Have you ever heard the Snow Patrol song How to Be Dead?

Snow Patrol, 2004

It’s about an intense conversation (read: a fight) between two people, one of whom is on drugs. They’re trying to work things out, but control issues and lies are getting in the way.

The song’s opening line is, “Please don’t go crazy if I tell you the truth.” This line haunts me, and I suspect it haunts all of us people-pleasers. And you know why, right? Because it’s the plea of our hearts. It’s what we would say if only we had the courage.

Please don’t freak out if I say how I truly feel. Please don’t fly into a rage if I disagree with you. Please don’t go crazy if I tell you the truth.

This request is so important. Even if it’s not honored, it’s valuable to ask for what we need. And what we really need is people who won’t shame us into silence.


We need people to whom we can say …

I love you, and I can’t make it to the party tonight. After the full day we’ve had, I am so exhausted that I can barely see straight. I understand that you’re disappointed, that you wish things were different. But the truth is that, in this moment, I have nothing left to give.


“When it comes to God and faith and religion, I have some hunches…but I only know two things to be true- 1. I am God’s beloved child. 2. So is everyone else.”
– Glennon Doyle Melton

I love you, and I can’t pretend to believe in the same God anymore. I can’t nod or say I agree as you expound on the ways in which your group is the only one with the keys to heaven. The last time I heard the phrase ‘eternal damnation’ spoken from the pulpit of a church, I regret to say that I didn’t leave right then. But today, I would.

You see, I used to believe in a God like that. I used to think that some people were ‘chosen’ and some people weren’t. I used to believe in a lake of fire. And all I can say is: that’s no way to live, because it’s not about love. Not at all.

Right here, right now, I can’t pretend to believe in a God that wouldn’t choose me in all my doubt, choose you in all your certainty, choose my friend who died of a heroin overdose eight years ago in all her confusion.

I can’t pretend to believe in a loving God who wouldn’t choose EVERY one of us.


I love you, and I believe in supporting the commitments and marriages of my gay brothers and sisters. I believe that wherever charity and love are found, there is God. And I believe in erring on the side of mercy in all things that I don’t fully understand. Which, from what I can see, is just about everything.

I also know that I need to take my own words to heart. I know that I am a hypocrite, that I have missed mercy and chosen judgment more times than I can count. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

And I’ve never seen my hypocrisy as clearly as when I listened to you speak against gay marriage. Because as I listened, I realized: I have unfairly judged people who hold this exact set of beliefs. I have secretly stereotyped them as harsh, bigoted, and unloving.

But the thing is, I know you. Though I disagree with what you’re saying, I know that you are kind and strong and compassionate.

And I’m not sure who told you to be afraid, but baby, I have a feeling it wasn’t God. I have a feeling that those who told you to fear the ‘gay agenda’ have some suspect agendas of their own.

So let’s talk about a Love agenda instead. Let’s kneel together and wash the feet of the people we fear.


Today’s the day.

I love you, and one of my core beliefs is that, in any situation, I might be wrong. So it’s okay if you think I’m off base here. Maybe you’re right! And I can live with that. I used to think that I couldn’t, but honey, both of us are stronger than we thought.

I love you, my friend, and I get that it’s scary for you when I write posts like this. But you can relax, because it’s not about you. It’s about me, finding my voice after years of silence.


“Both my shoulders are heavy from the weight of us both,” the Snow Patrol singer says. I know how that feels. I know the weight of burdens that were never mine.

You know what all that is, don’t you? It’s an instruction manual for how to be dead. It’s how you kill your true self: you bury it under the weight of what other people think you should be.

I am so scared to publish this piece. I’m really good at playing dead, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for choosing life. But I want to try. I do. So I am sending these words out in faith.

Please don’t go crazy if I tell you [my] truth.

Instead, tell me your truth. I’m listening.

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  1. rachel October 29, 2013 at 6:24 PM - Reply

    <3 i love you! (but you knew that already).

    other truths: sometimes i'm afraid i'm not being radical enough in advocating for others because i fight against a system where injustice is so ingrained that fairness is the anomaly and what is right never seems to surface. other times i'm afraid that my head is too far up in the clouds and i need to remember to work within the system i'm in, or else i'll never get anything done. other times, i want to dedicate all my free time to helping people who can't afford to pay for services they need, but then- at the same time- i also really want to watch tv.

    • Caroline McGraw October 29, 2013 at 7:29 PM - Reply

      I love you too! Thank you for sharing, dear friend. It does sound like a tricky balance to strike, and a hard question to answer: how can one be fair, kind, and effective as an advocate within the context of an unjust system?

      And after a long day (week / year) at work, it totally makes sense that you’d yearn for TV – we all need downtime. (When I worked at L’Arche, I was so spent on weekends that I mostly hung out with the Gilmore Girls.)

      But on the flip side, it can be tough to tell if TV time is really about relaxing, or if it’s about avoiding what we really want/need to do. In the latter case, I’m reminded of the Momastery post in which Glennon Melton wrote, “Do you want to know what the main thing is that keeps me from my writing? Do you want me to tell you THE NUMBER ONE OBSTACLE TO MY ART? Is it fear? Is it depression/angst/motherhood/wifedom/the paralysis of exposure? No. It’s not. It’s House Hunters International. And maybe ice cream.” 😉

  2. Marlana October 29, 2013 at 6:26 PM - Reply


    What a powerful message. Often we are so silent about what we think and feel out of the feeling of being judged or miss-understood and those that take it personally or out of context. I am so glad you did this piece as I recently had a major vent in a place I probably should not have done so but I was looking for support, help, love, understanding and some feeling of closeness with someone. I wanted those to see I am not the “strong” person that everyone sees me as having a severely disabled child. And that I have my weaknesses etc. I took a chance and although it was scary as h e doubly hockey sticks…I am glad I did it. And I don’t regret it either. Is there a way I could send this link to FB for those of my friend I know would totally get this and understand what is being said…and maybe even those that don’t always get it but may see what is being said and take it to heart?


