Yesterday, lying back in stupefied alarm three chapters into The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I pushed pause on audible and fled to the internet where I read this and then this. I was surrounded by piles of laundry–indeed, they are all still there because I just walked away from them–succumbing to the initial doom headache of a cold, and, let us be honest, overwhelmed by discouragement. It was just the frame of mind to despair over everything, and to mourn the downfall of a funny and interesting writer. But truly, go read both pieces. Because they cast, each of them, a contrasting light, a vision of the Christian life that each single believer must choose between.
Glennon, you might remember, was launched to blogstar fame by a post called Don’t Carpe Diem. It was the winner of the Internet in its day. Even I, who never know what’s going on, read it and rejoiced. It was exactly what mothers struggling under the weight of their own expectations needed to hear. The blog was called Momastery and Glennon garnered to herself the religious devotion of thousands of women looking for permission to be authentic and real.
With her SoulCycle physique and glamorous, husky-voiced stage presence, she quickly established herself on the lecture circuit alongside Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, Cheryl Strayed, and Rob Bell (the pastor who wrote the best-selling Love Wins) in a roving wolf pack of acclaimed authors turned motivational speakers and ‘aspirational spirituality’ practitioners.
Rob Bell, you remember, still self identifies as a Christian. And so does Glennon. And that’s the problem. For the ever narrowing minority of people who have irrevocably fixed themselves to Jesus, who are held there however painfully by the power of the Holy Spirit, the kind of Christianity espoused by a goodly portion of the celebrity circuit just isn’t Christianity. I know it’s hateful to say, but Jesus isn’t about your personal self actualizing, self fulfilling, self focused love. Love doesn’t win when it’s you that you love the most. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Glennon, for all her ‘inloveness’ with Wambach, is most devoted to herself. She is the pearl, and she has sold everything to keep it.
And, if that were all, of course, it would be the usual person falling away. But human beings love to have people to adore, and American ‘Christianity’ has spent the last several decades indulging their ennui with the Bible by desperately seeking after superstars. The celebrity motif has come into full flower.
Don’t believe me? Then go back and mourn over this other telling and devastating moment in the piece.
Everyone else who cared about her said, ‘Don’t do this thing. You’re going to sabotage your life. Everything you’ve worked so hard for is going to be destroyed.’ ”
Oprah said, ‘Get ready. The bloodbath will be tomorrow,'” Melton recalls.
Melton’s fans took the news in stride; the bloodbath never came. “You deserve it, you Love Warrior, you!” wrote a reader from South Dakota.
So now go back and read the CT piece, to cleanse the pallet. I am not a very big fan of the Purpose Driven anything. But if you’re looking for an example of the Christian life–a good counter to Glennon’s, “They love me when I’m jacked up, when everything’s falling apart. They love me when I’m weak. Can they love me when I’m actually happy?.”–the testimony of Kay Warren is it.
It’s not that all the haters don’t want Glennon to be happy. It’s that happiness in this temporal, brief, ephemeral, wispy, often ridiculous existence is not the point, it’s not the end, it’s not the best and only way to experience love. You have to look past yourself and your suffering to seeJesus. And not the Jesus of this age, the Jesus who gives you everything you want right now. You can’t be the warrior, the winner of love against all odds.
No, indeed, rather than being the warrior, You are the one for whom Christ died, the one who devastates the earth through sin and self love, who has to be rescued not from unhappiness but from hell. The deep pain of the Christian faithful, obedient, long suffering life, the unfulfilled life, the life filled with longing, with unrequited love, with disappointment, with enduring with people you didn’t want to have to be with, and ultimately, of enduring with yourself–all that is caught up and held by a God who endured the totality of that shame and humiliation so that You, even you, could live forever.
That is love. The fanciful idolatry of Glennon Doyle Melton when measured up against the long suffering endurance of Kay Warren is the choice of every Christian. Don’t be fooled. The woman reaps what she sows. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy, but those who sow the wind won’t get anything back but a destructive whirlwind on the last day.