There are people out there doing work like Bryan Stevenson. Fighting for good things, passing hope to those living in hopelessness. His words, his work, encourage me so much. He's given his life to bring value to people who don't have a voice, to show compassion, to tell people they're worthy. He's sold out to human dignity and identity. He's helped given me perspective. He gets it, he gets it.
And so I'll be honest with you all.
It's been a challenging past few weeks. I have let things steal joy, I have massively let pride cloud my perspective. Even now, I sit and I try not to cry because the mind just got so confused. Self examination has brought some shockingly hard realizations. I've asked myself the hard questions WHY and am startled at what my heart has revealed. All the worst versions of myself. But with it, it's not all been bad. Because after the crucifixion comes resurrection, am I right?
So, here are some things I am reminding myself are true about me, and these very things I know to be true about you too.
I am believed in. I had one of my most valuable pieces of corner look me in the eye this weekend and say, I believe in you. And at a moment when I wasn't sure I believed in myself anymore, I had really let myself and those around me down, this kind and gentle corner said, yes. but I believe in you. What grace. I'm convinced those are four of the most powerful words in the English language.
I am not alone. There are people surrounding me (and you) who want to douse your shame and all your things with empathy. Another fav, Brene Brown, says these words in her TED Talk (another one to check out). She says this, "If we're going to find our way back to each other, we have to know empathy. Empathy is the antidote to shame. The two most powerful words to hear when we're in struggle is "me too." If we're going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path." yes yes yes. There are people within arm's length who want to look you in the eye and say me too (another thing my corner did for me this weekend). And then there are the others who might not be gifted in empathy, and that is okay. They are still your people to the very core and they love you and they are good at other things (aren't we all). Pull those people in too.
What I think is liability is actually asset. This one is the hardest for me to swallow sometimes. I need this one repeated the most. But what I'm finding to be true (GRACE UPON GRACE) is that the very things about myself that often make me cringe are really the very things that bring value. The way I'm made, the way I'm wired, the way I operate - ugh I can't be the only that thinks Lord have mercy, why do I act/think/respond this way?? But, what if they are value? What if my emotion is value? What if God actually knew what he was doing (ha) when he created you and me and these things about us actually have the potential to bring life? What if there really was a choice and the me that is me isn't inherently a roadblock, but only unless I allow it to be?
Give yourself grace, it really is all okay. Ha! Oh, how good this is. It's okay! Oh yes, people, it's okay. Now pick yourself up and brush yourself off and LET'S DO THIS THING.
You're probably wondering what Bryan Stevenson has to do with all of this. I've got a point, I'll end with Bryan. He tells this story in his TED Talk (you can watch it here) about hanging out with Rosa Parks (oh you know, no big deal). She asks him what he does, what the Equal Justice Initiative is all about, and he starts reeling off his organization and what his vision is and what he's trying to do, what he's trying to change.
And when he finishes, Ms. Parks says to him, mhmm. That's going to make you tired, tired, tired.
And then another woman leans in close to Bryan and says, and that's why you've got to be brave, brave, brave.
Be brave, friends. Be brave.
Pass courage to one another. Lift up your head. It's a good thing you're doing. Let's keep doing it together.