Oct 222015


Lately, more than ever — I’ve turned on the news and then turned it off in what might be called a teeny bit of despair. This is what I usually think:

So much pain. So much callousness. So much hopelessness.

I need to believe.

I need to believe that the world is good.

I need to believe that people care.

I need to believe that the light is more powerful than the darkness.

I need to believe that it is finally time for women to lead. For us to turn this car around and lead us to peace.

I need to believe that I am PART of something bigger than myself.

I need to believe, I need to believe I need to believe…

And then I remember:

Life is about noticing what you need to believe. And then MAKING IT SO.

Leadership is offering the world exactly what you need — before you have it.


I am sitting in my kitchen writing this and the tears won’t stop coming because:



The world is good.

People care.

Light will always will always will always overcome the darkness.

There is no force. NO FORCE greater than love.

Our time has come. 

We are not alone. We are part of something bigger than ourselves.

We can do hard things.

We Belong to Each Other.

Love Wins.


And now: A word of breathless gratitude from the ones basking in your light:

Mesi from Haiti

Dear Lovers of Women, Dear Sisters that Show Up,

This thing you have done in the last 24 hours  —  Can you even believe it?! (No.I am sure not. Because SO unbelievable.)

I am writing for all of us at the Heartline Maternity Center when I say, we don’t at all comprehend or believe what you just did. We want you all to know this: The depth and breadth of this love will unfold for years to come. **YEARS**

When we consider that each life is ascribed unsurpassable worth, and that this gift you’ve given will allow many more women to give birth safely – where they will be honored as individuals, and surrounded by love … And then you consider how love changes people and they take that love they receive and go touch others.

There is literally no way to quantify what this Love Flash Mob has birthed in Port au Prince, Haiti.

We feel all the things right now. Not an exhaustive list: Grateful, Excited, Nervous, Thrilled, Humbled, Anxious, Jubilant, Hopeful -and mostly, Overwhelmed by Love.Thursday each week the pregnant women all gather for class, community, and consultations.  Today as we gather we will be celebrating how loved and worthy each woman is and celebrating the gift you have given.

Jittery with Joy –

Tara Livesay for the entire staff at Heartline M.C.

And: a message from Ann, our beloved midwife in Germany:

“I am so amazed by your community!!!! I was crying as I read through all the comments, so much LOVE there. We feel it. I think last week we all had a little moment of darkness as it was continually getting colder, women and children were cold and there was no BREAK from all that. Refugees just kept coming and everything and everyone was overwhelmed. Thanks to your amazing community we can now provide things that will give a little light, a little warmth! Many thanks!!!!”

Jeanne and a Syrian mama and baby

On the left is Jeanne, one of the midwives volunteering in Berlin right now. And on the right is a mom who was just came into their office for help this morning. Jeanne told her that we are coming.

“They’re coming,” she said. “Our sisters are coming.”

I can’t say any more words. That’s all I’ve got. If life gets any more beautiful than: Our Sisters Are Coming, then I just won’t be able to take it.

I love you. Thank you for believing. Thank you for Making It So.


Love Flash Mob by the numbers:

24 Hours

$475,141 Given

21,598  Givers

$22 Average offering

1 World Changed

Tweet: #LoveFlashMob by the numbers: 24 Hours, $475,141 Given, 21,597 Givers, $22 Average Offering, 1 World Changed. http://ctt.ec/yHbd7+

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

Oct 212015


Since Together Rising began, we’ve raised over a million dollars to lift up our community. Today—we overflow beyond our borders. Today, we flood the world with our love.

There has never been a Love Flash Mob closer to my heart than this one. We need more of you and more passion and more follow through than we’ve ever needed before. There are hurting/AMAZING women watching us this minute— hoping that you will care enough to help get them the care they deserve. I’ll be here sweating and praying and suffocating from hope and fear in my house. You—please—read and let your heart guide you.

Let us begin:

You know my precious friend, Tara. Tara is a midwife at a maternity center called Heartline in Port au Prince, Haiti. She helps Haitian women—who have no clean, safe, loving place to welcome their infant sons and daughters—give birth with dignity. Tara saves lives and loves mamas and gives her whole heart and her whole life to her calling. This one: Joy. Service. I know love when I see it. Tara and her family are love.

