to hate then it does to love. These are words that I grew up with. Whenever someone had done something mean to me, and I would come home furious at the person and at the world, my mother would remind me of this fact and then help me to refocus my attention and intentions on positive things. On the love that I gave and that was given to me.

    As an adult now, I realize how much time and energy was wasted trying to convince people to my point of view. What I felt as passion was often viewed as obstinance and merely served to make my ‘adversaries’ stronger in their own view points.

    I say all of this because in the wisdom of age, I have realized that being strong yet silent in my conviction does more to persuade people to my side then did the aggression. Leading by example, being open and honest, but not pushy, in my own beliefs shone a light on my happiness and contentment that is now easy to see and hard to deny.

    There is so much complexity in the things that we believe and why we have come to believe them. And just as you, both, have found your inner-truth and had an undeniable need to follow it, so has each of your family members. We can each only find the path, our path, on our own, in our own time. So many complications cloud our judgements and decisions that we often have to work through each of these before we even realize that a different path is available.

    From someone who has been there, I believe that the only thing that you may be able to ‘do’ is to live your lives in joy and happiness. Be gentle and kind and honest and helpful and then maybe, just maybe, they will see and they will follow.

    Continue to be strong for each other. Continue to love each other. Continue to hold each other up and one day, in the not so distant future, it will all seem less overwhelming.

    LOVE IS LOUDER!

    And … DFTBA (Don’t forget to be awesome)!

  27. I’m, selfishly, happy with the path you chose and saddened that one had to be taken , but your story might yet allow you another path that would include other loved ones. If anything, the benefit and pleasure of making a choice is that what follows are more questions with other choices to make. Our lives are made of doors that we open and close, very rarely doing so permanently.

    • The thing is this girls been through the ringer and not only has she walked away from being a misguided and hateful person but she has set out to put right her misguided thoughts and also turned her back on acceptance, then on top of that nose dived head first into the uncertain waters of a world that could potentially be full of sharks who are not willing to embrace her after her and her families previous actions. She risked being alone, a social outcast and still followed her own moral code, not gods, not her fam, not the law, but she took control of her life and got smart, got out and joined Team Bring It. God would be proud of how you have practiced the gift of free will given to you, n I’m happy coz if you ever come to England I get to scoop you from the airport in a BMW and take you for a date, ;) keep dominating you inspiration.

  28. Kristen says:

    I used to watch your family religiously, looking at the flaws, seeing the injustice that they pronounced loudly and with such a hate filled vigor, that I was speechless. I use to think, how can these things be human? I couldn’t understand how they could look at a crying mother and a dying child and say, Thank The Lord, as if he would be that cruel. As If he could look down on any one of us as an ant, with no more use than to die for His pleasure and a vindictive smile on his face.

    But then the first few of you were tossed out, and I thought there’s no way they can be normal. I started watching the documentaries and I looked at Facebook posts passed along. I saw the change in your attitudes from the sure strong stance given in pack, to the scared humans you were, left by the one group that validated your existence. Everything you were, everything you had was taken from you. In the videos I watched I saw the humanity I had earlier separated from you. I realized that the person could be normal while the actions were opposite.

    Let me get to my point. I saw no hope in your family, but as you guys came into the sunlight of society, I saw your empathy and your regret. You are not who raised you, people can change. You have proven that to me and restored some faith that evil when it takes hold can not retain that hold. Hate can be brushed off like a light sweater. I know you gave up a lot including family friends and a home, but I want you two to know that your fight is not in vain. You have proven to some of us that people are capable of change, though it may take sacrifice, nothing is set in stone. Stay strong and just know that the struggle you go through, and the efforts of people like you are for the greater good, and I for one appreciate the fact that you have the strength and courage to prove to the world something I haven’t seen in a while.

  29. I often think of you and your sister ever since I saw Louis Theroux’s first documentary. My heart is sick for you both. Even though you made your choice, that doesn’t negate the sadness and pain that comes with it. I know this is small comfort, but you have so much love and support from people around the world.

