Monday, January 27, 2014

The Vulnerability Mosaic

So, there is this vulnerability thing. I'm not the expert: Brene Brown is though. You should check out her Ted Talks here and here on vulnerability and shame. Then you'll be all inspired and intermittently feel the need to really open your life up to your loved ones and/or think she's crazy and should leave you alone. Sometimes (usually) you might have both of these thoughts in the very same instant. Also, check out Glenna Melton, she's newer to me, but I want to be her best friend a little I think.

You might also consider buying their books, but then abandon them on a random shelf at Barnes & Noble because books are expensive or possibly because you're irrationally and accurately a little afraid they can see into your soul if you read too many of their words. Never mind about that though... 

Anyway, the vulnerability thing keeps coming up in my life lately. I've been pushed to the edge (and BEYOND!) of my comfort zone in several ways on this front lately it seems. And I'm just so ridiculous. I'm a fan of vulnerability, in others. I respect it an outrageous amount. It's hard work to tell the hard, open truth about your weakness to the world. Still, I long to resist it. If ever I come through to it it's likely because I've already stumbled through the consequences of failing several times. I'm afraid in all this, that God might be whispering to me that vulnerability is my word for the year - or some variation of it. (I must, must commit this week to a word!)

Anyway, the vulnerability thing...

I have had to admit that I failed or was just flat out wrong about something a ridiculous amount of times lately. I've also had a couple gut wrenching, soul bearing conversations with people that mean the world to me. You know the type of conversations that leave you too tired to sleep for more than an hour at a time for days? You know the kind. The ones so heavy you want to forget them forever, but their words replay vividly in your head (even though you can't seem to remember anything else lately). The kind so heavy you can barely talk about them when really getting it out of your loud, self-critical head and into the prayer lives of your nearest and dearest is all you need. The kind so heavy that even when you dare to tell your closest, most trusted friends about them you're a bit cryptic because it's not just your story you hold. And, brilliantly, beautifully the pain of your own heartache reminds you to be extra careful to guard the other's heart. And then, in the heaviness of these conversations, you learn that admitting you are wrong or failed is a breeze compared to admitting your heart is wounded. Taking off the superhero cape defense mechanism that Glenna Melton talks about and admitting you failed seems like an absolute cakewalk. If only you can just keep the cape of apathy that protects you from admitting that someone might have had enough access to your heart to stumble about there and bust you into pieces. Without this cape, you're terrified and nearly certain that your busted heart shards may never be repaired, can never be returned to their original order.

And then a little time passes and you still ache, heavy every day in these things, but miraculously you can keep moving forward. You said the hard vulnerable things out loud and your busted heart did not stop. The broken shards poke you, but you can feel them changing in you. In fact, something alarming and beautiful has happened while you turned your eyes away because the aching was just too heavy to watch the broken heart shards every moment. (your denial cape guarding you briefly as you move forward in the rest of life.) You look back at the busted pieces and their order has changed somehow. The shifting makes complete sense as you feel absolutely shaken. It's puzzling though - there are pieces of you missing entirely now. And you notice amongst your broken chaos pieces of another's heart, all shiny and contrasting - different, but gleaming. You wonder if your missing pieces stuck in someone too.

You take a step back and notice the human design, awed at creation again, the broken heart pieces - mine and theirs - have mingled themselves into a beautiful mess of a mosaic. The pain you let yourself feel let in waves of grace and beauty so heavy that in an instant, the pain is excused - not erased - but accepted, because what are our other choices?

Can we notice the pain away by overthinking it into oblivion? Denying it? No. It's real. It must be felt. Acknowledged, but not fed. Grace and beauty are so much sweeter. Harder to feel, but warmer and dearer. So, you fight and practice and realize this mosaic is just like the eucharisteo fight but harder because it's finding beauty in what hurts you, not just beauty around you. And there is an undeniable ache in the work of finding blessing in your own pain.

It's in there though grace and beauty are the glinting, gleaming mosaic from the sharp shards of us falling all over one another in pain and weakness and truth. They are stunning and they are ever incomplete mosaics. Glowing a bit more beautiful with every break and repair and mingling of our bustedness.

What a holy, heartbreaking, heartmending glorious mess. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 for the win!

I suck at blogging with any sort of regularity. It's comically bad. I feel the need to say that. I don't know who I'm even apologizing to, but there ya go. Moving on...

I posted on New Year's Day of 2013 thinking back about 2012 and the dent it had made in my soul.