Tara Livesay and family

Months ago Tara wrote this about a teenager who had visited Heartline:

Facebook Asline post

I couldn’t stop thinking about Asline. An hour later I sent Tara this message:

G-75Please Tara, tell me what Asline needs that I have to offer.

TaraAsline burst into tears when she found out she was pregnant. We just hugged while she cried. I just said, “You are not the first young mom. I was a young mom – we have other young moms in the program” I asked her to come meet with me Thanksgiving morning at 10:30. Once I meet with her Thursday I will write you again. Pray that she just shows up. Off to program — today all the moms with babies born already come —  super fun because these are all moms that were offered a chance to give birth and keep their kids out of an orphanage and they are all kicking ass at loving their babies.

G-75Okay- you go be with the mamas. I’ll wait to hear what’s next for Asline. I’ll pray she just shows up. Love you.

But that next Thursday, Thanksgiving, Asline did not show up. She didn’t come the next week, or the week after that. We wondered if it might be time to give up hoping. Then, the day after Christmas, this message popped into my inbox from Tara:

TaraFriend!!!! Asline showed up today!!!! I’m giddy. Her sister gave her medicine against her will to try to get the baby out — but she was upset by it — she came today and is 11 weeks pregnant. She cried when she heard the heartbeat. And she is saying she will come back weekly and deliver here. Thanks for praying for her!!

I don’t really understand prayer. I usually forget to do it altogether. But something made me keep praying for Asline. And a few weeks later, I found myself messaging Tara again.

G-75Does Heartline need anything?

TaraYes, we do. We need more room. We are having to turn away too many women.

G-75What if we raised money for you to add on to the Maternity Center and add nurses?

TaraThat would be amazing, but you need to come and see if this work is right for you. Come and see.

G-75To Haiti? No thank you, I mostly want to (forget to) pray for Haiti from my couch in Naples.

But Tara kept saying that she really thought I should come. And I kept saying no. She said please and I said no. Finally, she said: Glennon. Just show up.

Tricky smart Tara, using those words against me.

That’s how Amy and I ended up in Haiti.***

When we arrived last month, Heartline’s midwife team picked us up at the airport and took us to the government-run hospital where many mothers deliver their babies. We needed to see firsthand why Heartline’s work is so desperately needed. As we drove, I kept thinking: it looks like the earthquake happened yesterday. But there was so much LIFE. So much beautiful life, so much brutal poverty. And/Both. Haiti is Brutiful.


We entered a gate flanked by armed guards, parked our ambulance, and entered a hospital that felt like a prison. We walked over slippery concrete floors and through suffocating heat, but no warmth. We went into the maternity rooms to see lines of sheet-less mattresses on metal frames. Women were laid on the beds in various stages of labor. One was in active labor, two had babies laid out next to them on the dirty mattresses, one was silently crying because she had just lost her baby. I saw no doctors while we were there, no nurses. There was no one to explain to these women what was happening to their bodies or to their babies. And there was no one to serve them. If a patient needs food, the family has to bring it. If a woman needs water, her family has to bring it. If an IV or medication of any kind is needed—the families already living in unimaginable poverty must find a pharmacy, buy an IV or medicine, and bring it to the hospital. So the women just go without. They go without food, water, and medicine. So many hurting women, so many new babies—and it was so quiet. We heard no moaning, no crying from the mamas or even from the babies. It turns out there is no reason to cry if there is no hope of help.


But then there were the midwives. Beth and KJ and Tara. They walked from bed to bed, holding women’s hands, hearing their stories, speaking to them softly in their native creole. Talking to them about breast-feeding and telling them, each and every woman they met, about Heartline’s free family planning classes and free birth control. Praying with them when they asked. Holding them if they cried. Laughing with the ones who could laugh.

Amy and I were silent as we climbed back into the car. As we pulled away from the hospital, Tara looked us and said, “And that’s why Beth started the Maternity Center.”

Beth and her husband moved to Haiti 26 years ago and right away – Beth used her degree in child development to open an orphanage. Beth cried as she told us about fathers and grandmothers who showed up at her orphanage’s gate with children hanging on their legs and newborn babies in their arms. The fathers would hold out their babies and say: “Please, take her. Give her food and get her to someone who can give her a life.” Beth would learn—over and over again—that the child’s mother had just died in childbirth. So many times this was the story—the baby’s mother is dead.