  30. jon march says:

    Hey Megan and Grace – I respect you guys so much, and I also know that your family and the whole church have the best intentions. Personally, and with as many beliefs and ancient writings that claim to be the “one”, Im not a believer in any religion. But I admire people that have great faith, and always enjoy hearing well put, passionate conviction – and boy your family has that in spades. The problem is when its takes to fanatical, obsessive, isolationist “our was is THE way” extremes, and gets a real bad rep when combined with insensitive ‘timing”/locations . Im all for witnessing and doing a duty to spread the word, but there is a time and a place. When it turns to isolation, its time to dial it back a little – and not become a total island, Im glad you are out of the over the top obsessiveness, and can celebrate your beliefs in your hears in a more inclusive, forgiving, tolerant way.

  31. Bobby Macpherson says:

    Everything the WBC say is backed up in the Bible. God does not love everyone. God hates. God shows His wrath against this evil sinning world all the time. I respect you Megan and do not understand why you have now reached a different conclusion from this.

    • Bobby you are a damn fool, God doesn’t hate, his soul purpose is to indescriminatley create love, not destroy… Please don’t lie to these girls about how you respect them when you’re going to refute their validated opinion, when a fact is argued it should be understood and adopted wholeheartedly not made to fit a perception of the recipient. You haven’t experienced what these girls have, the bible wasn’t written by god n if it was, he’s not smarter than us, he’s nowhere near as great as us, stop talking factual about an ideological subject you have absolutely no perception of, these girls went through abuse, not religious debate, they lost family members not just their own commitment to a belief, they’re not selfish they’re selfless and you mate are a monkeys ass!

    • @Catziiis says:

      First you say Megan & Grace belong at home, then you spout lies about them; now you condemn them for having reached a higher milestone with God. If you feel so strongly about WBC, then YOU join.

      • Bobby Macpherson says:

        I’m not condemning anyone. It’s not my judgment it’s God’s judgment. All I have said is I do not understand her decision to leave. The comment was for Megan, not any of you people who comment on here.

    • I notice you made it so I couldn’t reply to your later post, so I thought I would respond here seen as how you have the mental capacity of an autistic fish…

      You state its not your judgement, its gods judgement, however you come to that conclusion from reading a book written by man… Proving that you are so stupid you don’t know the meaning of the word “fact”, a religious text can only ever be mans interpretation of gods ideal, our understanding of that text is only as good as our understanding of its writer, if you want to feel closer to that person or anyone in an attempt to be closer to god then I suggest you stop looking to the inanimate object of a text and spend time trying to relate to those around you, embrace others perceptions to further your own understanding of the world and become enlightened, this is what the girls have done, as opposed to foolish insignificant bigots like yourself who use your beliefs to make yourselves feel superior when you really know you have a small penis and repressed homosexual urges… Its okay to be gay man let it out. :)

      • Also, you can say the comment was for Megan and that its nothing to do with me, but this is my planet and this hatred and fundamental bullshit is too important for me to stand back and remain silent on, I’m not gonna let some nick destroy my planet I love people, so sort your head out! Hillbillie

      • @Catziiis says:

        Note for Bobby MacPherson: it’s not for you to understand why they left. It’s not up to you harass them into going back, either. If you followed Lauren Drain on Facebook, you’ll see the girls are well and happy, as God intended. Doing what HE wants them to do. Truly…WHO are YOU to question them at all?

        Sam-well said. What more can I say :D

  32. kirsten says:

    You are both such brave incredible women! I’ve followed WBC for awhile now and was very happy to learn you both had finally left. I myself am 24 and I can’t imagine having the courage to leave everything I know. You should be SO proud of yourselves and be thankful that you at least have each other. I know it must hurt so much to be away from your loved ones but try your best to stay strong & keep your heads up. Know that what you did was the right thing to do and you’ll be forever grateful for that decision. I wish you both the best of luck in your journey and hope someday you’ll find the peace you’re looking for :)

    xx Kirsten

  33. Pingback: Megan and Grace Or Why I Do Not Hate The Westboro Baptist Church. | Forlorn Hope: A Diary Of A Broken Heart

  34. jmh says:

    I am so proud of both of you recognizing your doubts and giving them a voice. I lost cousins, Aunts, uncles, and grandparents when I left my family’s twisted situation with my husband and child a little over two years ago. I can tell you I mourned similarly for the first year after leaving, remembering the people I’d left behind, but once I realized there was so much I’d been told would and could never be possible, my focus shifted from the past and I started setting out to do all those things. Traveling, decorating my house as I saw fit, pursuing my dreams to go into the medical field without being told I would never make it. Living without thinly veiled guilt-trips for even thinking about going to a school in another state. Living and loving my marriage and my life without the interference of a family who viewed my husband as an outsider not worthy of them. My husband is one of the kindest, most loving, supportive people I’ve ever known and he was a huge inspiration to helping me realize that it wasn’t wrong to question.

