Feb 202014


This is Day Two of the Sacred Scared Project.  You can read more about it here.  And read Day One here.


My friends, meet my friends. This is Jen. Jen Hatmaker is the author of seven books, a nationally acclaimed speaker, a fierce advocate for orphans, a blogger, and the mother of five.  When people ask me about my friend, Jen, they always say – “How does she do it all? She’s AMAZING.” And she IS. But like all AMAZING folks, she’s also afraid.

Jen’s afraid that her passion for her work will mess up her kids. 

jen-300In the quiet of my real life, when I’m tucked away from all of your eyes, when my mind is still and I think my actual thoughts, I have a deep, shaky-limbed worry. It is so strong and real that I am petrified to share it with anyone, and in fact, haven’t. It’s too true, too important, and I think about it so often and it scares me so badly, that I’m afraid to tell you lest you use it against me or aren’t gentle with this vulnerable admission:

I am so scared that in my mission and ministry, in this travel and writing and work (because it is work, just like any job is), my kids will resent me, carry a grudge, and worst of all, be angry at God for taking up so much of me during their childhood.

As I type that, my hands are shaking.

I don’t want you to think I worry about this, because I’d rather come across as self-assured, carefully weighing the cost of this ministry and landing confidently where I have. I’d rather throw out casual comments my kids make like, “I didn’t even know you were gone” or “We had so much fun while you were in Seattle” because I don’t want you to know that my being gone is hard on us all.

I want my kids to love Jesus so desperately, but what if they resent Him for drawing their parents into such laborious ministry? Am I doing this well? Am I being obedient in all the ways, both at home and in the field? I don’t know. I don’t know how my kids will talk about my absences in ten years. I don’t know if they’ll ever understand how hard I tried to do everything God set in front of me, at home and not at home, especially when I’m not even sure how to do this. I know they won’t comprehend how much I worried about it all.

I don’t know if all working moms have this deep terror, but since mine has “God” attached to it, I’m afraid my kids will only see my divided time, not the Jesus I love. I love my family; my children are a gift and this time is short. I so want to be a good mom and good wife and good disciple and good leader, and balance is a lie and I can’t find it even if it is true, and it makes me so afraid.



And Lovies, meet my Kristen. Kristen Howerton is a psychology professor, an in-demand speaker, a blogger, and a businesswoman. She’s also the mama of four little ones- two are biological and two are adopted. She’s kind, brave, generous and wicked smart.

. . . And Kristen is afraid that her social anxiety is hurting her and her family. 

KH-pic-300I have so many general insecurities and hangups that it really is hard to narrow it down, but one that has been really difficult for me this year is my social anxiety. It’s a bit hard to explain because I am not necessarily a shy person. I could speak to a large room of people without getting nervous. In a group of people who know me well, I can be loud and silly.  But I really struggle in everyday small-talk situations.

A part of this is because I’m extremely introverted. As an introvert, I’m much more comfortable talking about deeper issues than about the weather or how the soccer team is doing this season. Small talk is exhausting and painfully awkward for me.  As a result, I have an awkward tendency of going WAY too deep in conversations with strangers as an attempt to avoid the chit-chat conversation and get to something meaningful. For example, at school pickup:

“Oh, hi. You must be Bella’s mom. (awkward pause) So what do you think happens when we die?”

Yeah. I am the queen of going too deep, too soon. It’s like a compulsion.

Coupled with the introversion, I am also a rather anxious person. I struggle with insecurity. After social situations with people outside my inner circle, I tend to replay every interaction over and over to try to figure out how I was perceived. It is not uncommon for me to lay awake for hours after a party, going over every conversation I had, and berating myself for where I went wrong in each situation. “Man, Kristen. You totally offended them with your sarcasm. And why are you so nosey with your questions? They must think you are obnoxious. They probably talked about you when you walked away.”  Wash, rinse, repeat. I am my own worst critic, and my mind races after social interactions.

But here is the worst part: between the total hangover of exhaustion I get from new social interactions and the spiral of shame I tend to go into after the fact, it’s a struggle for me not to just avoid social interactions altogether. When I’m having a particularly stressful week, I will employ strategies to avoid as much social interaction as possible. I’ll skip church. I’ll pick up the kids in the car pick-up line to avoid casual conversations. I will make my husband accompany the kids to birthday parties with their peers. I won’t leave my house. I become trapped by my own social anxiety.

I hate this about myself. I hate it for my kids, because I see other moms making easy relationships and connections and playdates, and they have the mom who darts nervously in and out and always seems on the outside of “the club”.  I hate it for my husband because I say no to things just to avoid that anxiety spiral. And I hate it for myself because inevitably, from the outside I come off as aloof and snotty . . . when really it’s about my own anxiety and lack of confidence. It effects my friendships, my marriage, my parenting, my ability to volunteer at school, my involvement at church . . . there are few aspects of my life untouched by my social anxiety.