The gate

Beth listened closely. With a broken heart, she took the babies in and worked to complete their adoptions.


Running is one of Beth’s spiritual practices- she runs through the streets of Haiti, talking to God and listening hard. This running time is when she began to understand that she needed to back up a step. She needed to help mothers in childbirth and before childbirth and after childbirth so that they could live. So that they could keep and love and raise their babies. These babies didn’t need an orphanage, they needed their mamas. After a long season of listening, Beth decided to act. At 50, she started midwifery school. Then she came back and opened Heartline Maternity Center. At first she walked from Haitian door to Haitian door and asking—Are you pregnant? Is anyone pregnant here? If so, please come. I can help. Just show up.

We sat and took in Beth’s story, and then turned to KJ.  KJ is 26 years old and was raised as the oldest of twelve kids in a very traditional family. But at an early age KJ felt a stirring, a knowing that her life would follow an non-traditional path. During high school, she went to Africa and fell in love with loving underserved people. She knew she wanted to serve. She came home and searched the internet until she found a website for a midwifery school in the Philippines. She looked at it and decided: I need to go there. So she graduated early and when she was seventeen years old she left her home and her parents and everything she knew and went to the Philippines.

What are you going to do there? Her mom said.

I guess I’m just going to show up, KJ said.

Beth was fifty when she followed her knowing. KJ was seventeen. Let us never say it is too late or too early to start showing up. Tweet: Let us never say it is too late or too early to start showing up. @momastery #TogetherRising http://ctt.ec/vO8P3+ ‎

Heartline midwives

After dinner, Amy and I went to our hotel room which was lovely except for a cockroach the size of a quarter pounder on the coffee table. Amy threw a tissue box on top of it and we walked around it for two days. I still can’t talk about it. Relief work is scary.

The next morning, Tara picked us up early to take us to Heartline. On the way, she explained that since Heartline has limited space, most of the mamas they serve are teenage, first-time mothers, or older mothers who have already delivered many babies. These are the women most likely to have complications that could lead to death during delivery, leaving their children orphaned. Tara also told us that in addition to pre- and post- natal care, family planning is a core part of Heartline’s work. Poverty can be defined as a lack of choices, and in a society marked by high levels of infidelity, violence against women and spousal rape, giving woman access to birth control gives them the choice to determine their future and to live a healthy life for the children they already have. To quote the wise words of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: “Every woman and girl deserves the chance to determine her own future.”

After a short drive, we pulled up to Heartline and the guarded gate opened. We left the rubble and traffic of Haiti behind and entered the oasis of the Heartline campus. Trees surrounding the building offer shade and pick up the breeze and the walls are painted bright with beautiful murals of Haitian mamas and babies. There is beauty there. Beauty is something that is harder to find outside the gate. Not impossible, but harder because there is so much pain that jumps out at you first.


The first thing that Tara did when we walked in was introduce us to the Haitian staff. Heartline believes in Haitian serving Haitians, so this is a priority for them.

Heartline Staff

The Maternity Center team (left to right): Nirva, Beth, KJ, Sherly, Tara & Winifred.




Next we greeted a large of group of women with shy smiles and big, beautiful bellies, and then we walked down to Tara and KJ’s exam room. Signs and paintings covered the walls. This one stopped me in my tracks.

Ascribe Unsurpassable Worth

Ascribe Unsurpassable Worth. This is Heartline’s motto, their mantra, their reason for being. Beth told us, “If you are a poor woman here, it is easy to be overlooked, taken advantage of and unknown. It’s different at Heartline. We know each woman by name, we know her story and we love her. That’s the difference. The women are loved here.”

Unsurpassable worth.


Beth's room


Then we went into Beth’s room. You see that picture on the wall, the painting on the left? It’s one of the mamas who gave birth last year to her eighth child. Her first seven babies died. But she came to the maternity center, and because of Heartline’s careful care and attention, her eighth baby lived. She lived. This mama now has a baby to hold, because of Heartline.

