Sam Lamott teaches his mom, and us, about love and grace

Anne and Sam Lamott when he was little

Anne Lamott with a young Sam

Sam Lamott is my new hero. His mother, Anne, whom I adore and whose books I read for the same reasons I call a good friend — to relax, to laugh, and to feel understood and at home — made a couple of really awful comments about Caitlyn Jenner on twitter yesterday. I won’t repeat them here, but they were snarky and mean and insensitive. This was really surprising to me, and saddening.  But then her son, Sam (of Operating Instructions fame) replied to her with such love and grace, it left me stunned:

“The pee pee tweet is not truth, love, or funny. I’ll explain it all. Let’s start by deleting it.”

“You can be part of the noise, but when the noise quiets down…you’ll wish were part of the change, it lasts longer.”

And then just as gently and articulately he asked for grace for his mom:

“Everybody gets to make mistakes. It’s a shame this lesson is so public, but the best lessons are often painful and embarrassing.”

“I know. It’s shocking. When the adrenaline wears off, remember that before you knew about trans issues, you didn’t know.”

“I learned about trans life from a close FTM friend who was willing and patient to answer my ignorant and incredibly personal questions.”

“Trans life is so outside pop culture, and my moms small town life. This is how the truth gets out, this is how we evolve. We talk about it.”

Anne retweeted Sam’s quotes. And then, after a while, she apologized.

“I am so sorry to have caused pain to people in the transgender community, esp to parents of transgender children. You are loved and chosen.”

Before you knew, you didn’t know.Tweet: Before you knew, you didn't know. @jfkantrowitz

The whole exchange gives me so much hope that beneath the yelling and arguing and hyperbole that I’ve been seeing in my Facebook and Twitter feed, there may actually be some new, fragile-green growth. Before you knew, you didn’t know. Listen to those whose lives you are discussing. Listen to their stories and ask questions (ask, first, if it’s okay to ask questions, though). And offer grace to others who trip and stumble along the way. I hope to follow Sam’s example in my life and in my writing. And I hope that Ten Thousand Places can be a place where we practice that same loving, and listening, and extending grace.

Come join me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and let’s try! (I’ll tell you a secret: I’m feistiest on Twitter!)




22 comments on “Sam Lamott teaches his mom, and us, about love and grace

  1. soundtek says:

    Sam is my hero… talk about grace

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you! This whole thing has been hard for Anne’s fans to watch. It was nice to see her son step in and remind her of the very things she teaches. I wrote about my own reaction

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joanne Ruzow says:

    So glad to hear that Sam was able to teach his mother a real lesson about life! What you had said just was not the Ann Lamott I have learned to love and respect!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leila says:

    Wow! Just found your blog on facebook, and now have it bookmarked! Thanks for this wonderful moment from Sam to his mom. I too am a big A Lamott fan and Operating Instructions was the first of her books that I read. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rebecca says:

    All of us who love and have learned so much from Anne can now demonstrate it by loving and forgiving her for a mistake–just as we need love and forgiveness–pretty much every day, in my case!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for your loving post. I am so glad this is being talked about and that something very difficult is being used for good. I also invite you to read a letter I wrote to Anne Lamott that digs deeper into why exactly her response hurt so so much — not even just *what* she said but *how* she said it. I am a minister who is gay and who has been saved by Anne’s writings again and again. As a Christian and someone who missteps ALL the time (and believes in forgiveness and grace!) I understand a bit of where she is coming from and also why accountability IS part of our faith journey, including Anne’s own journey:!/AnneLamott/posts/10153017026209952?pnref=story

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Taylor Xavier says:

    Good for Sam for calling his mother out on such hateful, hurtful, and ignorant comments. That took strength to be a responsible ally to the Trans community.

    Anne’s apology is insincere and unacceptable to me as a Trans man. She apologized to our parents who have not lived through the discrimination, hatred, and violence that those of us with Trans experience have gone through. Lamott getting a PR team in to fix her mistake and issue an incredibly weak apology is not enough to fix the hurt that she has caused. She needs to do the work to educate herself, issue a sincere apology, and do work within the Trans community without seeking public accolades for it. Until this is done, I will not accept her apology. It is 2015. Trans people have been here since the beginning of time. It is not our fault that you haven’t educated yourself. It is not our fault that Lamott used a very public forum to spread hate. We are not going away and we are only getting louder. Be on the right side of history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • movppastor says:

