About Lacy Hilbrich

I am a mom, a pastor and a full time volunteer in many roles that all point toward more love for the world.

What If: Social Distancing Changes “Community” Forever?

Anyone want to take a swing at this one for me? ‘Cause I have a few things to say and they may not be the warm fuzzies that people want to hear. Who is ready?

This has been one weird season of life. There is a very real sense that our world will never be the same. I’m still keeping count, and it has been 87 days since I have seen Mom and Dad. I didn’t go 87 days without a visit when I lived in the state of Kentucky. I’m freaking over this. And guess what? I’m gonna see their little faces in just a week. I cannot wait. It will be on a porch with some distance between us, but I’m here for all the social distance love. All of it. But, when I just get really freaking honest, I must admit something very real. I don’t miss many people the way that I miss my parents. At all.

If there has been one thing that has come rushing to the surface in my relationships during quarantine it is that with the passage of time and removal of expectations, my circle is growing smaller. I have spent many years believing that to be “nice” and “kind” and a “friend” I need to continually expand the circles. This experience has proven to me that the width of my circle means so little to me, but the DEPTH of my circle is an entirely different conversation.

I’ve done some excavation work the last 3 months. I have spent considerable time shedding false narratives that have convinced me that things are “fine.” As I have unpacked the fine-ness of my life, I have taken a good hard reflective and challenging look at the relationships in my path. While I can’t seem to be motivated to honor Marie Kondo’s clutter goals, I have very honestly asked myself “do they bring me joy?” on more than one occasion. And, the answer is not always affirmative.

While I do not think that this season of life has caused things to happen, I do think that the intentional slowing, the time to process, the space for thought and observation and response has magnified the things that were already happening in my life. In some ways, I think I received a gift of intensified pressurization and in the process, I was able to step into and out of some spaces that I had avoided addressing in the midst of life busyness. The full calendar, the routine, the structure – they can be good. But for me, they were muffling the cries of needed attention. One of the single most important areas of this truth is in the way I see community.

I can be with people all day long. I can talk and read and Snap and Tweet @you. I can “connect” in the ways that I am supposed to. All of these things can happen in the name of forming connection and community and at the end of the day, there is still a very good chance that you are not my community. My people know that “community” with me is often defined in the best meme. Making your way to my shortest of short lists means that on a really bad day, you might (and let’s be real, it’s a baaaadddd day when I actually choose this option) get a text saying “do you have time to talk?” Community is not a Thursday at 7:30 event. It is not a standing once a week obligation. It is not even a predictable pattern.

My deepest community is found in the hard, messy, real, foul mouthed, smoke blowing, pretending I’m not crying moments – where life is falling apart and you are the person that I trust enough to call. For years, I have lulled myself into believing that there was a way to schedule connection. But the honest truth is that until you are staring at the bottom, until you are sitting in the midst of the most painful and can’t move, until you are so scared that you don’t even know how to take the next step, you may not even know you need community.

This time away has reminded me that there are some relationships that I cannot neglect. I now know that they have been forgotten and need resuscitating. In the insane spaces of my insane “normal” pace I have failed to love people, and more importantly myself, enough to prioritize them. In an effort to appease, there are pieces of myself that I have given up for the sake of being a part of something that I don’t really need.

Has this season changed my view of community? I sure hope so. I’ve been reminded that the deep is where I am fed. My life already has too many things on the calendar. As I try to find new rhythms and normal patterns in this time of “excused” absences from groups of gatherings, I want to look for the types of community that my soul needs. We each deserve to deep dive into connection, AND give ourselves permission to choose only the kind of communities that make us leap for joy inside. Let’s shed the should’s so we can have room for thriving.

What If: You Are Not Enough and That’s OK?

