Why I Need to Listen More to Rebecca–Thoughts for Her Birthday

by | Jan 19, 2024 | Bare Marriage | 36 comments

Rebecca's 29th birthday
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Today is my daughter Rebecca’s 29th birthday.

And I want to take an opportunity to do something I don’t do nearly enough: tell you all how instrumental she is in everything that we do.

But first, a story.

She was around nine years old, and we were away on holiday at a resort, our first big holiday as a family in a number of years. One night there was a big show out by the pool, and Keith and I eagerly took the girls to see it. 

Rebecca as a child

Before we even sat down, and before the show even started, Rebecca started looking panicky–something she very rarely did. She kept saying, “Mommy, we need to leave. Something isn’t right.” 

I tried to calm her down. I told her that she’d enjoy it. I tried to distract her. 

But as the action started, it had a lot of demonic imagery and stuff that was super creepy and grotesque, and we immediately got up and left.

She discerned it before it even started.

Over the years, this has happened repeatedly. Rebecca picks up on stuff before other people do. I’m usually not too far behind, but Rebecca tends to be first. She’s able to articulate what’s wrong with things before I am. She can pinpoint the problem. Once she has, my role is often to fine tune the arguments, but she tends to see things faster, and more clearly.

Over the last little while, a few incidents have come up on the blog and with our team behind the scenes where she was adamant, “Mom, you can’t do that,” or “Mom, that just isn’t the right approach.” And I’ve told her she’s wrong. She’s not seeing the whole picture.

And within a few days, she’s invariably proven right. 

The first podcast we did of 2024–Let Men Be Men–was a real hit. Over and over again, people told us that Rebecca was hilarious, that it was the best podcast that we had ever done.

What you didn’t see was the 35 minutes of footage that we deleted, because we had to restart recording twice. I couldn’t get the vision of what Rebecca wanted for the podcast, and I was seriously frustrating her because I kept trying to go in a different direction. 

“Trust me, Mom. This is better.” 

And it was.

I need to start listening more quickly to my little girl.

From the time she was small, I always thought she had the gift of discernment. I always thought I did too–but if gifts can be measured, hers is greater. 

And I do better when I listen to her. I mean, I always end up listening to her eventually anyway; it would be better if I jumped on board earlier instead of making her frustrated!

Rebecca is both the most overlooked and the most disparaged of our team. 

And it really does bother me. 

The other team members (including me!) have more clear cut roles and our jobs are neatly defined. Joanna designs the studies and runs the stats. Connor runs the website management. Tammy is our administrator extraordinaire. I write and am also the public face of Bare Marriage. 

But Rebecca writes with me. She comes up with ideas with me. I bounce podcast ideas off of her. Without her, I’d be really lonely, and far less confident, and not nearly as creative. 

It was Rebecca who taught me that the idea that women are better at multitasking is a myth disproven by several studies; that neuroscience now says that women are just as visual as men (though they experience it differently); that spanking has been shown definitively to either be neutral or negative, but never positive. 

She is up on far more research than I am.

When Rebecca started writing our Friday emails that goes out to 45,000 subscribers, my open rate doubled. People love what she has to say (and you can sign up here!). 

Yet Rebecca’s contribution is not always as obvious to those on the outside.

What people do see is her on the podcast, and she’s often the most animated, the most angry. People don’t like it when young women (especially young women with pink hair) get angry. Keith can say exactly the same thing as Rebecca, and people will call him firm and assertive. But she gets called much worse names.

We’ve had behind the scenes phone calls with some authors and people upset at us, and they always get the most angry at Rebecca. One time she tried to explain the gospel to an author/pastor we frequently critique, explaining that we have a responsibility to the sheep that are lost, not to protect the hired hands. 

He didn’t like hearing that from a girl who was only 26 at the time.

She gets a lot of flak, but I couldn’t do this without her. 

What we do is tiring, and if I couldn’t FaceTime her throughout the day, I’d be too lonely to keep doing this. Without her input, I wouldn’t do nearly as good a job. 

Rebecca has a desire to branch out and have more nuanced conversations about faith, and not just marriage, likely on her own platform. She feels far more called to help people navigate healthy faith than healthy sex (though she’s here for us when we need her!). I’m excited to see where God may take her in the next decade (it may be a slow start since she still has two toddlers). 

