Feb 212014


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


Friends, meet my friend Nate. Nate Pyle is a brilliant thinker, pastor, writer, husband and father who is learning to be courageously vulnerable. This guy’s a Mankee if I ever met one.

And Nate is afraid that deep down, he really IS the loser the bullies said he was.

NP-pic-300In middle school I was given the name of Pillsbury Doughboy. I hope it goes without saying, but this was not a name I chose for myself. It was a name chosen – the first week of seventh grade no less – for me by peers.

Pills. Doughboy. Pillsbury. Pick your iteration, this is what I was called for the rest of my middle school career. This name was a shame-filled, dark cloud that followed me around every day. I couldn’t get away from the name. Nothing I did removed it. Ignoring it, rolling with it, laughing about it, fighting it – nothing mattered. Society had spoken, and this was who I was in their eyes. It is amazing how deep the name cut. For as much as I tried to brush it off, this name has become such a deep place of shame for me that, even to this day, I hate telling people about this nickname. Hate it.

Wrapped up in the “Dough Boy” is my gnawing fear of rejection. Deep down there is a voice dead set on convincing me that, once you get to know the real me, you will reject me. That I am not good enough for you. Not strong enough. Not smart enough. Not clever enough. Not good-looking enough.

Not enough.

So I lift weights so no one will confuse me with a soft, pillsbury pastry.

I ski steep mountains so no will see me as afraid.

I read thick theological books so no will see me as not smart.

I laugh so no one will see me cry.

But what I really want is to be accepted. Me. Complete with my failures, softness, mistakes, mess-ups, crap, and weaknesses.

All of it, accepted as enough.


And this is my Jamie. Jamie Wright is a revolutionary writer, an anti-slavery activist and missionary, a mama, and a wife. She’s a fierce and tender woman.

And in the midst of all of her accomplishments and wisdom and beauty –  Jamie’s afraid she’s just not enough.

jamie-300I want to be enough.

Wow. Just tapping out those five little words makes my throat ache and my eyes burn with tears. I want to be enough. Thin enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Funny enough. Sexy enough. Good enough. Tough enough. Clever enough. Worthy enough. It is this deep ­seated desire to know that I’m enough which drives virtually all of my destructive behavior. When I was young, the need to be enough moved me to starve myself, drug myself, give myself away too freely. But even still, even today – grown and married and mothering ­I obsess over food and facial hair and these teeny tiny boobs, and I wonder if my husband really loves me, or if he every really has. Could I ever be enough for him? Could I ever be enough for anyone? I am convinced the answer is no, but I work pretty hard at pretending otherwise. “I’m confident, you guys! I’m cute! I am hilarious!” I shout, as I tap dance on the world’s stage, ”Look at me! Look how I twirl! Look how I make jokes! Look how thin I am! Do you see it? Do you see me?!” It’s funny, isn’t it? The proverbial “God shaped hole” in my heart is also shaped just like a little girl who’s trying too hard. With her loose pigtails and dirty fingernails, and big eyes watching, waiting, longing for someone to say, “You, baby girl, you are enough.” But for all my silly trying, do you know what I hear most often from the folks I’m putting on this stupid show for? “Oh, Jamie,” they laugh, unknowing, “you are just too much.”


How are you feeling about all of this? Do you see how all of this beautiful and brutal coexists and swirls together to make such BRUTIFUL people??? It’s not their accolades that make us love them, is it? It’s their honesty and humanity and tenderness. We should all perform admirable acts. We should. GOOD ACTS are to be admired. But I think it’s realer and truer and lasts longer if we LOVE PEOPLE instead of admiring people. Admiration fades when things get real but love just grows. 

We are all the same. We are all wild swirls of messy and beautiful and I love us. Just the way we are.


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

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 on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & 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 on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest