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Dear Glennon,

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this for a very long time.  You know, forever.  And I chicken out each time because the moment is never perfect — because my boys are always too loud, my schedule always too insane, my mind never clear enough, and you are just so amazing (I’m so nervous!!!) — and I know I’ll never — ever — be able to say it just right — just how much you mean to me and just how much I love you — without sounding super crazy.  I’m pretty sure I just accomplished THAT!  I also just pleaded with my boys to do their best to teeter on the verge of quiet — and they just told me they are going to have their own version of the super bowl in their room, so, yeah…  total peace.  This should go well… (if we don’t have to make an ER trip in this blizzard that has just taken over, life will be good).  Max says they’ll move some of the furniture to make it safer.  I’m comforted…

As I listen to my twelve year old’s bedroom being rearranged into a football stadium, I realize there will never be an absolutely perfect time, and I’m pretty certain my mind will never be clear, so we just show up anyway.  Someone pretty freaking amazing taught me that, so with that– here I jump…

I think it’s really important to tell people how incredible they are, those people who have made extraordinary impacts in your life, who fill you up, lift you up, and point your face to heaven — those people who not only restore your faith but remind you what it is to have faith in the first place.  Because, all too often, we don’t get to hear the good stuff.  Nope.  For some reason time isn’t taken for that.  So, I think that’s really important–giving that good stuff a voice — that we take the time to point out what’s shining.  And damn, G, you shine so bright.

I found you years ago, through this blog called Momastery.  I’m sure you’re familiar, heh, heh.  I poured over every single word — crying, connecting, laughing, and all at once, I felt like I KNEW you.  And even more incredibly, I felt like you knew ME.  All of my pieces.  If you only knew what an absolute miracle that feeling was.  And this, this was a place where this crazy, broken, tired, spent and used up girl belonged.  And not only belonged–but was okay.  Maybe even MORE than okay.  So, I bought a Monkee sweatshirt, and “we can do hard things” became one of my every other breaths and daily yogic mantras.  So my very first appreciation of thanks is this — thanks for being my space maker.  Sometimes we all just need to know that we have our own space and we’re not taking up anyone else’s who could make better use of it.  This is ours, and it’s really okay for us to be present in it — just as we are.  Thank you for that.  You helped me take a breath, realize that, and those words on those pages pulled me up to try another day.  That was just the beginning…

I’d also like to thank you for living your Jesus.  See, he’s my Jesus too, but I don’t think others see him or we reflect him until we live him — until we are his hands and feet.  Going to church on Sundays shows people we worship him, yes, but living our lives FOR him?  Well, that’s an entirely different story.  I was raised in the church, but I was never saved by the church.  And churches are a great place to connect with believers, praise and get filled up again, I so believe this — but living Jesus, showing Jesus, giving Jesus — this is an everyday, every minute thing — in how we treat people, love people, help people, inspire people (you get it).  It’s a verb, a doing thing — and our lives should move people to want to know our Jesus.  You not only make me want to know him more, you inspire me to shine the God in me so bright — because this love thing IS a really big deal.  It’s not just some sentimental Hallmark garbage.  It really is everything.  Jesus went so far as to say they will know us by our love — and that love word — man, that’s the BIGGEST verb in the whole entire world.  Thanks for screaming from the mountain tops — let’s get to doing it, people!!!  Thanks for living and shining Jesus and inviting us all to do the same.  We can make such a difference.  We can be miracles for each other.  In all the darkness that is, we can be a light.

And thank you for showing me that this light can shine through broken.  And, that broken is beautiful — and that all of us may really be a little broken — not just this crazy girl — and maybe, quite possibly, the craziest thing we can do is to hide that, not admit that — and the most sane thing we can do is embrace all that is authentic and shine the hell out of our broken.  You inspired me to commit to this one word — authentic.  I want to live an authentic self and I strive for this every day.  Most of my life I had spent trying to be what I thought everyone else had wanted me to be so that they would be happy and accept me.  The funny thing about that is, those people are never truly happy with you.  You will never be enough for them — and that tight rope of things you must be and the checklist of all the things you must do to appease them just gets higher and longer.  It’s exhausting.  And that’s not love.  And that’s not life.  And that’s one hell of a prison — an incredibly suffocating prison.  Authenticity breaks through this prison, even through fear — and yes, at first I thought I might stop breathing all together.  But I didn’t.  I found out that God still loved me.  And I wasn’t anyone’s puppet.  Relationships became real.  It was hard.  It was brutal.  It was amazing.  Authenticity.  Always.  I wrote little pieces of my story in this blog.  Somehow, I became lighter.  Somehow, I became free.  Thanks for giving me the courage to do that.  It wasn’t all amazing.  There was a little bit of backlash from people who cherish the façade of perfect, but I had the Bible and this fabulous book called, “Carry On, Warrior.”  And carry on we can.

