The End of the VWM

I’ve been thinking about this space for a long time, wondering what to do with it now that everything has changed so much. This little corner of the internet was built around a life I no longer live; a career I no longer have, a marriage I’m no longer in, and a family that looks nothing like it did twelve or thirteen years ago when I started writing down words and letting strangers read them online. The Very Worst Missionary was created and grown as a “faith and lifestyle blog”, but it’s fair to say that the faith and lifestyle depicted in many of these pages doesn’t even come close to representing my faith or lifestyle today.

When I started writing, it was as youngish wife, a sort of a progressive Christian, an evangelical missionary, and the proud Mom of three rowdy boys. That’s who I was, and I know that’s what brought many of you here. But with the exception of a the latest posts about my divorce and the death of my son, many of the words that linger here feel like they were written by another woman in another life. I remember her and I love her, but I’m not her. Not anymore. 

These days, I write as a middle-aged ex-wife who, over the years, has become more progressive and (arguably) less Christian, an ex-evangelical and ex-missionary, and the always proud, but ever grieving Mom of two amazing men and a dead forever-teenager. 

Like, I don’t even know what to do with all of that information – so I certainly don’t expect you to have a relevant place for my story to fit into your life. It is totally understandable if this space just isn’t for you anymore, if I am not for you anymore. Maybe I’ve become too depressing or too liberal or maybe I’m not Jesus-y enough for you, and maybe this is where we part ways as a writer and a reader who used to have more in common.

If that’s the case, I want to thank you for being part of this magical community. Thank you for loving and encouraging me as The Very Worst Missionary. Even if we didn’t always agree, you changed my life by giving me a platform, sharing my work with your friends, and buying my dumb book. I will always be grateful to you for that. If it’s time for you to go, I say go with God. And try not to be an asshole.

But if you plan on sticking around to see what happens next in the absolute batshittery that is my life, you can expect some changes. I’m still figuring out what it all looks like, but what I can tell you for sure is that this is the end of The Very Worst Missionary.

That’s just not who I am anymore.

I haven’t been a missionary for so many years now that trying to explain this space to people is…well, it’s just kind of weird. I still have big thoughts and opinions about the relentless stupidity of the North American Evangelical Missions industrial complex (I said what I said), but I’m no longer immersed in that world. And I don’t want to be. I have no desire to weigh in on missions trash all the time, especially if it’s for the purpose of maintaining a brand.

There is no plan to shut down this blog, delete existing posts, or shutter my social media feeds. To be honest, I’m not the least bit ashamed or embarrassed by the path that brought me this far, the path that drew me out into the wild where I’ve found both more suffering and more love than I ever thought possible. A lot has changed, but the personal evolution I can see when I click through these old pages still makes me happy. I like the woman I’ve grown into, I like the Jesus I’ve come to know, and I like the God I found out here in the wilderness. The God who finds me, again and again, to remind me, “You are not alone.”

I want to write what I know, and what I know right now is divorce, disillusionment, and death. Lucky for me, all that shit is super common, so I doubt I’ll have trouble finding my people if the whole VWM crowd jumps ship. Of course I’m going to keep talking about pop-culture nonsense, and ethical shopping, my favorite recipes, and all kinds of crap. But I’m also going to dive into some stuff that is more difficult, more painful, and more personal than ever before. This feels right and good. It feels like what I’m supposed to be doing with my life moving forward.

In my book, I wrote that “in [their] desire to heal the world, God wastes nothing. Not even the very worst thing.” And I think I still believe that, so I have to write. I have to write down these hard won lessons and I have to give words to this impossible grief, because they happen – the very worst things. They really do happen, and they happen to us all. If writing about my very worst things could help you walk through yours, then I’ll be damned if I let it go to waste.

I loved being Jamie the Very Worst Missionary. But I also loved being a wife. And I loved being Jamison’s mom. Sometimes you get to choose the direction of your life path, and sometimes others choose for you. Today I’m choosing a new direction for myself, and for this community, and I’m actually kind of excited to see where we end up.

Here’s to new adventures!

All my love,

Jamie the Very Worst

(That’s it. That’s my whole name now.)

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65 Comments

  1. ARHuelsenbeck on August 20, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Dear Jamie, I love you so much. Even though you are not officially a missionary anymore, you are still telling people about the Jesus you know, Who has done great things for you. As we go on in life, we have experiences that show us God is so much bigger than we were taught. It’s scary, but it’s good, this new understanding. We are charged only with telling the good news: that God loves us, that we are forgiven. You are still doing that. If this blog goes away, that’s fine. If it stays, I will still read it. But keep doing what you’re doing, even if it’s much different than what you used to do. Love.

