Permission Granted: Speak Life and Love


Sue Donaldson -Permission to Speak3

By Sue Donaldson | Twitter: @welcomeheart

As I prepared to attend my daughter’s Mother-Daughter Sorority weekend, I received this warning text:

“Mom, just so you know, it will be an eclectic group of moms–The High-heeled Wine- drinking Mom. The Atheist Hippie Mom. The Homey Mom. The Divorced Psychologist Grieving Mom …”

“No worries,” I replied. “I like eclectic. I can be the Christian Donut Mom.”

A few evenings later, I walked into her living room and began the rounds one-by-one: “Hi, I’m Sue, so nice to meet you. Which daughter is yours?” We began chatting, circling topics, diving in slowly. “How do you do? What do you do? Where are you from?”

It was a mating ritual of sorts. We were eclectic strangers bound by this commonality: mothers of girls and their girlfriends. We laughed. We chatted. We bragged on each other’s daughters.

Then God led and I opened my donut-shaped mouth:

“Is everyone here? Let’s do a program!”

Everyone looked at Elizabeth and laughed. She must have warned them. I found out later they recognized Elizabeth in me; she could be bossy, though an introvert. She led the new pledge class. She knew how to call a room to attention.

Before I could back out, I continued, “How about if all the girls share one thing they appreciate about their moms, and let’s have the moms describe how their daughters have blossomed these last three years as college students?”

Before anyone could refuse, I called on the obvious extrovert-daughter: “Jennie, you start.”

She stood up and said, “I want to say TWO things about my mom!”

Yes! Two things, maybe three! Definitely allowed. We starve for a good affirmation from our semi-adult children. Two, maybe three can fill us up for a good little while.

Here’s what happened next—daughters shared and wept. Mothers spoke proud and loving words and wept. They stood and walked across the room and embraced each other. Someone tossed the Kleenex box and it continued its crisscross journey for the next hour.

The floodgates had been opened, and the emotions and truth poured freely. It was as if everyone was waiting for permission to speak life and love into those we loved most.

Later, I wondered why I used the word blossom. Couldn’t it have been a better word? A more grown up, erudite word? One that could impress a psychologist? Heavens!

However, every mom began her tribute with, “I’ve seen Erin blossom …”
“I’ve loved watching Jennie blossom.”
“I’m so proud of Anna’s blossoming …”

The girls beamed. They loved watching their friends’ moms give tributes to their besties. They drank the life-giving words from their mothers. The moms drank readily the appreciation of their daughters, insight that comes from three years of maturing away from home. A home mainly defined by Mom.

Why did we need the permission to say things hovering so near the surface? Why do we wait for it to unlock and flow like the flooded rivers of Oregon, swollen with hidden depths of love and pain and worry and joy?

We get this privilege of unlocking these dammed fronts, initiating conversations that go deeper than the usual stream. All for the Glory of God. All for the sake of life and love. God’s Good News begins and ends with the life and love of Jesus. He is the Word, after all. A Word fleshed out with love and sacrifice for the most eclectic of us all. And I’m grateful.

What question can you use to bring life and depth to a conversation? I often start with a surface one to test the waters. If it flies right, I follow it with something deeper. Even when not everyone at my table is a believer, I see how a gently-guided discussion blesses with the grace and peace and the Word of Life.

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” —II Thessalonians 3:5


About Sue:

Sue DonaldsonSue Donaldson and her husband, Mark, live in San Luis Obispo, California. They have raised three semi-adult daughters who keep them at the bank and on their knees. Sue blogs at and has been speaking for women’s retreats and conferences for the past 20 years with long pauses for babies, diapers and soccer pasta parties. Stay tuned for her new hospitality planner “Every Table Tells a Story,” which includes conversation-starters to make every gathering worth remembering. Due September 1.