But I want to say today that she is so important to everything we do, and I’m not sure everybody always sees that.

So I wanted to honor that today, and tell you all that I love her, I’m proud of her, I’m so happy with who she has become.

She’s an amazing, amazing mother, and she’s a great friend.

 

I’m reminded of the closing words of the book Charlotte’s Web, as Wilbur reflects on Charlotte:

 

She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

Charlotte’s Web

Rebecca is both too. And, yes, I will try to listen faster from now on, because she is usually right.

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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36 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    I’m so thankful for Rebecca and the whole team!
    Rebecca, you’re a breath of fresh air, and I hope you have a wonderful birthday!

    Reply
  2. Jane King

    Yay Rebecca! Looking forward to your new podcast.

    Reply
  3. Tory

    What a beautiful testament on recognizing your daughter’s gifts and unique talents!

    Reply
    • Belinda Partridge

      I love Rebecca’s take on all the subjects.
      I think as women & men come out from unhealthy teaching that we have finally recognized as our sex lives and marriages have imploded. How wonderful that Rebecca sees the need for rebuilding a healthy faith life. I know I need help relearning and understanding what the Bible really meant and having a passionate, intelligent woman teaching that would make me feel safe and secure as I navigate my new understanding of my faith, Jesus and the Bible.
      Do it, I’d be keen to listen and learn.

      Reply
  4. JG

    Happy birthday Rebecca. May God bless you in all that you do. And Sheila, I agree, we do need to listen to our children. Your story was a great illustration of that.

    Reply
  5. Nessie

    Happy birthday, Rebecca!

    I am literally in tears reading this. My family is not like yours and I can only imagine what it is to have a parent say anything encouraging, supportive, and loving. I hope y’all know what an inspiration and encouragement you are for being a healthy family that loves Jesus first and each other next. That comes through to many of us. <3

    "She feels far more called to help people navigate healthy faith than healthy sex," I think this is huge. If we can get our hearts and faith in the right place, then things like sex can more likely fall into place. Thank you, Rebecca!

    Y'all are awesome! Wishing Rebecca a day full of all good things.

    Reply
  6. Stefanie

    Happy Birthday Rebecca! I remember the first time I saw you, on the Image Bearers podcast, and your sass and zeal really impacted me. You clearly articulated the problems with church teachings on sex, problems I felt in my body but couldn’t acknowledge because I was still in the fundamentalist church, and I remember you said, “You have permission to disagree with the teachers.” That hit me like a splash of cold water and woke me up. So thank you.

    Reply
  7. Jen

    Happy birthday, Rebecca! You rock, and I LOVE hearing your thoughts!!

    Reply
  8. Angharad

    Happy Birthday Rebecca!

    (Kind of ironic that the people who don’t like your pink hair are doubtless the same ones who keep harping on about ‘blue and pink’ differences between men and women…)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I didn’t think of that!

      Reply
    • JG

      Reminds me of the time when bluish tinted hair was the style for the older church ladies. It was popular in the 1970s and early ’80s, and I am old enough to remember that.

      Rebecca your hair is beautiful.

      Reply
  9. Angela

    That was beautiful, and Go Rebecca!

    It makes me uncomfortable too when she gets angry, but I know it’s good for me to sit with people’s anger about injustice. I’m still deprogramming myself from fundie ideas of “keep sweet.” Your whole family has been such a good example of we are going to get appropriately angry, we are going to push back, mock the ridiculous, teach, reframe, get healthy. Love you guys!

    Reply
    • Anonymous305

      I think she gets called more angry than Keith because she uses a louder volume, so I don’t feel like it’s just her gender. However, that doesn’t make her less credible!!

      Reply
      • Jo R

        What we should be asking in reply is why the complainers are NOT angry about the same subjects Rebecca is railing against. Why are the complainers more angry about someone’s tone, vocabulary, and animation that at the abuse and other wrongdoing that’s being described?

        Things that make you go, “Hmmmm.” 🤔

        Reply
        • Carla

          They focus on tone when you are right, and they have no rational argument against what you are saying. I believe deep down that people who insist that women “keep sweet” know that they are unfair and don’t want to be confronted by it. I believe a lot of women get scared when women speak up forcefully because they are aware of the potential angry backlash from men who like things the way they are. We are so well trained to comply. It’s like we are subjected to an emotional/psychological version of foot binding. I wonder what our communities would look like if we’d been raised to develop and share our talents as women instead of burying them for the comfort of men. We need more Rebeccas! Happy birthday!