    • Michael Brown on August 21, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      I wholeheartedly appreciate your honesty and perspective on the difficulties of life. With appropriate snark and full use of your eloquent vocabulary (and repertoire of swear words). I am definitely here to read the words of Jamie the Very Worst.

  2. Cheryl Steffins on August 20, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Your writing has and does bless me. I will not be jumping ship, but, rather will stay around to see how God works.

    • Matt on August 21, 2020 at 4:45 pm

      So glad you will be continuing to blog. I found you many years ago, while I was still a believer and you still a missionary. I’ve continued to follow you on social media bc I love how open and honest you are with your audience. Thanks for being yourself even if it is the very worst 😉.

      • Kim on August 21, 2020 at 5:58 pm

        Here for it – I think you’re awesome however you show up 😊 plus I love the evolution of the airstream.

  3. Reba on August 20, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Let it out sister. I’m here for it. I learn a lot from people who have been forced to pivot and can make something of it. Not even make the most of it… just figure out some part of it. I’m rambling but I hope you get it. Just know, I’ll be here for the things you share, even the very worst things.

    • Becca Krause on August 21, 2020 at 4:37 pm

      I’ve found you after the changes and recognize myself in you more now, than I would have before. Thanks for keeping on keeping on.

    • Lil on August 21, 2020 at 8:39 pm

      💜💜

  4. Beverly Wooden on August 20, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Jamie, I’ve missed you! Your deep, raw honesty is always appreciated. If you’ve had postings since spring of 2019 I have not had access to them. I look forward to continuing the journey with you in whatever direction you proceed. May you be refreshed in the telling of your story and walk with confidence. There are so many of us out here who value the honesty with which you share. Love to you and your little family.

  5. Racheal King on August 20, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    This is the only blog I can forward to the people I love who are critically far from Jesus. Please make sure my address transitions to JTVW if that comes to life. Your work is so important to the Kingdom of Heaven. ❤️

  6. May on August 20, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    I only just found your blog at the beginning of lockdown. It your sons fish that first caught my attention. It was your honesty that kept me reading.

  7. chloe on August 20, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    WELL A-FUCKING-MEN!!!! You’ve got a whole crowd of ride-or-dies of “The Very Worst” forever.

    • Erin on August 21, 2020 at 6:15 pm

      So so thankful for honest conversations of faith and life. After a terrible divorce i didn’t want and a really really hard last 7 years of being a sole custody single mom, I just can’t do faith communities where we are all overcomers who should be actively “discipling” others in our (aaaaallllllll the same) cute preppy outfits. How about instead we have a drink around a fire because the week was really shitty, and we get to cry and tell Jesus thanks for just helping us get through another day. I didn’t know Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, but I’m really excited to get to know Jamie the Worst!

  8. Cherie on August 20, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    I never comment on blog posts, but I felt compelled to do so today. Life is MESSY which means our faith journeys are, too. I have been so grateful for your raw, honest words. It is refreshing to hear someone’s unfiltered truth as you struggle with some issues that I’ve also battled with. Thank you for the years of posts I quietly cried over and went back to again and again as I mulled them over. I look forward to seeing where God leads you and your blog next.

  9. Mark Steele on August 20, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    You are loved. Just keep doing you! I’m glad you’ll still let us come along for the ride. 😍❤️💕💜💚💛💙 👠🦄

    • Christina on August 21, 2020 at 4:34 pm

      Well I teared up at that last paragraph. When those we love leave us and the people we were leave with them…Christ. We’re left with the void; and/but we also resurrect (if we are lucky and loved and other mysterious shit). Your honesty has always been your real “brand.” I’m still here. 🙂

  10. Abhisek Rai on August 20, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Thanks for your honesty Jamie. Im from India and I can relate to your struggles.

  11. Michael Mock on August 21, 2020 at 7:51 am

    I’m… actually quite glad to see that you’re still around and still moving forward, despite…
    ::waves helplessly around at, well, the world::
    …everything.

    And I’m glad that you seem to have found a place of faith and hope to speak from, though I do think that if 2020 has taught me anything it’s that it’s definitely okay not to be okay. If you’re going to talk about the Very Worst Things, I’m sure you’ll have an audience; I think a lot of people need that. If you’re going to talk about other things, that’s fine too. Or both! No reason you can’t do both.

