In the middle of dinner, there was a moment of complete quiet – mouths were full and bellies were happy, I guess. Tish looked up from her plate and said, to no one and everyone, in her loud, helium, precious, precious voice:
MY DADDY MADE SOME BAAAAD CHOICES. THEN HE WENT AWAY TO SOMEPLACE THAT’S TEACHING HIM TO MAKE SOME BETTER CHOICES. THEN WE ALMOST GOT DIVORCED. THEN MY MOMMY WENT TO VISIT HIM FOR A WHOLE WEEK AND SHE LEARNED SOME STUFF AND FORGIVED HIM. NOW DADDY’S COMING HOME TO LIVE WITH US AGAIN.
Then she ate another bite of her hot dog. I froze. Every adult froze. We all avoided eye contact for one looooooong moment.
The kids didn’t though. All the kids were smiling at Tish. They were reacting to her relief, to her truth, to her joy. They were happy for her. Their faces seemed to say: WHOA that was almost bad! That must’ve been scary! This is GREAT, TISH! The little girl next to her tapped her on her shoulder and said, “That’s good, Tish.”
Tish smiled and said, “Yeah. It’s good.”
...Then I turned to walk back into the house, suddenly quite thirsty.
On my way back inside, I looked down at my expensive scarf, manicure, and jewelry. I’ve learned that one of my defenses is over-accessorizing. I wear necklaces and makeup like they make me bulletproof. I giggled. All this STUFF. All this stuff that I hope says, “I’m together! I’m shiny and NOT AT ALL A MESS. SO not confused!! Look at how well this scarf matches these earrings?? I mean, not too matchy-matchy. I’m so together that I can be matchy without being TOO MATCHY MATCHY!! Obviously no problems here!”
And then I looked back at my girl and her friends. All truth. All joy. No shame in Tish’s game. No hiding.
“Let the little children come to me, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”
“If anyone wants to come to me, she must first make herself like a little child.”
I just want to be like Tish. I want to live in the Kingdom of God. Of truth, of love. I want to tap into my inner child and invite her forward to tell the truth with joy. So other folks’ inner children can come forward and react to my truth, to my joy, to my sadness, and hope. So we can really SEE each other.
No hiding behind scary grown up things we INVENT like shame and perfection.
So...Here’s the thing.
LIKE WE ALL DO, MY HUBBY MADE SOME BAAAAAD CHOICES. BECAUSE HE’S BRAVE, HE TOLD ME ABOUT THEM AND THEN HE WENT AWAY TO A PLACE THAT IS TEACHING HIM SO MUCH. I DIDN’T WANT TO GO VISIT, BUT I WENT ANYWAY. I LEARNED A LOT, TOO. AND MY STILL, SMALL VOICE TOLD ME TO FORGIVE AND FIGHT. WE HAVE A WHOLE NEW LIFE TO START, BECAUSE I JUST MET MY HUSBAND. I JUST MET HIM, ALL OF HIM, FOR THE FIRST TIME LAST WEEK. WE ARE ALL OUT IN THE LIGHT NOW. AND THAT IS A GOOD PLACE TO START.
Story by Glennon Melton originally posted here.
i'm trying to create space to ponder what it means to live without hiding, without shame, without trying to look (or feel) totally put together all the time.
we don't do this very well in the years immediately after graduation, this living honestly and vulnerably with one another. we're so disoriented by being thrown out into the big bad world, so shocked that we can suddenly be the same age and in completely different places (single, married, barista, law school, road trip through Europe, having babies...oh my). we're unsure of how to know if we measure up anymore because the standard for measurement just got that much more complex. so we try really hard to be stylish and generous and educated and kind and well-traveled; we claim bands and books and brands like our lives depend on it. but we don't know how to say to each other, i'm really confused. i'm really hungry for identity. i don't have a five-year plan. this relationship is hard work. i am not okay.
i'm wary of too much feeling talk, too much self-help (i'm not being sarcastic--it's a fine line to walk), but i think it is imperative: we must learn to begin living vulnerably, at least with a few. we must stop pretending with each other. we must be honest about how hard it is to keep showing up and living well when everything around us tells us to coast and stay on the surface. it is so hard to choose the costly thing, to dig deep, to step into the light. it usually feels easier to sink back into the shadows. we're doing all we can to feel okay and look okay, but i don't think that's really living.
"Then I decided that there is nothing shameful about being human. That we are each broken and each beautiful, and that we really do have similar longings, feelings, traumas, flaws, gifts, fears and secrets. And I learned that we stay as sick as our secrets. So I turned my insides out and I started writing. And my truth started setting others free to share their truths. And with that, I did my little part to help the world be free-er. That’s what I do here. I do my part." Here.
thanks, glennon. thanks to you other brave souls. this long-time perfectionist is trying to join in the chorus of vulnerable freedom with you as often as she dares.