Dear Beautiful Human Beings in the LGBT Community,

I am at a loss as to how to begin. I have written and rewritten this in my head dozens of times since Sunday morning when we woke up to hear that over one hundred members of your community were slain and slaughtered. One hundred beautiful fellow human beings. I’ve wrestled and wept and prayed and questioned whether I had the right to even write this at all, and I truly don’t even know where to begin now that I need to translate those thoughts into words on my screen. But here goes…

I’m sitting here in my closet. Weeping. My bathroom hand towel (my regular go-to tear absorber whenever my heart is overwhelmed) is drenched, my stomach is sharply twisting in knots, and my tired eyes are puffy and red from the sobs. My heart is raw. My chest is heavy. I can hardly eat and can barely speak. I’m curled up on the stained carpet in my darkened walk-in closet. Alone. Accompanied only by my tears and my pleas and my prayers.

In my closet. My closet. Alone. The irony isn’t lost on me. I know it’s a place familiar to you, because it’s where we’ve relegated you. We as a society. As a community. And worst of all, as a church. You’ve been forced to hide there. To cry there. To be alone there. Accompanied only by your tears and your pleas and your prayers. And while my own tears are genuine and my heart pain is real and my thoughts are heavy and almost too much for actual written words, I know—please hear me—I know that they are no match for the volume of tears you’ve shed and the heart-wrenching pain you’ve curled up in while lying on the floor of your own metaphorical and literal closet.

So I’m here now with my laptop open, my 38-year-old Christian, suburban, white, straight, married self and mother of eleven (that’s a whole other story), writing to you. I hope you will hear me. I haven’t earned the place, I don’t deserve your ear, and you have no obligation to listen or even take me seriously. I get that. I give you that. No, scratch that. I can’t give what is already rightfully yours to deny. But I hope in your mercy you will allow me anyway to give this a go. (The injustice that I should expect you to give me mercy. I almost can’t even. Deep breath. Jesus.)

But this letter isn’t about me. I’m not the point. So I am coming to you with my hands extended—”just as I am,” as we like to traditionally sing, humbly asking you to accept my apology. My sincerest apology.

I’m so, so sorry. Not in the triteness of a 5-year-old’s forced apology for taking what didn’t belong to him or calling a friend a mean name, but a genuine, Oh-my-God-what-have-we-done, Father-forgive-us-we-know-not-what-we-do apology.

Because I’m. So. Sorry.

Now I know you’ve heard it before and it probably has never held much weight. And I don’t blame you at all. But maybe, just maybe, this apology can somehow by some prayer by some miracle of God’s love hold a little heavier in your heart than a pitiful, patronizing “you poor thing” spurred only by tragedy. Maybe, just maybe, you can receive this from me. From us.

I’ve been in the Christian “world” my entire life. My parents were ministers, I’ve always loved Jesus, and since I was a little kid have read the Bible with a passion to truly understand love, redemption, and what it looks like to live as humans loved by our Creator. I grew up in a left-leaning home politically (no pigeonholing us!), and one that embraced those on the fringe in society. I never learned to hate you, to fear you, to push you away. So when the church began to, I truly didn’t understand. I couldn’t fathom it or reconcile it with the Jesus I know. It has always, always made me angry.

But that’s irrelevant. Because not only am I making this about me again (why do we tend to do that in our apologies?!), but because I belong to a much larger family—the family of God—that does exactly what Jesus didn’t do, that has learned to hate you, fear you, push you away. My family, Christians, have by and large rejected you. And I am so, so sorry.

As I was pouring out my weeping heart to my husband earlier this evening (I tend to do this), I told him that I don’t know what God is doing in me, why I am so broken and torn over this tragedy in Orlando more than any other, why I have been experiencing for the last several months such acute sadness and sheer sorrow for the treatment of transgendered persons and the ostracization of the entire LGBT community, why I feel so convicted and remorseful, why I am grieving so deeply for an entire people group. But I believe that maybe it’s God crying his tears through my eyes on behalf of all Christians, because I’m feeling a physical pain that won’t subside and an overwhelming need to ask you to forgive us. It’s like a fire in my bones, and I can’t keep silent. Perhaps God has been stirring this in me so that I could write this today to post for you as you weep even now in this moment in history. Perhaps it is “for such a time as this.”

I can’t believe what we’ve done to you. I can’t believe we’ve left you out. I can’t believe we’ve told you NO. I can’t believe we’ve okayed that. But we have. And I can’t believe that even though I never set out to intentionally hurt you and never spoke a word directly against you and never overtly told you you aren’t welcome in my family, in my church, in God’s Kingdom, I’ve sinned against you by omission. I’ve left you out. I never grabbed you by the hand and brought you in. I never went out of my way to say directly to your face that YOU ARE WELCOME HERE. You belong. Because if I belong, so do you. And I haven’t placed the priority on that to let you know. I haven’t made it a priority to let you know you matter. So I’m here to say I’m so, so, sorry.

I wish I would have known sooner. I wish I would have seen. And to be clear, my own blindness is not your fault. You have been letting us know for decades. And it’s not that we didn’t know you were there. Or that you didn’t get our attention in appropriate ways. We were simply too self-focused to pay attention, and when we did, we didn’t care. We were too self-righteous to accept you. So we dismissed you. We feared you. We turned you away in disgust. And so I’m here to speak for us all and apologize.

I think it’s just like this. I have eleven kids. (Like I said, that’s a whole other story.) We live in a neighborhood with a ton of kids, kids who are always playing together outside, in a field, at our house, on our driveway, and at each other’s homes. If one day I found out that my kids had been excluding a boy down the street, that they had told him he can’t come to our house, that he can’t play here, that he isn’t allowed in our home while all the other neighborhood kids were welcome, that he can’t play with our family, as a member of this family (and especially as the mom), I would be livid. Absolutely livid at my family. And I would ache for that sweet little boy, for the rejection he’s experienced and pain he’s been living with, pain brought on my members of my own family. I would ache so deep an ache that I wouldn’t stop there—I couldn’t.