    Take care of yourself. I’m looking forward to seeing where you go with this.

    • Shannon Swenson on August 21, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      I don’t even know how I found you a while back, but I did. And I’m grateful. You inspire me to be okay with me. I follow Jesus as I know Him and cuss a lot and question a lot. I tell it straight without a million five-dollar words. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Be who you are.

  12. Jen OKeefe on August 21, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Considering I didn’t find you until the shitshow rubber neckin F’d up unimaginable ANGUISH of grief (yep pretty sure that isn’t even a proper sentence) brought us together… I’m all in girl… your thoughts expressed have already reached my heart and soul depths and since I struggle to bring my deeply painful emotions out of the depths of my deeply wounded heart and give them a voice …. you better believe your amazing ability to do just that will continue to help me and many many more…. and even more importantly will help you I pray ….Not to help us get over or past.. but to help us get thru knowing we aren’t alone in our ducked up (ducked replaced fucked😂) grief thoughts and by god we are NOT Fully crazy just a little crazy… Hey… how can one not be a little crazy with a dead kid …we unfortunately know that changes you …..forever. Keep Fucking Going ♥️

  13. Deb from Maryland on August 21, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    I’m not going anywhere. I found your blog around the same time that I was wondering about the “whole mission thing” (You were still off continent or just got back). You, at the core, is what I come here for. Your honesty, your humor, how you express your faith, your vulnerability and the way your words put my thoughts into perspective and provide validation. Thank you, and keep doing what you’re doing,

  14. Heather from Michigan on August 21, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Glad you’re still here, so real and so raw. It’s all so very good. And, I hope you still say fuck a lot because I do and it’s good to know I’m not alone.

  15. Cathy Cheverton on August 21, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    I’m here to stay. Life is messy and painful and I am so sorry for the struggles you have been through. You are a strong voice for so many people and this community loves you for being so damn real. Please keep writing. Love and peace to you.

  16. Jody Smith on August 21, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Shake your wings, butterfly and GO!

  17. Rebekah on August 21, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    I’ve followed you for so many years, and I too find myself more progressive and (arguably) less Christian these days. I’m glad you’re sticking around, in whatever shape that takes.

  18. Jill on August 21, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    I’ve followed you for years. On the surface, we have little in common. I’m single, never married, no kids. Never wanted them. Not a missionary- not even a short term missionary project. Thankfully, I’ve never lost someone to mental health issues. But I am a victim of the evangelical church and relate to you on that. I’m learning my way to create what church needs to be for me & Jesus. I’m sticking around. I don’t need more people like me. I need all views of life

  19. Kathy on August 21, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    With you!

  20. Mindy on August 21, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    🖤

  21. Tiff Schmitz on August 21, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Rock. On.

  22. Shelly Hickman on August 21, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Looking forward to what you write next! Your humor, your realness, your viewpoints as you share the truth of your life will be most welcome to this reader. People that never grow and adapt to the realities that happen in their lives are pretty uninteresting. No one has a smooth life without deep valleys and mountaintops and long windy roads in between. The other travelers, sharing their journeys, help give meaning to one another. Write on!!

  23. ReneeL on August 21, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    For so long it was hard to find the broken and the real in people’s stories, it was hidden, guarded even, leaving those living in the broken places feeling alone. When our stories are fully shared, there is hope found there, both for the teller and those that hear their own story mixed in with others. Thank you for sharing from a place of vulnerability, it will bring hope to those that hear.

    • Carol L on August 21, 2020 at 9:33 pm

      Not jumping ship. I found you when I was beginning my own walk out into the wilderness. I like it here. Hand me an oar and let’s keep paddling!

  24. Marcia Johns on August 21, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Looking forward to hearing more. I found you about a year ago. I was raised evangelical ( not so much anymore). And I lost my oldest (23) to suicide 20 months ago.

    Sending love ❤️

  25. Susie Klein on August 21, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Beautiful and perfect for our times. Everything is weird and topsy turvy, so you are right where you belong. I loved you then and have made some big changes along with you. Still a dedicated reader, always will be.
    Susie, Texas

  26. Shary on August 21, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    Jamie there is such freedom is being able to admit I am the worst. As an MK I have loved following you over the years. I look forward to your new ways of looking at the world. Keep up the writing.

