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As you probably already know, I think about TLS and TLSers a lot. It’s not a burden. I enjoy it because I enjoy you guys. We’ve gone through some rough times. That’s only natural. But we’re survivors and thrivers and I think we’re doing really well.

(Just for your information: our forums have returned. I know our Facebook group is the most popular place to post right now. But I would love to see us build up our forums again. There are already hundreds of entries there. By the way, our next step is to set up different payment options for registration. We’re doing this in order to make joining TLS less prohibitive and more attractive for some people.)

But, as I was saying I enjoy you guys so much. Here are the 3 things I like most about you:

1. You’re weak but strong: What I mean by this is that you are no weaker than anybody else, but you are not afraid to expose your weaknesses to the rest of us. It amazes me how vulnerable, open and honest you guys are. You ring authenticity, and that is a remarkably rare thing. What I’ve discovered, though, is that this kind of person is actually the stronger kind. Those who are not afraid to show their weaknesses are a rare and tougher breed of person. I watch you allow your afflictions to instill empathy and compassion in yourselves so that when another TLSer struggles with an affliction, you listen, understand and console in non-coercive and supportive ways. You’re so non-judgmental. As far as I can see, you show amazing respect for the dignity of each and every individual in their struggles. That’s because you’re empathic. You’re in touch with your weaknesses and are therefore not disgusted with the weaknesses of others. I love this!

2. You’re honest but smart: The level of honesty on TLS is astounding. Don’t you think so? I think honesty is a rare commodity these days. Unfortunately, the church doesn’t encourage it. But you guys dare to ask the tough questions. You take the risk of saying “I don’t know!” or even “We can’t know!” This takes a courageous kind of honesty that I admire and covet. You are quick to confess your confusions. You don’t mind professing your perplexities. Usually, these are seen in a negative light. I don’t see it that way. I think this kind of honesty is a manifestation of a deeper kind of intelligence. To say that we are enveloped in unknowable mystery to me is a sure sign of wisdom. You guys are reading material that many would consider heretical. Why? Because you want to understand! Well, actually, before you want to understand you want to tear down untruths that you inherited or adopted and grow wise in what is really true. You don’t want to be told what is true. You want to discover! To me, this is smart. I love hanging out with all you brainy folk.

3. You’re humble but assertive: I think one of the reasons so many of us experience trauma when struggling with the church is because in our desire to be humble we mistake this for allowing others to determine our lives for us. In fact, for some of us, it meant letting people run over us because it was the Christian thing to do. At least this is a part of my story. The humility of you guys is quite remarkable, and I feel very comfortable among you. Even though there are strong personalities, from what I can see they are tempered with humility. And that’s what I mean to say. Even though I see humility in you, I also see that you are very assertive. I remember someone saying that humility is simply being true to yourself… neither acting above or beneath who you are. Being you, definitely and only you, is humility. So being you, definitely and only you, is also assertiveness. Many of us have learned or are learning how to not be taken advantage of anymore. You know what abuse and manipulation and control looks like from a mile away, and you stand your ground and deflect it. Like Gandalf: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” To me this is the picture of humility and assertiveness. This is you!

Guys! I hope you don’t think I’m just blowing sunshine here. I’m not! I’m serious. You guys are an incredible and surprising mix of amazing individuals. I hope you realize that.

Actually, the above things I like about you are what makes, in my opinion, a mature person. The remarkable journeys you’ve been on and the remarkable ways in which you share them with the rest of us is simply amazing.

Your friend,