Time and again, I find myself in the darker seasons of life with thoughts of enough-ness. Up to this point in my life I have believed that this question brought me to a two path road. One of the paths was the belief that of course you are not enough. You are a flawed, sinful human and without the work of the saving grace of Jesus, you will never be enough. That is a road that while I’m driving, has many dangerous side roads that I have tried to navigate unsuccessfully. I hate that road. But the other road is equally as scary, mainly because of my well grooved belief paths made by the first road. As I have worked to explore self-help and personal growth, I have heard the phrase ‘you are enough’ at every turn. I think I am growing to hate this phrase equally as much.

I am not always enough. I am whole. I am growing. I am committed to the journey of self. But there are big, messy pieces of me that are not completely enough. I don’t want to be labeled complete because that implies that in that moment I am finished growing. I have so much more to learn. I have so many more experiences and goals and dreams to fulfill. What I long to say is I am not enough, and that is perfectly sufficient.

According to MerriamWebster the word ‘enough’ means “occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.” For me to say that I am enough, is to tell a lie to myself. I hate liars. I mean, I really hate liars. I’m not lying to myself today. I don’t have all that I need to meet the needs of myself, my children and all people I love. To try and tell myself ‘I am Enough’ is to continue to perpetuate a false belief that I am allowed to stop working on myself, my growth and my learning.

After staring down these two roads, I have realized a third path is required for me. I need to know that I am not enough – not out of a deficiency, not out of sin, not even because I am not capable of being enough. I am not enough because I am not supposed to be self-sufficient. What I need is a basic belief that I am enough-ish. I need to know that I am enough to keep fighting for. Not because I already have all that I need inside of myself already, but I am enough because I am me. In my very own being, my faulty wiring and all, I have the capacity to love and thrive and live and grow and change and mature and risk and fail and love some more. That also means that in my enough-ness, I have to believe that I am worthy of inhabiting the space that my life has gifted me. My ideas and thoughts are worthy. My brain and hopes and dreams are important and relevant.

Thanks to the brilliance of my wise and beautiful youngest child (who just stumbled in to see what I was writing about today) I was given an image of a roadside billboard pointing to my 3rd way road. “Mom,” she said, “your road should say, ‘I am enough for this moment.'” Damn, Ally. You do get me.

What If: I Cannot Trust My Inner Voice?

There is a voice inside of you
that whispers all day long,
‘I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
or wise man can decide
what’s right for you – just listen to
the voice that speaks inside.
Shel Silverstein

As a kid, I was not a lover of words. I did not read. I did not enjoy writing. There was one exception to this rule. I had a handful of books that spoke. Their words lept off the pages to give feelings and meaning to my very confused thinking. As a pre-teen, Go Ask Alice was one of my favorites. Dark and twisty should have been a life label for me in 7th grade. As a younger kiddo, Where The Sidewalk Ends was a favorite ‘I’m pouting in my closet’ read. There seemed to be an understanding of mutual head dwelling with these authors. As I have worked to understand my own inner life, I came across this 1996 poem from Shel Silverstein’s children’s book, Falling Up. The line that had me hooked was “a voice inside of you that whispers all day long.” Two things struck me. One, the voice is whispering so I have to quiet my mind to hear it, and the voice speaks all day long.

One of the single greatest impediments in my ability to listen and trust my inner voice is a very real fear that my own voice is not trustworthy. I grew up with a foundational understanding of my sinful nature, an understanding that I could not escape from, an understanding that I was not able to overcome it. And while I cannot recall a specific conversation where I was told that my intuition was not trustworthy, I developed that belief and I certainly don’t think that thought pattern was ever discouraged. Even when I began to shift to a creation narrative that was founded in a place of goodness, the presence of Original Sin in our world penetrated the ‘goodness’ of my own voice.

I can honestly say that I cannot name one time, not one single time, that I have trusted my intuition and inborn voice 100%. For four and a half decades I have continually told myself that self-revelation was not of God. Sure, I could wrap it in the correct words like ‘Holy Spirit’ and ‘God’s gentle voice,’ but I have feared that the whisper was my own…forever. As I have worked to try on new models of faith, I have defined some aspects of this thought insanity differently, especially as a parent. I remember the first time that one of my girls said, “I just get this weird feeling, Mom.” I almost cried. They heard from themselves and BELIEVED. I’m sure I dork-factored this simple statement by vomiting words of encouragement at the revelation. Many times since then, I have (in so many non-chill ways) told both my children to TRUST THAT VOICE OF KNOWING.