      You know, I am so sorry you have been so hurt, that hurts me. However, to post such harsh comments is NOT the way to “fix” this. To question her motives is not fair. Whether you accept her apology or not reflects more about you than her. I’ve sure made some awful blunders (not mean spirited, just awful) regarding many issues but through grace and patience I’m “getting it”. I hope you never feel like you have “to go away” but that getting louder will not be so very hurtful regarding the very issues you want the rest of us to “get”. I’ll try to join you in spreading the message that trans people are pretty awesome folks. Those I know seem to have an extra measure of understanding and kindness. Perhaps that’s what I find missing in your post, any kindness. Being kind certainly isn’t for sissies! Very difficult! Blessings to you and remember, Sam is a product of Anne’s “raising”. That says something.


      • Movppastor, I didn’t feel that Taylor’s comment was unkind; only honest. Before there can be grace and forgiveness, there has to be acknowledgement of the hurt that has been inflicted. And we as cisgender folks especially should not tell trans folks how to feel or respond. Here is a response from another transgender person that elaborates on that:

        Liked by 2 people

      • Remember: it’s never the place of those who are privileged to demand that those who are not accept the apology of someone who hurt them. <333

        Liked by 3 people

      • wonderfall says:

        movpastor, I do not identify as a trans person either and I am growing in my understanding. I want to be kind to you as well and encourage you to reflect on the meaning of words. Your words, “Being kind certainly isn’t for sissies,” reflect an understanding of sexuality that is negatively judgmental. Why bring comparisons of gay (code word sissy) versus real men into your language? Perhaps another way of saying it could be “Being kind calls forth an inner strength.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Taylor Xavier says:

        I still stand by what I said. It was not intended as hurtful, but truthful. There is grace in accountability and in making amends. Anne’s statements cut very deep and honestly were without grace or good intentions. I was a fan of Anne’s for a long time and to read her words made them hurt more because of that. I am asking Anne (and anyone that wants to be an ally to the Trans community) to do their work and really show up for us. I am glad that Anne has a loving presence in her life like Sam that can help her through this. It is essential for cis folks to do the work to become solid allies. We will all make mistakes, but it is in how we learn and grow from them that matters most. In my opinion, Anne’s apology was not enough to fix the extreme hate and hurt that she caused.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Taylor, thanks so much for reading and for your comment. I hear you. I was hurt by her comments, too, and I’m not a member of the community she was talking about. I do feel like there is more processing for Anne to do, and more apologizing. I’m hoping and trusting that she will get there. It’s not easy either admitting your mistakes or changing your perspective, and this has all played out within the space of a couple of days. Thanks for sharing your honest feelings, here.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Shana Gold says:

    thank you for this. I agree with Sam that we should give Anne some grace as she has given so many before. However, I think she has some deeper amends to make to achieve full forgiveness from the community she harmed with her harsh and flippant words.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Atena says:

    Reblogged this on Creatrix: Blogging Mamalife, Creativity and the Human Experience and commented:
    This is a lovely blessing placed on an apparent train wreck. I hope my children will do this for me some day. As parents, this is the best outcome we can hope for.


  10. katiecoolady says:

    This has been a thoughtful thread to read. I was deeply affected by this-not a stumble or mistake to me but a reveal. It’s heartbreaking and still processing it. I’m not trans, but still all of this blew my circuits. Writing and reading helps. My response :

    Liked by 1 person

  11. katiecoolady says:

    I too was deeply affected by this. I have a real hard time with the man behind the curtain kind of business . These responses and my own writing about it are helping. You see I don’t view this as an innocent mistake of a pronoun but a reveal of a dark underbelly. By the way she left the most hurtful comment up calling this vulnerable human being non human. I can’t reconcile that with the person I’ve perceived. Here’s my piece trying to make sense of this.
    Thanks for letting me share and for your openness too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. […] Originally published on […]


  13. […] I try to remember that “before you knew, you didn’t know.” […]


  14. Andrea Coughlan says:

    Fairfax CA is most definitely NOT a community that is sheltered from LGBTQIA+ concerns, as Sam stated. All of us are allowed mistakes, missteps, and to learn but we are NOT allowed to spew hurtful statements in the most public of ways that cause incredible damage to human beings and then claim “we didn’t know because we’re sheltered.” That is making ridiculous excuses for a woman who’s spent her entire life engaged in a community just a few miles north of San Francisco. And, her attempt at an apology was thin and weak.


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