Did you know that Charlotte has traffic jams on Sundays? Me neither. I might have known this if I were the sort to occasionally go to church in one of the ritzy parts of town, apparently. Sunday CHURCH traffic jams, y’all.
I almost didn’t go Sunday morning. The announcement came so late in the week, and it was all so low key I could hardly believe it. GLENNON DOYLE MELTON in CHARLOTTE? THIS SUNDAY? In case you don’t know, Glennon recently hit the big time. Of course, like all groupies, I like to say that “I was there before,” when she was just a (treasured gem of a) mildly popular blogger. Except I wasn’t, really. She was already getting big when I found her. Now she’s serious big time. 60,000 followers. Author. Amazon best seller before her book even went on sale. Mostly, I’m incredibly jealous and bitter about it because WHEN IS IT MY TURN, but in my better moments I’m also very happy for her.
And she came to Charlotte.
So I was not at all surprised at all the traffic that morning, or I wouldn’t have been except… it wasn’t Glennon traffic. It was Jesus traffic. Since when is HE more popular than Glennon? I mean, these appear to be people who go to church every Sunday for some reason. And they were all dressed up.
(That morning, getting ready for the visit, I debated whether to wear sweat pants to show solidarity for people who can’t remember to get dressed in the morning, or to over-accessorize to show solidarity with people who over-dress to compensate for insecurity. I ended up settling on getting dressed in what felt comfortable to me in solidarity with people who get dressed in what feels comfortable to them. What feels comfortable to me is either barn clothes or business casual and I decided on the latter which was PERFECT since apparently nobody goes to church in Meyer’s Park wearing barn clothes. Who knew?)
So I’m driving through all this traffic to Christ Episcopal Church which is this great big church in a ritzy historic part of town, and there are all these fancily dressed folks and they’re lining the streets with their cars, wearing their “Sunday best,” and walking into this ginormous historic church building with their little girls in frilly-but-conservative dresses, and I’m thinking: “What on earth do they all come here for every Sunday?”
I’m pretty sure this isn’t even really the main sanctuary, and also I don’t think I was supposed to be taking pictures… nobody else was. I tried not to get caught at it. Maybe that’s what everybody else was doing too. All of us secretly taking pictures of the event thinking, “Why isn’t anyone else taking pictures? Glennon is HERE.”
And then I found myself a nice, nearly-front-row seat and waited. And this is where I have a teensy confession to make: I was waiting to find out if it was true. I’m sorry, Glennon.
You see. Sometimes Glennon’s stories are so OUT THERE it’s just a wee bit hard to believe. And then there were the haters… and I read them… pages and pages of them… I didn’t stop myself even when I felt myself getting sucked down. But mostly, it’s just hard to believe that anybody can possibly be that beautiful, that articulate, that GOOD, and also be successful and well-known. There’s gotta be a catch.
And so, when the low-key announcement came that Glennon would be in Charlotte, I almost didn’t go. Carey wanted to know why I wasn’t hyped up. I don’t know, I said. I guess I’m taking the news of her separation hard. Which is true. I’m taking it hard. It’s scary for me. I take these things personally, and it hurts so much. Never mind Glennon’s own suffering here, this is about ME. Stay focused. (I could write a whole blog entry about how hard it is to STAY WITH SOMEONE when they are suffering, and my own personal failings on that score, and my desire to be better about it… STAY FOCUSED. Wait. I kinda wrote about it already. Whew.).
But really what I was afraid of was HER. That she would be a glossed-up image of something holy. That she would be all the ugly bits covered over with botox and that I’d find out that the whole holy Momastery movement was a sham.
Or worse, that I wouldn’t be able to tell whether it was real or not. That I’d leave the event feeling “blah” and that would be the beginning of the end for me. The end of my passion for this enormous, amazing thing Glennon has been doing, this love revolution. I was afraid.
And so, I’m sorry to say, the reason I wasn’t “amening” out loud wasn’t just that I’m not brave enough. It was because I was waiting. I was watching to see if she was real. I was holding my breath and if I said “amen,” I’d have to let it all out. As Glennon talked, I watched her talk, all the while thinking, is she real? Is she real? Is she real?
For the record. She’s real. I’m the redhead on the left, the one who looks like she’s clinging on for dear life. Because I am. On the right is Glennon.
How can I describe that morning? Here is the best I could do that day, via Facebook:
Being in church with her today… it felt like a church I could stand to be in. One I could go to every Sunday and feel filled and holy. Holy holy holy–that is what it was.
She talked about God coming up like the sun every morning, the sun that she hated when she was drunk and bulimic and suffering because it reminded her how broken she was and she thought it was judging her every morning. And yet it still kept coming up. And then one day she got up from the bathroom floor and realized that God was just waiting for her to realize that he loves her, and that he was just going to keep showing up every morning just like the sun, whether she was ready or not.
The preacher/host called her a new Mother Superior and that is (I just realized this, just now) the moment at which I understood that she is real. I am proud that I led the laughter and the applause that rose up from his proclamation. Mother Superior!
She said that, every shred of evidence to the contrary, everything is well. All manner of things are well. (That is when I started to cry and just cry. I have said this, about “every shred of evidence to the contrary,” to myself and others at least a dozen times since. Remember this? Sometimes you need someone else to tell you what you know to remind you that you believe it.)
She talked about dirty silverware drawers, and pain, and building bridges and the hard work of making peace.
And then afterward I tried to meet as many others who were there for her as I could, I didn’t think I’d get to meet Mother Superior herself. And then for a moment, there she was. Right there. She hugged me like we were sisters and, when we got kicked out so they could start the children’s service, she grabbed my hand and led me to the fire escape and hugged me again before they whisked her away.
She said she knew me, and I told her my blog probably sent her one or two new readers every once in a while. I told her I had 45 followers. She said “More than Jesus!” and we both laughed.
Glennon is for real, and I think I’m beginning to understand why that feels so safe to me. We live in a scary world. No, Glennon said it better: I experience the world as an unsafe place.
I could explore why that is but it doesn’t matter. We all have holes. Holy holes, right, Glennon?
What matters is this. A world that holds someone like Glennon can also hold a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million and more like her. I don’t have to be afraid. I am not alone. All we have to do is find each other and hold hands.
And so. Maybe that is what it’s all about. Those funny Sunday morning traffic jams. Is that what it’s all about? Everyone looking for a Glennon, a Gail, a Katherine, a Marcia, a Jesus, everyone looking for a hand to grab and hold, a point of light, a soul to touch and be touched by? Hm. I think maybe it is.