  27. Linda L Hoenigsberg on August 21, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    Jamie…your words actually started me on my own evolutionary journey! I am now also an ex evangelical and much more liberal than I was when we “met.” I just couldn’t stand the cognitive dissonance any longer and you were a breath of fresh air. I lost my own dear brother at 25 and three years later, my father to suicide. Those events both brought me closer to God and then further away as I grappled with WTH. When your son died…I couldn’t help but relate in some ways, although I do not know the pain of losing a son. I cannot imagine it. So my heart continues to be with you, and I will read your words as long as you write them.

  28. Shannon from Baltimore on August 21, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    I found your blog about 6 or 7 years ago, as I was questioning the whole “why do we do short-term missions ?” thing while part of an evangelical church that didn’t appreciate my questions. You were the first to help me see I wasn’t alone in asking those questions. I’ve been along for the journey ever since. Life can be a shitshow, and your honesty, humor, and vulnerability will keep me coming back. Thank you for continuing to write and share your life and words with us.

  29. Kristin Nelson on August 21, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Absolutely certain that THIS ship is the one I will be saling on. Glad you’re the Captain. ❤

  30. Jane on August 21, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    Still here and still star struck with the pure open honesty of you! I was thrilled to run in to you in an airport, when we were both young at heart. Then I lost a son and soon you did too. And you were able to collect my words and put them out there for us all. Thank you for your bravery and making this life make more sense than the crazies would have it do.

  31. Tiffany on August 21, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    I love you the old and the new and I know we’d be best bitches if we could. I have a similar story thank you for bring real and raw.

  32. Johanna on August 21, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    Thank you. Beautifully written . I appreciate all you have written and will write to cone

  33. Sylvia on August 21, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    Just another note to keep on being you , in whatever form you are today and every day. We are all changing and learning and thru your truthfulness we all grow together. Hang in there. You got thi. Every day something new will come your way…consider it, use it or disgard it and move on. Your two boys-to-men still need their mama and always will and your new life seems like it is chugging along just great! Virtual hugs, your continued reader, S

  34. Niki B on August 21, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    Standing with ya… and selfishly absorbing your amazing writing skills.

    • Bill High on August 21, 2020 at 10:32 pm

      You should follow your own path. I am too
      disillusioned with the life around us. Looking forward to following your journey. Glad you are writing again and sharing it with all of us.

  35. Traci McCaskill on August 21, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    My sister, Jamie, passed away Jan 24, 2019 at the age of 24. I found you, somehow. I don’t even remember. You look like her, long brown hair. You sound like her, all the fucks. You make me want to find my wild, like she did. You make me want to lean in and stop caring about all the noise. Just like her. So I’ll keep following this new you. This evolved you. Youre doing good. And helping all of us. Thanks ❤

  36. Jodilynn on August 21, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    You couldn’t get rid of me if you paid me and hit me with a crowbar. I appreciate you, your eloquent and raw words (damn, woman – I teach English for a living and your writing takes my breath away every.dang.time), and your willingness to share your perfect painful personal crooked path with me.

  37. Patricia on August 21, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you Jamie! I have been through some tough times and your writing so encourages me. I’m along for the journey. 🙂

  38. Sarah on August 21, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    I found your blog over 10 years ago, back in my DTS days, and have been following you ever since. I even made a few piecakins because of your inspiration. I love how raw and open and honest you are about you life. Thank you. I look forward to following you on your new adventure!

  39. Denise E on August 21, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Divorced ✅
    3 boy mom ✅
    Not sure if I’ll ever go to church again ✅
    Still a fan ✅
    Keep writing and I’ll keep reading!! 🙌🏻

  40. Rachel on August 21, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Riding with you all the way. You give words to all the raw pain of divorce, the gut wrenching pain of having a sheriff tell me my son tried to kill himself and my knees buckled and I went down, to the despair of a son caught up in drugs. I thought I might not survive but your words and your strength gave me strength. I left the quiet country and found myself on the sidewalks of NYC. You give words to the life we live. You cannot stop, at lest not before I’m dead!

  41. Kristi Rose Mintz on August 21, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    I just am with you. In all the ways. In grief and joy that is the fucking shit show of life. Thank you for all your raw honest brave words, they have been comfort and a guide and an explanation to my own friends when I have not been ready to talk. You have my whole heart.

