One day I was at the playground with a new church friend named Tess. Tess seemed distant and distracted, and I suspected that this was because her marriage was suffering. We hadn’t discussed our marriages though, because we were too busy addressing more important issues, like soccer practice and highlights and how fine and amazing and perfectly adjusted to life we both were.
Suddenly, I heard myself saying the following to Tess:
Tess, I’m a recovering bulimic and alcoholic. I was arrested several times during my drinking decade. Craig and I got pregnant before we were married. We love each other madly but I’m secretly terrified that my issues with sex and anger will eventually screw things up. I snap at him and my kids regularly. I feel like I always have rage right beneath my surface – like I’m a dormant volcano. And I think I have post- partum depression. Chase brought me a note yesterday that said, “I hope mommy is nice today.” Anyway, I just wanted you to know.
Tess stared at me so long that I wondered if she was going to call our minister or 911. Then her walls crumbled and she started telling the truth, too. Things with her husband were bad. Really bad. Tess hadn’t told anyone how terrified and hopeless she felt, because she was too embarrassed. But in that moment, Tess decided she wanted help and love more than she wanted me to think she was perfect.
The next few months were tough for Tess. There was therapy, separation, and plenty of anger and fear. But a little army of love circled the wagons around Tess’ family and blockaded anybody from getting in or out too far. And eventually, her marriage healed. I actually got to WATCH the truth set Tess’ family free.
Around that time, I started feeling an itch to do something meaningful outside of my home, but no one would have me because of my colorful past. First, we were turned away again and again when we tried to adopt. Then the nursing home I applied to rejected me after the dreaded background check. Finally, my interview at the abused women shelter seemed hopeful until the interviewer said, “I have to ask if you’ve ever been arrested.” I wearily told the truth, and I never heard from the shelter again. It’s hard to explain it away as only five times.
I was discouraged.
But then the Tess thing happened. And I thought . . . hmmm. Maybe I could volunteer myself to the world as a “reckless truth teller!” Because for some reason, hearing the truth about me seemed to make other women feel braver. And it struck me that for this particular “truth telling ministry,” my criminal record was a PLUS. It gave me street cred. That was it. I was going to make people feel better about their real selves by introducing them to my real self. No more masks, no more hiding, no more pretending.
A few days later my minister called me on the phone. My first thought was that Tess had ratted me out and that I was in big trouble. But my minister just gently said, “Glennon, I feel like the time has come for you to tell your story to the church. On stage. This Sunday.”
My husband went online to research whether or not he could be fired for having an ex-con for a wife. I planned my outfit.
Then I wrote my story, and on Sunday morning I read it to my church. I told them about my addictions and my Jesus and how He saved me from myself. I told them that when Jesus said I was forgiven, I believed Him, and that has made all the difference.
I told them about how people who’ve lived in dark, dark places truly appreciate the light. About how we close our eyes and soak Grace up, sunbathe in it… how we breathe in Grace each day likes it’s oxygen, because we remember what it feels like to suffocate. How we wake up each morning fully conscience of the miracle that once we were blind but now…HOLY COW… We can see! We can breathe! I told them that my addictions, my pride, my impatience, my insecurities and fears, they all make up my cross. And Jesus said “BRING IT, SISTER,” so I’ve decided to wear it on my back for all to see. And I said that the magical part is that my cross is not heavy at all, because I share it with others. Since I don’t hide my cross, other women see it, and offer to help shoulder the load. And any weight that’s leftover is on the back of God. I’m free as a bird.
After I was done speaking, there was some silence, and I was scared. But then the church broke out into thunderous applause. And people starting standing up, one at a time, and many of them were crying. There was a long standing ovation. A standing ovation for Jesus.
And I thought: Well, Well, Well. I didn’t really want to work at a nursing home anyway.
I’ve been telling the truth recklessly about myself and my Jesus at Momastery for a year now, and many other brave women have joined me. The Truth is setting us free, one day at a time.
