I never intended to be the kind of blogger that went months without writing–vanishing until the perfect epiphany generated some line of thought that was both coherent and worth reading. But here I am, nearly a year removed from my last post, stumbling over my own thoughts.
Part of my silence has been due to the season of life that I have found myself in the past year; it was an adventurous season with a new job in a new city, but also a very lonely season, being removed whatever semblance of support system I had before and tripping over my own self-imposed road blocks. There were a lot of negative emotions in that season–anxiety, loneliness, shame, isolation, numbness–and they were all accelerated by the fact that I was unwilling or unable to bring them before others. I clearly remember going to church one day, desperately wanting someone to call me by name and ask how I was doing so that I could honestly reply “I’m lonely.” When I was actually asked how I was doing, I curtly replied “I’m fine” and then rushed out of the building in a near panic of frustration.
Vulnerability is not laying it all out there for everyone to see, but sharing your story with people who have earned the right to hear it. So even though I’m (more) okay naming when I’m not okay, I’m not going to share my whole journey here, nor should I. I do, however, want to share some of the revelations I made along the way.
Last March I was driving around Nashville with a friend. I was feeling particularly shameful that evening–it was evident by my demeanor. My friend noticed my mood and asked how I was feeling. With some prodding, I opened up, shared some of my story, and let her know how I was feeling. Truthfully, whenever I am honest with myself I am also very critical of myself; I usually expect to receive the same criticism or rejection from others. But instead of a cold shoulder or harsh criticism, I received compassion and understanding.
We talked about myself for a while longer, and I thanked her for asking questions about me–I’m not one to talk about myself much. She replied saying “You’re welcome, but I feel funny saying you’re welcome. You deserve to be known.”
“You deserve to be known.”
The honest truth is that I cried a little when I heard that. I often get wrapped so deep into my own shame that I don’t see my own worthiness. I didn’t feel like I deserved to be known. My view of myself is usually no where close to the way that God sees me, or even how my friends and family see me. But that statement was the beginning of a new season–one where I began to explore my own worthiness, love, and belonging.
Thinking about my worthiness isn’t altogether new though–I’ve always held the darkest parts of myself close to me. That’s why I named my blog “Longing For Redemption” because I genuinely yearn for a redemption where my shame is undone and I feel not only unconditionally loved but also worthy of love.
This new season hasn’t been characterized by some ambiguous idea of love or eventual idea of worthiness, but for love and belonging and worthiness to come into my life right now. If you’ve asked me at all about what I’ve been reading, I’ve most likely told you that Brene Brown has been wrecking my life. Her books all center around the idea of living wholeheartedly, or engaging life from a place of worthiness. The things that get in the way of living wholeheartedly are shame, fear, and invulnerability–three things that I am generally great at.
I’m still learning, and I still find myself caught up in self-pity or loneliness, still defaulting to feelings of shame or unworthiness, and still struggling to be vulnerable. I’d be lying if I said that returning to Nashville from the YouthWorks summer wasn’t difficult. YouthWorks is hard and it is busy and it is unexplainably exhausting, but in YouthWorks I belong, I have a support system, and I have friends. In Nashville I have a bed and a job. Nashville is lonely, and despite some efforts on my part, I don’t have many people I can call friends here.
So pardon the incoherency or rambling, and I’m very sorry if I sound like a self-help book, but it is time to break an oppressive silence that I’m learning to speak, and I hope you’re continually learning to hear.
Worthiness is your birthright.
You deserve to be known.
It’s okay to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and just be who you are.
You are enough.