If you took an hour per week to get clear about your direction, make an active plan for the future, and voice your fears, what would that do to your life? Imagine doing that for over 80 hours in 10 days. Friends, I essentially went through group therapy for 10 solid days on the first leg of the Making Things Happen tour: Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago. In giving the intensive and asking the simple but tough questions, I asked them of myself every time. I cried, I laughed, I got angry, I got clear. Jeff and I publicly challenged each other. Every time, our answers boiled down and revealed more and more with every city we visited. Some two weeks later, Jeff and I are back on the road and currently in snowy Nashville to experience the intensive with a man I admire beyond words, Jeremy Cowart. We are also both sitting here trying to finally blog. (Go, Jeff, go!) The last 36 hours in Atlanta were so powerful for me. The brilliant people we met gave me the courage to finally break my blogging silence. Thank you, friends.
My main goal from the start of this tour was simple: I wanted to learn how to tell my story. I’ve always feared what people would think of me if I told all of it. So, up until Minneapolis, I left out several major parts. It’s funny- I wasn’t even conscious of it. I had subconsciously blocked certain experiences out of my vocabulary. I must have said to myself a long time ago, “you just don’t talk about that.” They were simple experiences, somewhat common, but I won’t tell them here on the blog. I don’t feel like I can honor those milestones with typed out words. I’d rather tell you face to face so you can look me in the eyes and see what I experienced and how it shaped me.
In Minneapolis, I was moved by the courage of a couple people in that room who laid it all out. I said to myself, “ok, if they are going to take that risk, I can and should too.” So, for the first time ever, I told a a deeper part of my story… but still not all of it. I felt a shift the first time I let myself answer a hard question and give the not-so-easy real answer. By the time I got to Chicago, something in me knew it was time to tell my whole story… start to finish. Jeff hadn’t even heard it all. As the words fell out of my mouth, something in me started to heal, fall away, emerge. I started to see that, for me, the painful things I’ve experienced are meant to be gently shared so that others can hopefully learn from them and so I can heal through telling them. Thank you, dear friends, for sharing so much of yourselves and teaching me that being me (aka flawed) is ok in the process. [insert words big enough to explain what the simple act of telling my story has done to heal my heart]
Let’s be clear about one thing though … Nothing magically happened to me in those 10 days. I wasn’t struck by lightning or forced to do anything. I chose to do the work. I chose to take those 10 days to let myself go there. I did it because I started to see the me I was as a child- carefree, happy, whole. I have started to remember who I am at my core. I did it because the people I met on the tour did it too… many times, they did it first. They laid out all their fears, and I followed suit. I did it because, in finally telling my whole story, I realized that life is short and we can’t get these days back. Life is short, but our days and hours are long enough to make a difference… to make good things happen for other people.
A big part of me hasn’t yet processed all of this. I hadn’t blogged since that day in Chicago. I knew I’d never find words big enough to explain my feelings here. But, I couldn’t stay silent forever. So, here I am trying… It was a daily decision I battled with on the road- do I wake up and live my best life authentically, no holds barred, even if I get hurt? Or do I shrink?
Stepping into and through our fear starts with a very tiny moment. It feels like pain, but it dissipates almost instantly… as quickly as fleeting breath. I let the fear wash over me. I just got it all out- whether through words, writing, running, singing or laughing. Somehow, there has been a lot of child-like genuine belly laughter through this process. I felt the fear and did it anyway. I let myself open up and trust that God has me in the palm of His hand at every moment.
There is an incredible power in having our lives simply witnessed. The power of accountability is in being seen, accepted, and realized as we are right now… sometimes broken, weary and lost. I’ve started to see that one of the gifts of marriage is that witnessing. Sometimes you just need someone to listen and see where you are… no advice, no fixing… just understanding. I now see myself moving forward in ways I never thought possible. I’m so grateful to Ari, Jeff, Sandi, Katharine, Emily and dozens of new genuine friends who have given me that gift in the last 7 or so weeks since this journey began. When I say I’m grateful for the people that have come into my life in that time, there are –again– no words big enough to describe how they have inspired, taught, motivated, humbled and flat out changed me at first sight.
I wake up every day with the choice to continue to do the work or just go through the motions. It is not easy. It’s 2:50am and I have a big day tomorrow, but I’m choosing to finish this post -edited or not- because it’s a fear I need to get through so I can move forward. I know full well that this is just the beginning and I don’t even have 1% of the answers. There are a thousand layers to peel back and I’ve just barely scratched the surface. But, in simply scratching the surface, my whole perspective has changed. That 1% has made all the difference. I know in writing this post, it’s not perfect. There are volumes inside my heart that just don’t have the words to speak yet. They will eventually.
I will never forget finishing the Chicago intensive and standing for a moment in the conference room with Jeff. I said, “Jeff, how did we get here?” He just pointed up.
Love from snowy Nashvegas,