Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I am currently reading Glennon Melton's memoir, Carry On, Warrior:  The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life. Glennon is all about telling the truth as she sees it, living honestly with herself, endeavoring to match her "outside" self to her "inside" self.

Three pages into the book, she writes:

"Then, one day I was at the playground with a new friend from church named Tess. I suspected that Tess was having trouble in her marriage. We hadn't talked about this, though, because we were too busy talking about more important things, like soccer practice and highlights. I felt frustrated that our conversation never went deeper. We seemed incapable of discussing the very things that were most important to discuss.

"Lost in my frustration, I started thinking about all the time and effort I'd spent building protective layers between my broken heart and the broken world. I considered the ways I'd distanced myself from other people - people who might hurt me more than I was already hurting. People who might be disgusted if they saw the real me. My fear of really being seen had driven me to hide inside the bunker of addiction for decades. When I finally crawled out, I pulled on my secrets and shame like armor and carried my invulnerability like a weapon. Life, to me, had always seemed like a battle to survive. But there at the playground, I realized that surviving wasn't enough anymore. Sitting there with Tess, I realized I wasn't really sitting there with Tess at all. There were so many layers of my armor and her armor between us that we couldn't touch each other. And even if we'd wanted to, we couldn't have gotten close enough because we were shooting each other with stories about our 'perfect' lives.

"Suddenly, this all seemed completely ridiculous."

Glennon decided then to put down her armor, put down her weapons, and, in her words, "walk out onto the battlefield of life naked." She started telling the truth - about herself, her family, her marriage, her life in this broken, messed up, "brutiful" world.

A few of my thoughts as I read Carry On, Warrior:

First, Glennon is a wonderful writer and story teller. I disagree with much of her theology/philosophy, but I appreciate her candor. I appreciate the fact that she is willing to say - yes, life is hard, and sometimes it doesn't make sense - without having to try to explain why bad is not so bad and painful is not so painful. Yet, she writes about difficult realities with a definite spice of joy and humor. The chapter about the time she wore a new padded yoga top to the gym, with the tags still on it, will make you snort coffee out your nose and is worth the cost of the book. "Easter," the chapter in which she shares a painful letter to her husband about the lack of intimacy and the frustration she feels concerning their crumbling marriage, should be required reading for every man on the planet.

Second, I think Glennon must have an extremely brave family. In the dedication at the front of the book, Glennon tells how her mother came to her and confessed how painful and confusing it was for her to read Glennon's stories, how scary it was for her (Glennon's mother) to have these stories shared with friends and strangers. And yet, her mother tearfully encouraged Glennon:  "I am so proud of you. I am in awe of what you and God have done together. You have to tell your stories. This is what you were meant to do. Don't stop telling your stories, Honey." That is one brave Mama.

The courage of Glennon's family - her parents, her husband, her children, her friends - astounds me, because inevitably, Glennon's truth-telling about the mess in her own life means exposing the truth about some of the mess in theirs. And yet the stories are told from Glennon's perspective, her point-of-view/experience:  Tish and Bubba and Craig are not the writers, and they don't get to interject their sides of the stories into Glennon's manuscript. I am completely awed by the love and courage demonstrated by the people closest to Glennon as they encourage her in her resolve to walk "naked" onto the battlefield of life, because this means that they, too, must at times stand naked beside her. They love her and value her work enough that they are willing to do just exactly that, as painful and scary as that may be. Wow.

While Glennon is refreshingly honest about the messiness - and the beauty - of life in a fallen world, you will not find sound biblical doctrine on which to build your life in Carry On, Warrior. On the contrary, you'll encounter a jello salad of Christianity-for-me, new-age spiritualism, and eastern mysticism.

But Glennon openly admits that the point of her writing is not to say "Here is how you make sense of it all" - but rather, to say "You are not alone. You have value. This life is hard, but it is also worth living. I understand your struggles and I will stand with you." That, my friends, is huge. She offers a soft shoulder to cry on and a warm heart with which to share life's hilarities. She is a warrior on the battlefield, giving generously of herself to encourage other warriors who dare to show up for life.

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