As soon as I made this discovery, as soon as my eyes were opened to this injustice and hurt, I would do two things: First, I would go to my kids and tell them how awful it is what they’ve done; how they’ve hurt an innocent boy who just wanted to be their friend, who just wanted to play, who just wanted to be treated as any other, who just wanted to belong. I would scold them and correct them and make it very clear to them how awful and unacceptable their treatment of this child is. That no one deserves that kind of rejection. That he has just as much right to our home and family as any other neighborhood kid. And that I don’t care how different they think he is.

But next? I would go to him. I would go so fast to him and tell him how so very sorry I am that members of my own family hurt him so deeply. I would listen to his pain and see his tears and offer my apology. I wouldn’t blame him for not fitting in; I wouldn’t tell him to change; I wouldn’t try to explain away the injury. I would apologize. Genuinely and deeply apologize.

So to you, beautiful people in the LGBT community, I am here as a member of God’s family, extending my heartfelt apology to you, our neighbors, asking you to forgive us, begging you to give us the mercy our family has failed to give you.

I’m so, so sorry.

I’m sorry our sorrys ring hollow.

I’m sorry it’s taken a tragedy to wake us up from our self-induced slumber.

I’m sorry we’ve shut the doors to the church to you because in our arrogance we’ve thought you less than us.

I’m sorry that it’s been “us vs. them.” Versus you.

I’m sorry that we haven’t called you to the shared table.

I’m sorry we’ve offered condemnation which contradicts any messages of love.

I’m sorry that we’ve pointed out what we see as flaws in you when really we just don’t want anyone to see the flaws in us.

I’m sorry we’ve been the worst of hyprocrites.

I’m sorry we’ve blamed you for our failed marriages as if your civil rights somehow impact our own.

I’m sorry we’ve charged you with the moral decay of society.

I’m sorry we’ve made a part of who you are reason to reject you in your entirety.

I’m sorry we don’t make sense.

I’m sorry we’ve told you that you have to change before God will accept you, when Lord knows most of us are quite comfortable not changing at all.

I’m sorry we’ve denied you the right to worship at the altar of God when we know it’s only by grace that we are there in the first place.

Izzy beach

I’m sorry that we sing about “wave after wave” of God’s love sweeping over us while leaving you watching from the shoreline.beach

I’m sorry that we couldn’t have cared less.

I’m sorry that we have been selfish with God’s mercy. That we want all the forgiveness in the universe from God but ask for none from you.

I’m sorry that we haven’t been sorry.

I’m sorry that you’ve had to convince yourself that life is worth living.

I’m sorry that we’ve played God by shutting the door to the Kingdom of Heaven in your face and making it hell for you on earth.

I’m so, so sorry.

I’m sorry that we claim to love you but ignore you when you say you don’t feel it.

I’m sorry that we’ve made you hide in dark places and seek God on your own to the point that you question if God is even there and if he is if he really loves you or thinks you’re worth anything.

I’m sorry that we have treated you less than human.

I’m sorry you’ve had to be brave when you only wanted to be yourself.

I’m sorry that we have cared more about rules and interpretations and behaviors than actually really caring.

I’m sorry that you don’t feel safe.

I’m sorry that you live in fear.

I’m sorry that we’ve turned our churches into clubs.

I’m sorry the name of Jesus has been used to exclude you while we sing about the name of Jesus, oh the name of Jesus, being the sweetest name we know.

I’m sorry our often pitiful behavior has made you want nothing of the Jesus we claim to follow.

I’m sorry.

I’m so, so sorry. Please forgive us. Often, as Jesus pointed out, we just do not know what we do.

And I know it’s never enough to make up for the pain for the hurt for the loss for the fear for the rejection for the confusion and doubt and depression and anger and loneliness. It’s not enough.

But I’m sorry nonetheless.

There’s nothing you need to say in return. Nothing that you owe us. Nothing we are expecting you to do. But I hope you can receive this, and in even the smallest way, I pray it starts to heal a place deep inside of you.

And let me speak on behalf of the family of God and all of my brothers and sisters, most especially when they’ve we’ve not represented the family well, I hope that you know just how much I truly care and want you in. I want you in the door. We want you in. WE WANT YOU ALL IN. EVERY. LAST. ONE. OF. YOUR. VALUABLE. PRECIOUS. BEAUTIFUL. SELVES.

And I hope, finally, that the truths in this song penetrate to the very core of who you are, that you know (as my 14-year-old daughter and regular and vocal advocate for you sang from our church stage tonight) that God’s love is a wave crashing over you, that he is for you and not against you, and that he makes you brave. The “champion of Heaven” has “made a way for ALL to enter in.”

Thank you for listening. Thank you for not giving up on us. And thank you for being you.


Come on out and come on in. Come join us in the waves. Because nobody—NOBODY—belongs in a closet.

And, you are so truly loved. Out there on the shore and way out here deep in the waters. You are loved.


-heidi, a follower of Jesus trying her best in Tennessee




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[Edited 4/23/16 to add a note from a friend who is the mom of a transgendered child:
“Just by way of education, I would like to share with you that “transgenders” and “transgendered” are terms that the community doesn’t use. In the same way autistic kids wouldn’t be called ‘autistics’ or people with Down Syndrome wouldn’t be ‘Down Syndromed.’ For trans people it feels like they are diminished to and defined by that one aspect of who they are. Trans or transgender people/men/women/children/youth is the phrasing that is preferred.” Thank you, friend, for helping to educate the public. Language matters.

