Tag Archives: Love and Relationships

Why I Told My Truth

I did something really scary (so scary I pretty much stopped talking about it right after I did it):

I told the truth.

Actually, that’s not entirely correct. I wrote the truth. The truth of my story, which is really the only truth I know.

I wrote it down and sent it to someone else to read and then suddenly I was in a crowd of other young women of faith writing the truths of their stories, and now suddenly we’re here.

Talking Taboo Cover

We’re here sharing our stories with anyone who wants to read them. We’re here sharing our stories with you.

After I did this horribly scary, possibly foolish, completely uncomfortable thing, I wasn’t totally sure why I’d done it.

Why risk telling the truth of my story when it might end up really hurting or embarrassing me?

Why write it down in a way that it can’t be forgotten or edited or hidden under a mountain of rocks somewhere, never to be recovered?

Why talk about what it means to really live my Christian faith — in the gritty, authentic, this-is-not-a-fire-drill kind of way that’s easier to hide than to admit?

I wasn’t sure why I’d written my story until last week when I mentioned this feat of stupidity courage to two of my close friends and co-workers.

I told them I had a secret I wanted to share, and then I told them I’d written an essay that was getting published. They, predictably, squealed and praised before asking why I’d keep something like that a secret.

I wrote about my personal life, I told them, and how it intersects with my faith. I wrote about how the church can be overwhelming and suffocating at the same time as it can be welcome and grace-filled.

All of us, the dozens of truth-telling women in this book, wrote about these things. We wrote about sex and abuse and dating and love and marriage and fear and relationships and desire and purity.

Not in an abstract, clinical way, but in a raw, honest way. We wrote about our own experience with these things. My friends understood immediately why this was something terrifying for me (but they didn’t take back their squeals and praises).

And then? Then we talked.

It was like some secret door had been opened in the space between us and suddenly they both wanted to tell their stories, to speak about their experiences with religion and taboo.

Our stories were different; our lives are different. But each story matters, and we were all relieved and excited to have someone to share with.

People are hungry to have this conversation! They are searching for a safe space to be honest about their lives in a way they often feel they can’t be. We are all longing to be our whole selves, right where we are, and to share those whole selves with each other.

After my conversation with my friends ended, I realized that was why I had risked telling my story. Integrity is not an easy thing, but it is a precious and powerful thing.

Every time I have taken a step into a space of courageous authenticity, I have found that so many shining, sparkling souls are standing right there with me.

We are already standing right here with you. Come share in the story and be part of the conversation.

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Want to learn more? Check out these posts by the editors, Enuma Okoro and Erin Lane or go visit the Indiegogo site for Talking Taboo to watch a video of these fabulous ladies chatting about the project.

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Filed under My Faith Journey, Read and Write, Theology and Faith

Human Broken Church

Human

Advent is a good time to be human.

This is a gritty, earthy time. Born out of the tradition of Lent, Advent is a season of dust and ashes, of humanness, of bodily incarnation.

Sometimes I think Mary, who would have been now eight months pregnant — tired and swollen, overwhelmed by her duty of bearing so much divinity and humanity all at once.

At this point, she was still carrying all of that inside her. She was waiting for this birth, and now we wait for it, too.

And when this birth comes, it is not sterile or easy. It is impromptu and uncomfortable. This peasant couple, far from home, welcoming a miracle into their family, into the world.

I think of Mary, leaning against her midwife, muscles clenched and brow sweaty, leaning into the possibility of new life. Glorious. Perfect.

These are the universal experiences of humanity: birth and death. And here we are, centuries later, celebrating them over and over.

Broken

Because it is a good time to be human,

because being human means being built of the dust of the earth, breathed with the life-breath of God,

because we are waiting for this perfectly imperfect birth again and again…

Because of these things, Advent is a good time to be broken.

This same body that is born will be broken, like bread, will bleed, like wine, and will die. This body is like ours: dust.

And we will celebrate this body’s death, over and over, like we celebrate its birth.

We will bow before the mystery that divinity, too, could look like this. That grace could come as this child and move as this man and die as this savior. That the story goes on, far beyond that death.

Church

When that body is dead (but only in one sense), the story will spread and grow, and lives will be pulled toward it, will be pulled into it, will be changed by it.

We will call them, too, body. They will be also human, also broken, also glorious.