          Reply
          • Jo R

            “It’s like we are subjected to an emotional/psychological version of foot binding.”

            🔥 🔥 🔥

          • Angharad

            Yes, and if they can’t complain about your ‘tone’ they just ignore you.

            I’ve seen discussions here where maybe five women have responded, but one has been very outspoken. Critics respond to the outspoken one, criticising her tone and saying that she needs to learn to communicate more graciously if she is going to be listened to.

            AND THEY COMPLETELY IGNORE THE OTHER FOUR COMMENTS.

            It happens time & again. So please can we ditch this nonsense about ‘reasons’ why people have difficulty with angry women and how if we could only learn to communicate ‘nicely’ there wouldn’t be a problem. Because the evidence shows that if we communicate ‘nicely’, we just get ignored. (Which I guess DOES mean there isn’t a problem for those who are happy with the status quo…)

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Exactly, Angharad! This happens all the time.

          • AnonymousThisTime

            As a child, my Mom would not let me talk unless I sounded happy.

            It made trying to tell her about how my Dad treated me into a very frustrating exercise in futility.

            I would start telling her about the abuse. Then she would interrupt with a lecture about my tone.

            She would demand that I try saying it again, but with the “right tone of voice.”

            But if you sound happy about being abused, no one will take you seriously!

          • Anonymous305

            AnonymousThisTime, what a horrible way for your mother to avoid accountability and invalidate you ☹️❤️☹️‼️

  10. Kim H

    Happy Birthday Rebecca. Looking forward to what you do next.

    Reply
  11. Jane Eyre

    Happy birthday, Rebecca!

    Discernment is a gift and a skill. People can develop discernment over time, but it often takes them well until middle age or longer. So they often don’t want to believe that younger people can have it as a gift.

    Discernment in its own is not terribly useful; when paired with the courage to say that something *is,* even if other people don’t believe it, discernment is very powerful.

    That combination – youth, gifts, and courage – can make a lot of people very uncomfortable. It’s a trifecta that really jabs at people’s insecurities.

    Reply
  12. Mara R

    “But I want to say today that she is so important to everything we do, and I’m not sure everybody always sees that.”

    A lot of us do. We have for some time.

    For some of us, for a very long time, we have appreciated the fact that she would say, first and out loud, the things that needed to be said concerning the appalling lack of clothes on the emperor.

    Rebecca is there questioning the horrible traditions of men that are destroying people within the Evangelical machine. And Bare Marriage is a platform where she can say it and be supported and backed up. While I rejoice with her that she has this, I suffer frustration that I can’t seem to find a place/team where I can do the same and be supported rather than driven off and called Jezebel.

    So, happy birthday Rebecca! Never thought you were less than. Only ever thought of you as an equal and important part of the whole.

    Reply
    • Bernadette

      Yes!

      Reply
  13. Jo R

    Happy birthday, Rebecca!

    Thank YOU for the gift YOU keep giving all of US, not being afraid to call out the unchristlike crap the church has been pushing for so, so long.

    Maybe your generation will be the one that buries it all in a deep, deep hole, never to be taught again. ❤️

    And yes, as others have mentioned, some of us need as big a faith detox as we’ve needed a sex and marriage detox. I’ve often wondered about Connor and how he came to faith in Jesus as an adult, just like me, but without all the crap teaching that engulfed me in it slimy tentacles. Maybe a collaborative study by you two? Pretty please???

    Reply
  14. Em

    Happy Birthday!!!! Yes that last podcast made me laugh so much you were great! I really appreciate my discerning friends because that is not my gift. It really is a superpower! Hope you feel appreciated today!

    Reply
  15. Nathan

    JoR asks
    > > I’ve often wondered about Connor and how he came to faith in Jesus as an adult, just like me, but without all the crap teaching

    I can’t speak for him, but I can share my story.

