Ugly Cries and Radical Self Care





This afternoon I sat in my minivan and had an ugly cry.  


Several church plant related issues coalesced into a crashing wave of frustration and doubt.


Did God really call us to do this?

Where is this vibrant community He gave us vision for?

Did we make the right choice for our family?

These questions and more tumbled out of my mouth and met my tears on my steering  wheel this cold, spring afternoon. 

I may have spent hours parked on the curb outside out apartment complex—I didn’t know nor did I care, but as I checked my phone to see how long I shirked my responsibilities as mama to have a pity party, this story pop up in my Facebook notices. Deciding that my family could survive ten more minutes with out me, I read it.

Best. Ugly cry. Remedy. Ever!

Anne calls God “Dude”, I think He’s so boss!  

He showed up right in the midst of my frustration through Anne’s words.  I laughed with and at her because found myself in her frazzled, confused, snarky re-telling of when frustration and faith met in a parking garage. 


This story was a balm to me.


Sitting in the aftermath of her story, I realized radical self care is accepting that for whatever reason, in this season of church planting, I’ll be prone to emotional hot messiness. I’ll have ugly cries and salt my prayers with nearly blue swear words.  I’ll wonder “why” more than I’ll praise God with a hearty “wow”.  I’ll struggle with loneliness even though I’m called to cultivate a community.  I’ll need faith and frustration to meet more often. I’ll need Jesus to be so boss everyday.


I accepted it, vowed to let Him in while I’m struggling, and then… I got a pedicure—even though snow was lightly dusting the ground.


I hope this story is a balm to your heart too…



This is a true story. A Status Update by Anne Lamott


I have been doing a bunch of radio interviews to promote the coming paperback edition of Some Assembly Required, and so was in San Francisco recently. There was no street parking to be found, so I parked in an underground garage. I stuck the ticket in my wallet, went and did the interview, came back to the car, and got ready to leave.

But I couldn’t find my ticket. It wasn’t in my wallet. I looked for it there, again and again, but couldn’t find it, so I rifled through my purse. The ticket wasn’t there, either. I took everything out of the purse, put it on the passenger seat, and pawed through it, like a Samuel Becket character.

Sighing loudly, I looked everywhere it could have fallen–the console between the front seats, the ashtray, the floor, the glovebox. Then I got out, exasperated with myself. I am getting so spaced out.

I don’t want to be put in a home yet!

After a minute, though, I remembered Rule One: radical self-care. Militant and maternal kindness to one’s own time-consuming and annoying self. 

I gave myself some encouragement, all but sang, “You can do it Cinderelli, Cinderelli.”

I bent in, and examined every spot in the front seat. I sat in both seats so I could skootch them backwards, and then beneath. It was a CSI car exam. Then I did the back seats. I frisked myself again. Looked through my wallet, and then my whole purse, again.

Finally, I decided to try and talk my way out past the guy in the exit booth. I mean, I do this for a living. I started the engine and headed toward the exit, passing a small man in a garage uniform on foot. I rolled down my window, and said, “Can you help me? ‘I’ve lost my ticket.”

He threw up his hands. “It’s 38 dollars.” I thought he was punking me at first, so I beamed, since we were now co-conspirators in the playful game.

“I know–but can you help me? I’ve been here less than an hour.”

He shook his head. “It’s 38 dollars for a lost ticket. All lost tickets. 38 dollars.”

I said I understand that, but I just really needed his help.

“No one can help you,” he said, like a voice from the crypt.

I wanted to smack him. Then I spoke verrrrrrry slowly, to help him grasp the nuances. “I’ve only been here fifty minutes. But I’ve lost my ticket, and I just need you to help me explain this.”

He spoke verrrry slowly, too, to help me better understand: “No…one…can…help….you.”

My entire childhood flashed before my eyes. I thought I might begin tearing at the flesh on my forehead.

“Okay,” I said coldly and began rolling up my window.

“No one could even help my BOSS,” he said. “My BOSS would have to pay 38 dollars.”

I nodded. I felt very crazy, victimized, misunderstood. I drove twenty feet, and then pulled over. I got out of the car. I frisked myself again, like Joe Friday. I bent in and examined the car, under the seats, the console, every fucking square inch of the tear. I got back in.

Maybe twenty minutes had passed. And then I remembered something–that I believe in God, in divine assistance, for the frazzled and mentally challenged, like myself. So I hung my head, and prayed.

I said, Look, God. I’ve got a problem. I’ve tried everything, but now I need you to step into this. Help me be okay with having to pay the 38 dollars; help me know that I need to do better next time, and keep better track of things. It would be great if we could somehow together find the ticket, but otherwise, help me not be such as Ass Hat. help me be a good sport, and just pay.”

After a minute, I started laughing quietly, sort of with and at myself simultaneously, gently. When I opened my eyes, there, on the floor of the passenger seat, was the little blue ticket.

“Oh, my GOD, Dude,” I said to God. “You are such a show-off.”

Then I drove to the exit booth, paid my five dollars, and dove up the ramp to the sunlight.



So good right? I hope to read and review, “Help, Thanks, Wow” here soon.  If you’d like to join in the discussion, then join below.

Love y’all and my newly painted muted grape toes,


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5 thoughts on “Ugly Cries and Radical Self Care

  1. Laughter through tears is just the best medicine! I did both. Thanks for sharing that story! I really enjoy hearing God's children being brutally honest in their words and thoughts. Rob Bell wrote in his latest book, what most Christians needs is a good "no B.S." zone to express themselves honestly. I love it.

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