By Glennon, at Momastery
Leave a Comment
I Live in an Antbed says
YES!!! The Truth does set us free! And when He sets us free, we are Free, indeed!
One of the most effective weapons of the evil one is shame. But when we confess and allow Him to Glorify Himself through our brokenness, it pulls the rug out from under the one who seeks our destruction.
Your testimony is filled with such Life and Victory in Him.
Thank you for pouring yourself out on the altar to serve His Body.
Yes, Jesus came to set the captives free and shatter those prison walls. Thank you for so bravely sharing your story of redemption. It is beautiful to see how God takes the things man means for evil and uses them for His good and His glory.
I too see the value in being “real” with the people around us. I have found at times that some peole don’t quite know how to take that, but that’s okay. I love what you said about grace. Thank you.
wow. wow. wow. thank you !!!!!!! we are free indeed! thank you.
thenk you for your honesty. we need to stop pretending. pretending that we are perfefect. its exhausting.
Teresa Neal says
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Just thank you!
Holley Gerth says
“My cross is not heavy at all, because I share it with others.” Those are grace-words that I’ll take with me, Glennon. You’re a woman of strength and courage who opens the door of freedom by sharing your story so others can walk through it.
Katie McNemar says
AMEN! Thank you so much for being transparent and “wearing your cross on your sleeve”. I write a blog and sometimes well-meaning people will tell me that a single gal shouldn’t talk so much about her past because it might scare guys off; or make me look weak, or look like I am victimizing myself. I used to sugar coat everything and say all the fluff, inspirational stuff that I thought a good Christian should say, but now, I talk about my struggles with depression, anxiety, my time in an abusive relationship and my struggles and doubts while I follow God. I find that the more scared I am to hit the “publish” button the more people I help and the more people support my honesty. The right man will love me for who I am and my willingness to preach of Jesus’ grace and mercy even if I have to tell painful, embarrassing stories in order to do so. Thank you again!
Dawn Dausman says
There is NOTHING more inspiring, more refreshing, more God-centered than the Truth. It does set you free. And everyone else too. Bless your candidness. This, too, is my aim t my blog ;). If I have a story that will allow someone else to be real with themselves, with God, I’ll share it. What do we have to lose in the sharing of our truth? Oh, that’s right, a facade of perfection. Because I’m so not. Thanks for being you.
Danita Goode says
Wow, God is amazing! This story pierced my heart and has encouraged me to look forward to FREEDOM once and for all!
Hugs you! Prayers for you! Thankful and heartfelt words: thank you for showing and sharing your scars, and for showing the Hand and the Grace that gave you healing. Your post had me reading and reading again…and it was heartening that you had a church family which was so open and let you share your testimony. Praying that I can find a church family like that one day…
Loved your words. Bringing our dirty laundry out in public to have Jesus wash out the stains is an incredible feeling. One I learned in February. Thank you for shining the light on God’s grace and redemption. The truth really has set me free and I desire that for every woman now that I’m no longer shackled by those chains of shame.
Thanks for sharing Glennon! And for putting some funny in there. I love it when I laugh and am in awe of God’s work in our lives at the same time 🙂 Blessings to you!!
They shall hear the truth and the truth shall set them free
This post has encouraged and inspired me! Thank you for being brave enough to be honest about the big things and the little things. I love the part when you talked about your son bringing you the note asking if you were going to be nice today. I think that’s something that resonates with all mom’s … we aren’t even remotely perfect… we don’t have it all together and the harder we try to pretend, the more damaging it is for ourselves and our families. God has used your honesty to heal and encourage!! Thank You!
Growing up a pastors kid, I felt that I had to hide EVERY misstep I ever took, and that has translated into adulthood for me. THANK YOU, for demonstrating not only the beauty of truth, but the way you have embraced and grown through it.
