I have now sat down at this computer five times. It’s a twisted sort of writer’s block called: I have so much to write I do not know what to write.
But here I sit at our farm table eyes swollen from eating a bit too much, jewelry from the night before strewn across the table because I was just too tired to put it away when I got home, a warm cup of coffee in my right hand serving as a liquid mitten, and my coat crumpled on the table like a worn soldier from yesterday’s cold. You see, last night Seth and I went to our our quaretly-ish supper club with old friends from high school. Last evening, on the way to dinner while rolling down a wintery moonlit Hillsboro road in my cluttered SUV I was daydreaming out the passenger window when Seth turned down the radio a couple decimals and said, “I really am looking forward to this because it’s just so nice to simply laugh and be comfortable in your own skin.”
And that is exactly what we did.
After a full banter session, with words and stories flying out in between bites of Italian food we all moved from the dining room table to the living room to stretch out, grab a refill and to play a very un-orderly game of “ I have never….”. If you ever want to laugh until your obliques are on fire and maybe pee in your pants just a smidgen…this game is for you. Oh and leave your pride and ego at the door it’s like opening up your diary and letting someone have a free for all with all your youth’s missteps.
As we were playing there were so many comments of this variety: “ oh I wish I had never done that….” Or “ can I just forget about all the mistakes I made in the 90”s??” and as much as we were laughing and lovingly pointing fingers at one another it made me think, wow, we have all come a long way. And a part of coming that far is sowing the seeds of our stories. Even if our stories have lots of toiled places, quite possibly more dirt than flowers. But regardless, they are ours. And they make us who we are. We could have never laughed like that at 21 years of age because we had not made enough mistakes to learn, fallen enough to know what it means to walk, and failed enough to know the meaning of grace.
I say all this because we all have our journeys, our stories. It’s the one thing no one can take from us. It is our gift. Sometimes we want to exchange our story in for the pretty girl at dinner that seems to have it all. Or stare at “that” person’s facebook page eyes glazed over with envy. “That” person seems to have it all and when in reality their pictures that we freakishly stalk represent a false reality. We gaze through their Christmas album from 2011 and tell ourselves we want their life—when it reality those pictures merely reflect moments, glossed with false perfection in their reflection. All human lives if the curtains are pulled back all have worn out characters that collapse from time to time with scars that can only be seen behind closed doors. No one has it all. You and I must stop wanting someone else’s life—it’s like treading water with 200 pound chains on your ankles— you will get nowhere and absolutely exhaust yourself.
Truth is this: We all have something to share that might just possibly set someone else free. I hear so many people either say one of two things:
- My life is boring I have nothing to share or help anyone with.
- My story is so ugly—I have so much hurt and shame… I am embarrassed.
Both are Big. Fat. Ugly. Lies with three heads.
There is only one YOU and only one story like YOURS. That’s God’s gift to you. The worst thing you could ever do is run from your story or pretend your life is so perfect that you have no need to share your story in hopes that no one will know the real you. Both mindsets are delusional the latter is deadly. And Guess who really needs your stories? Your children. Why?
Because habits and mistakes get passed on unless we look them square in the eye and decide not to pass on our “issues” to our kids. If we don’t deal with them and make them a part of our story to be learned from then we might as well go to Michael’s craft store and get the fanciest ribbon and shiniest bow there is and wrap our “stuff” up ever so beautifully and lay them in our kid’s laps—voila, here…. little Mary Beth, here is my eating disorder and control issues, enjoy! . Laugh. But in essence that is what we are doing.
I ask you as much as I ask myself to address head on whatever it is in your family’s past that you don’t want to repeat— and with God’s grace and unconditional love for you take your crap out of your secret storage bin that only you know have the power to open and start sorting and trashing.
Most of the heaviest burdens we carry are invisible ones. We think no one can see our baggage when in reality we are walking through life humped over—our undetectable luggage casting shadows on every move we make. We can’t fool each other. We can ignore our hurts but that doesn’t stop them from growing–by looking the other way we are simply fertilizing our pain. Whatever you feed grows. Whatever you starve dies. Plain and simple. What are you feeding in your life by ignoring it?
Absorb that. What in your life do you not want your son or daughter to repeat? My family’s pattern was improving the dance of perfection and carrying around shovels 24/7 so our secrets would stay buried in hopes that other generations would never find out. When in reality Secrets are buried alive so not even the best shovel can kill them—they climb right out and walk all over our emotions.
BOOM. There it is. There is my junk. And trust me if you wanted to just sit and read I could give you more of my own flaws.
But there is such power in knowing that God uses weakness to bring Him glory. In knowing our identity isn’t in where we live, how perfect we appear, how thin we are, and whatever other ties that strangle us into a slow death. Our wounds and dog ugly places in our life are our treasures. We don’t have to live in bondage.
Don’t cheat yourself or your spouse or your kids or your friends. This is your life. God only gives us one. Dare to reckon with the rough places and they will be the things that set you free to live. I had to write down mine in my journal. I just started listing them and asked God in his abundant mercy to help me. Not just to help me but to give me the strength to live differently, not looking to past generations with judgment but with forgiveness.
There is no magic formula to living a full life, one in which you purposefully close the door on things that cause you and I to live small lives with your eyes on yourself. But I will say this as someone that has messed up A LOT a prayer of humility is a prayer of power. All you have to do is ask…and God has a beautiful way of taken the very things we once tried to hide and using them as the very things that set ourselves free from the inside out.
~~because I didn’t want to make this so long of a post that you need to take ADD meds I decided to end it. But if I can find, rather make the time between dirty breeding laundry and getting my out of control roots done then next week I am posting my story—the one I worked on with a publishing house last year and have yet to share on this ole blog. Because I like you…get scared when people know “it” all. But it’s my gift and I am ready to open it.
and…some pictures because relationships are why we are on this little round ball:)