Aug 182015

Brave is a DecisionOriginally published August 28, 2011

Hey Baby.

Tomorrow is a big day. Third Grade – wow.

Chase – When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.

Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.

And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.

I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.

So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.

Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.

Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.

Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.

Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’ team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.

When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.

Chase – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.

We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.

We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.

Kind people are brave people. Because brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd. Tweet: Brave isn't a feeling. Brave is a decision that compassion is more important than fear or fitting in. @momastery

Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.

Don’t try to be the best this year, honey.

Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.

Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.

I love you so much that my heart might explode.

Enjoy and cherish your gifts.

And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.


 ***Each year people ask my permission to substitute their child’s name for Chase’s and read this letter together the night before school begins. YES. Others ask if they might change the word God to their family’s name for love and read it that way. OF COURSE. This letter belongs to all of us. I’d be honored if you took it and made it work for your family. Heck, tell your family you wrote it. I’m always picking up pre-made grocery buffet food, throwing it into a casserole dish, placing it triumphantly on the table and then stepping back and smiling as humbly as possible in the wake of such triumph. Same/Same. Love, G


Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Aug 122015

I am stunned by the number of people telling me that their pastors/ministers/priests are encouraging them to reject their medicine and “pray” their diagnosed depression away. Lord, have mercy.

If you belong to a church that does not believe in medicine for any reason, I don’t get it—but at least that’s consistent.

If you belong to a church that believes in medical intervention for other diseases like cancer or diabetes, but continues to advise people not to medicate the disease of depression—that is another thing entirely. That is discriminatory, ignorant, abusive, inexcusable and deadly.  That’s spiritual malpractice.

Here are some true things:

Sad? Yes. I can see visiting a minister for that. Sad is to depression as a sugar high is to diabetes. Ministers are not doctors. Ministers and doctors attend completely different schools. They learn different things. If you would not go to your minister for a mammogram—don’t go to her for advice about your depression.  Tweet: If you wouldn't go to your minister for a mammogram—don’t go to her for advice about depression. @momastery

God and science are not enemies. What if the answer to our prayers is inside our medicine? What if it’s true that the whole world is God’s and everything in it? What if God can use medicine to help us like God can use anything else?

So there’s this lovely lady with a broken leg and she standing at the bottom of an escalator. She really wants to get to the next floor because her children and her husband and all of her friends are up there. She is all alone without them and she is desperately yearning to get to them, to hold them, to smell them, to be loved by them. So she starts toward the escalator. But her minister is with her. And just as she steps toward the escalator—the minister grabs her arm and says: “Nope. Let’s just pray. If God wants us to get to the next floor, God will help us. This is a faith issue. Just pray and have faith.”

And so they stand there. And they pray and pray and pray. But God never helps. And the lady gets lonelier and lonelier and more and more afraid. And now she not only feels like she is separate from her family but separate from her God. WHY DOESN’T GOD LOVE ME ENOUGH TO ANSWER MY PRAYERS? Why won’t God help me get to my family??


Just to help people like her get back to love.

It is important, in matters of life and death—not to be too picky or ridiculous.

Please understand me.  I am not saying: “If your minister suggests you pray your depression away without your prescribed medicine, ignore your minister!”

No, I am saying: “DO NOT IGNORE IT. Speak up. Tell your minister that he or she is wrong and why. Educate her. Then talk to the other people in your church community about this issue. Speaking up when people in power are saying dangerous, reckless, deadly things is our RESPONSIBILITY. Think about the next person who might not yet know what you know. Think about the member of your church community who might be standing at the bottom of an escalator crying. Praying to get back to her family.

Speak up for those who can’t yet. We owe that to each other.


Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Aug 042015

Amma and the Green Blob

Amma’s been walking around for four days with a green blob on her head. We didn’t say anything or even look that hard at it because Amma is our third child. If seven-year old Chase had entered my presence with a green blob on his head I’d have gasped and scrubbed him down with an organic wipe and grilled him about the source of the green blob and googled the source to ensure that there were no toxic materials in the creation of the green blob source and then, for good measure, I probably would have taken him to the pediatrician. Just in case. In a million years, I’d never have let Chase walk around in public all green blobby.

But the thing is that every subsequent child I have feels less and less like a reflection of me. Chase is an upstanding citizen, officially. So I can push him out front of the family and say to the world: Look! I made at least one reasonable one. This child is proof that I can make decent people. As for the rest of these cats…well, I certainly cannot be held responsible for all of them. We call those two “free spirits.” This phenomenon is the reason the further a child is from firstborn the less and less neurotic she is. Because we parents aren’t trying to prove ourselves through them quite as desperately—so they’re freer to be themselves instead of mom and dad’s trophy.  I think it was Kelly Ripa who said kids are like pancakes: you kinda screw up the first one but the rest turn out okay. Love you forever, Chase. Sorry about all that. “Smile and say hello, Chase. Eye contact please. Wipe your nose.” “But mom—Amma’s cursing and crawling across the street naked and she appears to have gotten yet another tattoo.” Chase! Eye contact! Use your manners! 

Anyway—like I said, Amma’s been green for four days. I kept thinking the green would fade but every morning it somehow seems fresher, brighter. So this morning I made her take a shower, because desperate times call for desperate measures. When she got out of the shower I noted that the green was gone and I dried her off in her snuggly towel and sent her off to her room to get dressed. Five minutes later Amma walked back into the kitchen with A NEW GREEN BLOB ON HER HEAD.


So I said, “Sister. I give up. What’s going on with the green blob?”

And she looked up at me and said, “I’m a CHILD OF GOD, mom.” She pointed to her forehead and said, “My green is to Remember. So I can be brave.”

You guys. She’s marking herself. She’s recreating Ash Wednesday every morning. She’s making herself a SACRAMENT, which is an outward reminder of an invisible truth. Every morning she’s saying to herself and the world: I’m GOD’S. SO I CAN BE BRAVE.

Most Repeated Phrase in the Bible:  FEAR NOT.

Awesome, God. Easy for you to say. But we’re afraid all the time. HOW DO WE FIGHT OUR FEAR?

Second most repeated phrase in the Bible: REMEMBER.

Fear Not By Remembering that YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. And as such you are free to dream and risk and love and fail and lose and rest and try again, forever. A child of God’s birthright is: Forever Tries.

Do whatever it takes to remember that you’re a child of God, friends. Paint it above your door, tie it to your wrists, stamp it on your forehead: I AM A CHILD OF GOD. And then remember the flip side of that brilliant, life-saving truth: So is everyone else.

As you walk around today, imagine that every single person you meet has a green blob smack dab in the center of her forehead. Then treat her accordingly.

Be brave because you’re a child of God. Be kind because everyone else is, too. Tweet: Be brave because you’re a child of God. Be kind because everyone else is, too. @momastery




Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

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