When my boys, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc, read this blog some day, they’ll find a lot of recipes, book recommendations, and pictures. Tons of pictures. But will they know who I am? Will they really know what I felt and thought and struggled with? Will they see me as a whole person?
Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I agree with that. There’s something revealed about us in every decision we make. Or don’t make. Every word we say. Or don’t say. Every action we take. Or don’t take. The small things – and sometimes especially the small things – are the building blocks of who we are. I know that the small things matter. I believe that. And still…
I desire to be more vulnerable and transparent, to share more on a deeper level, but these things are hard for me. Dr. Brene Brown talks about how people have a deep need to be seen. Even when we can’t do anything for them, can’t help them. Sometimes being seen is enough. I read those words and they resonated – deeply- within me, and I thought about what that says about those of us who have lived our whole lives trying not to be seen. Not just an introvert who’s happy to assist and stay backstage, but one who actively tries to remain in the shadows at all times. Hidden.
I understand the why behind it, of course. For me, anyway. Camouflage is essential for some animals. It’s survival plain and simple. If you can’t fight back and you can’t fly away, you must blend in. Keep your head down and be quiet and maybe you won’t be noticed.
Animals are smart, though. I watched twin fawns frolicking in our back field. I marveled at how they seemed to sense danger. They hid when needed, and played and cavorted when the danger passed. They didn’t spend their lives in hiding. They didn’t live recklessly. They lived in balance.
For the past several years, I’ve shared how I’ve worked to overcome several health issues. It’s only been in the past 6ish months that I’ve worked hard on emotional and spiritual issues. I haven’t shared much about that because it honestly has happened abruptly, like the single shout that suddenly brings down an avalanche and you’re buried before you can blink.
It started with reading Beth Moore’s book Audacious. I was gripped by the section where she talks about truly loving Jesus. She pointed out that we can believe he was real, admire him, respect him, applaud him, esteem him, agree with him, even go through the motions…but still not truly love him. The thought broke my heart. I begin praying that he would teach me to love him more than anything or anyone else.
Slowly, I was drawn to renew my commitment to daily prayer, journaling, Bible study, and devotional readings. Then I decided to create my vision board. I also began to devour books – read Tommy Newberry’s book on positive thoughts, then Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong, then Cloud and Townsend’s book on Boundaries, on and on. It seemed that with each prayer and reading I found new insights.
It was while I was reading Newberry’s book on the power of our thinking that I felt (and almost…saw) that I was standing on the edge of a very deep, very murky well. 4 words floated up toward me, I leaned in and saw them there on the surface, “I. Am. Not. Safe.” I knew that these four words came from deep down within me and were the foundation for many of my thoughts, words, and actions.
I. Am. Not. Safe.
I immediately began praying against those words. I searched Scripture for verses that told me otherwise. Several times a day I began deliberately, purposefully, telling myself “I am safe.”
I began to allow myself to be honest about things about my childhood. To allow myself to grapple with things that had happened and not happened that had an impact on me. For instance, I realized one day that moving so much in the first 5 years of my life had contributed greatly to my feeling of instability. We lived in so many different places and with so many different people. It was really unsettling.
In the past, I would never have realized this because I wouldn’t have allowed myself to really explore the issue. I would have felt I was being unfair to my mom – she was young and broke and was only doing what she had to to keep a roof over my head. It wasn’t her fault. I don’t blame her, but I still needed to come to grips with the fact that that nomadic life did have repercussions for me. I’m not bitter about it, but I did need to face it, understand it, and then let it go.
Olympia LePoint gave a TedTalk where she shares how the first step to change is to name your fear. Well, you can’t name something unless you are willing to come face to face with it. You have to face your fear, name it, reprogram your thinking, and then make your actions work in tandem with your new thinking. I found this simple and yet profound. Past, present, small issues or large, I think this wisdom applies to it all. Face your fear. Name it.
Dr. Brown talks a lot about paying attention to emotions. This interested me greatly because I certainly had a lot of emotions – more than I knew what to do with. I’d spent my whole life not crying about or “getting worked up” about things. And suddenly I was swimming in all kinds of feelings. According to her, most of us spend our lives either hiding from/stuffing away our emotions or allowing them to dictate our lives. She recommends we do neither. Emotions shouldn’t be ignored or placed in charge, but should serve as the “check engine” light on our dashboard. She says that emotions, if we are willing to “get curious,” can alert us as to what is going on deeper, beneath the surface. If we’re willing to face it.
It all comes back to being vulnerable. Having the courage to shine the light into the dark corners knowing full well me may be horrified at what we find staring back at us. Having the courage to peel back the layers of ourselves – to expose to God first – and then to others.
This started when I was finally disenchanted with so many years of striving to be “good” and to be “Christian enough.” When I was able to be honest about my relationship with Christ – built on “aughts” and “shoulds” instead of love. The thought terrified me, but I finally realized that ignoring it wouldn’t bring about change or healing. Only when I was able to be honest about my doubts and lack of love could I find the relationship I’d been striving for all along.
After that foundation was put in place it seemed that healing in my mind and spirit began to just flow. Reading my Bible, journaling, and praying all became joys instead of burdens. It gave me the desire and courage to face other things in my life and past and to find healing and answers. I’m now finding it easier to be honest with myself and with God about how I feel and what I need.
This is where I am now; I’m stepping out from the shadows, peeping out from behind my rock. Learning what it means to be seen and to be vulnerable. To speak up a bit more. To let go of things and people that have outstayed their welcome. To recognize the lies so they can be exposed to truth. To be whole. To just be.
All of the little things; the recipes, my garden, random photos, will always have a place here. They are as much a part of me and my life that they’ll always pop up. I only hope that I can begin to have the courage to write about other things – deeper things – maybe even ugly things – and be the whole-hearted person I was created to be.
“And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”