Since Sister’s first Annuncia post was published on Thursday, I’ve been sitting at my computer sorting through names and email addresses and staring cross-eyed at Craig while he repeats accusatory phrases like “it’s an Excel spread sheet, Glennon. It’s a spread sheet. Have you really never seen a spread sheet?”
Obviously, I’ve also been crying a lot. Mostly because of the terrifying spread sheets, but also because of your emails. Since the Annuncia announcement three days ago, I’ve received 224 emails. These have been no ordinary emails. They have been passionate, heart wrenching emails – messages from women with two main themes. The first theme is: “I’ve been waiting for this moment. My heart is broken. Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.” The second is: “I came to Momastery because a friend posted Annuncia’s story, but now I can’t stop reading the posts and the comments. I’ve been reading all weekend. I didn’t know women were telling each other the truth like this. I want to be a Monkee. And I want to help the orphans.”
What is it about telling the truth that leads to hope and courage and love? We began our relationship here by admitting we were scared and sad sometimes. And by laughing at ourselves. And somewhere along the line we started trusting and loving each other and growing together. And now all of sudden, it seems to make perfect sense to us that we fly to Rwanda together to grab Annuncia and his friends from their cribs and love them forever. How did this unity and passion happen? Could it be that the truth really will set us free? From the bondage of selfishness? Of isolation? Of powerlessness? Of competition? Of suspicion? Of fear? Could it be that when we allow ourselves to become close to each other, we become closer to God? And we start caring about things that He cares about? Like forgotten children?
Your reaction to Annuncia was exactly what I dreamed of and prayed for. So one might assume that I was ecstatic. And I was ecstatic, right on up till the 60th email. But then I started noticing that I was sweating a lot, which is always the first sign that I’m heading downhill in the Zen department. As the Dream Team hit 100 I noticed a feeling in my heart like panic. And as I opened the 130th email, I noticed that my legs were bouncing up and down rapidly and I was inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth while I read. Also, all my fingernails were bitten off. Gone.
And that’s when I realized that unfortunately, I was completely freaking out. I was thinking: Oh NO. These Monkees are counting on me. Sister is counting on me. I stared at Annuncia’s picture and thought: This little man is counting on me. And then I remembered, a little too late, that mostly, I am a spastic fool. I thought maybe God should have considered this undeniable fact before allowing me to volunteer to help lead a revolution. Does He not run background checks? I considered running away and moving to a place where nobody knew me and nobody could ever find me or count on me for anything again as long as I lived. But then I remembered that I’d already done that.
So finally, on Sunday, I stepped away from the computer, sat on the couch, ate chocolate chip cookies in rapid succession and tried to listen for God. I just sat and rocked back and forth and nibbled and said: uh-oh. help. uh-oh. help. uh-oh. help…. in a little teeny eeny weeny mouse voice. And I didn’t hear a whole bunch back. Not a thing, actually, except another little voice, that I’m pretty sure was still mine, wondering if my skin would clear up before I was forty. This voice was not helpful to our cause. But still, I told God that it would be much easier for me to think deeply and spiritually if I didn’t have to spend so much time wondering if Proactive really works, or if all those celebrities are really just sitting there lying. No response from Him about that, in case you were wondering.
So I started thinking about the Bible. I didn’t actually read the Bible, because it was up really high on a shelf and I was too panicked and tired to get a chair. That is a true story. So I just stayed on the couch all curled up in a cozy quilt, still eating cookies. But I looked at the Bible up on the shelf and tried to remember some of the good stuff. I know the Bible is a touchy subject for a lot of people. Me too, actually. But the Bible is also like a strong, steady current through the waters of my life… and if I ride the main messages without getting tangled in the crab pots of confusion, I can always ride that current home. Home to peace, to kindness, to truth. To the next Right Thing.
So I started thinking about the phrases that are repeated most often in the Bible.
Don’t be afraid.
These two phrases usually go hand in hand in the Bible, and I think that’s because God knows it’s not fair to tell someone not to be afraid without telling her how. That would be like telling a starving person to cut out the hunger crap without offering him food. So when God tells us not to be afraid, He also teaches us how to transform fear into courage. And that is by remembering all the ways He’s come through for us in the past.
Maybe that’s why Jacob stopped walking and built road-side altars each time God spoke and offered him comfort or a promise or a miracle. So that when he got scared on his journey, Jacob could look back and find courage in those altars off in the distance. In those memories with God. And then he could keep walking bravely, remembering that God had his back. More than anything, that’s what this blog is to me. Little altars I build so I can look back and remember, and then walk on, less afraid of what’s down the road.
And it actually kind of works, all this remembering. Because as I sat on the couch and remembered the last few times I was really afraid, like this time four years ago, and this time three years ago, and this time last year….I felt myself calm down a bit. And lay off the cookies. And uncurl a little.
And then I felt one last message, which I don’t think is actually in the Bible, but it’s the word God says to me most often.
Remember. Don’t be afraid. Hush.
And I know, I know that a lot of you get really twitchy when I write about my conversations with God. But I also know you still love me, and I love you, so I tell you the truth even when it sounds awkward and unnerving. And my truth is that I feel God talk to me. Now to be completely honest, I’m like 99% sure we’re talking to each other. 1% of me thinks that when I get to heaven, God and Jesus will be in their thrones laughing hysterically and they’ll look at me and say: “GIRL, YOU SO CRAZY! Who in the Sam Hill were you talking to?” That’s entirely possible. But I think He’s more likely to say, “Well. Hello, Love. Now where were we?”
Listen, there are some things you can’t explain but you just know. And one of the things I just know is that if I get quiet enough, long enough, I will hear from God. He will always, always show up and tell me what to do. No matter how long I pretend that my next decision is just one Google search or conversation with a friend away. No matter how long I flail around and pretend I don’t know what to do. When I finally shut up, sit down, and get small….He will be waiting. And He will remind me of what I already know: that the answer, the decision, the next Right Thing is inside, because He is inside.
And so here is what I learned after Remembering and Hushing.
I love to witness miracles, and so I’ve tried to create some miracles in my life . . . I’ve dreamed them up and planned them perfectly and none of them have turned out how I thought they would. This is because, as it turns out, I’m not a miracle maker. I’m just a miracle noticer. I love sunsets, but no matter how badly I want to see one, I can’t make one happen. The best I can do is show up at the right time, set my chair down, and watch God work. And that’s what I have to do now, with Annuncia, with Sister, with our project.
My pride was causing my panic. I had forgotten that I’m not the coach. I’m just a really, really excited fan. He is the Coach. And He’s already invited you and me into the game. We’re in. And one of these days, a game stopping pop- fly is going to sail our way and my bet is that it’s coming from Rwanda. But in the meantime, Mother Teresa would tell us that there are Calcuttas and Rwandas all around us, if we have eyes to see. There are people to serve, people to forgive, people to love all around us. So we can’t wait on the bench anymore, because we’re already in the game. Now that we have seen, we are responsible.
I’m shutting down my computer for the week. When Moses approached the burning bush, he took off his shoes because he knew he was walking on holy ground. I’m feeling the same way. It’s time for me to hush. For the next week, I’m going to spend my usual writing time praying for my Sister and for each of you and for the Dream Team and the Sisters and the orphans in Kigali and for wisdom and patience and for let’s face it, an effective acne solution.
And for my heart to be ready for whatever’s coming tomorrow. And for my hands to be ready for whatever’s on its way today.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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