Oh my goodness. I love you. I adore you. You gave me more courage reading this post than anything in the last few weeks since the Relevant conference. It was there that I was prompted, rather sternly, by my Jesus to start sharing my festive past. I tried following you on Twitter and I see that you live near me! I look forward to reading more over at Momastary.
It is just thrilling to read all of your comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I wish I could invite you all over for tea tonight. I actually don’t drink tea, but I’d start if it meant we could sit on the couch in fuzzy socks and eat lots of cookies and get to know each other.
So much love to you wonderful ladies…
You go Glennon!
Anna See says
Thank you, Glennon! The truth does set us free. I am in awe of how God uses our vulnerability to break down walls. LOVE, A
Andrea@Flourishing Mother says
What a beautiful post. I loved every part of it. Isn’t it wonderful the ways He sets us free within the body of Christ? The many, varied ways. He is so good.
shelly @ Life on the Wild Side says
I wish there were more women like you in my life.
Julie H. says
Bring it, sister. For everyone to see all the LOVE that He is showing through you!
love. love. love.
Thank you for so freely sharing your story!
I love this line: “I told them that when Jesus said I was forgiven, I believed Him, and that has made all the difference.”
Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama says
This is an email someone sent me today about your post,
“Just wanted to let you know that I just can’t stop reading today’s incourage post. Over and over and over…
Thanks for sharing this with me. I would’ve gone my whole life and never had the privilege of reading these words…”
I couldn’t have put it better myself. We are blessed to have you share here with us Glennon. Sometimes I think I can see Jesus grinning proud through your words.
You are beautiful to us all.
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Glennon, Jesus shines beautiful and bright through you and your story. I love your expressions of not hiding your cross so when others help shoulder it, it’s no longer heavy. Stunning words and stunning truth.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I’m not a crier, but I’m in tears over the beauty of this. You’ve encouraged me to be a reckless truth teller to others as well. I don’t have it all together. I didn’t have any arrests and the one time I was charged my roommate’s lawyer got them dropped, so it’s easier to hide my alcoholic past. The broken arm and finger healed from that time, and I was never caught doing things that would/should have led to arrests. Because of that, my facade can hide it all well, but that ain’t real.
Now I have some chronic health conditions, and my docs don’t think they’re related to the alcohol or bulimia in my past, but I still wonder some days. A lot of folks think I’m – in your words – fine and amazing and perfectly adjusted to life. I think it’s time that I ‘fess up that I’m not BUT that God is oh so sufficient and that He can handle it.
In other words, thanks for sharing. 😉
oh yes…this is real, true gospel stuff here. this is following in the way of Christ, hanging naked and broken on a tree in full view of the world. thank you for daring.
the truth…well, it sets us free, doesn’t it? i rejoice with you in this wonderful freedom, open and bare before the world, covered in the grace and peace of Christ.
well done, sister.
Wow! It’s amazing how God speaks to us and he has done so through this post. I have and still struggle with issues from my past. I had my first child at 17 and my second at 21. I was a single mom and went through a season of partying before surrendering to God. Shortly after I met my husband who adopted my youngest daughter and loved me despite my past. We added 2 boys to our family and I have been blessed to stay home and raise my 4 children. Despite God forgiving me and giving me all my heart’s desires, I have felt like I have been “stuck in mud.” Shame, guilt, insecurities, thought’s of “if people only knew my past….” have hindered my growth in freedom. I have felt like God has been saying to me, “Now spread your wings and fly so others can see the work I have done in you .” You said something in your post that really stuck out to me, “I’m free as a bird.” How can I point others to God if I stay stuck in my insecurities? I can’t and your story inspires me to open up and let it go. Thank you so much for being “real” and honest with your readers. I love your blog and cried reading your story. Yesterday I found this song and cried because this should be my anthem song. It ‘s about God’s mercies and the freedom we have in him. Here it is, hope you enjoy! (It’s Jesus Culture’s “Freedom Reigns” )