On vulnerability, battle cries, and Glennon Melton

When writers commit to vulnerability in their work, they are inviting readers into the most sensitive areas of their lives. Layer upon layer of garments, grit, and grime are shed with every word until nothing is left but the bare essentials. Authenticity and truth-telling leave a person naked and unarmed. It’s both a scary and freeing place to be.

Too often, we view vulnerability like a super power, treating those who possess the uncanny ability to be completely honest like they are made of cold, hard steel, brandishing their mistakes and faults like a sword. What we view as a weapon is hardly even a shield. Instead of deflecting or conquering pain and trials, authenticity leaves people bare and unprotected.

It’s easy to respond with judgement even though the battle cry of vulnerability is, “I’m human. I’m just like you!”

We heap on expectations and assumptions like transparency equals perfection. The fact is, authenticity and vulnerability don’t exempt one from mistakes. Truth-tellers are brave, but they are not invincible.

Carry On, Warrior

Glennon Melton, of Momastery.com, is well-known for being one of those brave truth-tellers. She has made a name for herself writing about faith, marriage, and motherhood with an honesty that can be shocking, humorous, and heart wrenching all at the same time.

The blogosphere has come to honor and glorify this type of all-or-nothing honesty and, in turn, readers have come to demand it.  But, we don’t always remember that life is a process. What is true and real right now may not be true and real a week, a month, a year from now. It is unreasonable to apply static standards to the ever shifting seasons of life.

Most of my readers have agreed to an unwritten rule that we don’t use the truth’s I tell against me… I walk onto this field every day without armor or weapons, by choice, and so the risk is that every once in a while, someone will shoot. It happens, it hurts, and it always makes me want to quit writing.

Glennon in Carry On, Warrior

I have been guilty of being a sniper, standing on the sidelines applying static standards to the conclusions someone has made about the ever shifting seasons of in their life. As a consumer and producer of this type of honesty, I want grace and tenderness to infuse my response to vulnerability. I want to see past the point where my views intersect with theirs and appreciate where our thoughts may diverge.

It is with this in mind that I read Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, Glennon’s collection of new essays and best-loved material from her blog.

Glennon is unflinchingly honest about her “brutiful” life, sharing the ins and outs of addiction, a shotgun marriage, motherhood, and friendship. Her perspective on life and faith will appeal to Millennial Christians who are frustrated by the anti-this, anti-that sentiments prevalent in religion today.

I didn’t always resonate with her sense of humor (though I won’t go to the dentist without thinking of her) and her challenges with motherhood/marriage aren’t quite the same as mine, but I found her honesty disarming in the best of ways.

There were gems like this:

But when your miracle doesn’t happen the way you planned, it becomes important to look for peripheral miracles. Peripheral miracles are those that aren’t directly in front of you. They’re not the ones on which you’ve been too damned focused. You have to turn your head to see peripheral miracles.

Carry On, Warrior (261)

And, since the book contained selections from her blog, I will be able to refer back to some of my favorite pieces.

And then, there were the pieces that reminded me of other writers I love and admire and their unique battle cry.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Carry On, Warrior – in part for the reason I think everyone should read Can I Ask That and also for those little gems that challenge and bloom into truth for the giver and receiver.

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In Celebration of Wailing

in Celebration of WailingThe weather here in Northern Idaho was still bouncing between Winter frost and Spring thaw while Tim and I were on our little staycation a couple weeks back. So, after a
depressingly chilly day or two when I was thankful for the condo’s powerful heater, I did the happy dance around our borrowed living room as the sun rose brightly one morning. This called for fresh air so I opened all the windows, enjoying the cool breeze as I folded laundry and washed dishes.

Not only was I afforded a constant flow of Spring air, but because the condo was on the ground floor, a few feet from the sidewalk, I had a steady soundtrack from the day unfurling outside our windows. Several people shuffled by with dogs on jingling leashes. The mailman rattled keys against metal as he delivered envelopes and packages to the group of mailboxes between buildings. Construction workers a couple blocks away shouted instructions over the scrape of bulldozers ripping up concrete.

The noise trade was not one sided. Passersby could also hear the soundtrack coming from inside our open windows. This included the clanking of dishes I was scrubbing clean, the lilting melodies of worship music streaming from my iPad, and the piercing cries of baby James.

Our son is not colicky and generally only fusses when he’s hungry or tired. But on this particular day, James decided to test his pipes. I looked up from the dishes just in time to see our peaceful sleeper go rigid, all appendages stuck straight out from his body. From his mouth erupted a most piercing scream that quickly transitioned to rhythmic wailing.  I hustled with dripping hands from behind the sink to console our crying child.

Normally, crying doesn’t bother me. I hold, rock, whisper, bounce, and shush for however long it takes for James to settle down. But this episode got my heart rate up as I frantically tried to quiet our screaming son. It dawned on me as I furtively glanced to the open windows that I was embarrassed by James’ outburst.

I could hear the neighbors thinking, “Ugh, there goes that baby again. I hope they leave soon.” I could imagine a person out for a stroll wondering if they should call the police for fear a baby was getting abused. What if James was disturbing someone? What if people thought I was a bad parent because my son wouldn’t stop crying?