We spent the rest of the day quietly watching—smiling and nodding and oohing and ahhing with the moms, observing the careful care provided to all the women by the midwives and the staff. How they measured their patients’ progress, delighted with them over strong heartbeats, answered questions, provided meals.


Check up
2015-09-17 13.56.50
2015-09-17 13.58.22




(This is MarieCianne. She is a blind, Haitian pregnant mama. She teaches braille for a living. She did not stop smiling the whole live long day. Just thought you should know.)

Feeling the kicks

During our last few hours at the clinic, we were joined by another Heartline visitor, an ob-gyn from Vanderbilt University named Dr. Chris Sizemore. Chris first came to Haiti after the earthquake and met the Heartline staff at the field hospital they erected inside the rubble to care for the earthquake victims. Dr. Sizemore told us, “Heartline does some of the best work I’ve ever seen. The care they give, the expertise, the respect for these women—they are doing it right.”

For the very last appointment of the day, Tara ushered a quiet, scared woman into the exam room. We greeted her and she nodded without meeting our eyes. Tara explained to us quietly that weeks before, when she was ten weeks pregnant, she’d been severely beaten by her husband. She moved in with her mother but since that day, she’d been terrified that her baby was hurt, or worse. When she heard that Dr. Chris was in the office doing ultrasounds, she came to Tara and said: “Please ask him to look at my baby. I am afraid. Please tell me if my baby is okay.”

Chris started the exam while Tara held the woman’s hand and followed along. We all held our breath. I prayed: please please please please please.


Sizemore ultrasound

Chris spent careful time looking over every aspect of the ultrasound. It felt like one million hours. Then he smiled, looked right at the woman and said, “Your baby is perfect. Perfectly healthy. And you’re having a boy.”

And the woman’s face lit up like the sun. And we all breathed.



Afterwards I just stared at Tara. She said Every day. This is what it’s like here every day.

Every day (and throughout the long nights), the women of Heartline pour out their lives for moments like this. So that mamas can hear they have healthy babies, and babies can grow up in their mothers’ arms. Haiti has the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality in the Western Hemisphere. Two out of 3 childbirths in Haiti occur without a skilled birth attendant. One in 83 Haitian women will die as a result of childbirth. Yet, Heartline has never lost a mother. But due to too-little capacity and resources, Heartline is forced to turn away more women than they can serve. Each year Heartline is forced to say no to hundreds of women desperate for a safe place to start their child’s life and their motherhood.


I decided to visit Heartline because I wanted to see the work with my own eyes, and also because I was a little bit worried about the religious aspect. I am a self proclaimed Jesus freak- but I am wholly uninterested in any organization that is trading love for Jesus. I only want to work with people who love without agenda or ulterior motive. I am more skeptical about this than any atheist I’ve ever met- my team will tell you that. I am the leader of this beautiful, diverse community made of all faiths and those who understand the world in ways unrelated to faith. So my job is to look at Love Work with ALL of our eyes. And I can tell you that if you believe in Love, you’d believe Heartline’s work. This work of fiercely and tenderly serving women and children. The work of loving the vulnerable and the marginalized and the forgotten like they are the most beloved creatures on Earth—cherished, adored, valued—because that is the truth. There is no trading service for religion here. Love with no strings attached is the agenda.

Here’s where we come in.

The midwives of Heartline desperately want to add another wing to their beautiful maternity center. They want more exam rooms, more postpartum rooms, more teaching rooms. They want to stop turning so many women away who are desperate to bring their babies into the world in safety and dignity.

So we are going to build it for them.

The architects have drawn up the plans. The contractors are standing by. The midwives are watching. The mamas are waiting.

For US. For YOU.

Here’s the spot. Here is where the haven for our sisters will be. This is the spot upon which LOVE WILL BUILD.

Tara showing where to build

2015-09-17 10.16.13
2015-09-17 10.16.53
2015-09-17 10.19.52

If we raise the funds needed today- LOVE WILL START BUILDING IN TWO WEEKS.

Our sisters at Heartline have been brave and mighty and vulnerable enough to be open to our service. They have said: Will you help?  Please, let us answer them: YES. YES because you deserve to deliver your precious baby safely and watch her grow. YES because

you are a woman of unsurpassable worth.

Here’s a picture of a birthing room at Heartline. See that line in Creole? It says, “She believed she could, so she did.”

