Searching for a gripping story? Look no further than Anna LeBaron. She was one of more than four dozen children of the infamous polygamist cult leader, Ervil LeBaron. (Yes, his first name looks suspiciously evil).
As a young girl, Anna endured horrific living conditions, child labor, and sexual grooming. She managed to escape, and now she’s ready to tell her story in The Polygamist’s Daughter (Tyndale House), a new release.
During the Lent Challenge, we’ve been rediscovering the power of Scripture. Turns out that’s what helped set Anna free.
Here’s a glimpse of Anna’s beautiful story. It’s a privilege to have her guest post:
When you grow up wondering whether your father knows your name, it’s hard to believe the God of the universe is aware you exist. When you can count on one hand the times you spent in the same room as your father, it’s hard to count on a heavenly Father to come through for you, even when He’s promised He will.
When you grow up without the presence, protection, and provision of a loving father, it’s hard to leap into the arms of a heavenly Father—though they remain open wide and ready to embrace you.
These were a few of the obstacles, detours, and disappointments that I faced on my journey to find my identity—not as the umpteenth daughter of polygamist cult leader, Ervil LeBaron, but rather a beloved daughter of the King. The struggle began after I escaped the cult and accepted Christ in my early teens. Because I wasn’t sure of who I was, I lived as a shadow of myself—pretending to be the self I thought I was, not my true self. How could I actually know who I was without a good, kind father to nurture that identity in me?
When the girl God made you to be is crushed by the life experiences of your formative years, it takes time to recover that girl.
Breathing new life into her and giving her time and space to grow and mature is a necessity. As much as I desperately wanted to catapult my way through that season, I could not; there was no magic cure. Experiencing far too much of every kind of trauma and abuse shapes the way your mind processes information, including new information. Becoming rooted and grounded in God’s Word, in Christ and in my identity in Him, took time. Triggered by post-traumatic stress, the anxiety I experienced warranted treatment by a professional counselor as well as the Wonderful Counselor, the Holy Spirit.
When I heard Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist, say that post-traumatic stress can be healed through the washing of the Word (Ephesians 5:26), I pursued the renewing of my mind wholeheartedly. The necessity of rewiring my brain, as she put it, was inarguable. According to Romans 12:2, I needed a complete transformation of my mind:
“. . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The word transformed comes from the Greek word metamorphoo, from which we get the word that describes the process of a lowly caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly. The caterpillar wraps itself into a tight cocoon, entering a dormant season. Then when the transformation has culminated, it struggles and pushes itself out of the cocoon, emerging as a new creation; it looks nothing like it did before.
Like a butterfly breaking its way out of the cocoon, I have worked through the process of healing the wounds left by my absent and abusive father, a journey that began on a professional counselor’s couch in 1995. Ten years later, I began my journey to spiritual freedom. Author and counselor Bob Hamp defines freedom as “becoming the person you were created and redeemed to be.” I learned to receive solace from the Holy Spirit—the one who comforts us in our sorrow and suffering.
My life was transformed when I began seeing myself through my Father’s eyes. Finally receiving true comfort and healing for my wounded heart and soul, I was able to fully embrace my heavenly Father’s love for me and believe that He actually knew my name.
I am now held securely in the capable, nurturing, reassuring arms of the God of the universe. The real me has emerged, after decades of pursuing freedom.
My once fatherless heart is fatherless no more.
I have found my wings.
Thank you, Anna, for your rich story. Read the rest of her story, here.
Abundant thanks to Tyndale House for their sponsorship of this post.