Day 19 :: You’re free to be You, not Me

Today, I have the privilege of introducing you to my friend Heather.  She’s one of the first people I met at our church here in Virginia, and we instantly connected over mutual friends in South Carolina and our passion for writing/blogging/love for deep conversations.  Here’s a little about Heather:


Heather Davis Nelson (M.A.) is a writer, counselor, and speaker who is passionate about connecting the hope of the Redeemer with the broken places of life. She blogs regularly at hidden glory ( about faith, creativity, shame, and grace in her life as a counselor/author/pastor’s wife/mom to twin daughters, and you can follow her on Twitter: @heatherd_nelson

Her first book is Unashamed: Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame, which will be released by Crossway in early summer 2016, exploring shame and its healing from the perspective of Christian hope through redeemed relationships. She has been a featured writer at The Gospel Coalition blog, OnFaith, and, with articles on grief, human trafficking, body image, mentoring, and parenting. Her undergraduate degree in elementary education is from Wheaton College, and her Masters of Arts in counseling is from Westminster Theological Seminary. She loves coffee, reading, front porch conversations, the beach, date night with her husband, and story time with her daughters.


You’re Free to Be You, Not Me – Heather Nelson


To my dear, wild, funny, spirited 5-year-old twin daughters:

There are many, many things that I hope to tell you throughout the years that God gives us together. It is a gift to be your mom – a gift I haven’t always known how to receive because I have been overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of receiving BOTH of you at once.

Each of you is unique. I love that you are fraternal twins so that it is easier for the world to also observe and notice how unique each of you is, although you are matched with a twin. One of you has curly hair; the other’s is stick-straight. One of you tans easily (like Daddy); the other has my fair-er complexion. One of you is a fashionista already; the other is a free spirit in every way, including the outfits you choose to wear. You both enjoy talking to people, and you both can be shy in different settings (and especially without each other). One of you is more upfront with strangers; the other takes awhile to warm up with new people and a new environment. I could go on – but that’s not the main point of this letter.

The main point of this letter is that I want you to know that you are free to be you, not me. I certainly see and notice ways you’re each like me – down to the things you say (or repeat verbatim), the way you love reading and writing, your interests (chocolate, ballet, and painting come to mind), and certainly your fun-loving spirits. But it is harder and more challenging as your mom to notice and to celebrate the ways that you are not like me. For example, while one of you enjoys your alone time to some degree, neither of you appreciate time spent alone the way that I do. Solitude is precious to me, perhaps especially because it has been so rare in my adult life that’s been filled with people-intensive jobs, ministries, crises, and parenting. At this point in your lives, neither of you prefers to be alone. I wonder if it’s because you literally never have been alone. Even in utero – you had each other from the start.

It can be far too easy for me to grow frustrated at your insistence on being together or with me or Daddy at.all.moments. And I am sure you have sensed my frustration, even annoyance, at times. Will you forgive me? I want to learn from you how to welcome people with warmth and enthusiasm regardless of what they’re interrupting. You are people-oriented in a way I can be but am not always.

And yet. I also want to give you freedom to be you, and not me. I can learn from you and you from me, but we do not have to change to become one another. I will likely always prefer more solitude than you will. (Maybe not once you’re teenagers, or if you become prolific readers and writers like I am?!) And that’s ok.

I can accept and champion your outgoing natures without calling it bad or wrong simply because you’re different from me. I hope that you will accept my need for solitude as you get older. But even if you don’t or can’t understand that, it won’t change the fact that I will still need/want my alone time. And you will need/want your people time. We can learn from each other and give space for each other to be who God has made us to be.

That’s my heart in all of this: I want to support and nurture the woman that God has uniquely created you to be – not my design for who I think you should be (which often looks remarkably similar to who I am ;). The social/solitude preference is of course simply the tip of the iceberg. How will I respond if you choose a career I don’t fully understand? Or to marry before or after I did or not at all? Or to travel far, far away and put down roots halfway around the world from us? What about if your faith journey looks different from mine? And if/when you make choices that I don’t agree with? I hope that in all of the inevitable differences we will encounter that you will find me to be a welcoming space for you – a safe place for you to struggle and question and doubt – and that if it is too hard for you to bring those differences to me, that you will know that I support you working it out with someone else. (Even if I say otherwise in a heated/hurt moment when you are older.)

Most of all, my daughters, I want you to know that no matter how far you stray or how different we become, you are always loved because you are my daughters. I am your mother, and you are my daughter; and nothing can ever, ever change the reality of the fact that we belong to each other.

With all my heart,


Image source



This is Day 19 in a series “Lessons for my Daughters”.  Click here for a complete list of posts.

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  • Reply sherri lynn

    I liked this post! I think I will probably struggle with wanting Madeleine to like similar things or be similar to me, just because it sounds easier and maybe even more fun. I need to let her be her though!

    October 20, 2015 at 10:09 am
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