Even when I have been unable to listen to my own voice, I have worked so hard to develop in them a belief that their intuition and whispers are trustworthy. When I think back on the most devastatingly painful moments of my life, I am able to identify that so, so many of them could have been avoided if I had just – for even a tiny second – trusted my own internal voice. I could have challenged my self-inflicted shame of “good girl” choices. I could have stood my ground and not gone or done or felt obligated. I could have stepped out of relationships and into good risk. Perhaps, in some weird way, I could have lived the life that the Divine intended for me all along, instead of avoiding the preconceived judgement that I knew would come if I ever trusted.

A wise soul said something the other day that flat threw me for a loop in the best way possible:

"There is no process or system that is better to trust than the deep loud internal discernment God gave me." -my friend Kim

With these words, I began to unpack my fear. How do we start trusting? If you want to learn from a middle-age Kindergarten level truth seeker, here is my wisdom. I can’t hear if I don’t stop talking. Listening is not possible if I am constantly making noise. So the very first thing I need to do is shut my hole. While I am quiet, I breathe. My only “words” or “prayer” in breath is to breathe in Goodness (or the Divine, or Knowing – whatever you invite to teach you) and breathe out fear. I have so many fear voices, so I have to give them a swift kick in the ass to be able to hear my own truth. And then I sit. Sometimes in the silence. Sometimes as I drive. Sometimes as a listen to some music. And as the thoughts and words come, I don’t fight them or their origin or their “truth.” I listen. And then I listen some more.

What I know about growing and changing thought patterns is that it’s takes work. I cannot un-learn years and years of conditioning without years and years of new practice. I’m sitting here today, as I type on my porch, smelling the tomatoes and basil of my garden and listening. And what I hear is good. It’s my voice. It’s my truth. Me. Mine. Goodness.

What If: I Can’t Find a Spiritual Path That Seems Genuine For Me?

This week, I sat down with the last 6 ‘What If’ Questions on my Numbers spreadsheet and I stared at this one. I know what I need to say. I know what I want to say. But typing it just seems to be a bit harder than I ever imagined. For those that have held tight with me the last 40+ days, you know that blowing up my boxed-up world is challenging for a single track thinker. In genuine vulnerability, this question asking series started from a place of fear of the ‘what if’. If I began to publicly say some of the things that have been rolling around in the depths of the deep, what happens? What I found is that I am still here. A bit more free. More empowered. Absolutely, more sure of myself than ever before. So, back to our question today.

The box we are exploring is one of the very square shaped boxes in my mind’s historical journey. Each “spiritual path” is a neatly packed box. We have the Jewish box, Buddhist box and the Hindu box. Can you see the acceptable “other religions” categories? We have the Christian boxes (each with their worthiness pre-determined) of Catholicism, Evangelicalism, liberal theology, protestant roots and traditional liturgically intense practices. And THEN we have the ones that I was taught are the no-fly boxes of cultish expressions of faith. All of the boxes.

I remember the first time I read a book on contemplative prayer practice that drew parallels to the meditation practices of eastern faiths. I almost closed the book. WE DON’T BELIEVE IN THESE THINGS. And by we, I mean that the brand of religious expression that I was buying at the time. But I began to explore these ideas of stillness and intention and I did’t combust. My next big boulder of struggle was literal biblical understandings, even going so far as to question heaven and hell. What if? What about…? As I began to study, the cardboard walls of my boxes began to soften with the water from my tears. On many days (let’s be honest, late nights) I would take a breath and say in my deepest spaces, ‘I don’t believe that anymore.’ And then I would cry. Sometimes the tears would be a glorious release. Sometimes the tears were from the pain of loneliness. In many seasons, I have felt like I was walking out on a wobbly branch of a forbidden tree, alone and scared.

