Four years ago, I would have called you liar if you had told me I would share so openly online about the personal details of our life. In fact, just a few years before that, I didn’t have a Facebook account, and I wouldn’t let Kory share photos of our kids on his page. The word “Twitter” made me twitch. And I rolled my eyes at all the social media trends. “So narcissistic,” I thought.
But I have always dreamed about becoming a writer.
Years ago, Kory suggested I start a blog to help find my voice and organize my thoughts. The idea horrified me because it felt too close to all the social media I found so reprehensible. So for years, I sat on the idea and did nothing about it.
Eventually, I came onto the Facebook scene and began to see the value in it, even with all its flaws. Facebook became a place where I could share the headlines of our family with people we don’t get to see very often and where I could trade ideas, thoughts, and problems with people walking similar journeys to my own. That made it fun. And useful.
Then we found out we would be moving across the metroplex to a new church.
In a moment of twisted thinking, I decided it felt more safe to put myself out into the blogosphere for the first time in the midst of total strangers than it did within the context of a church family that knew and loved me deeply. So I started this blog in the summer of 2013, amidst a sea of boxes, in a new neighborhood, in an unfamiliar city.
It began as therapy.
The blog was the place I processed all the emotions associated with so much change.
But it quickly developed into something more.
Within a few months, I was receiving Facebook messages, emails, and texts from a lot of people, many whom I’d never met, telling me how much it meant that I shared a particular feeling, experience, or thought.
Things like, “I thought I was the only one who was going through something like this,” or “you put my feelings into words,” or “it’s so nice to know that someone who has it all together struggles sometimes.” (That last one has made me laugh out loud time and time again.)
I learned very quickly that authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability speak louder than any one thing I could possibly say. I also learned that they are the gateway to real relationship, relationship with people I might not otherwise have the privilege of calling friends.
A while back, my husband said this during his sermon:
“You’ll reach more people with God’s love through your brokenness than you will ever reach through standing up and pointing a finger at them, preaching to them.” (Click here for video clip.)
After three years of blogging, I have to agree.
Our brokenness is our ministry.
While we were at family camp this summer, I had the privilege of sitting with a friend whose family has been attending camp with us the last three years. The rest of our tribes were on the soccer field participating in a double kickball game that we decided to sit out. (I will climb the summits of mountains, jump off power poles, zip line across canyons, and stare down Class 5 white water, but I draw the line with family team sports!)
We’re both lawyers and moms of three, and we’re both at interesting crossroads in our lives. I love her. But I only get to see her one week a year.
During our visit, she told me that a conversation we had the first year of camp had changed her life.
I stared at her, wondering what we might have talked about that would have been so significant.
It was our journey with our middle son. The one who’s so fearful.
Two years ago at camp, I shared with her that we had really been struggling with him. I shared that he was extremely fearful, something that was unfamiliar to both Kory and me, and that we were having trouble connecting with him in a way that would help him grow.
I told her about a book I had just finished that had changed the way I was praying for our children. And I shared that we had adopted a memory verse for our son to help him overcome his fear in a positive way. After years of struggle, we were finally seeing some growth.
While we sat, feet dangling over the stone wall at the edge of the soccer field, she told me that conversation played a primary role in shaping her prayer life over the following year.
Wow. I had no idea my words would be so significant. But I know this now.
If I hadn’t been willing to share about our struggles with our child, that conversation would never have taken place, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to impact her life in such a powerful way.
Since camp, I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships I’ve forged over the last three years. And while there are so many things I believe are wrong with my life, I think the relationship department is treating me pretty well.
I have made so many friends since we moved. Friends I share deeply and openly with. Friends I talk on the phone with. Friends I have into my home regularly and who have me into theirs. Friends who know the real me. (And love me anyway.)
I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve had in my entire adult life over the past three years. And I’m grateful.
I think this results in part from the fact that, when we moved, I was thrown into a world of strangers for the first time in over a decade. I realized quickly, I was going to sink or swim. With a preference for swimming, I dug in and did the hard work to reach out to people, to break into existing circles, and to invest in getting to know others.
But I think it also results from the fact that, through blogging, God has placed a heavy burden on my heart to live life authentically and to lead others in doing the same.
He’s been whispering in my ear for over three years now to be real, authentic, and transparent.
To elevate vulnerability.
To let others see where I struggle.
And to let them hear my inner thoughts.
He’s encouraging me to lean into my brokenness.
And to share it with others as a way to encourage, affirm, and inspire.
It’s uncomfortable at times. And scary.
But I’m finally learning this is what real ministry looks like. And this is how I believe God want us all to live our lives.
Because I believe our world is starved for authenticity. For real, deep relationships.
We are strangely over-connected and isolated through social media, all at the same time.
We grade our lives in comparison to our online friends through Facebook.
And when we’re hurting or when we struggle, we assume we’re alone in our thoughts and feelings.
But we aren’t.
I believe our neighbors, brothers, sisters, colleagues, and the friends we see at carpool every day are all lonely in some of the same ways too. The brokenness in their lives is real. And raw. And hard. Just like it is in ours.
Wouldn’t we be wise to lean into this commonality among us and make connections in the small corners of the world where we do life?
It’s time for us to take the reigns. It’s time for us to say “no more” to living on the surface within our communities. It’s time for us to be leaders in our spheres of influence.
We all have a circle of family or friends. And we can all choose to live authentically and to dive into real relationships in each of these places. Because authenticity leads to connection. Connection leads to relationship. And relationship leads to life as God intended it to be lived.
In community with other people.
Will you join me? Will you take a chance by sharing your heart with someone today? By taking a risk? By putting yourself out there?
People don’t want to see the “I’m good” smile plastered on your face. Unless, of course, you really are good.
They want to see you.
The real you.
The raw, honest, and authentic you.
Because that “you” looks a lot more like them.