Sep 292011

Dear Anonymous,

Tish’s fish, Sadie, died last week. We’ve been through the passing of a fish before, but this time was special. My little man, Chase, experienced what I can only describe as an existential crisis. He cried and shook and begged me for answers . . . for two hours. He said things like, It’s not about Sadie, mom. It’s that everything we love is going die. How do we survive that? And – I know what you’re going to say about heaven, mom, but how do you know it’s real? You don’t. And I don’t know if I can believe it.

I didn’t offer many brilliant answers to my baby’s brilliant questions. But I was grateful to be able to tell him truthfully that Yes, I believe that there is some sort of heaven, though I doubt it’s like anything we’ve heard described. When he asked how I believed l told him that I believe because I have to – because if I didn’t believe, the terror that was gripping his heart, the terror of losing the people I love forever would overtake me and I’d have no joy or hope and I’d die inside. I told him that I believe because I have no other choice, because I was made to believe, because if I didn’t believe in life after death I wouldn’t be able to live life before death. I’d panic and then freeze.

When he asked me what I believed heaven was like, I told him that I believe heaven is a place where everyone loves each other perfectly.

When he asked me, Why, mom? Why does God send us here, where things hurt so much? Why does He make us love things that He knows we’re just going to lose? I told him that we don’t love people and animals because we will have them forever, we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, real-er . . . stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways. Even if animals and people leave, even if they die- they leave us better. So we keep loving, even though we might lose, because loving teaches us, changes us. And that’s what we’re here to do. God sends us here to learn how to be better lovers, and to learn how to be loved, so we’ll be prepared for heaven.

When I finished this part, Chase looked right into my eyes and his tears cleared for a moment and he said, “Yes. I can believe that part. That sounds right. I believe that.”

And I agreed. I thought – Wow. Yes, that’s actually what I believe. I can buy all of that stuff I just said. That sounds True to me, thank God.

Anonymous, I am trying to become more loving down here. I am trying to learn. And you, willing or not, have been a teacher for me. I want to apologize for my response to you. It was a great essay. It really was. But this place has never been about great essays. This place is about Love. And I have learned that sometimes I have to leave a great essay unwritten in order to love better. Because it is better to be kind than to be “right.”

If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

As I read and re-read my response to your comment, Anonymous, I realized that I must have sounded pretty clangy to you. Because what I did was announce that I was going to turn the other cheek, and then didn’t. At all. What I did, actually, was defend myself and then sweetly judge and attack you. My least favorite part was when I wrote “people like you.” I don’t even believe in people like you and people like me. I just believe in people. I’m sorry for using those divisive and unfair words.

To be clear, I don’t regret writing that essay, just like I wouldn’t change what you said. I don’t spend a lot of time beating myself up and I hope you haven’t either. I’m grateful for this whole process. We needed to go through all of it to get to here.

But now I know I didn’t really listen for the love in what you said. I listened for the judgment, so that’s what I found. Seems to be how it works…seek and you shall find.

If I’d really turned the other cheek, I would have simply tried to explain to you why I want to adopt, which is so hard for me to put into words, but would have made for an even better, kinder, truer essay. Less sassy, but better.

Anonymous, I am so in love with this brutiful world that I feel torn up a lot of the time. I find people to be so beautiful, so strong and this world to be such a painful mess for the brave people who live here. I tend to take on the pain of others as my own pain, because I believe it IS my own pain. Because I really, truly believe that we all belong to each other. I believe that heaven, at first, will be a revealing, a lifting of the fog when we will look back down on Earth and see that we were in fact, one big family. And that hell will be seeing that and knowing that while living our lives, we let our brothers and sisters and mothers and father suffer and starve and die, while we had more than we needed. That will be hell, I think, for awhile. Knowing the truth. Knowing we let our own family members die. But then God will wipe our tears, and forgive us, and make everything new, and redeem us all. And we’ll heal, and become whole and enter our eternal family with forgiveness and understanding and love for all.

That is my interpretation of Matthew 25:33.

And so I just want to be part of my eternal family now. I love being a mama, and I love other mothers. I am awed by our strength and sacrifices and bottomless love and passion and courage. And I don’t understand why I get to raise my babies and some mamas don’t. Why I have every resource I need and more, more, more and some mamas, dying of AIDS, have to travel miles in bare feet to beg for medicine for their starving babies. Babies whom they love and cherish every bit as much as I love and cherish mine.

Thinking about this disparity drives me close to what I would consider the edge of insanity. I hate it. I don’t understand. And I feel compelled to do something, to show my love for and solidarity with these women, these mamas who are just like me. And so I think, I can’t do what I want to do, which is to fix things, to make things fair so that these mamas can raise their own damn babies. But I can give one of their babies a home. I can offer one of these mama’s babies every good thing I have- which is my husband and my children and my home and my faith and my friends and my joy and my hope. I can do that part, I can beg God to use me to answer another mama’s prayers. I can care for her baby since she can’t. I can be part of the second best thing. And I can love that baby and raise him to know how much his first mama loved him too, and when I get to heaven I can put that baby into her waiting arms, because I’ll know her, and she’ll know me, and we will finally be a whole family.