    This year alone we’ve spent about 5 weeks traveling. My husband and I hiked 7 miles up a mountain in Colorado, walked the rim of a dormant volcano, I became a triathlete, and got my first job in the medical field. I’ve become an activist for causes I support. I’ve gained an understanding of who I am in God’s eyes without the insinuations of my parents. I feel grateful to Him every day for giving me the strength to question and stand up for myself and my family when I felt things weren’t right. Right now, I feel truly, unabashedly happy and full of life. I’ve never felt more free in mind body and spirit to pursue what I believe God has called me to.

    That’s not to say I don’t have my down days. I miss my brother sooo much, but our last words spoken were two years ago. He was so filled with vitriolic hate I could no longer recognize the child I helped raise. I can only hope he comes out of the fog someday, but he’s in his twenties, and seems so entrenched in the belief system that I don’t see much hope of that. I also had episodes of PTSD for about a year after leaving, spiraling into panic attacks, deep periods of mourning, both for the relationships I left behind and for the normal childhood I never had. I had no choice but to address an eating disorder due to my mother’s insane beliefs and restrictions that had been drilled into my head for years, and had (and still have) to systematically go through every belief I’ve ever had and see if it was my personal belief, or a belief instilled in me.

    ((Hugs)) to you both. Coming out of something like this is gut-wrenching, soul-searching, and life-changing. I pray you continue to heal and life freely in God’s promises of love. Just remember you are God’s daughters before all else, whom He created with creativity, talent, passions, and an intuitive mind to think and question what isn’t right. In time you will learn that as much as your experiences were a hindrance on your life, they are also a gift. Your experience is unique to you. I still have a hard time grasping what I grew up in and subsequently came out of compared to the rest of the world. That will always set me apart from most, but it made me who I am. I’m stronger for it. I hope you find the same true with time. Many hugs and prayers.

  35. Rebecca says:

    There’s a big difference between choosing to stay with a man you don’t love, which hurts no one but yourself; and preaching that people should die because God hates them, which gets a lot of people hurt and killed. Life is painful, but at least your pain comes from doing the right thing. Your family would be proud of you if they understood. I hope that someday they will know what love means.

    Jesus says many times that he brings one message, which is love, and anyone who teaches differently will not go to heaven. John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

  36. Courtney Thompson says:

    Your words are beautifully written. I in know way want to offend you, or Grace, so I’m not going to say I’m proud of you, it doesn’t fit. I’m also not going to say I’m happy for you, because that’s not right either. What I will say.. Is I’m happy that you both have opened your eyes and hearts to learn different things and see both sides of thing. I’m happy that you both get to be your own persons. I’m happy that you’re both very much supported in your endeavors. I can’t begin to imagine the bullshit criticism you guys get, but the positive you guys do receive has to be amazing. I’m so incredibly sorry there’s that deprecation from your family. My heart reaches out to both of you. I had the privilege of going to high school with grace, she’s a wonderful person, and Megan, I’m sure that you are just as wonderful. When things suck, people suck.. Psalms 37: 1-2 gets me through it. My words aren’t the greatest, I can never fully say what I mean, but I hope I didn’t come off as a jerk. Please if you can, relay this message to Grace. I’ve wanted to talk to her but I didn’t know if I should, and if I did, what I would say… You guys are continually in my prayers, and I wish you the best in all of your endeavors. =]

  37. Chantelle says:

    Reading your blog entries brings Maya Angelou to mind.

    You know, I’ve been following your family in the media for years and I was always fascinated more by the kids in the group because I had a nagging curiosity about whether or not any of you guys would figure life out for yourselves and leave. Every now and then WBC would pop into my head and I’d check to see if it ever happened, and then I came across Lauren’s story. I thought to myself, “Ok, if Lauren left, surely there are going to be more.” Then you and Grace left, and my jaw fell to the floor. After watching the documentaries and interviews, I didn’t expect it to be either one of you… but I was so happy for you when it was you. (and I’m jealous of you because you got to hang with Louis Theroux…)

    Now I can’t help but look you ladies up just to see how things are going for you, and my heart fills with joy that you’re enjoying this life like you’re supposed to be. You’re seeing the world, you’re allowing yourselves to experience new things and just enjoy things in the now. Travel. Write everything down. Read as many books on as many subjects as you can. Talk to people of all walks of life. And enjoy the freedom.