She believed she could, so she did

Sarah & Me

G & Sarah

And finally, meet baby Sarah. Sarah’s mommy and daddy suffered two mid-pregnancy losses before she was born. Sarah’s mom and dad let us borrow her for a minute, and while we were taking these pictures, Amy started crying. That doesn’t happen often—she’s pretty steady-eddy. “What’s up?” I asked. Amy told me that she was thinking about all those years I’d spent heartbroken about the dead ends of my adoption dream. She said watching me hold Sarah, she wondered if maybe God put that dream in my heart so it would lead us here—to help these mamas keep their babies. Because the only thing more beautiful than adoption is having no need for it.

God showed up.

Beth showed up.

Tara showed up.

KJ showed up.

Amy and I showed up.

And these women—they show up everyday.

Everybody’s just waiting to see if you will show up.

You guys. Let’s get the women of Heartline Rising—TOGETHER.

Heartline women


  1. DONATE. You can make your tax-deductible donation by clicking here or on the Love Flash Mob button at the bottom of this post. Give what you can—small gifts of $5, $15, or $25 max. We can’t do great things, but today we’re making miracles happen through small gifts given with great love. Tweet: Today we're making miracles happen through small gifts given with great love @momastery #TogetherRising #LoveFlashMob http://ctt.ec/glwVJ+ REMEMBER THAT EVERY DONATION MATTERS. Click here to see the miracles you have made through prior Love Flash Mobs. Because Together Rising is an official 501(c)3, every penny of your donation is tax deductible. And, you can be assured that if the funds raised exceed what Heartine needs for this project, all of your money will go toward serving women and families in crisis.
  2. SHARE, SHARE, SHARE. PLEASE SHARE THIS POST. Use the links at the bottom of this post to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the other ones I don’t know about. Mass e-mail your friends, call your parents, stand in your yard and read the essay loudly – whatever it takes. We need all the whos in whoville – the tall and the small. We need our entire village today.
  3. TWEET THIS: Come to @momastery now for the most fun & greatest love you’ll ever see on the web! #LoveFlashMob #TogetherRising http://ctt.ec/P1j_n+ 
    Tweet: Come to @momastery now for the most fun & greatest love you'll ever see on the web! #LoveFlashMob #TogetherRising http://ctt.ec/P1j_n+
  4. DEDICATE. Every single one of us knows a warrior woman or baby. If you’d like to donate in honor of someone you love, please leave her name in the comments here or on Facebook.

Okay. It’s time for me to let you go and trust. Your board will be busy trying to breathe and calling each other and refreshing our screens one million times, sacred scared to death.  In a few hours, we will give you an update. CMMMMMON LOVE: WIN!!!!


***Of course, Amy and I paid our own way to Haiti.  None of your donations to Together Rising were used for this trip or any other trip.  As has always been the case, your Board covers Together Rising’s overhead costs so that every penny you give goes to families in need.


!!!!!!!!!!!!!  UPDATE !!!!!!!!!!!!!


On our last night in Haiti, Amy and I were eating dinner at Tara’s house and KJ mentioned her friend, Ann — a midwife in Berlin on the front lines every day, helping to serve women and children Syrian refugees. Amy’s eyes got big and she looked over at me and with my eyes I said to her: Sister. No. Focus. We are in HAITI. For Heartline.

Later that night, we lay in our hotel room and before I could fall asleep Amy said into the darkness: We should help them, too. And I said: I know. But not now. Next time. Next Love Flash Mob. We have to do the next right thing, one thing at a time. Heartline is the next right thing, and the numbers we need for these sisters are BIG. They have unsurpassable worth. We have to wait.

Amy said, Yes, you’re right. Then as soon as we got home from Haiti — she reached out to Ann behind my back, of course. Love will sometimes cheat a little to win, it turns out. A week later Amy forwarded this letter to me from Ann:

“Every day Berlin sees an unprecedented number of refugees coming to our city. Many that finally reach Berlin have been in dire conditions for weeks and in Berlin they find another great struggle. The government registration office has waiting times of up to a week just to receive a waiting number. From then it may be weeks to register as an official asylum seeker. Until then, no one is eligible for medical help.