And all of this- it still doesn’t describe completely or precisely why I want to adopt.

There is a book I love, called Pillars of the Earth. In it there is a man named Tom, whose dream it is to build a cathedral. He sacrifices everything -his family’s money, future, security, even health to realize his dream. Some people, even in his own family, decide that he’s a foolish, selfish, crazy man.

When he finally gets his big break and the man who holds the power to make Tom’s dream come true asks him: Why? Why do you want this so badly? Why have you sacrificed everything to build this cathedral?

Tom replies:

Because it will be beautiful.

That’s my real reason, Anonymous. I want to adopt because it will be beautiful, to me.

That’s why I’ll never be an adoption advocate, which has been requested of me several times. Because I don’t believe that everyone should adopt. I believe that everyone should discover what she finds to be most beautiful and then create it.

So anyway, that’s what I should have said, Anonymous. I should have tried to bridge the gap of understanding between us instead of building a bigger wall. I should have explained instead of defended.

Also, Anonymous.

I may have been extra sensitive for this reason:

Craig and I had to make the horrible decision of letting our adoption go last week. We were as close as a family can possibly get to bringing our baby boy home, but we had to say no, we’re sorry- we can’t. Please give our baby to another family.

My health, it’s getting worse instead of better- and there was a bit of an intervention from some people I love.

Glennon- you’re sick. You’re barely making it through the day. You can’t do this. You must take care of yourself and the family you already have. You must heal.

It was quite familiar to me, actually. I’ve been through a similar intervention before. That one was tough to hear too, but necessary. Good things came of it.

But you can imagine, Anonymous. It’s been hard. After all these years.

It’s been hard, but not impossible. I have a friend who’s doing impossible, and I know the difference.

We have some emptiness now, Anonymous. Empty space in our hearts where we thought that baby would be, an empty nursery, empty time, empty plans where shopping and decorating and nesting used to be.

But if there is one thing I’ve learned about empty, it’s that empty can be more exciting and ripe with promise than full. There is space, now.

What will come fill it? What will enter our lives? What’s next?

I hope that healing comes next. From this loss and from my disease. I hope that I will learn what healing is, what it means, what it looks like, and that I will be able to share the whole healing process with you. Because we are all healing, right? So we might as well do it together.

Love You, Anonymous sister.


Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  29 Responses to “Take Two or…Got an Hour?”

  1. Wow. I am a brand new follower of this blog and very grateful to my friend, Jill Heather, for introducing me to you. I can't sleep tonight (after the shower curtain fell down and woke everyone up, scaring us half to death) and I've spent a couple hours reading random essays. This one and the related one are fantastic writing and also courageous. It is very important to be able to apologize. When we are concerned about loving others, it is helpful, but less important to be able to explain oneself, though your explanation blessed many. Best wishes with your healing process.
    P.S. I also LOVE the book "Pillars of the Earth." My husband and I are such nerds about it that we bought the board game. :)

  2. This post is so rich, and there are so many aspects that I'd love to process and comment on. In the interests of time though, I mostly want to tell you that I am devastated about your situation with your health and the adoption. I have been following your adoption journey for so long now and just wanted to say that I am so, so sorry. My faith is not as strong as yours, and I am a bit confused and shaken by this twist in the plot. It feels so unfair!

    I also wanted to acknowledge the amazing courage you showed in apologizing to Anonymous – I REALLY hope she returned to the blog and read it. That may be the bravest thing we ever have to do, to admit that our actions or words have harmed someone else and face it rather than hide from it. While I could hear and understand the hurt in your words (and in those of many Monkees who commented), I was very unsettled after reading that thread. It did feel to me like we were jumping to conclusions about Anonymous' intentions, and it disturbed me greatly. I was so relieved to read this post. It comforted me to be led back to a place of trying to love each other, learn from each other, and give each other the benefit of the doubt in our little Monkee community. And it was a kick in the butt to me to be more courageous myself in admitting and apologizing my mistakes!! Thank you for the lesson.

  3. Never easy to release something you have held on to for so long. Never easy when you have some health related issue that that feels like that is what is "controlling" your life at that moment. It is HARD – emotionally, physically, mentally regardless. But can I tell you that 2 years ago when you invited me to your blog that you helped me in doing and accomplishing hard things. My heart aches for you, but more importantly my heart loves you along with all the other Monkees. Love you G.