I think this is why I was drawn to blogging. Despite my anxieties, I am still a social person. I do desire connection and community. Blogging allows me to communicate without all the emotional drama. I can edit what I say. I can delve into deeper topics. I can communicate my heart without all the baggage of social anxiety that burdens me in real life. But the blogging is a double-edged sword. In part, because it’s a false sense of intimacy. It doesn’t really replace the experience of in-person relationships. In addition, blogging allows me to present a version of myself that I can’t always replicate in person, when my anxiety wells up. The result is that many people feel that they know me, but in person I’m overwhelmed with the fear that I’m going to disappoint . . . that I won’t be able to be as funny or composed or personable as I am online.  All of this works together to create a dynamic in which I’m more comfortable communicating through a computer screen than in person . . . and it’s isolating and embarrassing. It’s something that I have to work at every day.


PS. Friends: You’ll notice that each woman featured in this series sent a picture of herself without make-up. No masks. The sacred scared. Aren’t they just beautiful? 

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

Feb 192014


This is how the Sacred Scared project was born:

I have a group of friends who are very, very precious to me. Many of you know them through their world changing work. (EVERY LAST ONE OF US DOES WORLD CHANGING WORK EVERYDAY. We simply cannot live in the world and not change it.)

I asked my friends to share their Sacred Scared here because I wanted to prove to you that folks who are showing up BIG TIME and doing REALLY hard things are just like us. Everybody is the same. No one has it all figured out and No one ever will. We just gotta show up for our dreams and each other before we’re ready. We can be scared and still show up. We can be completely UNHEALED and still show up. We must just show up in all our beautiful, messy glory. Because all the good and all the beautiful in the world is created by people who show up before they’re ready.

Read here for more information about the Sacred Scared project:

**NOTE** We hear a lot lately about the importantance of being vulnerable in front of others, but we haven’t been taught how to respond to someone else’s vulnerability, so I’ll be offering suggestions about how to receive vulnerability during this series. Here’s the first one: When someone lets you into her Sacred Scared – she is showing you her messy insides NOT because she wants you to fix it, but because she trusts you enough to let you know the real, true her.

Imagine that you have a new friend that you just love, and she’s coming to your house, and you finally liberate yourself enough to skip the panic-clean before she arrives. You decide that you trust her enough to walk in and see your messy house and you just KNOW that she will GET IT. She will LOVE that you just Let It Be for her. But she walks in and instead of flopping down on the laundry covered couch, she starts cleaning up the mess. Your mess is making her too uncomfortable. She starts to FIX IT instead of appreciating your mess as a trust offering. How do you feel about that?

Let’s not try to fix each other’s Sacred Scared, if we can avoid it. The people in this series are letting you in to see their Real, Beautiful Mess. Let’s not try to fix them, because they don’t need to be fixed. Neither do you. Let’s just try to find some comfort and love and maybe even Me Too in the offerings.



Please meet my precious friend, Rachel. Rachel Held Evans is an international speaker and the brilliant best-selling author of three books. By every stretch of anyone’s imagination- Rachel HAS ARRIVED . . .

And yet she is always afraid that she’s not successful enough.

RHE-300“I’m going to need a blue check mark,” I told my husband Dan matter-of-factly at the dining room table the other day. “A blue check mark means I’m somebody on Twitter.” What I didn’t tell him was that I’d spent that last 45 minutes fuming over how another woman writer already had a blue check mark next to her name even though she had fewer followers than I did, revealing something of the gross injustice inherent to whatever system Twitter uses to separate the somebodies from the nobodies. I didn’t tell him that the blue check mark was just the latest in a long series of trophies I’ve spent a lifetime grasping for—compulsively, obsessively, sometimes ruthlessly—and how I’m disappointed every. single. time. they don’t bring the fulfillment I expect. I didn’t have to tell him because he already knows. All my life, I’ve felt like these trophies hold the power to call an internal truce between my secret hope of being “discovered” an my persistent fear of being “found out.” Getting an award means people still think I’m clever, valuable, smart, and worthwhile. Getting an award means they have no idea that beneath it all, I’m a complete and total fraud, making all this up as I go.  So I rack up those trophies and peer into them as though they are mirrors. But all I see in looking back at me is a grotesque reflection of my own stubborn fear.



And here is my Sarah. Sarah Goodfellow left America to live in a very poor city in Peru to help women find the work and hope they deserve. She is a living example of service and beauty…

And yet Sarah is always afraid that she’s not happy enough.

SG-300My biggest fear is that I will never be free from my depression. That I will spend the rest of my life surviving each day. Working to put one foot in front of the other. Too many days I’m sitting on the sidelines of my own life. The fact that it’s a beautiful life that could be so full if I could only participate wrecks me. My kids are growing and becoming little people and I’m missing out on so much. And, if I’m truly honest, what really keeps me up at night is how this all will affect my kids. What scars will they carry with them for the rest of their lives because of my illness? How will they remember the days that I couldn’t get out of bed? I fear that they will be bitter that they were stuck with me. I’ve done everything I can think of to get better. Healing prayer, medication, counseling, etc, and they haven’t “worked.”  I’ve begged God to heal me. Cried out in my darkest hours for relief. And I haven’t been healed. So all I can do is hope and wait and keep fighting and have those I love hope for me when I can’t. Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is not give up hope, even when your body and mind are screaming at you to do so. So, even in spite of my fear of never being healed and the hopelessness that sometimes envelopes me, I fight to be present. It may not look like much some days on the outside, but I know the fear that I am fighting to overcome. And I remind myself, that it is really my depression that should fear me because I’m not giving up.