And I had to carry on with people I wanted to run away from.  Harmful people, even the ones that are supposed to love you — even the ones that say they love you and ‘only want what’s best for you’– that are toxic to you — ouch.  When you stop doing everything they say, when you start wanting real, it can get so very ugly.  But I was, in a way, ready for this.  When I began going through therapy many, many years ago for a lifetime of abuse and abuse I was still wading through (I was still learning what was okay and not okay to accept from other people), I was diagnosed with depression and I was also struggling with an eating disorder.  I didn’t really understand the words or the flood of everything that was hitting me.  It was a torrent of — there really are no words — to wade and rage through.  I won’t get into all the details of my childhood and life with you right here, G, we’ll just say it was really crappy — and there are so many survivors of really crappy out there.  We moved around a lot and were secluded often when we stayed in one place — outside of the church.   My father thrived in the church.  In fact, my father’s “style” of parenting was championed as a zealous love for God.  This was holy.  This was my cross to bear for being the sinner that I was from birth to what ever age I survived to be.  I didn’t know any different.  So, the proverbial shit really hit the fan when I went to college and I began to see, to understand — that other families — moreover, that no other families — worked like mine.  It was a deep pit, crashing down, dizzy, numbing, painful, stuff.  Not that the living in it was butterflies and rainbows.  That was hell.  I wanted to die.  But I was afraid of the real hell (you know, the eternal one), and I was raised to believe that every good Christian knows that if you commit suicide you go to hell, right?  There were some days that I toyed with the notion of which hell could be worse, and I really don’t care who judges me for that.  You didn’t walk it.

There is something so substantially damaging about abuse — and I guess that should go without saying — but sometimes I feel the need to reiterate it as I don’t think we guard our precious ones enough in this world where it has become so fucking common place.  It becomes a regular part of your life — your day-to-day — your pattern — even how you see yourself.  It changes your infrastructure — your makeup inside.  And this abuse is most often coupled with psychological abuse — and the most damaging realization that follows you throughout your entire life — that your parents didn’t love you — the people who were meant to give you the unconditional kind of love resented the fact that you were even breathing.  I mean, there has GOT to be something intrinsically wrong with you, right?  It’s a horrific mind worm that one battles — rages against — constantly — and you pulled this little girl out of that so many times.  Let’s just say your book has been read seven times and counting (highlighted, written on, and folded pages — sticky notes of quotes are all over my home)…  You might get a chuckle out of this — even our Pete the Elf was involved in bringing back some of your quotes to my boys from the North Pole with their cookies and treasures.  The kid in me and my children are also inspired by you.  This momma needs them to know what she feels in her heart and cannot always say.  Thanks for giving me those words.  (My oldest has read “A Mountain I’m Willing To Die On” — still go back to that piece SO many times…).

I digress, I do this — a lot —

So, when you decide to go for real, for authenticity always — you need to surround yourself with light.  You are one of my constant lights.  Because you will hear a lot of crap.  When I first went on medication eons ago, just to put one foot in front of the other style — one comment my now husband heard during a Christmas gathering was, “Angie’s on Buspar?  You know I heard that’s what they give cocaine addicts in rehab.”  And after I had to make a clean break from my family to heal and, quite honestly, be SAFE, and I began to stand up for myself in other areas of my life that I hadn’t before — I was dealt comments like this one, “Look at all of the problems your family has.  None of your family talks to you.  Kind of makes me wonder.  Hmmmmm.”  And those comments?  I’d like to say I was super strong and flew right over them with grace and wisdom.  But I didn’t.  They set me back.  I doubted myself.  The negative voices that had literally been pounded into my head since infancy surfaced — you are just wrong.  Everything about you is WRONG.  You don’t have a right to your heart or to your voice.  Just shut up!  Then G, you know what you did?  You gave me my voice back.