{This week Target announced it would allow all of its employees and customers to use the public restroom of whichever gender they identify with. And then my Facebook exploded and suddenly suburban moms everywhere are publicly pretending that shopping at Wal-Mart is morally superior and just as relaxing. (Y’all, that’s laughable in every way thinkable.) So then I wrote a comment on a Facebook post, but that got too long, so I turned it into an actual Facebook post, but that got too long, so I turned it into this. Which is why you’re here reading this instead of on my Facebook page posting smiley faces or debating gender issues with me. So shall we?}


Listen. I get trying to be safe. I get not wanting harm to come to your kid just because you were in Target and they really had to go. Because as we and Annie all know, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Especially when you’re five years old. But last time I had a five-year-old (oh, I mean like now), I didn’t let him run into a public bathroom by himself anyway (he can’t even reach the paper towels, y’know), so I’m feeling like it’s all a little irrelevant because we DON’T SEND OUR HELPLESS LITTLE ONES INTO PUBLIC BATHROOMS ANYWAY). But that’s beside the point. I guess.

Because the REAL thing is, the real thing is this: All of this hype and fear and hysteria…It really comes down to the discomfort and “ew” factor we at large feel about men dressing as women. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Let’s be real with each other. Because unless we’re transgender ourselves, we just can’t relate to it nor imagine it. And it might even (probably even?) feels a bit gross to us. Maybe it feels a bit perverted. Maybe we just can’t wrap our heads around it. Because maybe we’re not transgender. But it’s situations like these that I allow myself to be stretched. To have my knee-jerk reactions kept in check. To listen to the voices of those whom I rarely hear in my little suburban bubble. Because I don’t want to live in fear. I don’t want to misunderstand or not understand at all. I don’t want to be like the masses all riled up in widespread panic about something we just don’t get. That I don’t get. I don’t want to have emotional reactions where I don’t need to.
Bottom line, we’re freaking out because we don’t get it. (And isn’t that so typical of us humans?) And so we do what we always do when we don’t get it and can’t relate: We get publicly outraged about issues that truly didn’t bother us a day or week ago. Issues that we didn’t even know about or give two seconds of thought to before we heard it on the news or talk radio or on Facebook. Before our pastor or our friend or our mother-in-law tsk-tsk’d about it. Before a loud-mouthed politician screamed about people different from us. Before someone told us to BE AFRAID. BE VERY, VERY AFRAID.
But the truth is, whether you want to believe it or not, transgender persons have existed for longer than there have been public bathrooms. They’ve been around since, well, genitalia and culture and gender identities and all that human complexity have been around. SO LIKE FOREVER. But very few knew and no one cared. And your kids didn’t get raped by men dressed like women in the bathroom at your favorite retailer. Because if they did? It would be ALL THE NEWS and ALL THE FACEBOOK POSTS.
No, they got raped on dates with boyfriends who wouldn’t accept the word NO. They got molested by drunk uncles at family reunions. They were violated by coaches you trusted. They were molested at church by Sunday school teachers. Groped by siblings under the threat of secrecy. Assaulted by family friends.
But acknowledging all of THAT is terrifying. It means that our kids are actually less safe than we are comfortable with. That’s the real truth. We can’t actually protect them like we want to. Our safeguards are only as safe as the temptation to do evil is in a perpetrator. And that bothers us. And maybe we haven’t even thought about it consciously, but it at least sits there in the backalleys of our subconscious. For those of us who found our own selves victimized by perpetrators, maybe it triggers fears that we deep down don’t want to deal with while all the same we really do.
So we invoke an age-old tactic when we don’t want to confront the fears within us. We project. We scapegoat. We convince ourselves that the transgender community or gays or Muslims or Mexicans or whoever the current enemy-du-jour might be, we tell ourselves that they’re the real threat. We listen to obnoxious wannabes with lots of money and too many microphones and really bad hair. We believe what someone we knew in high school says on Facebook because they believed what someone they knew in middle school said…on Facebook. And if we could just get rid of that threat—those threats—our kids would be safe. Finally. Whew.
Except they’re not. It’s not that easy. If it were, we could just eliminate “transgenders” and “gays” and all would be roses and rainbows again. (Oh, wait. Not the rainbows. Rainbows = bad. My bad.)
But I, for one, am tired of the media and politicians and hyped up fearmongers telling me whom to fear, whom to keep my kids from, what to be afraid of, where to shop and not to shop. Whether they be transgender persons or Muslims or gays or atheists or (sorry, my fellow homeschoolers) the public schools (gasp!). I just won’t do it. I REFUSE TO OBEY YOUR OWN FEAR.
I am an intelligent woman. I get dressed on my own. I choose my own hair color. (I choose many of them, actually.) I decide when I will go back to school. I get to pick whether I will stay home or go to work. I decide if I want drive-thru or made-from scratch at home. I choose where to worship. How to vote. What to believe. And how to live my life and raise my own kids. I do things of my own volition. And so do you. Which means, I can decide whom and what to fear…all on my own. And you can too.
And even then…I will not choose fear. I WILL NOT DO IT. And you can’t make me.
Yes, duh, I will try to protect my kids in rational, realistic, and responsible ways. And no, duh, I will not be blindly stupid nor stupidly blind. I will be wise. I will be calm. I will be intelligent. And that means not reacting to hype and cooperating with hysteria. History proves that is rarely the wise option. Can I get a witness?
So care to join me or care to not. What you do is up to YOU. But as for me and my family, we’re going to choose calm. We will not give in to your fears.
Now if you are REALLY wanting to get riled up, because, y’know, innocent children and all that upsets you, let me point to you some REAL threats affecting kids RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE:


1) Hundreds of Ethiopian Kids Kidnapped in Raid

2) Children Killed by Gun Violence in the United States

3) How Pornography Addiction Affects the Teenage Brain

4) How Make Your Mark Ministries is Changing the Lives of Street Boys —kids who are actually raped every night. I know, because I’ve met them. On the street. In the middle of the night.

