This morning I am just minding my own business scrolling through Twitter and come across someone's repost of Brene Brown TED Talk on Shame, and so I go and grab another cup of coffee and settle in to watch....again. The truth is that I have not watched it in a couple of years, but this morning all I could think of (after yesterday) was the first time I watched it in early 2013. Back then, coming across Brene (who was unknown to me) and watching her (two) TED Talks was like some surreal, out of body experience. I was undone and giddy simultaneously. Now, four years later I have devoured four of her books, written and spoken on my own journey with shame and vulnerability, and after three years of that....cannonballed into counseling last year.
So....I am sitting here listening to this accepting how far I have come and realizing areas I still need to work on.
When she gets to this quote and reads it aloud.....
The Man in the Arena
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
....I am undone.
So I started listening even more intently...my mind working through the visual memories of the last few years...how I am incorporated her words into my daily life....and then...
"If we’re going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path. And I know it’s seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself, I’m going to go in there and kick some ass when I’m bulletproof and when I’m perfect. And that is seductive. But the truth is that never happens. And even if you got as perfect as you could and as bulletproof as you could possibly muster when you got in there, that’s not what we want to see. We want you to go in. We want to be with you and across from you. And we just want, for ourselves and the people we care about and the people we work with, to dare greatly."
...that was me, and honestly, on my worst days (now), that still is me. It IS seductive.
Here is the ballgame....
Are you willing to leave everything at the door (or alter) and cross the threshold into unchartered territory and peel yourself layer by layer until you find your true center....and then, gasping for air, sit a spell and start operating from the very center, the heart, of Who. You. Are. ???
Who you REALLY are.
I have barreled through my life like a rocket....so yesterday morning in a meeting when I caught my own posture - relaxed in the chair, softness in my face, normal breathing, fully present - while in the middle of frankly a crap storm, I smiled all the way to my insides. When I recognize these moments in myself, they leave me breathless...even now. I know they are more frequent and some probably think it is silly to take stock of them at this point, but the truth is I hope I never ever get over the thrill of feeling peaceful. My pastor says all the time, "I hope I never ever get over being saved." Me too, but I also hope I never ever get over being healthy.
Yesterday someone spoke some good old fashioned truth into me about what they had seen in me over the past year; this is someone who sees me five days a week, but doesn't know my "story" (per se) so their words had an authenticity that your heart believes on a different level because they "don't have to love you" - LOL. Their encouragement on the heels of yesterday morning was refreshing to my soul.
Which leads me to this point....
We need to spend more time encouraging each other.
We need to encourage the person who looks like they have it all together....the one obviously struggling....the person who we see trying to do better....the person we love....the person we struggle with.....friends....family....co-workers....the stranger across from us at Starbucks....the person taking our money in the parking garage....anywhere, with everyone, All. The. Time.
We need to be encouragers.
We need it.
They need it.
Sure I am better. Sure I was having a decent day. Sure I am getting over a respiratory infection so healing is coming. Sure, sure, sure.
I still needed those encouraging words. They still pierced my heart.
The enemy wants me to believe I am not improving OR when I do acknowledge improvement, the enemy whispers to me about how long it is taking and "are we not there yet?" kind of nonsense. Imagine a person who never admitted weakness turning into me - writing about all of their weaknesses. There is, in essence, a bulls-eye on my back for the enemy. Sometimes his lies are deafening as they ring in my ears.
So....don't let the time it takes scare you....or the mountains still ahead deter you. Accept the encouragement when it is offered. Sit a spell, catch your breath, and then...keep moving forward. One step at a time.
Growth is hard....the waves crashing against and over you so when you crest one - savor it.
Yesterday I crested the waves so I threw open my arms, leaned back, looked up, felt the sunshine on my face, and whispered "Holy Spirit come".....if even for a moment. It was the best.
Now...who can I encourage today???
Who can you???
Holy Spirit come. Again and again and again. Come.
Holy Spirit come. Again and again and again. Come.