The number of times that I have admitted that my box was inadequate for my truth is terrifying. If you have not guessed it from the last many days, I’m not sure I even have a box anymore. I have fully embraced that there is not ONE spiritual path that seems genuine for me. However, there is MY spiritual path. And that, dear friends, is very genuine. There is much of this season that is confusing, but there is one thing that is NOT genuine: to stop searching and exploring. Out of fear of doing it wrong or an unclear direction or any other speed bump, the thing that I cannot and will not shake is the journey. I am a spiritual person. I am deeply tied to exploration and question asking. I will never not be able to connect the dots of the Mystery with the revelations of truth in my own existence.

I love the question asking of the Jewish faith. I am obsessed with the deep history of the Orthodox Christian church. I find grace and peace in the openness of the modern Episcopal Church. I am learning and growing from the inner contemplation of the Buddhist faith. I read with great excitement from many spiritual teachers that would quickly tell you they are not religious. And most importantly, I have learned to listen, sit and discern my own truth. This single act of freedom has allowed me to let go of finding the ‘right’ in favor of the ‘best’ or ‘most true.’ If there is one thing that I have embraced in this season it is my full acceptance that the spiritual journey is a deeply personal one. Those that chose to judge or convince or manipulate with fear or threats of pain and judgement are not the ones that I’m here for. There is nothing “genuine” in that kind of spirit quest today.

May we find the holy spaces with genuine searching and learning. We are worth it.

What If: True Vulnerability is the Cost of Love?

How much does that cost? We learn that question very early in life, and if you are anything like me, you understand quickly that it is always about weighing the cost. What will the reward or pleasure be? How much will I have to give up of ____ to have ____? I’m not a tempered shopper. I often impulse buy with little regard for the consequences. The same cannot be said of the 3 other humans that live in my home. When I shop with my oldest for a special occasion, I hide the price tags because she will not even consider a precious dress or a perfect pair of shoes if they require a financial sacrifice. I love this about my family, but sometimes I just want them to shop with their heart!

As I have explored the many things that we have discussed in the past 5 weeks, I have often asked myself, what is it going to “cost” me if I say this out loud? What if someone that I admire disagrees? What if I forever change a relationship because I said something that I can’t (and don’t want to) take back? These things are the risky cost of living as your true self. People will not understand. People will doubt your motives. Especially if your growth is producing a shift and that shift changes the relationships in your life.

For those of us that long for more wholeness in our lives, who are striving to connect with people in ways and spaces that our past tells us are not safe, we have a high price to pay. The more I love, the more I work towards healthy loving relationships, the more I realize that the cost associated with love is vulnerability. This freaking word. It invades my life in ways that make me feel like I am being consumed. Yet, when I engage in the quest for my vulnerable self, when I dig deep into the well of truth telling and honoring feelings, the more I find a new and profound connection with the humans in my life. The guru of vulnerable space is my girl Dr. Brené Brown.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” 

Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

“People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”

Brene Brown, Rising Strong

There is nothing I long for more in life than to be labeled a badass. It is truly #mylifegoal. The word itself is rich, but the strength behind it is not found in the ability to tell someone off or manipulate a situation. A real badass is someone who can stare the scariest of the scary in the face, and with all of the trust and humility they can muster, long to grow and be shaped by pain. There is nothing in the world that can do this better or more completely than vulnerability.

When we get vulnerable, we have to release the outcomes. When we allow others to see the truth of our lives, we have to believe them when they say they love us. When we walk through pain and the shredding of ego that is at the heart of vulnerable living, we can receive the great reward of love. But then, and only then, do we have the ability to love in return. Here is my theory: without a genuine vulnerable exposure of self, we will always know that we have a way out. When we keep pieces of ourself off the table of exposure, we will never trust love. If you have ever thought, “they will walk away if they know…” you understand this truth. A vulnerable posture, a truly vulnerably navigated relationship, has no room for ‘I just can’t go there’ thinking. To love is to give yourself away, even the messy, fragile, intimate, scary pieces that are sure to make you think, “Why did I say that out loud?”

