when love came down: a guest post by Carly Gelsinger

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Today I am honored to introduce you to Carly Gelsinger. I followed a link to Carly's blog, and couldn't stop reading (my favorites are You can find your rest here and They can't take grace away from us:  a love story.)  Carly has a gift for capturing beauty, and I feel certain you guys will love her words as much as I do.

After a decade-long string of disappointing, heartbreaking and confusing experiences in church, I walked away from God. A newly married grad student facing a death in the family, I was too fragile to sort through the anger and pain. So, I folded them up neatly, put them in a dark closet, and tried to forget that part of my life.

It didn’t take me long to figure out life is a lot more fun when you’re not a fundamentalist.

I built wonderful friendships with atheists, bad Catholics, Jews. I opened my mind to new ideas and let them rest for a while, instead of instantly rejecting any thought that didn’t align with my old worldview. I danced the night away at bars to stupid music. I wasn’t automatically discredited for being a woman – male professors and colleagues actually valued my work and ideas. Sunday mornings took on a new life, in which my new husband and I would take leisurely strolls to the French bakery. We barely talked about spiritual things, or the anger we harbored toward Christians; we were too busy enjoying the sunshine and our croissants.

I was content to spend my life this way, the hurt and anger folded away, indifferent to God’s love. 

But this was before Love Came Down one year ago.

The birth of my daughter was messy and grotesque. In the aftermath of a 36-hour labor, I was propelled to the operating room where doctors put more than 200 stitches in me, attempting to reconstruct my dilapidated perineal. For the next two hours, I came in and out of consciousness and wailed in my sleep to be taken back to my baby. She’ll think she’s abandoned, I yelled at the nurses.

Meanwhile, my husband held our daughter and nervously waited for my return, a pool of blood at their feet.

I never grasped the concept of beauty in the mess before this; but now I understand that from the ugly and painful, deep love is born.  

Call it sleep-deprived insanity, but in the weeks and months after Georgiana’s birth, I met God.  I met him while sprawled on the couch, still in too much pain to sit upright, nursing my tiny baby around the clock, because Love demanded me to.

From this desperate, ugly place, I learned that Jesus isn’t the sanitized church guy I always thought him to be. It hit me when I woke to her 3 a.m. cries, my bed sheets sour with milk: His love for us is of the fierce variety, the kind of love that draws a woman out of bed to let an infant suckle on her breast when she hasn’t slept in 72 hours.

In the months afterwards, I began to realize Jesus isn’t afraid of my anger toward church. He isn’t shocked by my language, or surprised by my questions, and he’s never left my side.

It should also go without saying that Georgiana’s arrival put a curb on the all-night dancing. Motherhood has a natural way of grounding us, doesn’t it?

I have not arrived spiritually. I still have anger toward church; I still have doubts and questions. But birth and motherhood awakened something in me, and I’ve been given the strength – or perhaps the desperation – to begin this process of healing. And I want to do it with others on the journey.

Who is with me?


  1. You are at the perfect starting place. And you are right...God is not shocked at your anger, questions or language. Come as you are, He will transform and restore. That is what He does best. Blessings to you on your journey! Love, Rachael @ Inking the Heart (linking after you at Imperfect Prose)

  2. When I had my third daughter we found out she was disabled and right then when I thought the church would love upon us it rejected me. We were asked not to bring her as she was too ill to attend the kids clubs but to noisy to stay in the service. We had visits where I was reminded cleanliness was next to godliness and that I was failing as a wife.

    I was broken and walked away from church believing if this was how they treated people I'm not interested.

    I explored so many religions and for a while got caught up in spiritualism. I was so lost.

    Then my daughter died and it was in the midst of this devastation I finally understood faith. It was when I hit the bottom Jesus met me there.

    Yet knowing Jesus and loving him didn't mean that I could face church. Finally after realising that I wanted my girls to know God and have a community I tried again.

    It's hasn't been easy but I have finally found the church family as Jesus spoke off. One that serves not condemns.

    1. Sara,
      Your story brought me to tears. I am so, so, so sorry the church that rejected your disabled daughter. That is heartbreaking. And then to lose her.
      Keep it up, Sara. You are beautiful.



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