My friend Mike Coulter has told me a a few times now that he admires my ability to be a “vulnerable bad ass.” I have come to really admire and embrace that term. Thanks Mike!
Contrary to what society tells us, feeling our feelings and getting emotionally naked in front of others doesn’t show weakness, it shows profound strength. Unfortunately, we live in a culture filled with fakes and phonies. These people live separate lives…one they show to the public and one they hide behind closed doors. A willingness to dig deep to understand who you are at your core and live out that life in the open takes guts.
As I approach the opportunity to tell my story for the first time on a stage, people keep asking me, “Aren’t you scared?” “Why are you doing this?” Yes, although I am scared of 200 eyeballs staring at me while I’m up there alone, I am more excited to continue to shed the weight I have been carrying these last 35 years of my life. I am excited for the day when everyone I have ever met knows my story…good, bad, and ugly…so they can help me live a life that is true to myself and one that honors God.
I am doing this because I am saddened by and want to do something about all the addiction, suicide, fear, emptiness, and loneliness around me. Living as a different person on the outside than who you are on the inside causes great stress and struggle. I’ve been there. I too used drugs, alcohol, and other destructive behavior to alleviate the stress and escape the struggle.
If this sounds familiar, please know you are not alone. God loves you. He is always with you. When you are ready, there are others who will love, encourage, kindly challenge, and care for you as you face your past and future demons. No one can fight that battle for you, but we help to push you forward and pick you up without judgment. If you are ready to take a step now, consider sharing anonymously via the Honor Box on my site.
The first 30 years of my life I thought the more I built walls and kept people away, the less I would hurt. I discovered loneliness hurts much worse than heartache. I had robbed myself of the joy and beauty that real and intense friendship and love can bring only when you are loving fully exposed with your heart wide open. Have I been hurt and heartbroken since I made that choice? Sure. Once you live your life leading with love, the pain and struggle, when it happens, doesn’t hurt so much.
As I focus more and more on God, He has given me the strength and courage to do the right things even when they are the hard things. He has given me comfort and peace in knowing that I cannot control everything, and I have to give Him space to do His work. I can choose to lead with love, joy, and hope and whatever happens, I can trust that He will take care of me. On Thursday, I can tell my story. I can be true to God and to myself. Whatever happens from there: what people say, think, or do with it…that’s God’s work to do.
My mom taught me a prayer when I was 5 that I have kept close to my heart in working through my past, preparing for this night, and thinking about who God would like me to be in the future. It is the serenity prayer, and I offer it to you as a gift on your journey in facing, sorting through, and telling your story. Until you understand and accept your story and who you are, you will struggle to become the person God made you to be. Do your part and let Him do His.
God, grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.