In a once idyllic park you see the dire situation. People are sitting on the cold ground and trying to keep their few things that they have managed to keep together. Pregnant women, small children, sick people, everyone on the cold pavement. Our work as midwives is in great need. The specific needs of pregnant ladies or women that have just given birth are hard to be met under these circumstances, but we try. Women are homeless with their newborn baby or a few days before giving birth, and it is now very cold in Berlin. The situation at the registration office has become more and more unstable over the last few days — because of the cold weather and unrelenting rain — and the fact that people have had to wait for weeks now. Today, it has become very clear, that the idea we really need funds for is winter clothing and gear for the mothers and babies. We see so many without adequate clothing and a huge increase in colds/bronchitis/flu.”

GOOD GOD, I said. Listen, I know it’s calling us. BUT WE HAVE TO WAIT.


This afternoon, your Together Rising Board huddled together and said: OUR TRIBE IS TRYING TO TELL US THAT WE DON’T HAVE TO WAIT.


Because of what you did today, Heartline is getting its Love Wing. I just talked to Tara and she was on the phone with the Haitian contractors saying: IT’S ON! GET READY! YOU HAVE JOBS AND WE WILL HAVE OUR LOVE WING! (Did you think about that? You gave WORK to people today. Ripples, ripples.)

Our Love Flash Mobs are 24 hours long. WE HAVE THIRTEEN AND A HALF HOURS TO GO.

We want to raise money to help Ann and the midwives in Berlin buy warm clothes and blankets for the refugees—and even more. We are, right now, furiously working those details out. You can trust us with that. We will go slow and well and true. We are more careful than CAN BE IMAGINED. Your Board has an entire Stewardship Team with amazing and selfless volunteers and led by our very own Katherine, ensuring that your money is spent in a smart way, in the RIGHT way.

Syrian refugeesFOR NOW:

KEEP GIVING, friends. No penny will be wasted. Keep giving and we will get to work tomorrow creating the very best plan to get your love to those shivering, hoping, beautiful refugees desperate for a safer, peaceful existence for themselves and their children. When the details of our Love Project are finalized—we will tell you the entire story in detail.

And let us never forget — there is no such thing as other people’s children.



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

Oct 152015

Because I’m both a proud supporter of GLAAD and a children’s minister, kids struggling with their sexuality/gender identity and the church write to me sometimes. I think they sense that since much of their pain has originated from the church, they need their healing to come from the church too. I get that. Makes sense.

These precious ones’ stories are usually similar. One child recently described himself to me as transgender, and then went on to say that he feels both male and female. He’s just not sure. He’s unsure and he’s living in a world of people who seem to be sure and who fear uncertainty. Kids at school tease him and his church kicked his family out because this child’s being was causing “too much confusion.”  This is an especially sad development, because he is now starting to doubt that God loves him. People are leaving scripture on his doorstep to prove to this child that he’s an abomination. He is distraught, but, even so, he’s been reaching out to other transgender kids online–encouraging them to keep living. His parents are loving but confused and afraid.  You can imagine—this is hard all around. I felt such compassion for all of them—for this family and all of the ones who write to me. I always write back, even though I feel scared and unprepared and unqualified. I write back because somebody’s got to, and I’m the one on the other end of the email. I’m sure what I write to these kids isn’t perfect. But I’m trying. I’m trying not to let the fact that I don’t know how to love them perfectly keep me from loving them at all.

Anyway—here are a few excerpts of letters I’ve sent to these precious ones. Thought now might be a good time to share.


Hey, J. G Here.

Holy texts are like shovels—some use them to dig up the earth and plant new seeds and some use them to bang people over the head. Most of us do both.

Let’s dig, J.

Check out this scripture. It’s from right there in the beginning—the beginning of the Bible about the beginning of time.

So God created mankind in His own image; in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.

J, did you catch that? It says that when God wanted to create people in God’s own image, God needed to create two genders to express God’s self fully. Could that mean that God’s image is both male and female, too? Both, J? Just like you? Maybe God is just like you, J.

