by Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos
Many of us may have exciting stories to tell about how we first learned of God. We feel worthy. But, Dr. Anne Worth’s story is about how she ran from a fire-breathing, vindictive God for years. She did not feel worthy, and it would be years, forty in all, before she did feel worthy of God’s love. However, in the end, His Love won and she embraced Him and has never looked back at her difficult childhood except to see how far she has come with the help of the Lord.
I had the pleasure of previously interviewing Dr. Anne Worth, and writing an article about her published here in PATHEOS Above and Beyond the 5 Senses, COVID: Call Me Worthy of Shelter, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/aboveandbeyondthe5senses/2020/06/covid-call-me-worthy-of-shelter/ concerning her long and winding journey in search of God after a life of abuse, fear, disappointment, and abandonment. Her discovery of a loving, forgiving God culminated in the writing of her memoir, Call Me Worthy.”
Two important things happened in church that was traumatic enough for Anne to run from God for most of her life.
At age four, Anne went to church with her grandmother, her favorite person on earth at the time. Ann tells the story in her own words from her book, Call Me Worthy.
“All dressed up in my best sandals, a puffed sleeved dress, and lace-trimmed bonnet-all in pure white, I was ready for my first church visit. Brilliant orange-and-yellow daylilies decorated the church altar. The pleasing fragrance of those flowers wafted out to greet us as we walked up the steps into the church building.
The stained-glass windows cast hues of many colors around the sanctuary. The singing lifted me right up toward Heaven. I was spellbound, every one of my senses stimulated.
After the songs, a tall, dignified man solemnly rose from a high-back chair on stage. He raised a tattered black book high in the air, and after a poignant moment of silence, he sternly spoke. ‘This is the Good Book. This book is about right and wrong, good and bad. And you better choose right.’
He bowed his head and earnestly pleaded with God to keep the congregation from sinning and for the blood of Jesus to save them all from hellfire.
He mentioned good works and lost sheep. I was wondering about the sheep and the blood when suddenly the man slammed his hand down on the lectern so loudly that it startled me. He spoke in a thunderous voice, and what I heard frightened this bad little girl. He spoke with such authority that I didn’t doubt a word he said. His message was bad news: God hated filth. And when we sinned, we became filthy rags that disgusted God. He warned us that if we didn’t stop sinning, God would throw us into hellfire where we would burn alive forever. I was shaking.”
After going to church for that first time with her Grandmother, Anne saw God as a fire-breathing, vindictive, raging, punishing God. She didn’t go back to any church for ten years, which was easy because her parents didn’t go to church.
But Anne did not give up on searching for and finding a relationship with God.
Her second trip to church was at the age of thirteen. She visited a church that seemed very different. There was no yelling and no mention of hell at all. Dr. Anne Worth describes the scene in her own words from her book Call Me Worthy.
“It was like suddenly I was their best friend.” Dr. Anne Worth said. “And a missionary told us we would have beautiful feet if we went all over the world and invited people to church.”
At least, that’s what the young girl Anne thought. She finally felt like she had a Christian “job description.”
But when she brought a boy to church who was different from the people who attended that church, her parent’s phone blew up with judgment and criticism.
In essence, Dr. Anne Worth was “uninvited” to be one of their church members.
One of the reasons Dr. Anne Worth wrote the book, Call Me Worthy, is she feels the church can be its own worst enemy. She says, “As Christians, we must get to know the people who are sitting next to us in the pews, we must do more than smile and welcome people at the door. We have to provide the comfort and safety they need within the walls of the church.”
Dr. Anne Worth goes on to explain her pain.
“Deeply hurt, I wanted to defend myself, but everyone I knew in the church had judged me. What had I done wrong? I brought a lost soul to church. Isn’t that what the missionary told all of us to do?
If one person had come forward to counsel me, the next forty years of my life might have been very different. I needed help, but I received judgment and condemnation. I didn’t understand church or Christians. They seemed like mean, self-righteous-bullies.”
“I wanted nothing more to do with God or anyone associated with him.”
Dr. Anne Worth found consolation from other kids who didn’t go to church. She learned to drink and smoke and do whatever would make her popular. She was as clean as the driven snow when she left the church, but it wouldn’t be long before this girl, who had struggled to be good, would enjoy being bad.
“I was only 13 years old.” Dr. Anne Worth said.
Today Dr. Anne Worth holds a master’s and a doctorate degree in counseling psychology. She has been in private practice for almost 40 years. She is an author and has contributed to many publications and her blog listed on her website @ https://dranneworthauthor.com/ And as an author in the soon to be published book Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy: Crappy to Happy she will be a contributor to BIZCATALYST 360 Magazine. Watch for her column.
Watch for Part 11 of Call Me Worthy when Dr. Anne Worth continues and shares her long search for God. You can read more about her story here on PATHEOS:
Enjoy Your 15 minute video interview of Dr. Anne Worth-Kat Kanavos Show on New Earth TV- Are You Worthy?
Reference: Call Me Worthy, Dr. Anne Worth, author; Independently published (December 16, 2019) https://www.amazon.com/Call-Me-Worthy-Unlocking-Glorious/dp/1676433333/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Call+me+Worthy&qid=1592842837&sr=8
About the Author: Kathleen (Kat) O’Keefe-Kanavos: aka The Queen of Dreams Syndicated Columnist, PR Guru, VIDEO Podcaster/Show Host Dreaming Healing, 3-time Breast Cancer Survivor, multi-award-winning author, Dreaming Healing Video Podcaster, and Dream Expert seen on Dr. Oz, DOCTORS, NBC, & CBS. Divine Dreams diagnose her illness. Kat and Duke U Radiologist Dr. Larry Burk co-wrote, (2018 Nautilus Award Winner) Dreams That Can Save Your Life. She’s an Author/Lecturer/Keynote who promotes patient advocacy and connecting with Divine-guidance through Dreams. “Don’t tell God how big your problems are. Tell your problems how big your God is.” Learn more @ www.KathleenOKeefeKanavos.com