BRAVE (part one)

…And since your history of silence won’t do you any good…

Did you think it would?

LET YOUR WORDS BE ANYTHING BUT EMPTY

WHY DON’T YOU TELL THEM THE TRUTH???

And say what you wanna say

And let the words fall out

Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

To say what you wanna say…

Brave, Sara Bareilles

 

I don’t even know where to start.

So…I’ll say this…what I’m about to write about is going to be TOO.MUCH for one simple blog post…this could require multiple postings…and I don’t know how many and I don’t know if anyone will even read this (Hi Melissa and Shari and Jill and Whitney and Terri:), but as I am processing these things, as I am exploring and discovering and bringing to light things that have been hidden in the dark, I’ll continue writing. Even if it’s for my own therapy.

Two recurring themes have been dancing around me for awhile now.

VULNERABILITY

BRAVE

What follows will be unedited and raw…and I think that’s just what it needs to be. I’ve prayed for days that God would grace me with untangled thoughts and ideas that were anything but the disjointed mess flowing through my heart, but as I sat in church yesterday, I think I caught a glimpse of why I haven’t felt a clear starting point.

It is because that is exactly what I needed to share.

THAT I HAVE NO CLEAR STARTING POINT. THAT MY LIFE IS NOT A SERIES OF PERFECT CHAPTERS AND PHRASES AND ALL ENDS TIED NEATLY WITH RIBBONS AND BOWS.

The honesty…the VULNERABILITY to BE HONEST…comes in saying…I have no idea what I’m doing. ALL I KNOW IS THIS….

THERE IS NO NEED FOR ME TO HIDE BEHIND A FACADE.

THERE IS NO REASON THAT WE CANNOT SHARE OUR STORIES AND OUR HURTS OUTLOUD.

Not in an attempt to look for sympathy, but in a courageous effort to say…Good night. I have been HURT. I HAVE BEEN WOUNDED. I HAVE DOUBTS and I HAVE DREAMS and I FEEL LONELY AS HELL.

And I say words like “hell” and “damn”…and we can all play “nice Christian” and keep them out of our vocabulary if that is something that you find offensive…but there’s really no reason for me to pretend anymore that I DON’T say those kinds of things.

For a long time, my entire life basically, I have tried to hide beneath safe layers of what would be acceptable to others. There’s no need to start thinking I’m hiding bodies in my basement or even skeletons in my closet, but I have lived a life of silence.

Saying only what would be considered the “right” things or the “good” things. And thinking that somehow, that “not quite” polished exterior was what would keep me being “enough” in the eyes of the world.

It wasn’t even that I wanted to appear as some perfect version of who “Annette” really is….I just wanted to blend in and be like everyone else. I wanted to be like the pictures of the girls on Facebook with their friends in a coffee shop with their arms around each other and some caption that read something like, “So blessed to share life with these ladies!”

I say that with a side of snark, because we all know…Lord help us, WE ALL KNOW, that when we post that picture what we are in effect saying is, “I feel good about myself here and my hair looks great and I am rocking those boots. And my girlfriends…Y’all!! I have girlfriends!!

Oh…and we are all looking chic with our Starbucks paper cup.”

Can I be honest? Sometimes…I just don’t even want to carry my Starbucks paper cup in public…and I do like I good white chocolate mocha…but it seems so damn cliche that I find myself repulsed by the fact that I have one.

But please….don’t call me a hypocrite if you ever see me with one because I can’t pretend that I’m so self-righteous that I DON’T BUY expensive coffee or that I’m so cutting edge that I carry around my own reusable mug to pour my coffee in so I can make a “statement”…Lord knows that I don’t have time for the mess.

Just know that, inside, I am dying a little at the loss of individuality I have just suffered.

DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE A PLASTIC BAG

DRIFTING IN THE WIND

WANTING TO START AGAIN?

DO YOU EVER FEEL…

FEEL SO PAPER THIN…

LIKE A HOUSE OF CARDS

ONE BLOW FROM CAVING IN?

DO YOU EVER FEEL ALREADY BURIED DEEP?

SIX FEET UNDER SCREAMS AND NO ONE SEEMS TO HEAR A THING?

 –Firework, Katy Perry

RIGHT. THERE. In the lyrics to that song, Katy Perry has captured EXACTLY HOW I FEEL a great deal of the time.

We have to be able to tell our story. We have to be able to OWN that story. And we have to love ourselves through it.

