Life is hard and it is messy, and that's OK because that's beautiful in its own way.
That is the hard-earned message honed by Glennon Doyle Melton from years of trying to tidying up everything in a chaotic life.
"We all think life is really, really hard and we always thought we were missing stuff," said Melton, author of Carry On, Warrior, a New York Times best seller. She's also the creator of the website and blog Momastery.com.
Those beliefs are not unique, she said.
"Everybody thinks life is hard," she said, adding that the key is "letting that 'hard' bring us together instead of pushing us into hiding."
Melton hid for years, as she explains on her website, "lost to food and booze and bad love and drugs."
She had always felt different as a child, she said. That feeling of aloneness, tethered to an innate sensitivity, left her feeling "naked." So, she says in her web bio, "I made up my own little world called addiction and I hid there. I felt safe. No one could touch me."
Even once she stopped her most self-destructive behaviors, she still had a restless mind. "I don't glide through life," Melton said, "I crashed through life."
Melton started writing for her own survival, she said. She was home with kids and needed an outlet for the raging energy in her head. She started writing every day and emailing her musings to friends. Eventually, one introduced her to the idea of a blog, and Momastery.com was born.
The Momastery Facebook page has 103,000 likes, and Melton said several of her posts have gone viral.
In some places, Melton is described as a parenting expert. The mother of three laughs at that. She said somebody apparently misread "Momastery," which is supposed to evoke monastery, as "Mom Mastery," and thus an Internet guru was born.
But, she said, the one thing she tries to be is honest, honest about the irregularities that make life interesting and the foibles we tend to want to keep away from others.
Where she had issues with alcohol and food, others' ways of hiding might be compulsive shopping or cleaning, or being overly invested in their kids. "It's all the same," she said.
Momastery is a healing place, she said, where she hopes people can be themselves and find support without judgment. There is a spiritual element that's important, but it is not necessarily a pious place. Melton calls her followers "monkees" which is a take on monks. But, she said, "we curse too much to be monks."
The website isn't just a place to whine and rant, though, it is a place to find community and, sometimes, take action, she said. Most recently, Momastery raised $100,000 through what Melton called a "huge love flash mob." The money helped children with diabetes get therapy dogs that can sense when their insulin is low. Donations were limited to $25 a person, she said.
Such campaigns are common, Melton said. She doesn't accept advertising on the website, and the cost to keep it up and running is more than she pays for her mortgage, she said.
Melton thinks one of the reasons it has been so well received is that the support is deep and genuine. She said she felt it herself during the past year when she split from her husband; now she is working to rebuild her marriage.
People, she said, "are just so desperate to be heard, they are so desperate to have a voice."
If you go
Carry on, Warrior author Glennon Doyle Melton will speak
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 25
Where: Christ Church Cathedral, 166 Market St.
Tickets: $20. Scholarships are available. Available at the door and CCCLex.org.
More information: Elizabeth Conrad at Christ Church Cathedral, (859) 254-4497