5) Children Found Sewing Clothes for you to buy from…Wal-Mart (oops)

6) How You Can Help Combat Human Trafficking —It’s happening in your backyard. In the dollar store. In place, like, you know, Target.

Of course, those are just a few. Six of a slew of threats against our children. Six actual issues actually taking place in our actual neighborhoods or actual cities or even just a hop across the ocean. But these are actual, real things actually really happening like FOR REAL. These aren’t imagined. They’re certainly not made much of by the media. But they’re REAL nonetheless. Maybe even moreso. Did I mention they’re actually real?
Whatcha gonna do?
So you care about your kids. Great. You care about children. Wonderful. Now stop obeying someone else’s fears and go do something about kids living in real fear.
Go back to your retail therapy at Target. Go grab your red plastic cart. Pick up your Starbucks. Use the bathroom if you need to pee because that whatever-mocha-latte-frappacino-whatever-you-call-it-I-don’t-know-because-I-don’t-drink-coffee runs right through you. You know you can’t stay away, anyway. It’s TARGET, after all. And not even your very best friend believes you when you say you’re boycotting that place.
And the next time you feel that all-too-human knee-jerk reaction rising up inside your fear-prone body, STOP IT RIGHT THERE. Set a better example for your kids. Set a better standard for yourself. Speak out against it even.
Back right on up out of that faux firestorm. Don’t contribute to the panic. There’s enough to fear in this world. Enough to really get angry about and do something about. Don’t manufacture reasons to be afraid, and FOR! THE! LOVE! don’t EVER submit to anyone else’s urgings on why you should be.
You with me?
Whew. It’s Friday. And now I really need to go to Target.
(And I might even have to pee there.)

My cutie at age 3. He probably had to pee there. He probably DID pee there. And there might or might not have been a transgender person in the stall next to us. I DON’T KNOW. And that’s the point.

 Note from my friend Aimee:
“…While you are spot on that people are reacting out of disgust to the idea of men dressing up as women, the transgendered people I’ve met see this as a totally different thing. There are men and women who dress in alternate gendered clothing. And there are men and women who understand themselves to be alternately gendered. I know you know this, but others reading your post may not. Not trying to needless parse wording, but this seems an important distinction to my transgendered friends.”
Thank you, Aimee, for clarifying this for all my readers.

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Everyone is an expert and no one has a soul.

While holed up in an attic for two years of her short life, Anne Frank famously penned in her diary, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” And I really want to believe that. The eternal optimist in me who sees the potential for good in even the worst of people—I cried when Osama bin Laden was killed and I will always shed tears when the death penalty is carried out—really wants to believe that. But lately, you guys, if I’m being honest, I really just don’t know.

Seems that you can’t jump on Facebook or read a news story on CNN or hear about a tragedy without being assaulted by the reality that people, well, they can just be plain mean. Judgmental. Hateful. Flat out cruel.

For the love, FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS, what has happened?

Now, I realize this is nothing new under the sun, as nothing really is. But with social media, 24/7 news cycles, and the internet so close to our fingertips that our thoughts give birth to publicized opinions the moment they are conceived, suddenly the exposure to the meanness has soared a few gazillion notches, and the feeling-freeness to verbally vomit is at an all-time high in human history.

And all of a sudden we have a new phenomenon that is bound to obliterate any trace of compassion and empathy and bring humanity to its basest, most uncaring state: Because now, everyone is an expert. On EVERYTHING.

Every blogger has a theory. Every Twitterer has a thought. Every Facebooker has an opinion. On EVERY. SINGLE. THING. Heck, we’re even experts concerning, or most especially concerning, situations and circumstances with which we have a total of, well, absolutely zero personal experience whatsoever.

Check it out:

Courtesy of the horrific revelations about the Duggar family, everyone is now an expert on sexual abuse within a family—except most of us won’t deal with that. Jim Bob and Michelle are neglectful, horrible parents who covered up abuse to protect their image and make a buck or two, so say the masses. And now we’re all experts on large families, homeschoolers, those too religious, and those who don’t believe in birth control—except we’re not.

Courtesy of Bruce Jenner’s public transformation into Caitlyn, everyone is now an expert about the struggles of a transgender individual—except most of us won’t deal with that. He/She will always be a man, isn’t really a woman, is simply an attention whore. And now we’re all experts on the causes, the sinfulness, the angst, the inner turmoil—except we’re not.

Baby dies after being left in a hot car? The mom is selfish, pathetic, and deserves to have her children taken away. And we’re all experts on responsible parenting—except we’re not.

A woman is killed by a lion through an open window during a photographic safari? Even though she was an accomplished 29-year-old who traveled to South Africa to raise money for anti-poaching organizations, she’s clearly a total idiot who had it coming, survival of the fittest had its way, and she deserved to die for ignoring the posted warnings. And now we’re all experts on safety on safaris—except we’re not.

Mexican immigrants die while trying to cross the border into freedom? They are law-breakers with no respect for the rules. And we’re all experts on the plight of the poor foreigner—except we’re not.

Those in poverty use food stamps to pay for soda? They are lazy, good-for-nothing leeches who are milking the system and duping taxpayers. And we’re all experts on the struggles of generational poverty—except we’re not.