If you have ever had a friend or a partner or a family member that has been the recipient of your vulnerable spaces, you know this feeling. I have been known to fear the next conversation or even dread the time and space that my vulnerable moments will be used against me. And, in the spirit of honesty, that has happened. There is nothing that stings like that knife wound. But, if you have experienced the gift of ‘I’m still here’ or ‘you can’t scare me away’ you know the treasure of vulnerability. Hold it close, because that is love.

What If: Pain is the Great Teacher

I hate pain. H-A-T-E pain. Pain is a feeling. It hurts in its own way, but it has tentacles of sadness and betrayal and worry and fear. It brings with it the discomfort of the unknown. It reveals internal struggles that we want to avoid. Pain stings with truth and awareness that is raw and real and exposing. Damn pain. And yet as I fight the pain, I hear the stories of brave pain facers that have walked into the fire for the sake of the growth.

“Pain is not tragic. Pain is magic. Suffering is tragic. Suffering is what happens when we avoid pain and consequently miss our becoming. This is what I can and must avoid: missing my own evolution because I am too afraid to surrender to the process…Because what scares me a hell of a lot more than pain is living my entire life and missing my becoming. What scares me more than feeling it all is missing it all.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

There are three things that I know about pain. Please recognize with me that this is head knowledge. Only on the very best days, the days when all the stars and positivity and good thoughts march in an ordered system of understanding, can I find peace within my soul to embrace these things. So, I share them not as brilliant insights, but as marching orders for myself.

  1. Pain requires me to let go of control. At the very core of my being (just read the description of my Enneagram type) is the need to have knowledge of the next step. I have to know. I need to have the plan. When pain comes, I am completely ripped of my safety net. There is absolutely nothing like pain to remove all of the anchors of security. When pain begins to creep up, or slams its ugly head into me in a way that is jarring, I have no choice but to let go.
  2. It’s my choice to change the storyline. To be clear, this is not diminishing or denying pain. This is not even avoiding. Changing the storyline is an intentional decision in my mind to accept the things that I cannot change and tell myself (as many times as necessary) that past experiences show me that pain can transform and beautify so I will not fight the pain…today.
  3. Breathe When I feel pain, I tense my muscles. When my body is distressed, I panic at my core. In seasons of prolonged pain – both physical and emotional – my body bears the scars. My shoulders have knots. My breathing is irregular and shallow. Although it is not a natural response, my best pain remedy is a good deep breath. I breath from my toes. I allow the oxygen to go all the way to the roots of my pain. No, it doesn’t fix it, but it forces my body to slow and think and not react. That’s the single most important thing I can do in moments of pain.

I don’t want to admit it, but pain is a teacher. It teaches me to be myself. It teaches me to listen. It teaches me to slow down. Reacting and in the midst of pain is the warning flag, so for today, I feel you pain. I see you. I acknowledge your presence. I invite you to teach me. I give you permission to shape me for good. And I choose in that process to let go, change the storyline and breathe.

What If: Our Ability to “Let Someone Have It’’ is Really a Revelation of Trust?

I was listening to a brilliant podcast this week and the interview spoke to this idea. I was immediately challenged to think about the truth behind this comment. The discussion stemmed from the distance between a father and daughter of more than 13 years. As they rebuilt their relationship, there was a moment where the wounds of the past exploded in the fury of hurt. It was in that space that the dad, Lenny Duncan, said:

“We were a year and a half into living as a family and she was doing something she wasn’t supposed to be doing and I called her out on it. And she let me fucking have it. She said, ‘You ruined my fucking life. You destroyed everything. I’ve never had a family. I’ve never felt love. I’ve never felt like I had any worth. You stole everything from me.’ She screamed, Nadia, three inches from my face. And I walked outside and I got on the phone with my friend and weeped, tears of joy, because we knew she trusted me enough to let me have it, which means she knew I was not leaving.

