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Your Journey to Transcend Religious Trauma, Seek Truth, and Embrace Love

Beyond the Parentheses kindle, audiobook, paperback, hardcover

About The Book

Whether you believe in God but have questions, used to believe but don’t anymore, or want to believe but feel like you can’t, author Susan Ford can relate.

Susan grew up in a church where others’ understandings of God were forced upon her as irrefutable facts. Raised as a fundamentalist Baptist, she felt trapped and hopeless until she set out to pursue the truth with all her heart.

In Beyond the Parentheses, Susan shares her personal story and invites you to embark on a powerful journey where you will realize how you too can:

  • Recognize, confront, and resolve lingering religious trauma
  • Seek and pursue truth wherever it leads
  • Boldly embrace love and discover reconciliation


What’s inside


Living Under Legalism


Leaving Fundamentalism


Looking for Truth


Latching Onto Love


Laying Down Ego


Letting Go of Perfectionism

Chapter 1

We each have distinct barriers to personal faith.

For me, these first spiritual roadblocks took the shape of the legalistic fundamentalist Baptist church in which I was raised from the time I was eight years old.

Its unique paradigm permeated and shaped my spiritual worldview in lasting ways.

I was born on a Thursday, and three days later, on that very first Sunday, I was in church.

I know this because growing up, my parents often told me the story. They spoke of it as though it were a badge of honor and pride—like having the county’s first New Year’s baby or something.

It was their very first act as Christian parents. At not even a week old, they had begun to “train up their child in the way she should go,” just as Proverbs 22:6 instructed.

Three days old, and figuratively speaking, my butt was already in the pew, to use one of my dad’s favorite phrases.

My freshly diapered butt was actually strapped in a car seat placed underneath the pew, but still, I was there, hearing the Word.

Starting that day, through the first eighteen years of my life, I can count on both hands the number of Sundays we missed church.

Even when we were traveling on vacation, there was no problem. Simply pick a Baptist church from the handy local phone book found in the hotel nightstand next to the Gideon Bible.

On any given Sunday, we were there, butts in our unofficially reserved pew, for both Sunday school and church service. There was also a Sunday evening service, but we never attended it.

As I understood it, that service seemed to be reserved for the pastor’s family, who had no choice but to attend, and for elderly parishioners who had nowhere to be early the following morning.

We had school, and Dad had work, so apparently, God forgave our absence.






2023 Gold Medal Winner Illumination Christian Book Awards
2023 Eric Hoffer First Horizon Award Finalist


For many of us who were raised in legalistic, fundamentalist churches, our religious environment became a barrier to personal faith.

Whether through church hurt or more intense religious trauma, these childhood experiences shaped and molded our understandings of both God and ourselves.

Once we became adults, we finally had a choice. We were free to ask questions and think for ourselves.

We could continue in the beliefs we had been trained in or step out on a quest to transcend our religious trauma and seek truth.

Along the way, we may even find a love we had given up all hope of experiencing.

Are you ready?

It is time.

In Beyond the Parentheses, Susan guides the reader to authentically ask the questions many are snuffed from asking, including the hard ones that involve looking at self and the ego with grace. Susan uses the most powerful form of communication—storytelling—to share her personal journey so that others may lovingly begin their own journey.

Shannon Hurd, MA LCPC, EMDR therapist, Director of Equine Services for P.I.N.E.S.

Susan Ford’s writings gently lead the reader down the circuitous path she took in her search for understanding. I became overly introspective after reading Susan’s book and what I realized from it was not so much an understanding of religion and God but an epiphany of my own existence, my purpose in life, and the impact I have and can have on millions of others.

DF Erbling, MBA, Global 100 Senior Executive, Fortune 500 Tech Consultant, CEO and Executive Director of Convergence 501(c)(3)

I received this book as a gift and am so thankful. It seems like so many of us have had negative or even traumatizing experiences with organized religion, but still seek a faith or spiritual relationship. Susan Ford completely captures this dilemma and provides an insightful and individually applicable approach to coming back from religious disappointment and finding your personal loving and meaningful relationship with faith and spirituality.

Jeffrey A. Kramer, author of The Perfection Paradox

As a person who grew up in a Catholic home in a Hispanic family it was "my way or the highway." We had to be Catholics; there wasn't a choice and it was not up for debate or discussion. I broke away on my own at about 16 or 17 years old. I started reading the Bible and came to terms that 90% of everything I was doing in the Catholic Church was man-made, which I learned later is termed dogma. One thing that frustrated me is that they didn't even do Bible study. They read a few lines from text, then inserted their own. I never felt a personal relationship with Jesus within the setting of the church. Susan opened a scab here that is hard to talk about, but she does it like an investigator at a crime scene, piece by piece. "Seeking truth" - yeah, we should all embrace that philosophy and go wherever it takes us. Thank you for explaining some of what I too experienced growing up. Would definitely recommend this book!

—Amazon reviewer bountyhunter4

One of the things (and there are many) that I really enjoyed about this book is how honest Susan is. This is both a testimony and an encouragement to question, which isn't something you find in many Christian traditions. So many Christian books out there are like self help books - just complete these five steps and everything will be sunshine and roses! This book is much more honest than that. It not only addresses the darkness and hurt that is too often found in church settings, but it also talks about how turbulent it is to have your faith challenged (deconstruction, anyone?). I think that many, myself included, who have struggled with their faith and their experience with church can find a whole lot to relate to in this book. As someone who has tried multiple times to get away from Christianity (but keeps on being that one sheep that gets lovingly sought after and hunted down by Jesus), I resonated deeply with this journey. The fact that she goes from being raised a Christian fundamentalist to being an atheist to being Christian again is an interesting journey in itself. I first read this really quickly (almost in one sitting) and already am thinking about it enough where I know I'm going to go back and read it again more slowly.

—Amazon reviewer Broswin

2023 Gold Medal Winner Illumination Christian Book Awards

2023 Eric Hoffer First Horizon Award Finalist




Welcome! I am so glad you’re here.

Whether you believe in God but have questions, used to believe but don’t anymore, or want to believe but feel like you can’t, I can relate.

Like many of you, I grew up in a legalistic church where others’ understandings of God were forced upon me as irrefutable facts.

Raised as a fundamentalist Baptist, I felt trapped, hopeless, and depressed until I set out to pursue the truth with all my heart, soul, and mind.

In my new book, Beyond the Parentheses, I’m sharing my personal story while inviting you to embark on a powerful journey of your own.

Join me as together we break through the barriers of religious baggage and trauma, seek truth, and reclaim our spirituality.

Susan Ford

 Beyond the Parentheses


Kindle, Paperback, & Hardcover available now. Audio book coming soon!

Beyond the Parentheses kindle, audiobook, paperback, hardcover