A 20-something-year-old texts while driving and kills his best friend in the passenger seat? He deserves to rot in prison for taking his friend’s life due to his own selfishness and narcissism. And now we’re all experts on justice and retribution for those who text and drive—except we’re not. {But we are lucky hypocrites, that’s for sure.}

Today it’s one thing. Tomorrow it’ll be something else. And the day after that yet another thing altogether.

AND IT’S ALL CRAZY AND DOWNRIGHT ARROGANT AND ENTIRELY MEANINGLESS, because if everyone were really an expert on anything, we’d see far more compassion and way less chatter. Far more love and way less condemnation. Far more understanding and far fewer opinions.

Sexual abuse. Gender identity issues. Mental health struggles. Affairs. Suicide. Wayward children. Addictions. Those might not be what you’re facing today and might not have been part of your story. But one day something painful or horrific will take you by surprise and all of your prior know-it-allness will fall by the wayside and you’ll be flat on your face begging Jesus for mercy. And you’ll need it.

And you’ll fall into a heap when what the public is condemning is the very tragedy you’re presently facing. You’ll eat your words when the judgment you meted out eats you up inside. You won’t have a safe place to fall into when it’s your child who made the awful choice. When it’s your husband who committed the crime. When it’s your loved one who had the affair. Who broke the law. Who succumbed to addiction. Who suffered from post-partum psychosis. Who was conquered by mental illness and took his own life. Who fell asleep at the wheel and killed a bystander.

You’ll be humbled by your own arrogance when it’s your son who feels like a girl. When it’s your daughter who tells you she’s a lesbian. When it’s your brother convicted for child molestation. When it’s your husband outed as a pedophile. When it’s your dad busted for embezzlement. When it’s your sister who left your niece in the hot car.


The day will come. It always does. And woe to the “experts” on that day.

When you’re in your own desert, your own wasteland, your lips parched and your mouth dry, begging for just a drop of water to touch your tongue. Only none will come. And you’ll regret every time you failed to spare some for another. Your misery will be compounded by your lack of compassion for others. Your pain will be expounded by your own piety in the past. And your hypocrisy will hound you as you hunker down in humility—humility forced upon you not by your own choosing but by an unforeseen tragedy.

“So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.” –Isaiah 5:15

So STOP your judgment, your ridicule, your demeaning of others’ misery. STOP blogging as if you know. STOP stating your opinion as if it’s the truth in stone. STOP using your words to elevate your pedestal. STOP preaching as if you have the expertise. STOP the self-promotion and self-righteous stances. Shut up with your sanctified sermons about struggles you don’t face and deal with your own hidden sins and secret sorrows. Get off your moral high horse and actually kneel down to wash the feet of those dirtied and blistered by life—yes, even by their own foolish choices.

Instead? Reach down and grab the hand of one more vulnerable. Someone in pain. Someone who needs to know they’re not alone. Offer solidarity. Offer hope. Offer healing and freedom and acceptance and safety.

Hands Compassion

And be mercy.

Be love.

Be Jesus.

We’re not all experts, that’s for sure. But we’re all in need. Every last one of us.

O, Compassion, where art thou?


Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. –Psalm 112:4

“Here are the values I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.”
–Ellen Degeneres




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[Preface (because what’s one of my blog posts without one): I don’t expect to be popular by my thoughts on this issue. And it’s okay if you disagree. And I won’t be rattled if you don’t like me. But be forewarned, you’ll find it hard to pigeonhole me. And please, for Pete’s sake, if you’re going to make a point or argue or post a comment, please please please actually read the actual words I’ve actually written, not what another blogger advocated or what your Granny said or what your friends think. Deal? Stellar.]

Oh my GAAWWWWDDD, you’re thinking. Another post about LEGGINGS! Eye roll! Eye roll!  Well, before you get your tight little pants in a wad or Duggar skirt all ruffled, read on. (Because really. Do you think I’d actually write an entire post about a clothing article? Psha.)

I have this personal blogging rule for Hot Topics Du Jour in which people have already gabbed ad nauseam. Even when I do have quite a few thoughts on a matter, I choose not to blog on every one. For one, if it’s already been said, then it’s already been said. And I can’t stand plagiarism of thought. It’s boring. Useless. And offers up nothing that hasn’t already been offered. But secondly, I don’t presume that anyone cares about my opinion on any given topic (though having a blog obviously necessitates a smidge of said presumption, yes?)

So like I was saying, I’m not going to write just to write or post just to post. Too much clutter in cyber world already. BUT BUT BUT, when I think that I might possibly maybe somehow be able to put forth an entirely alternative angle to a given matter or provide a platform for discourse about something that nobody wants to talk about, then you’ll probably find me huddled up with my laptop after the kids are in bed and pounding away my thoughts on the keys.

So no, this post is not about leggings. Or Spandex. Or cleavage. Or pantylines. Or tight jeans. It’s not about what you should or shouldn’t wear. Or what you should and shouldn’t care about. Nope. Not at all. This ain’t a sermon. And I am not the self-appointed head of the Modesty Task Force.

But ever since some poor Mommy blogger wrote about why she stopped wearing leggings and it went even more viral than California measles (Lord bless), I haven’t seen one single Facebook friend or blogger offer up the approach to modesty that I will here. I’ve been reading. I’ve been waiting. I’ve been curious.

My Personal Preference for Modesty

I’ll tell you up front: I’m a huge proponent of modesty. Huge. In fact, I’m personally quite “prudish” compared to most of my friends. I love style, clothing, and self-expression (heck yeah, I do!), but for almost all of my childhood, most of my teen years, and all of my adulthood, I’ve been careful about what I wear. (I haven’t always been consistent, but I’ve tried. My apologies for my previous mishaps and naïvetés.) And these days, well, I feel very strongly that modesty is a lost art.

