My blog has gotten a new “look” this week.
I’m super excited about some upcoming opportunities that are coming with my writing. I’ve always used writing as a form of therapy, an outlet, and honestly, at times, an escape. Pearls and Vodka has been a long time coming. A lot of experiences have gone into the creation of this website and a lot of circumstances have shaped who I am today as a writer.
Writing became an escape for me during a time in my life where I had hit my own personal “rock bottom.” The proverbial low point in life when nothing seems to be going your way and everything feels heavy. I’m about five years removed from this time period and sometimes it is honestly hard to remember the person I was then. But as I sit out here tonight on my deck watching my 21-month-old son play with his water table I am so thankful for the beauty that has come from the ashes. As Glennon Doyle says, “First comes the pain, then the rising.”
The person I was back then tried to be perfect in all things; the perfect friend, the perfect employee, the perfect daughter, the perfect girlfriend…the list goes on, but you get the point. And it wasn’t that my actions were all that perfect, far from it actually, but my actions were the thing I thought I controlled. I thought I could control situations and make things go “perfectly.” And the craziest part was, it wasn’t just things going perfectly for me, it was for other people as well.
I was an addict.
Not a drug addict and not an alcoholic, no matter what the name of my blog makes you think. I was an addict to being accepted, loved, wanted, desired and included. I’ve always had a really good group of friends around me. I’ve never been what society calls an outcast. I’ve always been in the inner circle. But for whatever reason, my insecurities became my addictions and I thought I could alter reality, figuratively speaking.
I am sure you will be shocked to read that I was actually unable to do so. And in fact, on the trail of my addiction, I left behind some burned bridges. More like charred.
When you find yourself in that position you realize you have only one thing left around you, stillness. And in the stillness things get real.
Glennon Doyle said, “When I stopped trying to be perfect, I started trying to be good. And when that no longer worked, I stopped being good and just started being free.” I assure you, readers, right now, somewhere, the “Hallelujah Chorus” is playing at how profound that statement is. And here’s the catch, if you’ve never been there, you are thinking to yourself, “oh that is a really awesome thing to say.” But if you have been there, experienced that, felt that and found that, you are proclaiming one of the loudest “AMENs” you’ve ever uttered.
The truth is friends, the brutality of life that happens to us or we bring on ourselves doesn’t break us. Queue Kelly Clarkson singing, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” The truth is actually the brutal won’t break you, because the Beautiful sustains you. What it boils down to is that real life growth comes from that pain we either experience or cause and through that recovery comes.
One thing I had to learn in this season of my life is that “pain is not an indictment on us.” Another Glennon Doyle quote, can you tell I’m a fan? But she hits the nail on the head, whether we cause the pain or suffer the pain, it’s not an indictment on who you are as a person it’s just simply something that has happened in your journey.
I call myself a Jesus follower. I hate religion. It’s just not my thing. I’m with Jen Hatmaker on that one when she says, “The gospel is actually the enemy of religion.” The reality is the gospel teaches us that first comes the pain, then comes the “rising.” Jesus walked to his own crucifixion carrying his own cross. If that doesn’t spell pain, I’m not sure what does. He died an incredibly brutal, horrific death. But three days later He rose again. First came the pain, then came the rising.
Bob Goff said, “We keep asking God for a plan, and He keeps just telling us we are loved.” That’s the gospel to me. And that’s what I heard in the stillness I experienced five years ago. We do a real good job as humans of messing things up. We are experts at screwing up relationships and friendships. We are control freaks with the world on our shoulders. And the truth is, God’s just telling us how loved we are. I spent so many nights during that period of stillness wondering what God had for me in life, what was next, what was He trying to tell me. And what I learned was all the noise I heard and perceived, was me. The knowing I had in my soul that God wasn’t done with me, He loved me and there were better things ahead was God. In the knowing.
Brene Brown recently released a book called, “Braving the Wilderness.” I highly recommend it. Honestly, I can’t say enough good stuff about it. But the whole premise of the “wilderness” resonates so much with me when I think back to five years ago. Think of it like this: you are in the city there are lots of people around, lots of noise, all the hustle and bustle. When you escape outside the city into the wilderness, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s that stillness. I truly think more of us need to spend some time in the wilderness and take a census of our lives. That’s exactly what I did five years ago. I was in that symbolic wilderness. And I found my way. I stopped trying to do things right and just started doing things. I realized that the fires of life couldn’t burn me because as believers, we are fireproof. The fire is simply fuel to the light we are shining.
Five years ago I stopped living for everyone else and stopped trying to do everything, I just embraced the freedom and life has taken off. It’s not always a bed of roses, but the beauty of what the wilderness taught me is that it doesn’t have to be, the rising always comes after the pain.
To purchase Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, click here.