There is a remarkable researcher/sociologist, Dr. Brene Brown, whose work I have recently become fascinated with. She has spent years and years researching the need for human connection and the relationship between shame, worthiness, and vulnerability. In fact, I posted one of her TED talks on my Facebook page a few days ago.

If you haven’t seen it, really…you should take 20 minutes and watch it.

It. Is. FASCINATING.

At the beginning of one of her books, she says this…

OWNING OUR STORY AND LOVING OURSELVES THROUGH THAT PROCESS IS THE BRAVEST THING WE WILL EVER DO.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Now…personally speaking…one of the things that I have to be careful with is this…telling MY story, and not someone else’s.

The story of my past several years that has really led me to the place that, I’m going to be honest, just this past week, that I have discovered…well, it intertwines with quite a few other peoples stories.

My husband has a story. My kids (especially my oldest) has a story. And my story involves people who have let me down and disappointed me and hurt me and walked out the back door when I needed someone to come in the front and sit with me in my mess and cry with me and love me through it.

But those stories are not my stories to tell.

So there is a dance…a fine line…where we reveal our truth and our story, but we must not throw others under the bus or share things that they are not yet ready to share.

I’ll end today’s blog with this…

A year and some odd months ago, my family’s world was turned upside down. And it appeared to those on the outside, I suppose, that we were fine and we were okay and…the belief seemed to circulate that we were making a big deal out of a small situation.

But it was a situation that HURT LIKE HELL.

The short version that I can give is this…

Within about 6 weeks time, we lost our “community”, our purpose, and we were…as a family…utterly and completely alone. And we lost part of our income.

And then…my grandmother passed away.

A week and a half later, Stephen’s grandmother passed away.

And a week after that, we took another financial hit when the owners of the shop Stephen worked at needed to cut his salary…by 20%…in order to make their budget come anywhere close to balancing.

It wasn’t personal. It was business.

But thrown on top of the already devastating circumstances we were facing, it was enough to send Stephen and I headlong into a season of depression during a winter that seemed to never end.

There is light to this story, however. And we’ll get there eventually. But…I cannot relate a life of rainbows and unicorns without telling you the truth… and that is that we were facing down demons and dragons and every sort of horrible insecurity that could rear its ugly head.

If you have not read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy.

In short, she talks about how in giving thanks…in the eucharisteo…there is joy.

…as long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. JOY IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE.

I’m going to share with you…in my honesty and vulnerability and attempt to “let the words fall out” and “be brave”…an excerpt from my journal just a few days ago. The day that I finally was able to give THANKS….true soul-changing thanks….for that long season that seemed an endless nightmare.

 

It was during the dark depression of last winter—in losing community and family and physical provision—that I REFUSED to give thanks.

I was steeped in a hurt boiling over in bitterness and anger.

I would let the anger toward humans overtake me…until it turned into anger at God.

There was no thankfulness.

There was only, “What in the HELL are YOU DOING?!”

And while God allows us a season of that, where even an angry prayer is still a prayer…at some point, at some stillness in the chaos of our souls, we begin to heal. And as we are healing, as the darkness is replaced with hope, we can begin to give thanks for the wounds that ultimately bring us clarity.

Ann Voskamp says this, “OUR WORLDS REEL UNTIL WE REJOICE. A SONG OF THANKS STEADIES EVERYTHING.”

There is more. More to my story. More to my vulnerability.

Until then…as Mrs. Voskamp would say,

DANCE BRAVE AND UNAFRAID…

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Davida says

    Annette Parris, I cannot tell you what your words mean to me. You don’t know how your “vulnerability” gives strength to others and allows them to be “brave” in their circumstances and situations. I love you more and more every time you open your mouth (or put your fingers to the keyboard).

    I am dying to be near to you again. Please. And this is not an empty “let’s get together” type thing. I am talking “snotty cry” and “snorting laughter” type thing.

    You are loved. Your family is loved. I love you.

  2. Carrie says

    I love you. And I love your story, even though it is full of hurt and aches and brokenness. It’s a story of redemtion, and damn it all, if I don’t know you’re going to redeem it. As I sat in DW’s kitchen last month and bawled my eyes out over some hurt of my own, I am so thankful that there are those people we can be real with and I hope and pray you find those people as well. I wish I lived closer so I could hug your neck (when you aren’t contagious) and say “Be you and be the BEST you” because sometimes the BEST you needs to just fuss and cuss and let it all hang out.