Vulnerable Schmunerable

vulnerability-is-not-weakness-and-that-myth-is-profoundly-dangerousI have been dwelling on the thought of vulnerability since Tuesday evening. I had the privilege of attending Donald Miller’s book launch and reading. Sitting in that room full of creatives I was both inspired and intimidated. Hearing Donald read from his new book Scary Close, was truly heart-touching and terrifying.

The reason being is because I have been stuck on getting vulnerable in my own writing. I have warred between humor and transparency, wondering which I should really embrace in the book. I hear the coming tidal wave of critics if I am honest, and it causes a pause in my heart. In my mind and in my writing.

But Tuesday night stirred deep within me the thoughts on vulnerability, and how we in today’s culture use that as a means of being truthful with people to hurt. We wield vulnerability and transparency as weapons often. Instead I think we need to a bit more truth couched in social skills and resiliency. We need to compassionately breathe in truth while breathing out wisdom and peace.

It’s so hard though. In the midst of it all. To lovingly embrace the uncomfortable. To encourage through discipline. To love through doubt. Vulnerability has not yet once said it is comfortable. It has never pretended it was easy or put on a facade that said “it’s natural.” No it doesn’t give us that illusion. While being vulnerable is never comfortable, it is helpful.

Let me repeat that…

Vulnerability is helpful. To the person giving it and the ones receiving it. It’s a transactional relationship and one that we find is easier given than received.

Today attempt to move from the comfort of a facade and be a part of transactional vulnerability. Don’t hide behind defenses or points, rights and wrongs. Choose to both give and receive vulnerability in light of another person.

You’d be amazed at what can occur.

Mini-Break Holiday

I don’t normally take advantage of a three day weekend to go out of town. I am not sure as to why but I often just look at it as a way to accomplish more with the extra day, whether errands or around the house. For the last year a friend had been living in Atlanta, and I had been attempting to make plans to visit. It seemed at every turn they got cancelled by weather or illness or scheduling (my part).

Finally last month we settled for the MLK holiday weekend, that way we both were off for an extra day and could have a very chill break.

Let me just tell you, if you don’t live in the Southern US (and some of you don’t so hey Canada and Ireland!) that the weather this weekend was superb. We don’t see mid-60s in January. We just don’t around these parts, but we did for three glorious days. It even looks like we’ll get up there today. My friend and I ate ridiculously great foods, imbibed on some adult beverages and I did some damage at Ikea. I also put the media cabinet together upon my return home yesterday, like a boss.

Why am I sharing all this today? Because we simply need breaks in life. I know I just returned to work off a Christmas holiday vacation, where I had my wisdom teeth removed and an abbreviated visit home. Something about this weekend had an extra touch to it, whether it was the spring-like weather or being in another city that I feel at home in.

We need moments where our phones get put away, we enjoy the person we’re with and the environment we are in. Did I check my phone on occasion? Yes. But I didn’t feel it necessary to stay glued to it, as I often push myself to do. I realized that this mini-break holiday is needed in all our lives for a breather. To take a pause and remember life and appreciate it for what it is-fleeting. I could check emails in my off-time or I could indulge in a walk around a beautiful park in the middle of downtown Atlanta.

This mini break holiday put a bookend on the last year for me that brought about alot of internal dwelling and thought, alot of frustration and tension. It closed the door on a chapter that I had been lingering in for far too long, attempting to write my own paragraphs. When all I truly needed was a break, space and to breathe in the newness of it all.

A new chapter.

A new mindset.

A new appreciation for life that is to be lived, not worried or fretted over.

May you get a mini break holiday in your life if you’ve not had one. To become unsettled and renewed. To gain joy that is lost and peace in the midst of it all.

The Fear of Fitness Classes

Let me admit here among friends that I am incredibly awkward when working out. I may love some music and dance around, but God did not gift me with the ability to be coordinated in those efforts. It’s who I am.

For a very long time I steered clear of anything beyond weight machines and cardio machines. I felt safe there, nothing could make me look utterly ridiculous. Then I hit 30 and my body decided it didn’t really care for doing those exercises with the same results. (PS, this is an actual thing..as you age your body responds differently as your metabolism morphs)

I knew it was time to start exploring other means of working out. Hear me when I say I am not a gym rat, you probably could already figure that out. But the fear of how I would look, not knowing the routine or possibly being in way over my head engulfed me. I refused to take any classes at the Y for two years.

I finally bit the bullet, hurried into a class on campus and camped out in the back. I decided I might be awkward but chances are, someone else in the class was new. I ended up loving the class (while incredibly grueling but completely worth it) and became a regular. I quickly realized that most people are not intense experts at fitness classes, except for the instructor.

I gave myself permission to be a beginner and let everyone else off the hook too. 99% of the time people are not judging us in that. We are vain creatures by nature and are often more concerned with how we are viewed than viewing others. We let fear have power and authority in lives by giving it to a thing (starting a new career, graduating, buying a house) or a person (your spouse, a love interest, your boss, a peer).