I looked to the open windows and wished I had kept them closed.

in Celebration of Wailing (2)

The open windows provided a peak into our reality – James isn’t a perfectly peaceful baby and I’m not a perfectly calm mother.  Had I kept the windows closed, I may have been able to mask our imperfections but I would have perpetuated a lie.

There’s something to be said for throwing open the windows of our lives, allowing others to glimpse the imperfections in our hearts, minds, and souls. Vulnerability is an important part of building community, but it’s also scary and embarrassing at times. It’s much easier to keep our windows closed, to muffle our crying, and let passersby walk past thinking everything is hunky-dory.

God’s desire is to work through human vulnerability rather than overcome it.

Mike Erre in Astonished (a fantastic book!)

I think vulnerability is valuable enough for us to not only open our windows, but open our doors – invite people into our messes and our brokenness.

To borrow words from a popular song:

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see. Be the good [person] you always have to be. Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know. Well, now they know.

Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore.

Let It Go from Frozen

Oftentimes my tendency is to conceal, to not let people see the true nature of my heart. Let’s not be people who conceal the imperfections, who hold back for the sake of appearances. God shows up powerfully when we let it go. Let’s open our windows, open our doors, and celebrate wailing.


Bare {Five Minute Friday}


Oddly enough, I was in the shower yesterday wondering if “naked” had ever been the prompt for Five Minute Friday.  Lisa-Jo and I must have been on the same wave length.

Naked speaks of the physical and bare speaks of the spiritual.

I would never be in a nudist colony, but if you can get past your own inhibitions, being naked is freeing.  There’s nothing between you and the air.  You’re open to the element and it feels natural.

Being bare is freeing too. Letting your soul take flight with no shame.

My friend Sarah was talking to a group of high school girls about womanhood a few years ago, emphasizing the need to be naked and unashamed. It was the first time I really equated nakedness with vulnerability.

It was good for Adam and Eve to be naked – they were bare to themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When sin attached shame to their nakedness, they hid.  They hid their bodies with clothes and they hid their souls from connecting fully with God.

Had Adam and Eve been open and honest immediately, maybe things would have turned out differently.

We were made to be bare.

We were made to expose our hearts without shame. God craves an intimacy that can only develop when we let Him uncover us. We crave intimacy with people that can only develop when we uncover our hearts to other people.

One of the greatest (and challenging) acts of service we can give to another is to be bare, to be vulnerable, to reveal our brokenness. In our spiritual nakedness, we shed the layers of us so others can see the core of Christ in us.

{Confession: I wrote for more than 5 minutes.}

Five Minute Friday

Dear Ash {31 Days of Letters}

Dear Ash,

I think we could be poster children for the old adage, “opposites attract.”  If our physical appearances weren’t enough – my six feet with blonde hair and blue eyes verses your five-ish feet with green/brown/hazel eyes and curly, brown hair – our personality types are pretty drastically different.  My reserved self has always been in awe of your ability to engage a crowd.  You could make a tree laugh with one of your stories and I’m better off writing about my escapades.

In defiance of these differences, our friendship works.  Our history spans a quarter-century and we have the pictures, crushes, letters, embarrassing moments (some on tape… eg: falling off swing in southern belle costume), laughter and tears to prove it.  Like many friendships, ours was not devoid of bad boundaries, hurt feelings, and lulls in communication.

I am ever so glad that God redeemed the locust years, per se, and renewed our friendship.  With God as the center, our relationship has a whole new dimension that not only pushes me closer to our Abba, but also gives me a deep appreciation for having a friend who is so different than me.

Though I could make a lengthy list of all the things I love about you and what our friendship means to me, I wanted to point out two differences between us that have taught me so much about being a Godly woman: 1. your fearless vulnerability and 2. your intimacy with God.

As Anne Jackson would say, you have the “gift of seconds.”  Your honesty and openness is refreshing and challenging.  God gives you the boldness to share first so those of us who are silenced by shame, fear, or pride have an easier time going second.  I have mentally and verbally fessed up to struggles and sins that I would not have normally had the courage to think or speak.  But, because you were willing to be transparent, I was able to follow suit.

I’ve always been a bit envious of the way you talk about God.  You hear His voice in the inner most parts of your being and are able to articulate what He is revealing.  You see Him as the lover that He is.  Your intimacy with God has pushed me to reevaluate how I approach my own relationship with Him.  I have to remind myself that God woes and pursues me, but that idea seems to come naturally to you.  You’ve prompted me to open my heart to God as the Lover of My Soul.

So, I thank you for your vulnerability with me and your intimacy with Christ.  They have thrust me deeper into God’s arms.

This was in a post that you must read.

 …she told me why it was beautiful to HER and in that way, SHE became more beautiful to me. Because she let me see her and hear her story with all its unique markings and pain and hope and love.

It made me think of you and how you reveal beauty and how much I love seeing your beauty being revealed.  Being involved in your story, hearing about its unique markings, pain, hope, and love has made you even more important to me.

I love you!


You can find all my letters here.

For more information about the 31 Day Challenge, visit The Nester.