Ok, well I didn't say that, but it had. In the midst of it, it felt stagnant. It was a treading water, just get through it, dark sort of year. It ended a bit better than it began, but seriously it mostly just was. It was a year for struggling and growing and learning and tears. I had some not so outrageous goals that I failed at or was disappointed in. Relationally, it was a hard year with several people I value. It's funny because nothing extraordinarily terrible happened, but in some ways that is worse. There is nothing to say about 2012 except eww. I see some value in it all now, but I don't want to do 2012 again. Ever.

In comparison, 2013, I'd do that again. Well, ok, going backwards is stupid, but I can't wait to do 2014 because of the foundation 2013 laid. (Ok, and 2012, but, argh! I don't like to give credit to hard things!) 2013 was bliss. It flooded life with light and hope and smiling again. (I'm not this cheesy, so it must be true!)

At the outset of the year I decided there would be no list of goals and no resolutions to break. I was just going to have a word and a bible verse and try to remember to hold fast to the lesson in those things. In part, because the verse touched me in a Christmas Eve service and the concept of a word and a verse got my attention in another service. If I'm honest though, it was also a little because 2012's goals and hopes felt like an epic fail and I just didn't want to go there again.

So, Psalm 46:10 and I set out to have a year of stillness. I decided to just lean into life a bit more. Let it happen and worry less. Just keep moving forward and Let God be in charge (because He is anyway) and just love and be loved and live my life as it comes worrying about it less and taking it in stride. I wanted to try to cease striving - because trying to control everything is exhausting and it sucks and I suck at it. I failed at the not worrying, not striving, part with great regularity. It got in a little though, I think.

And the year, well, it was awesome. I'm not about to say that it was because I had this non-resolution. I think it was God and timing and just the way of things. I think the non-resolution helped me more clearly step back and see how great life was falling into place around me though. It gave me the peace to enjoy and not race on to control the next thing.

And I liked the out of control of it all because it told the truth.

Relationally, well, I win. I have this extraordinary man in my life. And I could gush extensively, but I'll save that for him and just say: I win! He is more than I knew to want and things I didn't know I needed. I was never the girl rushing to find a man and I don't regret that one bit. Still, I can't imagine being more grateful to have someone's life woven into mine. I am all in and so pleased. (Ok, fine, I'm gushing a little...)

It's been a really good friends and family year too. I feel like I've often had an internal battle getting time and boundaries with people right. It was still challenging this year, but, by accident, I learned to better embrace the concept of quality over quantity. I didn't try so hard this year and it came easier. I was busier professionally and personally and the man got the vast quantity of my time (no regrets!) and yet not being stressed about the rest of it and being intentional about the use of time instead of the length of time made the quality of other interactions much sweeter.

Professionally, it was a good year too. Honestly, it feels like a blur, this last year. I've gotten to do a lot of things that I loved though. My title changed, transitioning me from mostly a single project to more big picture advocacy and education. I love the variety and challenge of it all. I've spent more time on Capitol Hill and learned that I still have a lot to learn, but mostly I just have a lot of people to get to know better. In the end, they're the who and how of getting things done. Luckily the task of getting to know that good-intentioned, passionate, brilliant crowd is one of the great privileges of my job. I've had other crazy, awesome opportunities too. I participated, in a small way, in a US Supreme Court case by submitting an amicus brief and I think it really could have some long-term positive implications for many children. I got to be more involved with several internationally focused efforts - including a trip to Japan, which was an amazing privilege. I've also been put in a place to do some media interaction. Truthfully, the media terrifies me. I'm terrified I'll say something ridiculous or be taken out of context. I'm trying to learn to be grateful for the opportunity even if it terrifies me though, and it's getting easier. Again, people are at the center of my progress. Turns out, the media are just storytellers and I have mostly good stories to tell about the great hope for children in families. Even when the story is hard though, it still needs to be told. So, I'm gaining respect for these storytellers in the hope that we'll all get to a place where more of the good stories are told to inspire more good stories.

2013 was a winner. And I can't help but think about what might be to come in 2014. I have high hopes (dangerous territory, dreaming) and I'm so grateful to end 2013 delighted and expectant. I'm thinking lately and today especially about words and verses that might form a theme. I have some strong contenders, but I'm not committed to anything yet. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blogging by Day

In episode 2 of Blogging by Day, I once again pretend that I wrote a blog by just linking to one I wrote for work.

I think my job is cool and on days when I'm not a crabby brat, I know I'm lucky to get to do it. Maybe tonight or tomorrow I'll write a little less formally about the coolness and hardness of getting to be involved with this particular work. For now though, if you want you can click below and read Work Megan Blogging by Day on the Supreme Court's decision about the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Equal Justice Under the Law for Kids, Too.