  42. Kerri Brown on August 21, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    I’m not jumping ship. Looking forward to reading your next chapter. We all have them, and sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. But then….there is a next chapter, and beautiful chance to keep moving….
    Hugs and know you have unconditional love and support. There are actually many of us that started with a firm purpose only to have this life literally kick the wind out of our lungs….so hard that there will forever be a mark of trauma and bruising. A reminder of the starkness and grief, of head spinning unwanted unsolicited changes…..just know without a doubt (from an older “worst”) there is always a next chapter. With love…KB

  43. Swick on August 21, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    Jamie,

    I have been following you from (almost) the beginning. In so many ways, my life path and faith have grown and changed in ways that are similar yet distinct. I will turn 30 this fall and your words have meant so much to me. I wouldn’t be who I am today without your honest, angsty, raw, blunt self as an example that it’s okay for me to show up as I am—doubts and mess and fuck-words and all.

    I’ve lost 11 people since I was 18 (including my mother almost two-and-a-half years ago). I feel seen and validated whenever I read your posts. You give me hope, which is no small thing for someone like me.

    Thanks for sharing in the midst of your very worst. The world needs more of that.

  44. Emma on August 22, 2020 at 1:55 am

    Or. Maybe this is where we find you. As an ex-staff member of an evangelical church, and not very evangelical, doubting Thomas who nevertheless does know He is there…. I didn’t have anything much to relate to TVWM, but you I know. :-). Love from England.

  45. Trina on August 22, 2020 at 4:37 am

    Jamie, nothing but blessings from me. Honestly, I think most of your people will still be your people. You wrote the truth (your truth) and you are going to continue to do just that. Although I am nothing more than a stranger, my heart has ached for your loss. As a mother I wept at the unimaginable grief that ensued, and yet every now and then you shared how laughter snuck back in. Be brave, be broken, be whatever you need, and your people will still be here, cheering for you.

  46. Esther on August 22, 2020 at 5:42 am

    The world we live in is craving honest reality. So many of us are walking paths littered with different types of pain. Many of us have let go of so much we thought we knew in search for the God of the real. Your voice in the journey is needed and welcomed. Congratulations on your choice. It is a good one.

  47. Laura on August 22, 2020 at 5:57 am

    Glad to see you’re finding your voice again. Journey an d journal on. We’re out here with you.

  48. Alana on August 22, 2020 at 6:14 am

    Keep writing! We’ll keep reading ❤️

  49. Mandy on August 22, 2020 at 7:05 am

    I just found you…( like 2 days ago!) and I’m along for this journey with you. I need to hear a voice like yours because mine has become similar(after divorce and the death of the love of my life) in a world that says, don’t say that, don’t talk about that, don’t behave like that, God isn’t like that (lie…), and that’s not how you do it. I’m exhausted from the loneliness and I’m wondering where my people are. BUT I’m filled with a God who is relieved that I have finally shed the bullshit! And it feels so good to see the world through this unfiltered, honest lens of love, compassion, and openness. ♡

  50. George P. on August 22, 2020 at 7:17 am

    We’re with you for the whole ride, sister. I have my own exodus-from-the-evengelical-bullshit-but-still-loves-Jesus story.

    Looks like we’re all on this ride together. Let’s go!

  51. Debi on August 22, 2020 at 7:38 am

    Not jumping ship. Good stuff❤️

  52. Iris on August 22, 2020 at 9:31 am

    Your aforementioned book quote brought tears to my eyes- I took a screenshot for myself. It’s truth I’ve forgotten but need to remember. I love the honesty in your words of how things have evolved. Just like with live friendships, I find the ones who can not accept who I am today are the ones where parting is natural. I’ve followed you many years – from when I returned from a time overseas, maybe 7/8 years ago, that also exploded in my face and left me with a very wounded/angry heart. Thank you for your sharing, vulnerability & wisdom which has walked with me. I enjoyed your book this past year as well. You make me laugh in the worst of times & encourage me to see some light. I will be a continued reader.

  53. Marie on August 22, 2020 at 9:36 am

    I’m willing to bet that very few of us who’ve been following your journey are the same as we were when you first started writing, either. I for one will be sticking around.

  54. Dawna Thurtell on August 22, 2020 at 10:20 am

    Love your honesty. Love how you poke the wounds but maintain a gentleness in your writing. Love how sometimes I get ticked at what you say and then have to admit that I have felt or said the same things. Love watching you shed the many false selves and get closer to your true core. I am a fellow traveller on that same road. I think I’ll stay.

  55. Kori on August 22, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Can’t wait!

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