  4. My husband and I just adopted a toddler.
    We are both waaaay older than you and your husband.
    I didn't think I was ever going to be able to have a child.
    I believe God puts the desire in our heart for a reason.
    If he still wants you to adopt later in life when you are healthier
    God will find a way to make it happen. In fact no one will be
    able to stop it if it is his plan. Heal now and don't worry later..
    later will take care of itself.

    Praying for your health.
    You have a beautifull heart.

  5. didn't mean to heather…meant to glennon…

  6. hi heather. sorority sister of Anna's from JMU. linked to you recently;) I wanted to let you know I battled Lymes (after many beaten paths) and ended up on an alternative treatment path here in Richmond. On my hear to share and also to say I have a friend who travels up there to a Dr. who specializes in treating lymes more conventionally along w some alternative. If you'd like more info, feel free to ask! On the other side now…we just brought home 2 toddler boys from Ethiopia this summer. I knew when I was at my worst and in the hospital that IF I got better, we were to proceed and I'd obey. HERE WE ARE!! prayers for you!

  7. Powerful, lovely and heartbreaking. I learned much from your last two posts. They have helped me view my life in a new loving light. Thank you! My heart breaks for you about the adoption news. Many loving thoughts during this difficult time are being sent your way.

  8. Heather, I LOVE what you wrote! Thanks.

  9. Oh Heather, way too early in the morning for tears…

    Thank you sister.

  10. In the giant empty aching gap… so. much. beauty.

    I don't believe in a God who messes around in our affairs and takes people and things away from us. I believe in a God who gives everyone free will and lets us muck around as much as we want. And then when we are all screwed up and messed up by our own and other peoples's choices and all the other bad stuff that happens to us, and we finally (finally!) say, "please help me!" he(she) does, but not by changing the STUFF that is happening or making everything okay or fixing anything. He does it by transforming IN OUR HEARTS everything that happens, and making it beautiful. Making us beautiful.

    I learned many lessons when my friend was dying of breast cancer, and I've learned many more since. If I could go back and change only one thing about that time, it would be this: Her daughter wanted to play a pretend game in which her mother died. Over and over. I kept trying to make everything come out okay in the end of the game, I wanted her to believe that her mother was going to be okay, that she wasn't going to die. It is what I believed at the time.

    If I could change it, I would do this. I would help her pretend her mother was dead. I would let her explore it, in her mind and through our acting. I would let the death be as gruesome, traumatic, sad, scary, and desperately grievously awful as L wanted to pretend. I would play it with her over and over. I would cry with her and have pretend funerals as many times as she wanted to. I would hold her hand through the stages of that practice grief over and over again.

    Because I believe the things we fear most, we fear only because we haven't faced them yet.

    When we face our fears, the only thing that is certain is the death of fear. I believe that's a famous quote by someone famous, but I'm afraid I'm too tired to google it at the moment.

    May you and yours always have the courage to face what you fear so that the fear may die. And may everything that happens to you be transformed in your heart into beauty. And may you always continue to share that beautiful heart with us!

  11. very inspiring post! Thanks for setting such an amazing example for the rest of us; how to admit our wrongdoings, how to listen to others, how to be open to what life has for us. Not easy things to do! You are a courageous woman.

  12. Thank you. Sorry. Grateful. Sad.


    Love and prayers.


    PS. For what it's worth, I think that you and Husband are part of many people's villages re. children. Know what I mean?

  13. It's sounds from both posts that your kids are worried about losing you, and that is so hard for a mother when our constant job is to reassure them. I'm glad we have the scripture so we know we can reassure them. I STILL remember the gripping fear I had as a little girl that my mom might die- she was the world to me. When I asked Jesus into my heart I received the peace that passes all understanding, even though I hadn't read that verse yet. I knew that we would both end up in the same place together forever and that was a great comfort indeed.

    I also want to encourage you to keep praying for healing and asking others to pray for you. I suffered a painful neck injury in a car accident and prayed for healing. I don't know and still don't why it took so long. One Sunday a gentlemen with the specific gift of healing came, spoke, and prayed over anyone who wanted to be healed and BAM- end of the pain. When and how and who through the gift of healing is used is a mystery to me (I've read that in the scripture Jesus never healed a blind person the same way twice), but healing is real and it is for us. It's just a matter of when. I believe that.

    PS. I've been anonymous and I've been you- we all hurt and forgive, misunderstand or misspeak. Thank God for grace.

  14. G.. Just wondering.. You and Craig are so young, is there any way you can wait until you are healed/feeling better to move forward? In a few years all of your kids will also be a bit older and able to help out with baby A… I think I have a few years on you, and I keep reading and wondering … Sorry if I missed something… Jen M

  15. beautiful post g. i am sorry you couldn't bring your baby boy home and hope you will be well enough to receive another child when the time is right.

    "Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself."

    I think that was Gibran reminding us that we belong to each other. That we can cone here through one mother but belong to many.

