Soul Sisters: Tears and Bravery

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
— Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing Life

Dreams that are fought for cannot possibly come easily.

If anything is worth a fight - then words like ease, comfortability, safety - those won't work. Where grit and tenacity are involved - if it matters to you (it may not to others, by the way) then you must be brave. 

And who hasn't fought for something that matters to them? Where the path is only blazed by bravery and tears?

Every single baby I've had was born by brave steps of faith and tears. Tears that are named Sad, Again, Infertile, Maybe, Amen, Joy and more.  

Tears and bravery - they are sisters. Related. Connected. From the same family. Usually seen together in those beautiful, really important moments. Cut from the same cloth. 

Are you walking through something that takes bravery and tears? A waiting? Maybe for a job, for redemption, for a baby, for a season change, for forgiveness? For eyes to see God somewhere in the tension and darkness?

I remember telling my youth pastor, at age 15, a very specific hope and dream in my heart connected to speaking and writing. I knew I loved all kinds of words. I loved teaching. Loved writing. Using words to bring life. I knew it was etched on my heart....my heart that God made. 

And after that moment in his office, I worked with whatever was given to me. I worked with small circles of fumbling freshman, later with courageous college women. I worked with that first microphone (how do I hold this thing? why is it so bright up here?) I worked with a leader who said: I see all these things, let's put them to good use, don't be anxious.  I worked with bravery and tears. And over the years, I find myself here.

Here in the game with publishers and editors and little essays and freelancer on a check and words flying around in book proposals and emails and chapters and not yets and but you need a bigger platform.

So let's stay honest in it.... keep it real. The kind of real that tells perfectionism to go to hell because earth has no room for it and our hearts are so tired of it and it's dressed up to promise and never deliver. 

Here's my Honesty: Going for it and writing has been really beautiful and exciting. I have found encouragement and laughter and adventure. And it has been really hard. The work has been hard and so has the hope. I hoped things would work a certain way, and they have not. Sounds about right for, say, ALL OF LIFE. We thought our lives would look a certain way, and they just have not. Maybe sometimes, but mostly not. For the better and for the worse. 

I recently got a kind, gracious "not right now" about my book.

And there were tears and the not-picked-for-the-team feeling. And there were friends and hugs and a day to be sad.

But I'm still in the game. I am looking at the whole thing again and trying another angle. I got up, sat in a different seat, and gained a new perspective. Sometimes you just need to move around a bit. Here's what I see:

- Rescue, by calories and lattes, are REAL rescues. They just are. Don't judge.  

- Whispered speeches given by a husband that say "....making things is always good....and trying things, bravely, is really beautiful...." wouldn't have been said if it wasn't for the struggle. 

- Brene Brown, on courage, is meaningful to me: "If you aren't in the arena also getting your ass kicked, then I am not interested in your feedback." 

-A "not right now" is not a No. It's like a "call me, maybe."  Nothing is over, let's not get crazy here. If anything, we're just getting started, folks.   

- A simple hug is an extension of grace. We have to actually reach for someone in order to hug them. We extend connection, offer friendship, show companionship in a hug. Side Hugs, A-frame Hugs, Bear Hugs, Whatever Hugs. I'm thankful for them. Our souls are hard-wired to our skin. 

-I don't need a book. I don't need a published manifesto. I don't need any of these things. What I need is my sweet King, sitting with me, telling me things about all my dreams. Talking about the ones that are breathing in front of me and the ones that are still in my heart. 

 - The idea of getting from here to there perfectly, without a misstep, without pain, without honesty, without a need for directions just is not real. Getting somewhere perfectly is an artificial thought, as thin as a paper doll. Flimsy and flammable. But solid paths with twists and turns, with crashing and colliding, with beauty at the bends - that is real. No one shows up after a fight - with a win even -  without bruises and mud-caked pride. 

May we find encouragement in our twisty path, with knotty roots and beauty at the bends. May hugs and speeches on bravery and friends who don't need to knock join us on the floor when it's hard. May we switch seats, crane our neck even, to see the beauty.