Fear will grip you when you are about to step out, try something new or forge a path for yourself. Fear is the flag that waves when you are out of your comfort. Maybe it’s time we burned that flag of fear and instead chose to learn something new. Chose to live out of comfort instead of in it. Chose to put down our own ego and create space for joy.

Comfort to Coals

So my friend Dustin wrote recently about firewalking and it’s been rattling around in my head more and more.

The worry over it hasn’t been the fact that God is calling me out to fire walk with Him into trials and situations. My feet, as well as my hands and knees, bear the calloused skin of prior walks (and crawls) through the coals. The callousness has caused for a while the appearance of uncaring, of complacency and settledness.

It’s shown comfort when there should have been a sloughing off and preparing once more. Yes, we build up the skin which has been exposed to flame…but only to recall and then peel it away for the next walk through fire.

We take the time to smooth out the roughness in order to lay bare the next layer of life, of learning, of walking through it with Him. Not to gloat, not to show off the burn marks, but just because we are called to the fires of life.

While a couch provides respite from life, it gives comfort and a sense of being unlike anything else…it can also entrap us into believing it is what we deserve. We find ourselves in the continual battle of turning to comfort rather than coals. Ultimately though, we are called from that “couch cushion fort” as my friend termed it, to the coals that burn away parts of ourselves, the parts that needed pulling away and preparing for the next moment, the next situation and the next life.

Do not forego rest in times following the testings of life, but don’t mistake that for excuses not to turn and prepare once more to set about the fire with Him. For He’s called us into it, not to leave us but to walk right along side us through it.


 

“And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”  He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

Daniel 3:23-25

“You’re My Favorite Mom.”

I have a pretty great mom. I think y’all should know that. For years and years, I didn’t.

sara1989I was a contentious child, to say the very least. I know that now, believe me, I do. I pushed buttons and directed the majority of it towards my mom…the one person who probably loved me the most during that time. Now that I’m older and a wee bit wiser, I recognize it wasn’t easy raising me (and my sister) as pretty much a single mom. My dad wasn’t really around much for the parenting part of our childhood, and mom put up with alot…and prayed through so much. The older I get the more I see just how amazing she is, and was for the years I took for granted.

Mother’s Day is hard for my mom. Her mom isn’t here to celebrate it with us anymore, and we lost her around Mother’s Day six years ago. I got angry with God for taking Mother’s Day from my mom like that, who so deserves to be celebrated. I know my mamaw is celebrating a healed body in heaven with my papaw and many others, but I still got angry that mom couldn’t even have Mother’s Day.

So often we, who have our moms or who are moms, take it for granted…and that is mom 5.13.2013something I realized this weekend as it was spent with my mom. The hurt is masked in those days when moms are celebrated and gifted with roses and photos, shout-outs and hugs. I have a friend who just gave birth and sits beside her daughter in the NICU praying for healing. This Mother’s Day wasn’t spent how she thought it would be. I have friends who have lost a child and know the pain that Mother’s Day brings with those memories. And I have my mom, who cannot celebrate Mother’s Day without the pain of the loss of her mom.

Today on the Monday following Mother’s Day, I celebrate those who are in pain of a loss of a mother or child…who are hurting and needing comforting because they cannot conceive…and for those who don’t have a mom in their life. I pray for each of you and for the comfort and knowledge that you are loved today to envelope you.

 

Summer lovin, had me a blast…

Photo Courtesy of Perfect Strangers of NYC
Photo Courtesy of Perfect Strangers of NYC

About this time last summer I had had enough of being single. I was over it entirely. I had reached a point of just utter uncomfortableness with the thought of one more weekend of Lifetime movies and chocolate (cause that’s how everyone else things we single ladies spend our weekends).

So I joined the lovely world of online dating. Along with heavy-framed glasses and scooters, it’s the trendy thing to do here in Nashville if you’re single. So I gave myself three months, and invested in an account on Match. I went full force into it too, giving everyone a shot at a conversation, but being careful about what I revealed. For a few weeks it was fun, and I agreed to dates with two guys who both seemed interesting.

Cue a conversation in the small group I was in at the time where we delved into our online lives. Two of us were sharing we’d gotten into online dating and both had upcoming “meet-ups” that weekend. As she and I start sharing, we figure out that we have a date, on the same day, with the same guy. Laughs ensued and she and I discussed the matter privately. We came to an agreement and that was that.

After three months in online dating, I really couldn’t see a future for me in it any further. I kept seeing the same matches come up that really didn’t interest me, as well as some creeper guys that just couldn’t take a hint. I went into the fall with a different perspective on dating, and my singleness.

Now I see how much I struggle with giving God control of things. Over those months prior to me joining online dating He’d been trying to reveal to me in very distinct ways how I needed to let go and allow Him to be at work, but I just couldn’t see it. I didn’t think He knew what it felt like to be alone, with the thought of dying alone…and then it hit me.

He knew exactly what it meant, He knew the fear and the heartbreak, because He’d suffered it as well. He wanted to comfort me, to give that so that I would then extend it to those who need it as well. He had been there, and He knew I was there…I just didn’t want to acknowledge that I was to Him and allow Him to be my comfort.

What is it today that you are needing to recognize you are struggling with? What are you needing comfort in?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts usin all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5