Before I go any further, I need to clarify something that is key to this question. For this conversation,”letting someone have it” is speaking your truth. It is summoning the courage to finally say the things that have been on your heart and trusting someone enough to hear your deepest pain and most agonizing fear. This is truth telling and honesty, not shaming or berating. There is absolutely no excuse, no reason, to brutally wound with dagger pointed words, especially if there is not the established safety or security of relationship. That is manipulative abuse, not trust. Period.

Trust building is a sacred gift. By navigating the waters of pain and hurt and loneliness and fear alongside a co-journeyer, we invite others to battle with and take care of our hearts. As I listened to the revelation of trust in this father/daughter moment, I was reminded of times in my own life where I have broken through to new levels of connection with those that I have allowed into my inner sacred spaces. For people with wounds, and let’s be honest that’s most of us have them, we guard the soft spots. We know that by allowing others to see the vulnerable spots, we are risking further hurt. To find the level of trust that reveals love in the midst of the moments of fear of rejection is to launch a relationship into the next dimension.

If you have ever lost it, lost it in a way that all you could do was yell and scream and cry because rational thought has no accurate expression of your internal chaos, you know this kind of risk. But to have the one that you lost it on offer compassion or a unrelenting hug or a “I don’t care and I love you more because you just said that” is an absolute game changer.

Might I offer us all a challenge? Especially for those who need a little feisty release – let them have it. Let the person that you love and trust and are not quite sure how to express yourself to have that risky moment of truth telling. Not because you need to blow your top. Not because you need to yell. Not even because you have some things bottled up under pressure and they don’t have an exit pathway. Do it because YOU need to be you and they need to know that you trust them. I promise, these moments are magic.

What If: Nature is the Only Way I Experience God?

This question was posed to me in mid-March and I wondered how I would tackle it. Here we are, two months later and I finally have something to say about this topic. But the answer did not come out of study or even an intentional spiritual journey into deeper truth. The response has come through further breaking of my framework of connection. It has come with unknowing and letting old ways die. It has come through survival.

Prior to quarantine, I rarely went into my backyard. We built a gorgeous pool 8 summers ago and my unwillingness to put on a swimsuit meant that I touched the water maybe 3 times a year. There are only a few places where the “outdoors” and I are zen. I feel soul connected watching waves. I feel at peace in clear water with a snorkel on my face. I know a tender comfort while looking at the red rocks of Arizona. But running, hiking, biking, surfing, swimming (need I say more?) are not the ways that I experience the Divine.

Something happened when my only “escape” was the backyard – when the world told me that other places were not safe. When Target was no longer an outdoor adventure, I had to breathe fresh air in other ways. In an act of pure desperation, I went outside. I began each morning with a long walk. I explored paths in the neighborhood that I had never seen. I found a pond with turtles that I had never noticed. I began to love my coffee on the porch. I grew a garden – a BIG wonderful fruit producing garden. I found great joy in digging in the dirt. I now know all of the worms and bugs and even the crawly critters that my backyard has to offer. And when I “mastered” my fenced in space, I jumped the 8′ boundary and began trying to root the wild plants from the field next to our house.

Over the course of the last month, I fell in love with Galveston. I know…the brown water. But again, these things matter little when all you have seen for weeks is a master planned community. To sit on the seawall and feel the salty breeze has restored my deepest dying places. I have a new love, and her name is the outdoors. I’m still not ready to “rough it.” I long for the day that my time outside can be followed by a 4-star hotel with high thread count sheets and a spa. I’m not that changed. But, I get this question in a way that I never thought I could.

