I was adopted as an infant and raised in a traditional Greek Orthodox home with traditional gender roles. A woman was brought up to be in the home, and we weren't encouraged to read the Bible. The priest was the one who read the Bible—not the congregation. When I brought my first Bible home, my family acted like, Who do you think you are reading this?
Marrying and having babies was supposed to be my highest aspiration in life. I'm basically a Greek Orthodox mother's nightmare: I didn't marry until I was 30, didn't have my first child until I was 35, and I travel the world and teach the Bible.
In terms of my own faith journey, growing up I attended a lot of two-hour services with liturgy in ancient Greek. I didn't really understand what was going on. We were diligent churchgoers, but it seemed to be more about our culture rather than a focus on a personal relationship with Jesus. So I grew up with a strong God-consciousness, but not a personal relationship with Christ.
I was sexually abused by several men in my life at a very young age. I tried to tell somebody that could have intervened, but 40 years ago in Australia, the word abuse didn't even exist. Nobody talked about that stuff. You walked in the shame of it, and you buried it.
When I was young, I cried out to God in my naivete and innocence, and in my desperation felt he wasn't stopping anything. He wasn't helping me. That marred my image of God. A lot of my adult life has been a journey of learning to trust him. God is good and God does good, but bad things do happen to good people.1