{And not that my personal rules matter, but for those curious who will ask anyway, let me save you the time. I personally choose not to A: show cleavage, B: wear tight pants without covering the butt, or C: wear bikinis. Because A: I wanna keep private parts private. B: It draws attention to a place to which I don’t want attention drawn. C: It feels like public underwear. (But that’s just me. Feel free to cheer, judge, mock, or find areas of contradiction, hypocrisy or utter ridiculousness.)}

As far as my own “prudish” rules for myself (and our daughters), I know I’m not alone on that. I know these standards are true for many of you, that a lot of women care about modesty. And if I ask you Why?, I’ll probably hear something about how we don’t want to make men lust. How we don’t want our clothing choices to be stumbling blocks for our brothers in Christ. How we don’t want to distract men or bring them down to a base level. In short, I’ll probably hear how you don’t want to cause our male friends to sin.

And then I have other friends whom I super duper love who fall on the other end of the modesty spectrum. Who believe that women aren’t responsible for men’s actions (in deed or thought). Who say that as long as they are comfortable in it, they don’t care what anyone else thinks. Who say as long as their husband says it’s okay, then it’s cool with them too. A few years ago I had a friend tell me I should dress sexier since “you have such a nice body, Heidi! Why do you hide it?” (Thanks, single friend. But I don’t think my husband would agree that I’m hiding it from the the only person who needs to see it.)

An Alternative

But somewhere in the midst of the legalism, the sexism, the mockery, the shaming, the free-for-all, the finger-pointing, the immaturity, and the whole crazy debate, is an altogether unique perspective. And one that I’ve had yet to hear a single person put forth. But one that seems so entirely obvious and instinctive to me.

Modest Feet

There is an alternative motivation for modesty here.

To be honest, I popped out of my mom’s womb a screaming feminist. Now, I come by it honestly, as both my parents (who are also followers of Jesus) claim the label as well. I’ve got a passion for justice flowing through my veins. It’s part of who I am. It’s how I’m wired. How God made me. And how my mind thinks. I see injustice where others might not, and I.MUST.ADDRESS.IT and DO something about it. {I realize this comes with a Hello, I’m a Freak tag on my back, but it’s okay. Nice to meet you.}

So when it comes to gender equality and oppression, I react strongly. It’s my God-instilled filter. My lens for looking at the world. But it’s not just in my DNA. A lifetime of some pretty wicked experiences of being mistreated as a girl or a woman (or being witness thereof) have compounded a natural penchant for gender justice. What experiences? Well, here’s (just a fraction of) the running tally. I have faint memories as a very little girl of being molested by a relative. Recent events have caused these to resurface. I was exposed to extremely pornographic magazines in that same relative’s bedroom when I was in only second or third grade. When I was in third grade I learned about sex when a classmate (a foster child) told me her dad tried to make her have a baby when she was two.

When I was in sixth grade, I learned that my mom (who suffered from eating disorders for decades) had been violently raped at the age of twelve by two men. That same year I first became the object of severe sexual harassment from a slew of boys. That would continue in two other schools through the tenth grade by entirely separate groups of boys. I had my clothes pulled at. My backside pinched. My bedroom windows peered into. I went on a few too many first-and-only dates with guys in high school who only wanted to talk about my body and attempt to take advantage of it. I was reputed to be either a snob or a game-player by guys who were forced to accept NO as an answer (because I am a stubborn girl, apparently). When I was seventeen I dated someone, though nice and genteel, whose primary focus was the shape of my figure.

But it gets worse. Ten years ago a very good friend was convicted of molesting his daughter. I also learned that he was extremely sexually abusive to his wife, my best friend at the time. At times he made inappropriate comments to me. I’ve heard a few-too-many catcalls as I’ve walked by groups of men. I’ve been hit on by married men.

And that’s just ME. My own little world. A microcosm of a far larger picture and problem.

But macroscopically, the assessment is even worse. Sex trafficking is rampant. Sexual crimes on college campuses are a very real concern. Men are addicted to porn like never before (and it’s more readily available than anytime in history). And much of primetime TV should carry an R-rating (if not worse).

Little girls are now wearing sexy panties. (I mean, what is THIS?) Blow jobs are commonplace party favors in the seventh grade. And teenagers no longer just make out. Sexting is all the rage and sex tapes are popular and considered “entertainment.”

And as if that horrific list is not enough to highlight a significant (and sick) problem in our society, Fifty Shades of Bullcrap Gray is now opening at the theater. The cover of the newest swimsuit edition of Effing Sports Illustrated just came out. (Seriously. Don’t go looking at it.) I wish Magic Mike would use his “magic” and just disappear. And Facebook has been known to ban certain photos of breastfeeding women while buxom women baring nearly all is TOTALLY OK AND ACCEPTABLE. (After all, what’s sexy about a nursing mom? Sigh.)

Like anyone with ears, I have a lifetime of hearing females degraded and sized up. I’ve seen girls oppressed for being girls. And women abused for being women. I’ve argued against sexism in the Church for an entire lifetime and been criticized because of it. AND I KNOW THAT MY EXPERIENCES ARE NOT AT ALL UNIQUE. I repeat: MY EXPERIENCES ARE NOT AT ALL UNIQUE. In fact, I think I was spared a great deal of more extreme mistreatment and abuse, a feat that I can only attribute to the grace of God. And I bet almost every one of you female readers has your own litany of abuses and near misses. Despite what anyone says, THIS ISSUE is no small thing.

My Primary Motivation, Like it or not

So what does this catalogue of damaging history and current realities have to do with my propensity towards modesty? What does all of this sexual perpetration, oppression, and perversion have to do with my feminist take on this topic? EVERYTHING. For me at least, EVERY SINGLE BIG AND LITTLE THING.

