Going Topless With Jen Hatmaker

The other night, I posted this picture on Instagram:

pants off

with this caption:

Let’s take a minute and talk about this picture, shall we? Okay.

First: Those pants in the middle of the floor? Mine. Because after 9pm pants are optional in this house. And it doesn’t matter where I am, they come off so I’m comfy. Even if that’s in the middle of the living room. And yes, I left them sitting there on the floor so I could run downstairs and watch TV (because we don’t have a DVR. Don’t ask.). No worries, I’m sure my awesome husband will pick them up. (No, for reals, he really will. And he’ll fold them or hang them up).

Second: Those school uniforms laid out nicely on the couch? My kids. My daughter set her’s and HER BROTHER’S out so they’ll be ready quickly in the morning. She did this. I didn’t ask her to.

Conclusion: My kids win. I come in a close second… who am I kidding? I come in last place. But I do win on the husband thing. He’s a keeper, pants and all.

Someone commented about how she loves my honesty. My reply was something about how shameless I really am.

And it got me thinking. I realized that sometimes, I really am. Shameless.

But here’s the thing…I’m not frivolously shameless. I’m shameless with purpose. There is a difference, you know. There is.

I like to think of it as my spiritual gift. Shamelessness. I’m sure you can find it somewhere in the scriptures, “Thou shall not be embarrassed that thou haven’t her crap together and thou shall be vulnerable and bear it all for the world to see.” Yes, I’m sure it’s in the Bible just. like. that.

And along with my shamelessness spiritual gift, there is something else. And I think it goes hand in hand. I’ve written about it before and you can read it here, but I hate clicking on those links so I’ll just sum it up for you. It’s about going topless. No, not like that.

Remember when you used to (or maybe still do) go skinny dipping with your girlfriends? You’re all standing there in the cold and everybody’s waiting for somebody to be the first to take their top off and jump in? It’s like that.

Exposing our flaws and struggles can sometimes feel like that. Nobody wants to go first.

Every fall for the last 3 years, I have gone to a women’s retreat outside of Asheville, SC at a Young Life camp called Windy Gap. You GUYS. This is my most favorite weekend of the year. You need to go next year. We can be bunk buddies…

triple bunk

You can sleep on top ;)

Anyway, this year, I wasn’t really looking forward to going. I wanted to see my friend I meet there every year, but I wasn’t stoked on the speaker. Maybe you’ve heard of her? Jen Hatmaker?

Now don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a great speaker/writer and she’s funny and all that. Heck, one of her books was part of the inspiration behind my aWEARness Project. But man, last year she seemed to be everywhere. Even on TV!

And now she was coming to my sacred weekend and because of her, it sold out in a few hours and now there’ll be crazy-lady-fans who have never been before just coming to see this Jen Hatmaker girl. Basically, y’ know, I felt like she was ruining my weekend. Cause this world apparently revolves around me. (Oh, Amber…maybe there’s still hope for you.) And so the whole everybodys-into-it-so-I-will-do-the-opposite thing? Yeah, that. That was my attitude going into the weekend. Mature, I know.


I was pleasantly surprised (as this sort of thing usually goes). She was incredibly candid about her last year. Very vulnerable and honest. She talked about the busyness and how we need to feel known and loved and how we’re not alone. And all the pretending we do and masks we wear and how tired we are because of it. How she was tired because of it. She was speaking my language. Preaching to the choir and my heart was singing along…YES, finally!

(And then I took back all the un-nice thoughts I had about her ruining my weekend and apologized to her in my head and she forgave me and then we hugged it out…in my head.)

On the second day, at the end of her talk, she announced, “Okay, now we’re going to spend some time sharing out loud what’s going on in our lives. What we’re struggling with. How we are feeling. Because if one of us is feeling a certain way, then most likely 10 of us are feeling that way too. We’re not alone in this.”

And then she stopped talking.

And it was quiet.

400 women…totally still.

After a few awkward silent seconds, she’s all…”I can stand here all day ladies. I don’t mind the silence. I’ve done this before and I can wait it out.”

And I believed her. I knew she could. I knew she would.

I was sitting on the floor in the very front row watching her slowly walk the stage.

And I’m thinking for the love…would someone just start already? Someone just go first?

And then… my heart started beating fast and I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. Oh crap, it’s me. I’m going to do it…I’m going to say something… And before my head told my mouth to shut up, I blurted:

“I’m really lonely,” and then through my ugly cry, “and my marriage isn’t good right now.”


Why would I do that? Who says that? Out loud! In front of hundreds of people!

After the session was dismissed and I was unsuccessfully hiding my puffy face under my hoodie, a woman came up with tear-filled eyes and shared with me how her marriage isn’t doing well either, and that it hasn’t been for a long time.

We hugged. And I knew it was worth it.

It’s worth it every time you guys. Every single time.

Because that is the power of going shamelessly topless. Even if it’s in front of Jen Hatmaker.

And know that topless or not…you are NOT ALONE in this. We’re in it together.


Amber  (with pants off, but top on right now)







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4 Responses to Going Topless With Jen Hatmaker

  1. amanda ritsema says:

    Yay! I love this blog and appreciate you!

  2. Renee says:

    Love this!!! So true and so many laughs in here, thank you for sharing:)

  3. Sally Peterson says:

    I love you – I love who you are. I’m so glad we can be topless together. Ewww…that’s weird. But you know what I mean.

  4. Gabrielle says:

    Wow, Amber you truly are a wise gem!!! Your vulnerability makes people feel at peace and that they don’t have to put up a façade in order to feel accepted by you. Thank you for being so authentic and genuine. The enemy wants us to feel alone in our struggles –alienation leads to isolation…and no one is meant to be on an island alone. Your story is so true, we may think we are the only ones facing an issue, when in reality people around us are dealing with similar challenges. We can help one another through them if we just are able to get past the first stage of letting others see into our lives –shamelessness. I definitely think satan tries to use shame to hold us back through insecurity. I love your idea of going through life “TOPLESS” :) I want to be more like you in how vulnerable I am with people! I love your courage & boldness. XOX

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