All posts tagged courage

vulnerability

I thought that might get your attention!

But, it’s not what you are thinking. What I had was a vulnerability hangover.

Let me explain.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak at my church. It was a message of encouragement but within the message I told the entire congregation about the fact that my depression had gotten so bad last year that I decided to treat it with medication. It was pertinent to the conversation because I was talking about shame – something I felt a great deal of and had to fight off. I felt good about sharing because even though I knew it would be uncomfortable, I believed it would help someone.

It went well and many people thanked me for my transparency. On Sunday night, I felt like I had accomplished what I set out to do.

Then Monday came.

I woke up and thought, “I can’t believe I shared such personal details with 3 services worth of people not to mention those who may watch the video.” I was experiencing a vulnerability hangover. I didn’t make that up. It is a term coined by Brené Brown, researcher of such topics as courage, vulnerability, authenticity, empathy and shame. Brené explains that a vulnerability hangover is “the feeling that sweeps over us after we feel the need to connect… and we share something deeply meaningful. Minutes, hours, or days later, we begin to feel regret sweep over us like a warm wave of nausea.”

I’m happy to say that because I have been sharing bits and pieces of my story for a while now, my hangover was not too bad. I was able to shake it off pretty quickly having learned these 3 things.

#1  It’s worth it.

The discomfort of vulnerability is worth it when you weigh it against the value of connection.  Connection, true connection is what people who are in need are looking for.  It doesn’t help them to see someone who acts like they have it all together all the time – it only adds to their shame and impedes their ability to open up and share themselves. When true connection is made, we share. When we share we heal.

#2  It’s not the critic who counts. (thank you, Theodore Roosevelt!)

At the heart of the vulnerability hangover is the fear of being judged.  Since depression is classified as a mental illness I battle the fear of being defined by my struggle. There are people who will disagree with how I choose to handle and overcome depression but in the end it is not those people who I necessarily feel drawn to connect with.  I have come to terms with the reality that there will be those who may not understand or have a different opinion than I do. I have resolved that I answer only to the One who has called me to share my story in order to help others.

#3  It’s not about me.

We live in a me-driven world. As a Christian and follower of Jesus, I want to live as He lived.  He lived His life entirely for others.  Notice I said I WANT to live as He lived. That doesn’t mean I always do, by any means. But when I am feeling exposed and vulnerable I remember that in order to live the way I claim to want to live, it requires dying to myself and living for a greater cause.  Ironically, it ends up being the best thing for ME. It is where I derive true joy and peace – so in the end it sort of is about me.  But that’s how God works.  The more we pour ourselves out on behalf of others the more he pours joy and peace into us. It’s a pretty good deal.

Final thought on vulnerability, again from Brené Brown. (can you tell I love her and her work?)

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. 

Amen.

Have you ever experienced a vulnerability hangover after taking a courageous step to share a part of yourself?  I’d love to hear about it ~ please leave a comment!

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog I thought I share with you a little nugget I got from reading Esther’s story this past week. Esther is an incredible example of a woman who knew who she was and used every bit of it to fulfill God’s purpose in her life.

King Xerxes was looking for a new queen.  Esther was chosen along with many others to be pampered and beautified for a whole year and then presented to the king one by one for him to choose his new bride from the group of beautiful women.

So there is this group of women of which Esther was one, all vying for the same position of queen. And here’s how it went…

Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace.15 Now when the turn came for Esther to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. Esther 4:17 (edited)

I bolded and underlined the part that leapt off the page when I was reading this the other day. Esther knew something that each of us need to know. SHE WAS ENOUGH.

She didn’t need to load herself up with things to make her feel better about herself. She didn’t need to add to what she already had.  She operated from a quiet confidence that she was enough and as you will see in the next verse it won her favor and she was crowned queen.

Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen… Esther 4:17

The book of Esther is all about God’s providence although interestingly God’s name is not even mentioned in it.  However, it is clear that God called Esther to a position of power so that she could influence the king and save her people from genocide.

God positioned her to fulfill His purpose through her.

Here’s what I tend to do when God calls me to do something – see if you can relate.

First, I look at what I think it requires.  Then, I look at myself, my capabilities and I immediately conclude that I need to add something in order to fulfill the task….maybe I should go to school because I don’t have enough education. I think to myself…if only I had certain connections or more money I could get started.  If only I was more talented… and then I have to stop and realize what Esther realized.

If God has called me to a position then He knows that I am capable. All I need to bring is myself and He will equip me to fulfill His purpose for my life. What a relief! I can stop spinning myself in circles trying to measure up!

Of course we can always learn more and hone our skills and make new connections and find new ways of doing things but we must operate from the core knowledge that we alone are enough.

What have you been waiting to start because you thought you needed something more?  You already have what you need – YOU!

And you are enough! Walk boldly and confidently towards your destiny.

esther

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You can’t rush God.  I’ve tried. strength, strong, depression, anxiety, stress, waiting, courage, heart

Patience is not one of my virtues.  Most people don’t like to wait but some are more impatient than others. I run with that crowd.

As much as I don’t like waiting I have come to embrace it, knowing that in those times when we feel like we are in a holding pattern, we are actually gaining something invaluable – STRENGTH.

My husband works out on a regular basis doing WEIGHT training – and sometimes he drags me along. I don’t like it, but I do it because I know that I will gain strength from it. If I choose the weight myself I usually go for the lighter, easier option.  When my husband comes along he always makes me increase the amount I am lifting.  He explained to me that unless I am pushing my muscles beyond their normal limitation I will not be accomplishing anything but conditioning.  If I want to build muscle (strength) I have to push myself and increase the weight to a somewhat uncomfortable amount. This causes the muscle fibers to actually tear.  But what happens after that is amazing. After the workout the muscles fibers heal and it is a scientific fact that they come back bigger and stronger!

