Your mess is your message. Be strong and courageous in sharing it.
I’ve been hearing this in various forms at least every other day for the last month. It usually comes after I have shared from my life with someone unfamiliar to my story. Just as I am feeling what shame and vulnerability expert, Brene Brown, calls a “vulnerability hangover,” someone will say to me how much it meant to him or her that I was “real.”
The truth is that we connect with each other in our stories. Our stories serve to help us find points of connection with each other. Clearly, being honest with those around us helps us each to feel a lot less isolated. But, it takes courage. And courage is not pretty, sometimes.
There is great comfort in sharing our pain with safe people. Once we enter into the space of sharing, people will often respond with something like “I thought I was the only one.” or, “I thought I was going crazy.” We can find courage and encouragement in sharing our stories, even if we do it a piece at a time.
I am continuing to be in a state of transition, changing residences, settling into this career change, and continuing to build the coaching and pastoral care practice that is Hope at the Center, LLC. It would be easy to stay self-focused but that leads to getting lost in my own head. And that, while it might be easy, is never good.
But, God keeps calling me to be knee to knee with people listening to their pain, sharing my pain, and both of us finding hope and courage together. It is not fun to open myself up, remembering and reliving some of the bad times. But is good and right to share stories of how God triumphs over the crap in our lives.
And then, in the mail, comes this new quote from Brene Brown:
"You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both."
So, I’m continuing to choose courage, rather than comfort, and I hope you will, too. Courage is what keeps all of us moving forward. Courage is acknowledging our past, telling the stories, and being determined not to stay there. It is moving out of where we have been even if we don't know what the next step looks like.
As one woman said to me recently through tears, "I don't know what the future looks like, but I can't stay where I am." That is courage, beloveds.
It may not be pretty, it may not be easy, but it will be good. And, we cannot stay where we are for very long.
Messy courage is really the only kind.
(Joshua 1:9, VOICE)