Welcome back to Sanctuary Woman. I’m your host, Morgan Strehlow, and I created this podcast in February 2021 to help women be at peace in their bodies so they can bring peace to the world.
It’s been a minute since I published an episode—in the latter half of 2022, my priorities had to shift as parenting became more challenging, prompting us to seek help and support, and fortunately, we were able to find that. In December, we learned that my four-year-old son is autistic. And it’s wonderful to know that about him now and be able to adjust parts of our lives and parenting and find t the resources that can help him and all of us better thrive. Now, I’m able to pick this podcast back up and recommit to creating more curious, compassionate, contemplative content for women who have been impacted by purity culture.
Since it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, I wanted to recast some vision for Sanctuary Woman and share where my heart is at right now. Because, even though I haven’t been creating content for the last 6 months, I have been doing a lot of praying, discerning, and dialoguing with others about the vision and mission of the podcast and this community. Because before I recorded another episode after such a long hiatus and recommitted to Sanctuary Woman for the long haul, I wanted to get really clear on what it was I am doing here. And that involved really understanding who you are–the ones who listen to this podcast. Who DM me and send me emails with your stories and your questions.
I created Sanctuary Woman for Christian women, like me, recovering from purity culture–and that hasn’t changed. But I have learned so much more about you, about us, since I started this podcast, and it has really helped shape and evolve the direction I’ve taken it.
Some of you are struggling to hold on to your Christian faith because what has been handed to you is crumbling in your hands and slipping through your fingers as you desperately try to hold on to something of substance. You so badly want to hold on because you do love Jesus and what he represents, but it’s hard to love and trust the people who claim to be his followers and ordained leaders of the faith. Some of you feel disconnected from your inherited faith and religion. Some of may not even go to church anymore, but not necessarily because you don’t want to. You just no longer feel like you belong there. And perhaps for the first time, you feel like an outsider and have started to become more empathetic and compassionate toward others on the margins of the faith. Some of you may not even describe yourself as Christian, because of all of the baggage and pain and betrayal you feel is associated with that word. Some of you are still hopeful, despite it all. You still love God. You are still looking for a safe space to work out your questions and curiosities and the unraveling of your faith without losing it. You are looking for a safe space to reconnect to your body and your desires after spending decades of your life disembodied and disconnected and divorced from your own body and sexuality. You are looking for a bridge back home to yourself, a pathway toward healing from body shame and sexual shame that the harmful theology and fear-based, shamed-based messages you received from purity culture. You are looking for someone who gets it, and who is honest about their experiences, but who has not succumbed to succumb to perpetual despair that can come with such a deconstruction. You are looking for someone who is still stubbornly clinging to hope, and flinging it far and wide. Saying, I know it hurts sometimes, and it’s hard, but let me be hopeful with you.
That’s what I want to be. A wayfinder of hope, a spiritual alongsider toward healing and healthy relationships with our bodies and our sexuality, and even with one another. I personally believe that the hard work of peacemaking begins with ourselves, loving and valuing the body we live in, and appreciating our own humanity. Because if we can’t do that without ourselves, how are we to extend that to others? The goal of Sanctuary Woman is not simply to learn to love ourselves well. But it’s to learn to love others better because we love ourselves well. I want to help you be at peace in your bodies so you can bring peace to your world. That’s the heart of Sanctuary Woman.
Through spiritual hospitality, Sanctuary Woman is a safe place where you can embrace the unforced rhythms of grace, and the inherent goodness you have been created with. All are welcome here. Through contemplative activism, Sanctuary Woman will nurture your inner, spiritual life so that you may authentically enliven your active life as you seek to love, serve, and advocate for yourself and others. Through sexual formation, Sanctuary Woman will host honest, shame-free conversations about sex and sexuality that will help you better know, love, and belong in your very good body.
So on this podcast, you will hear episodes and conversations on a variety of topics around spiritual hospitality, contemplative activism, and sexual formation from diverse perspectives. Not every perspective I’ll always agree with, and not every perspective you will always agree with. And that’s okay. Because peacemakers don’t live in echo chambers. As Christians, because increasingly polarized, particularly here in the U.S. where I live, I feel really strongly about helping bridge some of these divisions in thoughtful ways. That’s not to say I won’t have any polarizing content on this show–I probably will. If I only stick to what’s safe to talk about rather than that which is a little scandalous, I’ll miss out on helping the women I have set out to help and freeing the women I have set out to free. But when I do this, I will do it with a prayerful and peacemaking posture. There are all sorts of women who are suffering from purity culture’s impact–it’s not something that’s just a progressive Christian problem or a conservative Christian problem. It’s a problem. And it’s important to me that Sanctuary Woman be a hospitable place for as many women who need it to be. But I will promise you I will always aim to be gentle, inclusive, and trauma-informed, but I realize that words and conversations will also be filtered through the lenses and experiences of those listening and I can’t always control how things will land. And I ask you to be gracious and to give me feedback about ways you think I can learn and grow.
This podcast is a passion project of mine. When I was in a really vulnerable place in my own spiritual and sexual life, I was looking for a podcast just like this one and I couldn’t find it. I needed spiritual care and nourishment, but I also wanted to feel seen and understood as someone who was deep into deconstructing from purity culture. But many of the podcasts for the deconstructors felt full of despair, cynicism, and hopelessness. I already had all of that and was weary of despair. I was looking for something and someone to help me be hopeful. So after a long, hard season of recovery with intensive therapies and spiritual direction, when I finally felt like I was in a spiritually healthy place, I dreamed up Sanctuary Woman. And stewarding this project well has been a real gift over the last two years. I’m so passionate about this work, and it’s life-giving. And I’m committed to keeping all of this content free, accessible, and shareable, for any woman who needs it.
But making this podcast is not free. It actually takes a lot of time to produce, as you can imagine. And Sanctuary Woman has always been a one-woman show. I’m that one woman. I plan the episode schedule. I script the episodes and write out questions for guests. Read their books if they have written one. Then record the episode, edit the episode, publish the episode, then promote the episode on social media. I actually really enjoy every piece of what goes into creating this podcast, but I am hoping to soon be able to outsource some of the production so I can spend more of my time creating additional resources and opportunities for you beyond the podcast.
So you may hear, for the first time, a few ads or promotions during episodes for various things that I think you might be interested in. These will include partnered, or affiliate products with affiliate links in the show notes and they will include actual advertisements for things that I have personally vetted, and that I feel aligns with listeners. I am not looking to monetize the show necessarily, but rather make just enough to pay for help producing it so that I can continue to improve it and make this podcast more sustainable for the long term. So you can help me do that by clicking on the links that I include in the show notes if you hear about a product or opportunity that interests you! And if you have a product, service, or opportunity that you think would align with listeners of Sanctuary Woman, please email me at email@example.com
so we can determine if it’s a good fit for us.
As you know, I’m a big fan of women supporting women, and this is just another way we can do that for one another. I can support your small businesses, and you can support my podcast. It’s a win-win.
Thanks for letting me come alongside you and being hopeful with you. Make sure you are subscribed to Sanctuary Woman wherever you listen to podcasts and look for new weekly episodes in your podcast player beginning next week.
Music by Jameson McGregor of UBC Waco.
Check out this episode!