And some of these people are still in my life.  Because they have to be.  But you have also taught me how to deal with that.  Because every part of me wants to just not have to.  Because I feel like I’ve had to deal with more than my share of mean and ignorant and narcissistic manipulation.  So I repeat this to myself, over and over again.  “I am confident because I am a child of God.  I am humble because I believe that everyone else is too.”  In fact, I made it into a magnet on my fridge.  I can appreciate these people in small doses, because there really is beauty in everyone.  There is.  I can find it.  And if I struggle, God can help me.  Some people have really pretty eyelashes — smile.  Everyone has their own journey.  Everyone is accountable for their walk.  Just as I am for mine.  God sees it all.  No one “gets away” with anything.  So I can appreciate and find beauty in everyone, I can view this beauty where and when I feel safe, but I don’t have to invite everyone to my dance party — because there WILL be dancing, G!  Thanks for getting this girl’s feet dancing again (currently Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” is our favorite groove)!

Trust the journey.  Three little words.  SO easy, and yet SO hard.  I have to trust MY journey.  Like going outside my front door journey.  Putting myself out there, only to get my heart broken again, get made fun of, shamed — but it’s okay.  Not because I’m strong, but because the light in me is.  And what ever happens, I’ll be okay.  Because, holy hell, I HAVE been.  I have survived.  And more than that, I have THRIVED.  And this life — it’s a freaking miracle.  Every single breathing day.  And the miracles we have in each other?  We’re all walking light houses of God’s love, baby.  Incredible, isn’t it? And so what if it isn’t pretty right now — at this very minute.   He makes all things beautiful in his time.  It’s been a verse I’ve always clung to.  But what do we do in the mean time?  And this “meantime” place is also where you’ve helped me hang, lovely one.  Yes, he makes all things beautiful in his time — and in this mean time, we are SO beautiful — SO beautifully and so wonderfully made — JUST AS WE ARE — so easy, and yet, so hard to grasp and understand for some of us.  And we have to just trust this journey.  And while we’re trusting, it’s really okay to enjoy it too.  Thanks for that.

And while I may always be a mess on this journey that I’m trusting, my mess doesn’t define me — I am so much more than all of this crazy — and I can use my crazy mess for good.  It’s kind of like my hidden super power — and on some days it’s not so hidden — ha!  It drives me inward, but it also drives me to care and that caring drives me to do.  So it’s all good.  In his time.  It’s all good.

And as my youngest’s name is Griffyn, so his nickname is G, and as I talk about you both so frequently (my Facebook posts are all about my Jesus, my family, my Glennon, and yoga), I’m sure this will be confusing to my very little family of readers at first.  And I laugh sometimes because you both are so much alike — it really is okay that I am comparing you to my six-year-old, isn’t it?  His heart is just so full of empathy and love for others and he is always sharing that — always — at school, home, the grocery store — where EVER we go.  The two phrases he says most often are that he wishes he could hug the WHOLE world, and that love is the answer for everything (which he frequently brings up while doing math homework as well).  He’s spreading his sunshine.  So really, ‘it ain’t nothing but a G thang…’

I know that you don’t know me and I really don’t know you, yet you have been such an incredible part of my life for so many years — and you continue to be.  You are one of the pieces to my puzzle — the people pieces that God puts in our lives to help us see the bigger picture more clearly.  And I love you and I pray for you — for strength, for courage, for peace — for all the big things, that really aren’t things — the soul things — that you have given me.  And I know you’re not perfect, and you’re not on a pedestal — those things are too tall and fragile and induce falling.  Nope, you’re in my heart — which is kind of a crazy place to be — but hey, there’s glitter, dancing, and sunshine in all of it too (and lots of coffee).  Love you, and thanks — for, well, everything. ❤

“When it’s dark, be the one who turns on the light.”

Joseph, Brooklyn, N.Y., age 9

365 Days Of Wonder

Mr. Browne’s Book Of Precepts

R.J. Palacio

PS — Just to let you know, the Seahawks won the pretend Superbowl game going on upstairs, which I only had to stop and referee twice — and I also unplugged one toilet whilst writing this letter.  Life with boys.  Reff-ing and unplugging things while outpouring my heart in thanks.  If that’s not a metaphor for life…

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