Now, I suppose if I were more conservatively fundamental (or fundamentally conservative?) and far more Sunday School-like, I would give the noble (but for me, far incomplete) explanation that I don’t want my brethren in Christ to falter because of my plunging neckline or hiked up skirt. And if I were wanting to sound selfless and thoughtful and super spiritual, I would tell you that it is my honor as a woman to put my male friends’ purity above my own need for self-expression and choice.

And while it’s true that I don’t want to be “that woman” who is seemingly okay allowing our men to stumble around like primal fools, I’m also just not that noble. Or selfless. Or thoughtful. Because to be truthful, while those are worthy motivations, I suppose, they’re just not mine.

And yes, I personally believe that breasts and butts should be kept more private, so no matter the company I’m around (even if only women), I’m going to err on that side of modesty.

But STILL that is not my motivation. I do not choose modesty primarily for the benefit of others or because I have a certain rulebook on what I should or shouldn’t expose outside of my bedroom.

No, I choose modesty because I am a feminist. Plain and simple.

Now I know some of you are gasping for air right now or waving your metaphorical (or literal?) finger at me or dropping four-letter words or screaming “Hillary” (Oh no!) or “heretic”(Egad!) at me, so let me calm you down a bit. It’s really not that alarming.

Feminism for Real

Because the truth is, feminism—no matter what any news network, preacher, or Christian author tells you—is merely the belief that men and women are of equal worth, value, and potential. The conviction that both genders bring to the table intellect, personality, and strengths. That neither sex should be oppressed. So for anyone who claims the title, a feminist refuses to allow women to be treated as less than by anyone of the opposite gender. (Such being the case, the label is fitting for any man or woman with those convictions.) And let me be clear, because this is seriously important: Just because you don’t agree with all of the beliefs of some who bear the name feminist doesn’t mean you have to eschew the title. (After all, don’t you still call yourself a Christian even though some people who wear that label give that name a really really really bad connotation or have beliefs with which you don’t totally agree? Me too. And exactly.)

So for me, I choose to dress modestly because I demand respect from the male sex. (You better believe, I do.) I choose to not reveal parts of my body to the world because refusing to do so forces men to notice my intellect, to hear my words, to treat me as an equal. EVEN IF THEY DON’T WANT TO.

Now of course (because I can already hear your argument), I can’t ultimately control how a man views me. That he can still lust after me even if I’m in a burqa. That men will simply use their imaginations. And even though those are true statements, those are extremely weak arguments against modesty.

If I know a man would rather see my chest than simply imagine it, WHY would I show it to him and allow him that satisfaction? If it’s possible that a man would hope to see my shape in too-tight jeans, then WHY would I give him that pleasure? If it’s likely that men would be more impressed by my body than my mind, WHY would I share my sexier elements with them?

For me it’s all about power. Not that I want power over any man, but I definitely don’t want them to have power over ME. And having been victimized enough by the selfish whims of men (even if just in their minds), the LAST thing I want to do is to give them any more of my God-given power. No, I will be empowered by the way I dress, walk, carry myself, and engage with the opposite sex.

For the moment a man (besides my husband) finds pleasure in looking at my body, I am no longer Heidi Weimer. I am an object. And the moment I become an object is the moment I am no longer empowered. It is the moment I become oppressed. Because even if you don’t realize you are or disagree with the reality, you are oppressed the moment you are an object to another. And I REFUSE TO BE OPPRESSED as far as I can control it.

Am I responsible for men’s lustful thoughts or persuasions? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Is a young woman “asking for it” if she shows up half-clad to a frat party? ABSOLUTELY NOT. If a man is focused on my outfit at church instead of on the Lord, is the burden on me? ABSOLUTELY NOT. (Let’s just clear up that once and for all, mkay?)

BUT BUT BUT! If I KNOW that some men will be degrading me in their mind (because some will), objectifying me with their imaginations, and finding pleasure in my body parts, you better believe I’m not going to give them that visual opportunity. NOT because I’m so concerned with their personal struggles (you choose to lust, people), but because I’m absolutely concerned with my own power and control. And, I have a slight issue with men feeling superior over women, exerting their power or demanding control over them.

Bottom line is, I’m going to do everything in my power to force men to look me in the eyes, pay attention to my words, hear my thoughts, notice my intellect, and treat me as an equal. If they do choose to treat a woman with baseness in their lustful thoughts, that woman is not going to be me AS MUCH AS I CAN HELP IT.

Yeah, Right.

“Oh, come on, Heidi. That’s totally ridiculous. And honestly, it sounds like you’re just ashamed of your body because of your personal experiences of being objectified and mistreated by males so you think you have to hide it.” Wrong on that, sweet sister. I have no body shame. I have never really struggled with body image issues. I don’t cover up because of any embarrassment of my female physique. (Heck, I’m darn proud of this womanly figure that grew and birthed and nursed four babes for the better part of nine or so years.) And I am more than happy to unveil it to the only one who deserves to experience its magic powers. (Yeah, I said it. You’re welcome, Kirk.)

“Well, Heidi. It sounds like you have a trust issue with men. They’re not all like that.” Yes, it’s true. On both of those statements. But I’ve had nearly four decades of good reason for any suspicion and skepticism on my part towards men. And I’m no ignorant fool about the state of women in our world these days. But do I think all men are out-of-control lust-o-maniacs? IN NO WAY. I’m married to proof that nobler ones are out there. Men who treat women with dignity, in their minds, with their words, and through their actions. In fact, some of my closest friends are male. I trust them. They treat me with equality and dignity, and I do the same them. I feel incredible gratitude for the truly good and godly men God has placed in my life. (You know who you are. Thank you for existing.)