There you go. My hope for today is that these women’s insistence that Fear is Nothing to be Ashamed Of will encourage you to Embrace Your Beautiful Messy Self today. Come back for more tomorrow.

Love, G

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

Feb 182014

battle  pin

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every second of my life- and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”  Georgia O’Keeffe

I started writing Momastery six years ago as a spiritual practice to help me:

  1. Stay sober (sober = awake, grateful, present, brave, and kind).
  2. Connect with other people without removing my pajamas.

Last year my family fell apart. It was awful. One night I was in the fetal position in bed hiding from everyone in the world and I decided to Google myself. This I officially Do Not Recommend.

Seek and Ye Shall Find. I found a bunch of mean stuff that made me cry. I called my Sister hysterical. I sobbed, “SISTER, they are calling me a mess and an addict and they are saying that Craig only married me because I was pregnant and they are talking about how my marriage is falling apart and I’m overly -dramatic and ridiculous and medicated.”

And Sister was very quiet. And so obviously, I yelled “SISTER- WHY ARE YOU SO QUIET?” And she said, “Well, because…isn’t all of that stuff true?”

And so I hung up on her because there is a time and a place for logic and truth and that was not the time.

But as I fell asleep that night, I thought about what she said. And it hit me. It was all true. It IS all true. And you know what else is true? Even though I’m messy – I’m still showing up. Even though I’m messy- I’m still doing the two things I was put down here to do: Follow My Dream and Serve Others.

And so my message to you is never: be better. I kind of wish we’d stop obsessing about improving ourselves all the time. I’m simply suggesting that maybe you can show up for life as you are. Maybe you don’t need to wait till you have it “all together” to follow your dreams and serve other people. I’m worried that if you wait ‘till you or your people are less messy to start showing up –  you’ll never show up. Because life never, ever stops being messy. It’s messy the whole way through. And so I think we gotta show up in the middle of the mess. We gotta raise our hands and say “HELLO, EVERYBODY! I’M GLENNON! IM A LITTLE CONFUSED AND TIRED AND IMPATIENT AND MY PEOPLE DRIVE ME INSANE AND I HAVE ALL THESE VARIOUS DISEASES AND MY FAMILY’S A LITTLE BANGED UP- BUT I’M PRETTY SURE THAT’S JUST LIFE – SO I’M HERE TO HELP ANYWAY.”

Like that. And then maybe other messy folks will see us with our grubby little hands raised and think: “Huh. If she can show up like THAT…maybe I have permission to show up too. Just like THIS.”

That’s what I’m doing here. That’s number three. So now my list is this:

  1. Stay sober (sober = awake, grateful, present, brave, and kind).
  2. Connect with people without removing my pajamas.
  3. Offer messy folks permission to get started.

Listen. During the past two years, I’ve met a lot of people who ARE following their dreams and serving and a lot of people who are NOT – because they are waiting till things get better or different first.

Here is the thing that the two groups have in common:  NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHAT SHE’S DOING. None of the people in either of the two groups. The people who are running the world and the people who are sitting life out are exactly the same. They are all messy, complicated, confused people who are unsure of what to do next. They all have messy relationships and insecurities and anger and blind spots. They are ALL AFRAID.

Here is the difference between the two groups: The Dream Followers and Servers believe that it’s okay to be messy and complicated and afraid and show up anyway. The second group believes that folks who show up have to be fabulous and perfect. So they’re waiting to get perfect. They are spending their lives IMPROVING instead of just showing up as they are. They are waiting till they’re “ready.” And the thing is that they will be waiting forever and ever, amen. Because all the good and all the beautiful in the world is created by people who show up before they’re ready.

I am going to prove this to you. This week I have asked a few of my favorite Dream Followers and Servers to share with you their Sacred Scared. Our sacred scared is our deepest fear- the one we hide because we think that if anyone knew about it they wouldn’t love us anymore. What we find when we share our sacred scared is that it’s the very thing we should be sharing more. Because our sacred scared is the key that unlocks our humanity. When we share it, people love us more because we’ve given them permission to love themselves more. Sharing our sacred scared is like handing a world full of messy, waiting people an invitation to show up as they are.

We are all afraid. And that’s okay. We can show up and take care of each other in the midst of all the fear. That’s the good stuff. And you know what the anidote to fear is? It’s NOT self improvement. It’s love. When we love messy people well we start to love our messy selves more. And all that love makes us BRAVE. And eventually, Love beats fear. Love Wins.

Come back tomorrow. I have some very special, very ordinary, very messy, very beautiful people for you to meet.

Show up all Messy and Beautiful Today, Friends. You’re invited.


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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