Barefoot Cinderellas: Breaking the chains of the past

By: Dan Childs

Major Susie Erickson came of age amid the fields and farmlands of a rural pocket of North Carolina, but her formative years were anything but idyllic. Her father died when she was a young girl, leaving her mother to raise five daughters and two sons on her own. Life was hard. The family struggled to make ends meet, and the eldest child was an alcoholic.

Even her father struggled with the bottle before his death under somewhat shadowy circumstances, leaving the harried mother with the responsibility of caring and providing for seven children – and dealing with the dramas and escapades of the alcoholic firstborn son. The youngest of the Blake family, Susie grew up in an atmosphere in which the good times were punctuated by the demands of caring for the alcoholic brother. At times, she writes, it felt like a dungeon. Her childhood and adolescence were marked by the shame she felt as a result of her modest upbringing, as well as the fear and uncertainty of life with an alcoholic family member.

Eventually, she would build a life of her own that took her far from her girlhood home. But the shame and fear that cast a deep shadow over her early years lingered, even amid a happy marriage and years of ministry as a Salvation Army officer. Susie came to the realization that she was a “barefoot Cinderella,” and she set out to share her experiences and the liberating realizations she has discovered along the way in a book published by the Southern Territory.

“Barefoot Cinderellas: Set the Captives Free” is Major Susie Erickson’s debut as an author and is now available on Amazon and TradeSouth. The book was officially launched today with a socially-distanced book-signing fellowship at Southern Territorial Headquarters.

Major Erickson’s book is also the focus of a series now in progress on The Salvation Army’s Words of Life podcast. The 11-week series, which began July 5, features a different woman each week, sharing her story of how she has confronted challenges in her life and discovered God’s plan for her.

The title of the book is taken from the Joanna Weaver’s “Having a Mary Spirit,” in which the author writes “He (Satan) insists we’re nothing more than barefoot Cinderellas, beggar girls trying to find our way back home, with no happily-ever-after to close our stories and no handsome Prince to call our own.”

For much of her life, Major Erickson was haunted by the fear and shame that clung to her as she emerged from childhood and into adulthood. That narrative defined her for many years, and her emergence from those shadows did not come easily. It was only later in life that she began to realize that God had authored another story for her, a better story characterized by fulfillment and self-actualization.

“I came to the point of understanding that what I was really longing for was freedom – freedom in places that I didn’t even know I was in bondage,” she said. “And I wanted to be free to be all that God created me to be. But yet there was this girl who the enemy had convinced was nothing more than an orphan slave girl, and I lived my life with that mentality, that there was something more but I couldn’t quite attain it and I couldn’t reach and find what it was I was looking for.”

The story offers hope to countless women who struggle to break free from the clutches of a painful past and experience the life that God intends for them. The book will be a component of the territory’s Women’s Ministries with a website, Facebook page and a page on the Southern Territory’s Women’s Ministries website. Also planned are an audio book, seasonal blog series, dessert socials, book club and Bible study guide.