    For most of us, that’s how it’s always been and we take it for granted that we haven’t had to make the same choice. I didn’t really grow up in a religious family, but I’ll never forget going on a youth group trip to Washington DC when I was about 15 and coming back home in tears because of all the religious indoctrination going on down there… people trying to manipulate these fresh young souls and fill their heads with all this garbage and judgment when they had them isolated on a “vacation” away from their families… and I can only imagine what it must be like to grow up in that and live it every day. I was only experiencing it for 5 days, but it felt like a prison cell. The time you’ve spent away from that when it’s all you’ve known must feel like an eternity, but compare that to the 27 years or so that you had to sacrifice yourself for a life that wasn’t for you. You’re lucky you had the choice; there are people out there who didn’t, and don’t… people who have lost their lives trying to escape. There are people all over the world stuck living unhappy lives… wasted lives, because they don’t even have the right to make a decision about it.

    Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people. Good people get infected with fanaticism and make poor decisions because of fear and ignorance. And good people get pushed away by other good people because of those things. You can only hope that more people in your family will come to understand things the same way you and Grace have. I’m certain they will; it just takes time. You two were two of the most influential younger people in the church, and there are other younger ones who have looked up to you and still do, I’m sure. You’ve planted a seed, and that’s a wonderful thing. The choice the two of you made might give more of your siblings and peers the strength to do the same.

    I wish you two nothing but the best. You have such a prosperous life ahead of you. Don’t waste a second of it being unhappy or regretful. And you both have such a talent for writing, and brains that could set the world on fire with what they can do. Thank GOD you can put them to great use in helping make our planet a better place.

    “I know why the caged bird sings.”

  38. Katrina @polaroidkat says:

    Loss [of your family] is a huge obstacle to try and overcome and I can’t begin to imagine your pain and anguish over the choice you made to leave them but please know that your new path will lead to people who will, not replace your family, but extend it. You will find love and comfort in others that you have never known from anyone else, you will find acceptance and kindness from people you never knew existed and it will help you feel whole again. There is so much greatness in life that neither of you (or I) have experienced yet and stepping out into that after a life and belief you were given no choice over is a huge thing! So take it one day/minute/second at a time, don’t punish yourselves for being unsure about the new or upset about the old, we are all unsure to start with and we all have regrets, it is whats in our hearts and souls that matters.
    Please know that there are many people who wish you well and, even though you have never met them, have so much love and care for you both.
    I leave you with a quote from Superman himself (Christopher Reeve) “I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” You have some overwhelming obstacles but you can and will succeed in persevering and enduring them.
    Xx

  39. mc says:

    Hello Megan,

    I just found this blog and felt moved to send my prayers and support to you. Although I am clearly a stranger to you, I know the feelings you expressed in this post must be even harder right now as you are shut out of your family’s grieving. I wanted to say that the choice you and your sister made, even if it feels like it tears you away from those you love, is one that speaks to a greater love. I listened to an interview with you in which you spoke about coming to terms with the pain that WBC had caused people, and the very serious ways in which the WBC message might have “literally taken years off [people's] lives.” I was so moved by your awareness, and compassion, and learning. Speaking as a gay Christian who has spent the past decade or so trying to unlearn the lesson that God must hate me, my heart is so grateful for your honesty and determination to “do good” when that choice must be anything but simple, even if you are feeling that you lack a sense of direction. I am thinking of you and your family, and praying that even if you can’t have those you wish were there gathered around you right now, that God gathers you and Grace together like a hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings. And if talking about “God” isn’t helpful right now, then I hope that the Great Love guides your steps and leads you on whatever beautiful path comes next.

    – Marj

  40. Such brave young women (and excellent writers too!) Can’t imagine how tough your situation is but you’ve made the right decision. Your WBC family is free to make a different choice at any time too, yet they refuse to do so. At least you have your sister.

    “The hardest things you’ll do in life are also the most rewarding.”

  41. Pingback: Zach Phelps-Roper Leaves Westboro Baptist Church: Fred Phelps' Grandson Joins Three Ex-WBC Siblings | TOTALENTER10

  42. Jessie says:

    Thank you for this. God is Good always, even when we cannot understand His ways. I will keep you in my prayers.

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