They will long to speak the words that Jesus spoke, to live the love that Jesus lived, but sometimes they will fall short.

This, too, is universal: heartbreak.

The seeds of forgiveness must be planted deep and tended well enough to grow into fruit. This body must be gentle with itself, welcoming all its parts into the whole, lest one is forgotten and lost.

Advent is the re-beginning. Here we can start again, fresh as newborns, expectant as mothers. We can lean into the possibility of new life — our new life.

We can welcome God to come walk among us, to show us how to live in this body.

Advent is a good time to be human, a good time to be broken, a good time to be the church.

So let us wait for the Word together one more time.

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Folks are sharing stories of redemptive brokenness over at Prodigal Magazine for the Broken Hallelujah link-up. Please take some time to go visit…

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Filed under Advent 2012, Liturgy

5 Ways to Jump Start Your Spiritual Life

Getting out the Door

When I complain that I don’t have enough motivation to get out the door and go running, my sister-in-law often reminds me: “That’s what separates the runners from the non-runners.”

She’s quoting a line I often give to her. Anyone can run, the difference is just that some people actually do. I’ve been a runner for years, and I still have a hard time just getting myself out the door. I don’t think that challenge ever goes away.

Developing your spiritual life works the same way as developing a fitness routine. Anyone can do it: what matters is that you go do it. The advice below isn’t anything new or fancy or complicated because I believe that what you do doesn’t matter as much as that you do it.

What separates a plateaued spiritual life from a thriving one is just getting out the proverbial door.

5 ways to jump start your spiritual life

  • Get a different perspective

I’m not speaking metaphorically here. I mean literally changing your usual point of view. Lay on your kitchen floor, pray from inside your closet, go barefoot for a few hours, roll down a hill, get into your house by climbing through a window, walk home on a different street.

I’m often amazed at what I miss because I’ve become dissociated from what I’m doing, which is too bad because earth’s crammed with heaven.

  • State what you want

If you know you want something different in your spiritual life, you need to tell someone. Preferably multiple someones. Tell God — meaning pray about what you want. Tell your support system — meaning call on the people who care about you for encouragement and accountability.

And if someone in particular is involved in the change you want, tell them. If you want a deeper relationship with her, ask her over for dinner. If you want some empathy and compassion, ask him for it. If you want more worship time, ask friends to join you. You might not get a ‘yes,’ but the act of stating what you want is clarifying and freeing in itself.

  • Pray without ceasing

In order to do this, you’re probably going to have to re-frame your idea of prayer. If you’re not a big fan of being seen talking to yourself in public, put in an earpiece and talk to God on the phone. Sometimes, when I feel words aren’t enough, I make up songs. Write daily gratitude lists, practice the spiritual examen at night, designate certain doors as “pray-ways” and commit to praying every time you walk through that particular door, do yoga, walk a labyrinth, find a new worship service, recruit a prayer partner, write prayers on your walls, set up an altar in your bedroom.

Whatever prayer practices you develop, they should work for you. It isn’t about quotas or answers or self-pressure or expectations. It’s about opening your heart a little bit wider every chance you get.

  • Talk to someone very young or very old

Children and elders have incredible wisdom, and, generally, they love to share it! If you find yourself asking tough questions in your own faith journey, ask those same tough questions to someone profoundly brilliant, like a 5-year-old. Or make friends with one of the seniors in your community and ask them to share a time when they learned a valuable life lesson. I’m telling you, stories are everywhere.

  • Learn your Enneagram type

I first learned about the Ennegram personality types from my spiritual director. I find the Enneagram more helpful than other personality typographies because it is geared towards self-understanding and personal development. Knowing my own tendencies and weaknesses has helped me deepen my self-acceptance and learn to move through those places where I get “stuck” more easily. Becoming familiar with other Enneagram types has helped me to understand other people (especially those who annoy or scare me) and tap into the strengths they bring to the table. This has been one of the most powerful tools I’ve found for personal and relational growth.

All kinds of great books have been written about the Enneagram. Fr. Richard Rohr has written about the Enneagram from a Christian perspective. Don Riso wrote a series of Releases and Affirmations for each type that I find both healing and convicting. Talk about spiritual growth! [In case you’re curious, friends, I’m a 6.]

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What do you do when your spiritual life needs a jump start? What practices have you found most helpful for growing spiritually?

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