Listen, J:

You need to remember that being rejected by church is not the same as being rejected by God. Tweet: Being rejected by church is not the same as being rejected by God. #SpiritDay @momastery http://ctt.ec/1FN82+ God did not kick you out of church, honey. The church kicked God out of church. Listen—I love the church, J. I spend every extra minute I have in mine. But I am here to tell you that the church is not God. You are more God than the church is, J—because you are made in God’s image: while the church is an institution. God loves you more than any institution He/She made for you, J. When folks decide they love any institution more than the individual souls inside them—they’re missing the mark. I love the church, J—but I love you more. If I’m forced to choose, I choose you and your heart every day and twice on Sundays. Just as God made you. Just as God made you.

And listen J: not only is your church not God, but your church does NOT officially represent God, either. There is no one church that represents God. If you still want church—you can have one. There are churches all over the place (I know because I serve one and speak at them all over the country) that already have places set for you at their table. You must look out and look around, J. A small worldview is deadly, especially for you. You need to think bigger than your church, bigger than your school, bigger than your town.

But while you’re thinking big, J—you still need to love small. Sweet J—please allow me to say this one thing. As I read your letter, I felt such compassion for your mother. I know she hasn’t responded like you hoped she would. Based on my own experience and what I’ve gathered from mamas all over the world I offer you this: your mama loves you. Fiercely and deeply and truly. Sometimes when you love someone like a mother loves her child—that love can turn into fear. It happens to me all the time. I am so afraid that the world will not be kind to my children. And so, J, I imagine that your mother is not afraid of you, but for you. She is so afraid that this world will not accept you that she may have decided that she has a better chance of changing you than she does of changing the whole world. Soon she will remember that she is your world, and if she accepts you first, then that’s a helluva good start. But I want to tell you something and I hope you don’t feel betrayed by me—I understand your mama’s fear. She just wants you to be okay, honey. Being a mom is so terrifying and lonely. You have a hard call and so does she. So does she.

This is my hunch, J. Your mom’s biggest fear is not that you are different, but that you are not going to be okay. Her fear will subside when she believes that you’re okay. The only way to convince her that you are okay, J, is to ACTUALLY BE OKAY. Listen, here’s the trick and please read this carefully. Whether or not you ever feel like you belong down here LARGELY DEPENDS ON YOU.

“Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” 
―Brené Brown.

Hear that? Starts with you. Starts with you, J. Do you believe you’re okay? I do.

So I don’t know, honey. Maybe you’ve been chosen to be a hand-raiser, to grow our circle. To help take our ideas about who’s in and who’s out wider and wider. Someday we will get so wide that ALL will be included and we will collectively come to that enlightened state when we all finally see, understand and accept that WE ARE ALL ONE. One day we will finally see that when we reject any person or group of people–we reject a part of our very selves. ALL are one. ALL are in. ALL are God’s beloved children with a place at the table. Then it will be On Earth as it is in heaven.  What if you’ve been called to move us forward toward heaven? It really feels to me like maybe you have.  Will you lead us with love? Will you see past our fear and calmly and solidly stand your ground? Will you claim your identity as child of God as enough? You are the one who decides. It’s not fair to carry this responsibility but few people called to be great request the job first. Lead us, J. The great ones don’t wait until it’s fair to show up. They show up and make it fair. Tweet: The great ones don’t wait until it’s fair to show up. They show up and make it fair. @momastery http://ctt.ec/68B72+

Put this poem on your wall, okay? Along with the scripture in the beginning?

God Says Yes to Me
by Kaylin Haught
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

J, God says YES to you. God is FOR you and God made you just as you are and God says yes even when God’s beloved institutions are screaming NOT YET. And so these questions are from me.

God, is it okay that J is confused about his gender and sexuality? YES!

Is it okay if J wears a tie one day and a skirt the next? YES!

Is it okay if while wearing a skirt and nail polish J loudly and proudly and without reservation, declares himself/herself to be a unique, unrepeatable, sparkling child of God? YES!

Is it okay if J forgives his mom before she figures all this out? YES!

Is it okay for J to forgive his church? To say: I am not going to take on your fear—but I forgive you for being afraid. I look forward to the day we can meet on the path again. Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes.

That is how I’m going to pray for you and your mama, J. With so many YESES.

Dear God,

Whisper YES to J and YES to his mama. And please don’t dare change one hair on his head. Change the whole rest of the world instead.

Originally published April 2015

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