Now, for my great insight to the “what if?”…I know you are holding your breath. If you can experience the Comforter in ANY WAY, you are fortunate. If sitting in the sun gives you a glimpse into the mystery of soul connection, what a gift. If climbing a cliff or diving deep in the water allows your heart to see the infinite connection to Creator, hold that feeling as tight as you can and climb and dive as high and as deep as you can. Everyday.

The more that I explore new avenues of connection and allow myself to be freed from pre-programmed “right” thinking, the more that I drop the need to do it one way. I have a friend that finds more peace and stillness in Nature Church than in a building on Sunday mornings. Can we just stop for a moment and bless that worship as true and good? Rather than piling on the should’s and ought to’s, can we free each other to connect with the Holy in our own ways? I’m over it, in the best possible ways. And with that in mind, I’m going to the beach today. I need some good worship time.

What If: I Was Not Afraid to be Myself?

I’m 45 freaking years old. WHHHYYYYY is this still a question that I struggle with? You would think that with the internal excavation that I have done in my adulthood that I would have wrapped my mind around the fact that not only will everyone not like me, but I really don’t want them to. And here’s the real, true deal. I really don’t care about most of the big judge-y world. But there are some. The treasured few, that I allow to really know me. Within these precious relationships, I have found acceptance and love. I feel known and heard. I am challenged and pushed…until I balk. Until the moment comes that I feel that icky if they really knew me shiver come over my soul. I hate that damn shiver.

I know that the perception of my very out-there living life is one of truth telling. The danger with being someone that is regularly called “brave” or “open” or worse yet “vulnerable” is that I begin to believe that the stories that I tell and the writings that I offer are those things. And sure, I talk about things that most people would like to keep on the eternal down-low, but that’s just me. Talk about personality shortcomings, no problem. Talk about addiction and recovery, no biggie. Mental health? I’m totally down. I can tell all of these tales of life journeys with head knowledge and my beautiful rearview 20/20 vision. I’m all in. Until the shift happens. You know the shift?

When we move from head to heart, from facts to emotions, I don’t want you anywhere near me. I don’t want you to know that there are large chunks of my junk that I don’t want to tackle. I don’t want to admit that mastery is never going to happen in my world of real living. At the very core of fear is a very hot burning fire of doubt that you will ever believe, or trust, or even like me if you reallllly know me. If you could see the ways that I behave, if you knew the gaping holes of shame and insufficiency, you would see right through my tough exterior directly into the wounds that are still festered and infected with unhealed disease.

I have spent the last few weeks examining the next layer of healing that needs to happen in my journey of life. One of the things that I know to be the truest of true, when it comes to my own thriving, is my need to not keep a secret. There is nothing that will bore holes in my spiritual existence like the knowledge that I have done, that I know or that I am thinking about an idea in a way that I believe no one knows or will find out. Having the ability to deceive, or even the embedded lie in my head that I have the world fooled, is a dangerous and destructive path.

Let’s lay these realities down next to each other. I am not in a good space when I have secrets AND I don’t trust that you will still love me if you really know me. This is a recipe for constant chaos. There is a wicked dance of reveal…retreat…share a bit more…see if they run…give them a big one…prepare for rejection. This mental gymnastics meet has kept me on the sidelines of full honestly for so long. There are the life defining stories that feel vulnerable but are actually quite public. And then there are the ones that I still don’t have a resolution for, the ones that make me feel weak and unsure of survival. These are the secrets that still haunt me. They threaten sanity, sobriety, calm and serenity.

What I know about secrets is they multiply like gremlins. In a mind like mine, light and water are similar to partial truths or only sharing the parts of my life that I believe you will not judge me for. These choices for false vulnerability are the very tasty appetizers for my diseased soul. So what is the cure? How do I walk into these spaces with the hope that I can be loved? I do it one tiny step at a time. One minuscule risk in safe space for the sake of healing. There are absolutely unsafe spaces. There are untrustworthy receptacles of our love and hearts and hurts and pasts. But there are also those who not only want to walk with us, but they need us to risk so that they can risk. There is a beautiful, sacred gift when your vulnerability is met with not only love and acceptance but an equal revelation of pain and hurt. I don’t think it is an overstatement to call these moments divinely inspired. I certainly believe that my dumb decisions and moments of pain that are received in a gift of connection and trust can only be described as holy. To my treasured hope holders, you know me and love me. You give me faith in myself. You are a gift.

