As I open a text message from a relative, I see it is an article about Chassidim. Before I even look at the title, I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. No doubt it will be about the story of people fleeing the Chassidic community, the only story we seem to hear about these days, and it feels like a punch in the gut.

Such narratives seem to focus only on the difficult issues that truthfully every community struggles with. However, more than that, these stories depict a particularly secularIt feels like a punch in the gut ideal—the Enlightenment notion of the free person. The person leaving is finally untethered from serfdom and is able to freely exert his or her individual, rational desires. It is someone no longer stuck in the past in some illogical belief system that controls his or her life. It is the story of logic over myth, the individual over the collective, truths over the “Truth,” and most importantly, secularism over religion.

But for every person who leaves the community, there is one who enters. One who finds connection, meaning, family, community, strength and spirituality in its ancient laws.

Full disclosure: I am one of those people. Here is a short look at my story. The story that doesn’t make sense to the secular press and that flies in the face of what people consider a good life or the “right” values. But it is a story that exists for hundreds of people and should be told.

Rather than becoming disillusioned with the Orthodox community, I became disillusioned with the liberal, feminist, secular values of my college campus and peers. Talk about abuse and neglect! Every weekend there were horrible stories of girls left drunk at fraternity parties, kids sitting depressed and suicidal alone in their dorm rooms, and complete confusion about what we were supposed to do with our lives. I jumped from one school club to another—Hare Krishna, the Women’s Center, Rugby Club, the Underground Poets, you name it. Everywhere people were telling me that we have to change the world, yet there was no objective “good” to seek. Everyone makes their own reality, but the religious, conservatives, are “bad.”

I felt that there was only one party line, but it didn’t fit me. One weekend when I signed up for a Jewish retreat called a Shabbaton, I found a sweet family with kids around the table talking about G‑d. This was a totally different reality, one I had never known existed.

Soon, I was going on Shabbatons every weekend and learning as much as I could about this religion—the religion of my mother’s ancestors that I had never explored or cared for. Much of what I found I fought with the rabbi about, and sought out more and more answers for. My mind battled my heart as I was drawn spiritually to the Orthodox community, though my feminist side held up a fight against it.

Finally, when I began to learn the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, I found the resolution of my inner conflicts. I saw Chabad shluchos building large Jewish families while teaching, running large outreach centers, writing, counseling—you name it. Under the guidance of the Rebbe, Chabad women were investing in their traditional roles as women while also going out into the public domain to change the world. This was the balance I was searching for.

Currently, I am married and building myChabad women are expanding the notion of what makes a feminist family while pursuing my Ph.D. in religious studies. I intend to write my dissertation about the way secular feminism has excluded religious women from its philosophy. Meanwhile, Chabad women are expanding the notion of what makes a feminist to include both traditional, essentialist aspects of womanhood with the publicly empowered woman secular feminists are exclusively focused on. In this convergence, we can learn much about what the future of a diverse and inclusive feminism could look like.

So, here I am. A multifaceted woman who chose as an adult to join the Chassidic community. With all its failings and drawbacks, there are still so many stories to tell of people going against the current and popular opinion to join this community. There are nuances of which type of community (Chabad is quite different from other streams), but the fact that there are tides pulling in, even while there are those washing out, is worthy of notice.

The exclusive concern for stories that paint Chassidic communities as scary, manipulative, abusive places to live are a huge disservice to Jewish identity and the global Jewish community. It serves to further alienate observant sects from the rest of the world and increases the obfuscation around why people stay or join religious communities. I hope the media will not just pass over Chassidism as a trend or continue with these negative stories, but will seek to develop a fuller, more comprehensive picture of the great variety of experiences among the Jewish people. And I hope this article will be a step in that direction.