There are times in my life when the WAIT training I have had to endure seemed endless and beyond my normal limitation. When all I felt was torn down and ripped apart it was hard to imagine that I would ever feel strong again. That is where patience and endurance come into play.  The word of God tells us that if we are patient and endure we will receive all that we have been promised.  It seems that patience is a requirement of the waiting period. In my experience, I have never been granted deliverance from a waiting period until I have learned to patiently endure.

Of course there are times in life when we have to fight for a breakthrough but more often than not I have had to wait for the breakthrough. Knowing that my heart was being strengthened in the process was a comfort.

Do you find yourself in a holding pattern? Be brave and wait patiently for the God to reveal all that He has planned for you.  And in the meantime take courage that you are getting stronger every minute!

I grew up on Long Island.  Although I have lived on the west coast of Florida, which boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches for the past 20 years, Jones Beach will always be the most beautiful beach to me because it is home.

If I close my eyes I can feel the gritty sand in my toes and hear the seagulls and the waves crashing to the shore. As a little kid I would play on the shore line, building sandcastles and jumping over the remainder of the breaker waves as they rolled up towards the beach.  As I got older I became more adventurous and learned how to ride the waves in as they broke.

It is an exhilarating feeling to catch a good wave at precisely the right moment and get a nice clean ride in. But occasionally you can be blindsided by a wave and get pummeled by it because you weren’t expecting it. Sometimes in an attempt to ride a wave you can jump in at the wrong time resulting in being creamed by the force of the current. This is a scary experience.  In a matter of seconds you are being spun uncontrollably and it is incredibly difficult to find your bearings. It feels like the ocean is sucking you downward. If you are not accustomed to navigating the unpredictable activity of an undertow it is easy to panic.  I have been caught in some crazy waves that in the moment have made me wonder if I would survive.

Fortunately like most kids who are raised by the beach, I was taught at a young age how to handle such situations and even though it could be frightening I knew that if I followed some simple rules of survival the wave would eventually subside and I would once again rise to the surface and be able to breathe.

The first rule was HOLD YOUR BREATH AND DON’T PANIC.  The duration of even a huge ocean wave is shorter than the amount of time you can hold your breath. The tendency when we panic is to gasp for breath but if when the wave hits you just hold your breath and don’t panic in time the waters will smooth out and the air in your body will cause you to rise to the surface.

The second rule was DON’T FIGHT IT – GO WITH THE FLOW. Our natural reaction when we’re being knocked around and feel out of control is to fight to regain our footing but this is actually counterproductive when trying to react to a wave. All you will end up doing is completely exhausting yourself.  Instead the trick is to relax your body and let yourself go with it until the wave passes.  The force of the wave is far stronger than you are and fighting against it is futile. If you can calmly wait it out you will soon be released, your feet will find the ground and you will be able to push up to the surface and find your bearings. This is easier said than done when you are being tossed about by the waves!

Some kids (and grown-ups for that matter) having been pummeled by a wave once decided it was not worth the risk and do not engage in the joy of riding the waves. They didn’t learn the survival tips for managing the undertow and so they settle for just playing in the shallow breakers. They are missing out on the exhilaration of swimming in the ocean.  It is an incredible feeling to be carried by the rise and fall of the ocean swells and something thrilling about playing in the vastness of the sea.

Life is often like this. A series of waves, some invigorating and awe-inspiring and others downright frightening and disorienting. But it shouldn’t stop us from engaging. If we want to experience all the joy and wonder that this life has to offer we need to pack up our coping skills and dive in deep.

crashing waves, panic, depression, coping, fear

This is not me – but what a great picture!
photo credit
Young girl in the waves, Jones Beach, New York. July 1951, by Alfred Eisenstaedt.
www.entertaininghouse.com

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Instead of playing in the shallow breakers I am ready to dive in.  This is an unedited, first attempt excerpt from a short book I am writing. Stay tuned!

If you are in the swirl of an undertow please know that this too shall pass.  Hold your breath (or since you are not really in the ocean – take some deep breaths) ~ don’t panic.  Before you know it you will be in smooth waters once again. 

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. ~ Psalm 107:29

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A journal given to me by my sweet friend who is one brave chick!

In July of 2012 a friend and I took our girls to see the newest Disney movie. We sat chatting through the previews and then without much notice the movie started.  The movie had already been playing for a few minutes when the one-word title exploded onto the screen and as it did something inside of me leapt.  I know that sounds strange. It seemed strange to me also but I knew immediately that there was something significant about the word…BRAVE.

Part of my role at For the Girls International is to cast vision and lay out themes our conferences and events.  When we went to see the movie we were smack dab in the middle of the planning for our 2012 conference but in that instant I knew the theme for 2013 just had to be – BE BRAVE!

What I didn’t know was that a few months from then I would experience a life event that would begin an unraveling that I could not stop no matter how hard I tried.  I have been through episodes of depression in my life before but despite every effort to pull it together on my own in October of 2012, I came undone.

I didn’t realize back in July that God was about to require me to embark on a brave journey.  That in order to inspire others to be brave with their lives I would first have to be brave with mine.

I have always believed that our stories are not for us to keep to ourselves but to share. We are all connected on this journey of life.  I know very well that it takes time to work up the courage to share parts that may make us feel vulnerable and exposed.  But it is there, in that place of transparency and vulnerability that real connection occurs. It is there that hearts heal together.

There is a time and a place for everything and I believe it is time for me to share more of my story. And my hope is that it can help someone else heal.  So here’s to being brave together!

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Inscription inside my journal