Thursday, March 29, 2012


Dear child-of-my-heart,

Today you came to me sad and I wanted to comfort you. Your friends spoke of owning things you do not own, watching movies you do not watch, going to places you do not go, and wearing things you do not wear. Even in the telling, they spoke in ways you do not speak. You were feeling very sharply your “otherness” today.

But what comfort can I give you? How can I pull the sharp thorn of comparison from your tender flesh? Mothers don’t like to see their children hurt. My own heart wants to find the shortest path to the removal of your pain, a pain that spills over on to me because I remember being thirteen. And because I know you are being singled out for boundaries you did not set.

Should I comfort you by giving you the things that separate you from the well-provided, worldly-wise woman-girls at the lunch table? Not everything you do not have right now is a “no” – some things are just a “not yet”. So I might revisit what you’re ready for, not because I want your friends to like you, but because I want to give right things at right times. Your friends would have you believe that being different is an unbearable state, but I would have you believe otherwise.

Sweet child, study the way you are feeling today. Because I love you, I ask this of you: lean into your “otherness” – learn the contours of its face, feel out the steady grip of its hand. Because I intend it to be your lifelong companion. It is a truer friend than those who surround you now. More than I want your comfort I want you to be an alien and a stranger. You are beginning to understand what that means – that not-fitting, that dissonant chord, that unease in the midst of ease that has been the faithful travel companion of the children of God for millenia. And I rejoice in the faithfulness of the God who is showing you this truth.

Here is what you must come to see: what the lunch table calls your enemy I call your friend. “Otherness” is a sensation not to be dulled or diminished but to be cultivated and cherished. So though it goes against every mothering instinct, I will not pull the thorn from your flesh, not because I want to withhold comfort, but because there is no true comfort in a lie. This world is not our home. We are sojourners, travelers on our way to the only true comfort the human heart can know. I will not help you populate your life with things that lessen your grip on this reality.

Because I love you, yes. But because I love your Heavenly Father above all else. And I will give an account to Him for whether I have raised citizens of Earth or citizens of Heaven.

I pray for you – do you know how much? – I pray for you to be able to say with David that the boundary lines have fallen for you in pleasant places. It is not a mindset that we reach with ease. But it is the mindset of someone who has learned the safety and joy of “otherness”. I am willing to give you the years you will need to learn this truth. I am trusting the Father to show you the comfort of being called His own. There is no real comfort besides this.

I could not love you more.

Love, Mom

"LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Psalm 16:5-6


  1. Thank you for writing this. I appreciate the wisdom you have to offer to new moms like myself.

  2. Wow, tears...funny how we fight our otherness even in our forties :) Leaning in....

  3. Beautiful Jen. I love this. It reminds me of the verse in Hebrews, "If they had been thinking about the country from which they came, they would have had opportunity to return, but as it was, they desired a better country, a heavenly one. And God was not ashamed to call them His own." Life in Christ is a long embrace of our 'otherness.' Thanks for writing!

  4. This is so so so good! Perfect timing as we begin this walk with our almost 9 year old girl. Thank you! Hug your daughter and tell her some Iowa people really are appreciating your example today!

  5. Thanks Jen...this hits very close to home! :)

  6. Love reading your blog! Thank you for sharing this.

  7. this is amazing!!! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  8. What great wisdom here. I was thinking that I wish I had had this wisdom when my son was younger, but I'm realizing I still need it mothering a twenty-something.

  9. My husband found your blog via The Gospel Coalition. My 13 year old daughter and I have begun your Sermon on the Mount Bible study and are learning new things each day. Please be encouraged to know that your blog is making a difference.

    1. Thank you, Susan - that is very kind. Blessings on you and your sweet daughter!

  10. i love going back to re-read your blogs. These are amazing things to sit on and think through for our children and us

  11. this is beautiful.I read through once, as to my child--and re-read as from the Father to me--I needed this Truth today

  12. This had to be straight from the Lord for me today. My daughter is very unhappy with an "otherness" decision we are making for her right now. It's breaking my heart to see her so unhappy and blaming me for it. I don't want to lose her by saying yes, and I don't want to lose her by saying no. Sharing your blog with her will help express the true focus we all need to have in making all our decisions. Thank you!