FJkfauanvjfhgiroanvfupsiot! It was the kind of day where you just want to scream and throw up your hands and quit, but you’re too exhausted so you just stuff it down and go through the motions to keep getting by. Who am I kidding, it had been that kind of week, that kind of month, that kind of year. If I’m being totally honest, it felt like that kind of life.
Isn’t that just the world we live in? The non-stop, stress-fractured, regret-riddled, heart-aching kind of reality that is life. Life. Such an ironic word to use to describe what it is we do day in and day out. How sad the word sounds, don’t you just feel the sigh in it? The wilted dejection, the already-surrendered-to-hopelessness last breath. Sometimes that four-letter word feels more offensive than any other.
There’s this empty, flatlined kind of indifference in our voices. Why is life as most of us know it so vanilla? And not Tahitian vanilla or French vanilla, but dollar-fifty, Walmart brand imitation vanilla. Am I the only one who feels that way?
I mean, I’m literally living my dream right now: I’m in Europe, surrounded by a community of incredible people, starting to fill my little life with the things I’ve always longed for. And yet, up until a few days ago (that story is to come in another post!), I still wasn’t satisfied. I had actually grown increasingly aware of how far from satisfied, from happy, I really felt. No matter what I did, what I tried, that deep ache for more just wouldn’t quit nagging. I have searched for that mountaintop experience when *it* just happens and I stop being held hostage by this emptiness. But that place is illusive. I’m realizing that I could see the whole world – gaze upon every beauty and partake in every experience…and miss it all.
I can miss the whole point.
Because what happens to my emptiness and my brokenness when I go to France on a new adventure? What happens to my loneliness and pain or my bitterness and fear? Guess what, they didn’t magically disappear, didn’t go away. Being here didn’t cause them to cease existing. And I came to the realization that this mess won’t ever completely get cleaned up, and the broken won’t ever truly be all fixed. Just as one mess gets cleaned up, another mess gets made. Just as one thing gets fixed, another thing seems to break. Whether it’s the weariness of the day to day and all that comes with it, or the mess and brokenness of my tired heart that beats daily inside my heavy chest…it’s never going to be exactly where or what I want it to be.
What if that was okay?
There’s this profound revelation about what it means to live. It’s not about trying to stay together or get it together so that no one sees how much of a wreck you are. It’s not about hiding your mess or getting it all cleaned up and presentable. It’s not about hoarding all the good you can and getting by without a scrape. It’s actually about being out there in the dirt, in the wilderness, in the middle of all the messy brokenness – and realizing that the brokenness and the unknown and the lack of control are actually the very things that make life a daring verb, not a boring noun: a great adventure, not a panicked journey.
Why is it that we never seem to understand how great of a miracle life truly is? How crazy and wild and beautiful it should be? Don’t we just love to be inspired to live, to watch people come alive? Think of the Olympics since that is still hopefully rather fresh in our minds. We almost all become captivated by the stories. We love the dedication, the commitment, the pain, the passion, the excitement of it all. We see these people who have given everything they’ve got and more to be there, and when they take their position when it’s about to be their race, their game, their time…you best believe they are going to fight with every last drop of their being. We love to watch it, we long for it ourselves too, at least in our own kind of way, right? So why do we have so much apathy? For the day-to-day lives we live, we live with no excitement, no anticipation, no blood-pumping, game-changing dedication.
Life is not this journey we take, trying to make it to the grave in one pretty piece, unscathed and unbroken. No, life is an invitation to embrace this dirt-laden, storm-making, sun-shining world; embrace the pounding pain and throbbing veins; embrace the heavy heart in your chest, and the heavier hope of glory for your soul. It’s an invitation to run with everything you have and run straight into and straight through the mud and the suffering and the gold. Life is only an adventure if we live it daringly – and to be daring we must embrace dangerous, embrace broken. I want to skid across the finish line, gasping for air, with lungs burning and eyes blinded, with absolutely nothing left but a soul-shattering cry of sweet victory! Victory that screams:
“I! MADE! IT!!! I’M DONE!”
I want to be able to say, “I have nothing else I could have given, I put all I have into this, and I am SO PROUD: I have no regrets!! I lived my life broken, and it was beautiful, because I chose to let the pain show me what it means to live! And I gave all of myself, and it was worth it, because I can’t go back and I can’t take anything with me.”
That’s what the swan song eludes to. The legend was that the swan, unable to sing its whole life, would let out one, single, stunning note as it took its final breath. It dies with beauty and life, with amazing grace, it dies with everything it has. It’s not actually true, but the imagery is beautiful. Don’t you want to know what it would be like to live, and even die, with everything you have?
I saw that the fulfillment of life is actually hidden in the pain.
For quite some time, I’ve been on the edge of this, and all around me is this dark, mysterious substance: vulnerability. It’s not bad, but it’s scary because I don’t know what will happen. But Brené Brown taught me that vulnerability is “not about fear and grief and disappointment: it is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for” – vulnerability is where the miracle is born. For a long time, I wondered what exactly it meant, how vulnerability was a birthplace. But now I see. Vulnerability is where you choose to be seen, be exposed, and say, “This is me.” You take a great risk, but you invite a greater reward. Because in that place, you can be seen and known and loved for who you are, and not only that, you invite others into a safe place to be seen and known and loved for who they are also. You invite others to be real with you as you are real with them, and it is there that we find deep healing and deep loving and “everything we’re hungry for.” Because if we go through life only holding up masks then how can anyone truly be loved?
I think I’m ready. I’m ready to jump and find out. I am ready for the risk, for the exposure – whoever said that would kill me? It’s like letting your skin feel the sunlight for the first time in months, it is good.
I want to feel that adrenaline, that hot-blood in my cheeks, heart pounding through my chest. I want to take risks with people and be seen and feel alive. I want to come out of hiding! I have this crazy love to offer you, and I can’t hold it back anymore. I can’t hold it back because my brother just lost a best friend to suicide, and we all are suffering a deep loss. I grew up watching this kid grow into an adult, I saw his potential, and watched him care for my brother and my whole family. I can’t hold myself back anymore because I’d seen his struggles before, saw his heart through his eyes, and I could have met him there, but now it’s too late. I could have offered him the unfailing hope I know, I could have offered him my peace and joy, my care. Even if only in small ways, or the smallest of ways. I can’t hold back, because when I hide myself and my strength and my love, who knows how many miracles I am missing? Miracles in the palm of my own hand. Miracles that the world has missed because of my own fear. The very thing we withhold from each other is the very thing we all need.
So, yes, I’m doing this: I’m stepping out into the open. I’m offering myself and I’m risking exposure. Some may reject me, hurt me, laugh at me, but I’m doing it anyway, because I know that the world needs it – I need it. We need people to usher the broken world into the healing, life-giving place of vulnerability and honest relationship. People who can show that love really is a choice and it’s a war that we fight for with weapons of self-sacrifice and submission, not selfish pride and dominance. I’ve been waiting for this day to come all my life. This day where it actually does become more painful to stay tight like a bud than to bloom like a flower.
It’s here! I made the dive, and it changed everything. I’ll share it with you as soon as I can.