When I decided to write for 31 days on frailty and the truths that make me squirm, I started from a place of vulnerability, and of COURSE I did because look what I’m reading. Mm-hm.
This book is deeply influencing how I see circumstances and relationships these days. Rising Strong is one of those books that makes you sigh audibly, snap the book shut, then urgently wash dishes for 15 minutes before you can read the next page. This author goes there. She’s been one of my favorite super heroes ever since Daring Greatly came out, and when I look for a voice I know I can trust to take me to the rough edges of myself with a hand on my back, all I can say is I trust Brene.
So picture this; I’m on a plane, sitting between two men reading about writing the stories that define us as a means to gaining the inner strength to “show up and stand my sacred ground” in my daily life, and I’m underlining like crazy AND taking notes. Awkward? Yup. Cramped? You betcha. But for some reason that 2+ hour flight was the perfect time for me to study. Why? Because I was stuck and seat belted in without the option of running. Tension-shmention. I was unstoppable.
Why do we run from the tension of difficult lessons? Why does the sudden urge to clean stuff, cook stuff, or eat stuff descend on us exactly when we are about to strike gold, find the answers we’re mining, or finish a hard task? We are smart people who know that tension is the tilling up of fertile soil which leads to growth, but often we still prolong the experience and procrastinate the benefit by resisting the obvious next step and bargaining past it.
THE BARGAIN sounds something like this for me.
Uh oh, this book about post-pain reinvention is skating too close to places where I still ache. I need to underline more. I’ll come back to this part. How close am I to the end of this section (flips page, page, page) Actually, I’m hungry. This coffee is cold. What time is it? No, I really want to read for a while longer. These thoughts have some rich lessons attached and I need to learn them. But a prize may be required after this emotional workout in the form of a snack. Mmmm.
Guess what follows this bargaining on a normal day when I’m not trapped between two men on a plane and seat belted down?
Well, this morning it was this amazing porridge from Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon!
And it was sumptuous with a little cold almond milk on it. (A favorite cookbook of mine, for sure, and a perfect tension-blaster.)
But seriously, this is what I am exploring as I continue to challenge myself to creep past the edge of discomfort (in writing and in life) and let the lessons I’m living have impact. Tension is TENSE but it isn’t terminal. It’s actually a flashing neon sign that I’m onto something.
Another thing this year has shown me is that if I am getting tense in an ordinary situation, when there are no obvious threats, it’s a great time to pray and listen to what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal. Some of my friends call this a God Tap.
Recently I was out with one of my best friends enjoying a yummy lunch at one of our favorite bistros when I noticed my jaw tightening and the old familiar warm flush of embarrassment rising up my neck in the middle of a feeling I was trying to explain. It really surprised me because I was in a happy place with a safe person, but something was sending my heart S.O.S. signals. Instead of shutting the whole thing down (“Um, waiter? Check, please!”), I used the opportunity to silently pray, “God, what’s up with THIS?”. Praying is always an option, in every situation we can invisibly check in with our God and fully anticipate his response. I find this amazing. What he returns to me before there are any answers is usually a wash of peace. This reminds me that prayer really is not so much about getting what I’m after, as much as it is about receiving from the Lord the thing he has for me. The peace, love, rest, or some kind of sweet comfort or strength he wants to drop in. His choice. It’s all good. He did go on to show me what my tension had been about that day with my sweet friend. And I was glad that I pressed him for it, too.
In the end, choosing to inch into the tension of ordinary moments never hurts as much as it threatens to. And afterward, you get the Brave Girl star on your forehead, even if you have to stick it on yourself.