“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” -Brene Brown
As any good traveller knows, the best trips are the ones you’re most prepared for. We make lists, plan outfits, check the weather- making sure that once we leave we’ll have everything we need to make the trip a success. Every once and a while though there is that one thing, that one critical item we forget to pack, and suddenly our whole excursion feels ruined. I mean, how can I go eight days without my flat iron?? The thought of it just feels tragic.
As a traveller of The Wilderness for some time now, I’ve picked up a few things that I’ve found to be essentials along the journey. Things, that although it may not get me out of this place any quicker, are a source of life and growth and even joy in the middle of such a desolate season in life. So let me unpack my bag for you a bit, ok?
I wish I could say I was an honest person. Now don’t me wrong, I can dish out a healthy serving of brutal honesty and stubborn opinion like it’s no joke. Telling other people how I feel and think of them comes as easy to me flight to a bird. Some might say I love sharing my opinion on things a little too much (Sorry, Chels). The irony, as in most things, is that when it comes to sharing how I feel about myself and my life, I am all kinds of quiet.
I told my counselor one time how I hate to express need. The thought of telling someone I need help or their company or love feels icky to me. It feels weak. I want to be the girl who has her junk together. The girl that doesn’t go to others for help, others come to her for help. Let them see the good feelings, not the bad ones. In his gentle yet convicting way he has with me, he told me, “Heather, there isn’t such a thing as good feelings and bad feelings. They are all just feelings. Feelings that are meant to be felt and meant to be shared.”
Somewhere along the way we’ve been told that in seasons of wilderness living that we have to embrace it with joy. If you’re not happy when life sucks, something is wrong with you. If you can’t smile while the world is beating you up you have no faith in God and you should go read your whole Bible right now and get your perspective straight. Christians aren’t sad, mad, or doubtful. We are brave and joyful and always have hope. Well excuse my language ladies, but I’m calling bullshit on this.
When Lazarus was dead, did Jesus -who knew He was seconds from raising him from the dead FYI- walk around saying “Cheer up people, This isn’t so bad.” No, he wept. He grieved a friend who died because he knew grief is important. Did Paul tell us that when a friend is weeping we should pat their back and say, “C’mon buckaroo, stop crying. Things are gonna be better.” No, Paul told us to weep with the weeper.
The most important thing I’ve picked up while living in the wild is that honesty, in whatever form it looks like, is always life giving. It is the oasis in the desert, the rain storm in the drought.
I get it, we want people to feel we are brave. We want to feel like nothing life throws at us will knock us down, but the mere act of keeping up that facade that everyone knows is impossible to meet, that is what will kill us.
Over my years in the wild I’ve begun to practice this art of honesty. Telling my safe people the battles waging war in my heart. Realizing that crying is brave and sharing why I’m crying is even braver.
As I’ve developed this habit of honesty I’ve begun to see something happen around me. I’ve made friends in the desert. Other travelers who, like me, are lost and scared and unsure. More and more we find each other and before we know it, we are all traveling together. Some of us are leading the way, others are being carried on our backs, but we’re together and it’s the togetherness that is sustaining us as we go.
If I’m honest, I’m still scared of this honesty thing. I’m still scared to admit that I feel like I might be stuck here forever in this forsaken desert. But because I’m honest, I now know I’m not facing those fears alone.