    • Caroline McGraw October 29, 2013 at 7:32 PM - Reply

      Way to go, Marlana! So proud of you for sharing from your heart, scary as that can be. I really appreciate your comment, because it helps me to know I’m not alone in wanting to take a chance. Thank you for sharing the post as well!

  3. Marlana October 29, 2013 at 6:27 PM - Reply

    Found the share button.


  4. Renee October 29, 2013 at 7:27 PM - Reply

    A very brave post indeed, and so true. So many people stuff their true selves for fear of being judged or worse. There is no fear or judgment of you coming from my corner for sharing this post. It speaks to a lot of my own inner turmoil over things I wish I felt brave enough to share or to speak. Thank you for being vulnerable and opening yourself up to speak your truth. Namaste. ♥

    • Caroline McGraw October 29, 2013 at 7:33 PM - Reply

      Namaste, dear Renee! Thank you so much for that encouragement. When I started seeing comments coming in on this post, I was terrified — like, oh no, it’s out there, can’t take it back now! — but your words are so reassuring, as always. Thank you.

  5. Olga Jendrek October 29, 2013 at 9:05 PM - Reply

    I am God’s beloved child and so is everyone else. Glennon Melton’s statement — simple and true.

  6. Lydia Jones October 29, 2013 at 9:42 PM - Reply

    Thank you for giving yourself and others the strength and bravery to voice an opinion that is hard to say. An opinion that could sever relationships, that could open yourself up to derision, scorn, misunderstanding and false judgement by others.
    You’ve given me the strength to speak also.
    To speak about God and His loving nature that also is a caring nature, far above what we as humans can begin to understand. A love so great that He waits for decades, centuries for misguided people to come back to Him. To love one another, truly, by serving and submitting to other people’s needs. A God with the ultimate knowledge of us as His creation. God has in no uncertain terms has said that gayness (our terminology) is wrong. That to truly love and serve one another is to warn and guide people caught in this way of life back to God and to a way of life that is affirming, healthy, loving and productive toward life.
    Speaking against gayness is condemned in the harshest terms these days. People who truly believe in the words of a loving God cringe at the notion that they must speak about this topic because they know they will be thought of as “horrid people” with misguided thoughts, hatred in their hearts, and an unloving attitude. Love compels me to speak, and love will ultimately have it’s effects on people’s hearts.
    Thank you.

    • Caroline McGraw October 29, 2013 at 10:08 PM - Reply

      You are most welcome, Lydia, and I want to thank you too; as you say, it takes a lot of courage to voice an ‘unpopular’ conviction or dissenting opinion. Many people I love and respect feel and believe as you do, that “gayness … is wrong.”

      As I read your words, I’m reminded of these song lyrics my husband often quotes to (OK, sings at) me: “There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, there’s only you and me, and we just disagree.” You said it so well in your comment: it’s all too easy for people who disagree to vilify one another, and I love that you haven’t done that with me. (Quite the opposite, in fact.)

      This is such a moment for me, just sitting here and typing these words to you, because I finally know — in that deep-down way — that we don’t have to agree to love one another. It feels like I’ve waited my whole life to know this simple truth. Thank you again, dear Lydia.

      PS – Just in case it’s of interest, here’s the most helpful post I’ve found in addressing the question, “How can Christians believe in the authority of Scripture [specifically, Genesis 19, Leviticus 18 & 20, Romans 1, I Corinthians 6, and 1 Timothy 1] and also support committed gay/lesbian relationships?” http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/matthew-vines-video

  7. Ali October 30, 2013 at 9:00 PM - Reply

    Dear friend,
    I just had a moment to read this more closely, and wanted to say: thank you for choosing to live fully by being and sharing who you are and all the wisdom you’re coming to know through this life. Your courage inspires me to try and do the same, as I too know intimately the way a people-pleasing nature can cripple you with anxiety until you shrink and hide in the face of any possible conflict. I am striving to be braver in sharing my feelings, questions, and beliefs, especially when I see someone being marginalized or stigmatized or just misunderstood. Thank you for affirming my desire to get better at that by being open in your own struggles and triumphs to do the same. Love you!

    • Caroline McGraw October 30, 2013 at 10:04 PM - Reply

      That means so much, dear Alli — thank you. It is so encouraging to hear that the heart of the post came through, as it was a tough one to put out there — I revised it so many times before pressing publish, hoping that the courage you described so well was what people would remember and carry with them into their own struggles. You, love you!

  8. Oscar Valenzuela October 31, 2013 at 4:33 PM - Reply

    You are courageous, indeed, to post this. Passing judgement is God’s job. Ours, I believe, is to love. Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.”
    Up until a few years ago, I was very quick to judge…until I had a personal revelation that really shook me up. Then, I realized that I was spending a lot of precious time in judgment. What a waste. Relationships are so much easier now. Opinions are based on our education, upbringing, life experiences. Is it any wonder that we all have different opinions? And…over time, they may evolve and change. Its easier to accept another’s opinion than to spend time trying to change them. I don’t have to agree, but its not my job to change them either.
    Anyway, you are on the right track. Keep it up. Share with us. We are better for it.

    • Caroline McGraw October 31, 2013 at 5:09 PM - Reply

      Couldn’t have said it better, Oscar — “Our [job], I believe, is to love.” And I can definitely relate to that moment of revelation you describe — it is such an eye-opening moment, such a relief.

      Thank you so much for your sharing and affirmation, and I promise to keep on writing! Blessings to you.

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