    Much Love

  16. G–

    Too exhausted to process this one fully. I'm heartbroken for your baby boys, both of them. Anyway. Thought you might love this.

    Love you. Phil 1:4


  17. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    I am sorry you are sick and sorry about the adoption. And yet in the midst of it you still have hope and love and faith. That is just beautiful.

    Thank you for all your honesty.

  18. I've been a reader for well over a year now but have never commented. I know that there was so much in this essay, as in most of your writing, that deserves comments, but this:

    And I can love that baby and raise him to know how much his first mama loved him too, and when I get to heaven I can put that baby into her waiting arms, because I’ll know her, and she’ll know me, and we will finally be a whole family.

    may be the most beautiful thing I have ever read, and I needed you to know that.

  19. Glennon, I hold my breath every time I read your posts. Sometimes I even wait because I'm not ready. When I am ready I hold my breath and prepare to have it handed to me. You speak to my heart and sensibility. I never leave feeling like that particular message was meant for someone else. There has only been one other time in my life that has happen. A pastor from a church I joined when I was fifteen spoke to me week after week. When he moved on to another church in a different state I felt paralyzed . The messages stopped until I found momastery at age 40. Hugs and healing.

  20. I appreciate your vulnerability about the process that we all go through when (we perceived/or are) attacked. It makes me hopeful.

    I'm so sorry about the baby. May you heal well, and deeply.

  21. You are truly an inspiration!! Thank you!!

  22. I am so sorry you had to give up the baby!

  23. You speak to mamas' hearts here each time you post. You generously share with us every good thing you have and it makes a difference to so many. I hope that that knowledge can fill a tiny bit of the empty space.

    Love and hope to you.

  24. Wow. I think, of all the things I learn here, humility is the one I need the most. This post really speaks to me, because admitting a mistake can be so hard.

    Also, if "anonymous" had written her name, it would have been harder to be angry at her, wouldn't it? I need to remember that, when addressing nameless/faceless people on the internet. Such a strange complicated world, isn't it?


  25. Your posts always leave me a little bit stronger of a person and lately I have been questioning my faith because like your little chase, I do not understan why god decides to take away the people that we love. My friend recently told me that although this earth decided to claim my husband deep within it's roots, I have come out a stronger and more beautiful person, using what I'm going through to help others who believe that everything is lost. Thank you for these words of encouragement that you provide because we CAN do hard things.

  26. crying. so beautiful. love you so much, g! i am praying for your health.

  27. Oh Glennon:

    This post made me cry. I cried for the loss and the yearning and the sickness and the love. I am thinking of you today, which you already know. The way I love the world, and the people in it break my heart and fill it every day and I know my daughter is going to be the same way. The other day, when we were driving on a stretch of road that has a lots of lights on our way to the bank. She noticed there were homeless people with signs asking for help. She asked what they were doing and I tried my best: "They don't have enough money and they are asking people to help." When no one, including me opened their window and offered help she said, "Oh mama, ALL the cars are going to the bank first and then will give them money, right?"
    And my heart broke for her, and for me and for them. It made me realize I need to sit with this, and figure this out for myself, so I can help her.

    I think what you gave Chase was miraculous. I am still terrified of the concept of heaven and try to believe every day. Today I am going to work on charity and include my three year old, and hopefully make my way up the chain.

  28. I am addicted to life. So much so that I volunteer at my church, schools, and children's museums for the majority of my days. That I cant pass a garden nursery without picking up at least one plant to take home with me. That I already have 10 pets living harmoniously in my home and I have strays show up at my doorstep (or in the pockets of my children). That I have 4 glorious children who fit perfectly together in our one body in Christ, yet still want more. I can't have any more, but I have an undeniable calling to share the moments of heaven I reggularly experience in my life with others that dont realize that we REALLY can have it down here on Earth. "On Earth as it is in Heaven…" I often think of the peace Jesus must have truly felt most of the time to live how He did. You cant fake that stuff, nor are we supposed to try. Life…I'm addicted.

  29. You made me think of something that happened a couple of years ago. My son came home from school quite sad, and said that the teacher had 'got mad' at him in front of the whole class. When I talked to her (you know, to get the other side of the story) she said that he had corrected someone in front of the class and so she came down on him like a bag of hammers in the same venue. *sigh* I told her that I still didn't feel she was right, since he has such a sincere little heart, and just needs to be told 'Not in front of everyone, buddy', and my little rule follower would listen & learn. And I also mentioned that what she did was akin to me reaming her in front of a group of parents. And that next time, when she realized she was wrong, she had better apologize IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CLASS. And you know what? She did! (Burns me that there was a next time, where she YELLED at him, but there you go. The only reason she lives is that my son begged for her life.) Anyhows, thanks for making it right in front of the whole class! THAT is why I keep coming back. Love your heart sister!

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