    I wasn’t raised in church. My family abandoned organized religion about three generations before me. The women in my family were very strong and independent, and we all treated each other equally. By the time a friend of mine invited me to church (age 12), I had already been taught against male patriarchy (without even realizing it). Also, that church, at least in the youth groups, didn’t teach Patriarchy and demand that women be submissive and sweet. I think they pushed that at the adult level, though.

    Later on, I drifted away from church, but still considered myself a Christian. By the time I got married and had kids, and we decided to go to church again, I was pretty much nowhere near any kind of “wives must always submit with a smile” philosophy. Also, our church isn’t big on that stuff anyway, not very much at least. They still preach “have sex with your husbands or they’ll cheat, and it’s your fault”, but they’re fairly well evolved on true equality, although all pastors and elders are all men, except in the kids groups.

    Based on everything I’ve seen and experienced in my life and read in the bible, I see no reason to believe that God created humanity so that women exist only to serve men and clean up after them and so on. Hopefully more and more will see that as the years go by.

    Reply
  16. Rachel

    What a beautiful tribute. Hope you had an awesome birthday, Rebecca! I think you’re amazing and appreciate so much everything you do, especially your dedication to the Truth. Love your emails. Love you on the podcast. You make me laugh and make me think. I am very drawn to people who speak the truth, especially when it’s uncomfortable since I struggle so much with this myself (major people pleaser). I had trouble at first, but now I love when you get angry and snarky. Also when Keith gets angry. Totally different vibe — both amazing. Thank you for everything ❤

    Reply
  17. Shoshana

    Rebecca is brilliant and inspiring, and sees and expresses things with such incisive clarity. I’m nearly ten years her senior, but she is a model to me of the kind of healthy assertiveness/assertion of self-worth I want to better implement in my own life, and which I believe is a cornerstone of true, loving, adult relationships.

    Reply
  18. Lisa Johns

    Happy (belated) birthday, Rebecca! From a sister who also gets called out a lot on her ToNe. I suddenly realized as I was reading that this is what it’s about — not that I am in the wrong, but that people often want to criticize the tone of voice so that they don’t have to deal with what is being said. So thank you for your expressions of right anger, and thank you to your mom for the lovely (and well-deserved) tribute! Much blessing on your new year!

    Reply
  19. Cynthia

    Happy birthday Rebecca! Love the humour and the rants. I also love seeing a mom that takes pride not in producing a perfect Mini-Me, but in having a strong adult daughter with a mind of her own who can lead in new directions. As someone with strong daughters in their early 20s, it is an inspiring model.

    My heart also breaks that you are seeing Rebecca getting attacked so often. I tend to be really cautious online and getting that much hate, with your real names and photos available to the public, must be terrifying at times.

    Reply
  20. Kristen

    This post has me tearing up. Thank you, Rebecca, for all that you do, seen and unseen. We appreciate you! <3

    Reply
  21. Derek Ilg

    Episode 219: Let men be men was awesome and yes Rebecca was electric. She was so funny and expressively accurate with her descriptions. This podcast was a reflection of my life and how my childhood wounds trapped my young, hurting, immature self in a mans body. Then I took this into my marriage and ruined my marriage. Now I am learning how to heal my inner child and become a safe and healthy man.
    the work that you do at Bare Marriage is life giving and refreshing for me. The above podcast is so true of how my immature and vulnerable self was wrongfully influenced of how to be a christian man. The complimentarian view of marriage, gender roles and dis-equality warped my thoughts and actions. I am now finding more and more men negatively influenced by this theology. i am committed to learn more and educate the next generation.
    Thank you so much for your courage, honesty and wisdom in doing what you all do. I am so grateful for you.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So glad you’re here, Derek, and I’m so sorry that you were so lied to and wounded and then that hurt your marriage too. I’m glad you’re growing and glad you found us!

      Reply
      • Derek Ilg

        Thank you Sheila for your acknowledgement. I also follow Andrew Bauman who I know you have a relationship and he is awesome. I learn so much from the both of you. Wish I knew these things 25-30 years ago but glad I am learning now and gathering great resources.

        Reply
  22. Lucy

    I’m not sure where the idea that people don’t see Rebecca as an important, significant member of the team came from, but that’s certainly not my perspective. It was actually Rebecca’s input that engaged me in following Bare Marriage content. I’m thrilled that she’s considering launching her own platform and I hope to follow/support her in that journey!

    Reply

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