“But OhEmGEE! You’re totally judging those of us who don’t mind a little cleavage!” No. I’m not. I’m not telling you how to dress. I’m not treating you as less than me. And I’m not condemning your choices. (That being said, I do have six sons. So please keep your boobs away from their eyes. Gracias.)

So What, Then?

What’s my responsibility, then, as a woman with this particular M.O.? What do I actually do to implement these personal convictions? Well, for starters, I’m going to be careful about how I dress. Obviously. I won’t obsess, but I am going to lean over, look up and down in the mirror, and do a little spin-around before I exit the privacy of my bedroom.

Secondly, we’re teaching our kids to respect women. We train our boys to hold doors for women. Because women are helpless? No, because they’re deserving. Like royalty. In our family, it’s “ladies first.” Our boys understand that females (no matter how old) should be treated with respect and honor.

Third, I (try my best to) practice what I preach. With few exceptions, I won’t see R-rated movies. Because I’m sheltered and can’t handle it? No, because I’m well aware and refuse to. We’ve taught our sons to turn their heads when women aren’t properly covered. I love me some Katy Perry (seriously, I think we would be besties), but you won’t find my sons watching her close-ups on TV.

Fourth, we teach our girls that their bodies are their own and no one has a right to them, whether mentally, visually, or physically. We don’t tell them to keep covered up because there is anything shameful about their bodies. No, we teach them modesty in what they wear because we don’t want them to experience inevitable degradation by boys or men. Likewise, we teach our boys to look girls in the eyes, to avoid those who make that more difficult, and to not watch movies that capitalize on women’s bodies.

Fifth, I (hope to) demonstrate by my own clothing choices that a woman can look absolutely in style and perfectly current and wear totally rad outfits without having to appeal to her sexy side. As the mom to five daughters (four teens/teenish and one tween), it is rewarding to see my girls walking out the door looking super cute in their individual styles, yet not using their changing bodies to make a statement to the world. No, their “statements” reveal that they are confident girls who are comfortable in their own skin who don’t need to bare it to prove it.

Miss Independent

And finally, we make sure ALL of our kids are surrounded by and exposed to strong and mighty women who use their minds and gifts to make a difference. I firmly believe that if our girls and boys see the true value of women as people, they will be less likely to believe the lie that women are only as appealing as their bodies are sexy. My middle school daughters spent a year studying Sixty Significant Women in World History, a curriculum I wrote for them. They’ve written letters to Hillary Clinton, Dr. Catherine Hamlin, and other important figures. We’ve promised our kids that we will drive all the way to D.C. whenever the first woman is inaugurated as President. And we make sure our kids sit under and listen to powerful women preachers and teachers.

But does it really matter?

So who cares? Are we making too much of this? What does it really matter what I wear? Does the issue of modesty really matter when there are supposedly far more things to get angry about than leggings? Of all the important matters in this world—poverty, trafficking, war, disease, hunger, and lack of clean water, should we even really be talking about this?

My justice-driven mind hears you and understands. I mean, when it comes down to it, leggings are far less urgent of an issue to tackle than other seriously tragic realities facing our world today, right? Obviously. That’s an absolutely gigantic DUH.

And the focus on modesty can make us so uncomfortable, because too often we feel judged by those advocating for it, like the Pharisees are out in full force and anyone in a v-neck top is subject to stoning. Legalists have a flippin’ field day with this issue, and those of us who work hard to make sure all feel welcome in the Church get nervous (and even angry) when there’s any chance of finger-pointing or ostracizing of others who don’t necessarily live (or dress) exactly like we do.

But in our quest for inclusion (which is a worthy ideal), in our aim to ensure that even the worst of sinners feels welcome crossing the threshold of our churches, in our goal to counterbalance the stone-throwing of the religious elite, we must be careful we don’t swing the pendulum the other way and tell ourselves that anything goes. Should a stripper be welcome in my church? Yes. And they most definitely are. But it doesn’t mean I need to expose my own body just because I don’t want her feeling judged.

Because while it’s true that justice and mercy and grace should be on our breath and apparent in our actions, personal holiness should be in our hearts and obvious on the outside. And just because we humans are prone to judging based on our exteriors, it doesn’t mean we neglect those matters altogether. We can have strong convictions and live accordingly without judging others for their own (or lack thereof). It can be challenging to keep that balance, yes, but Jesus expects no less.


As in all facets of my life, in every area in which I can make a difference, I strive to hasten the day when His Kingdom comes and His will is done. On earth as it already is in Heaven. When the lion lies down with the lamb and men and women live in harmony and mutual respect. When girls aren’t subject to harassment from pubescent boys and teenage girls don’t know what date rape is. When girls aren’t trafficked and women aren’t prostituted. When a man can look a woman in the eye and see her as the apple of God’s. When females aren’t comprised of body parts but instead intellect and passion and curiosity and will. When debates over leggings don’t explode into arguments over a false dichotomy between two extremes that do more to bring women down than elevate them. When women are valued because they are HUMAN BEINGS.

I believe that day is coming, and though it might not be until Jesus comes back to make everything right, I will live my life with that day in mind. Every action. Every thought. Every choice I make. All in an effort to support that ideal.

And if you want to join me, come on board. Let’s march on together as women and men, feminists and those-who-believe-in-equality-but-are-scared-to-call-themselves-feminists. Those who are willing to listen, open to changing, and striving to understand. Let’s figure out how we can most effectively hasten that day. Together.

Come one, come all. In those pesky leggings or long denim skirts or anything in between.

Because we’ve got some work to do, in our hearts and in the world. And we’ve got some matters to consider. Strap on your boots. Let’s go.

“…by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl.”
-Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“…The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
-Emma Watson, #heforshe Campaign


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