What If: You Had to Pick One Person to Be With Forever?

Let’s switch tracks today, ok? I have enjoyed the deepest of spirit and good inner work as I write these days, but I find myself in a relationship reflectional space today. I saw this question on a website (did you know there were websites for good question asking?) and it has run like a hamster on a wheel in my mind for days. There are layers to this question, so we need to do some defining. “Be with” is not as clear as it seems. So for the sake of this discussion, I am not talking about marriage or even monogamy. The direction I am taking is pointed toward the ‘deserted island’ – you are only going interact with one person for the rest of your life. Let’s discuss.

I need my people. I need all of my people. I have had seasons in my life where I probably could have been content with one other person. Times when I could retreat to a deserted island and be alone with my sister, a friend, a new love or even my children. (Yes, young mommas, they get older and more independent and wildly fun to spend days alone with.) But honesty time: one-on-one seasons never bring out the best me. There is not one human that meets all of my needs. There are places that are unique to the special shaped spaces of my heart – including my need to rebel, fight, attack and be protected. I have yet to meet a single person that gets all of these sides of me.

Most of you know that I have been married for almost 22 years. My person has been my person for more than half of my life. If you know him, you know that dependable and steady are words of endearing love that show all that he brings to my life. These are precious traits that give me the freedom to be the dreaming, fierce woman that I was created to be. At the same time, the wide breadth of soul passion can be a gulf of unintended distance if left unacknowledged. It has been a hard journey recognizing these truths. It is even harder to figure out how to navigate the truth of this reality. The single best thing that I can do for the sake of my own soul is be honest. Really, really honest. Even when I am worried that my honestly will hurt in ways that I never intended to hurt those I love. My own truth is just that, truth. It is not something to be policed or controlled. Truth is something to be honored and respected.

I need to take a moment to speak to those who may find themselves in spaces and places that appear to be “different” or “unconventional” or even “dangerous.” Welcome to the hurtfully labeled club. I am the president and CEO. Even as a middle-finger-at-the-world kind of girl, words sting. There are few things that can wound like someone telling me that the way that I love the people that I love is wrong. Here is the thing. How I express and honor the people in my life should only be a discussion between my soul and the others impacted by my love.

This is one area of my life that quarantine has exposed in all of its ugly head space and aloneness. I don’t think I had an accurate grasp on just how vital the diversity of input from my many voices is on my soul. I have longed for the times when I just need to run to my corners of venting and screaming (and even crying…I know) and have a friend that knows just what I need. As much as I adore my person, as much as he brings so many things that I need into focus and clarity, I am better when I can hear from other voices. Ones that have known me longer. Ones that are wired like me. Ones that know how to aim a flaming dagger of truth right to the heart of the things that I want to avoid. These traits are not found in one space or person in my life. I need all of the brash, tender, wild, free, daring, steady, brave and challenging voices that I have invited into my life to speak honesty and hold space for me.

There is not one person, not one single person, that would be my island mate for life. Without the variety of voices and experiences and love and passion and grace and knowledge, I am not the person I am today. I will always look to the beauty of many voices. I will continue to pursue wholeness in every relationship. I will constantly seek those that are trustworthy to share my life. If I had to go to an island, I would need huts for my people. I would need a porch and a fire pit for my question asking ‘what if’ friends. I would need a beautiful sacred space for the moments of treasured quiet that I share with my husband. I would need a stash of my favorite rebellion tools for good fun. I would need my computer or a good journal for writing and my people that I share my written thoughts with. All of these things make me the very best version of me. Actually, the more I think about it, I’m buying an island and setting up the fun. Later, haters.