Writing this blog has been a tremendous help for me. Being able to tell my story with freedom has helped me to have better clarity into what’s really been going on in my own heart.
As I go back through the archives of this blog, so many emotions, fears and doubts have been poured out. So much sorrow over sin and anger over abuse. What a journey it has been.
This blog has also allowed me to connect with others overcoming similar things. I’ve received tremendous encouragement, strength and love from these connections which have helped to give me the courage to continue writing.
Lately, I’ve been encouraged to see some improvements in my life. I’m learning a little more every day that I can trust God with what has happened in my story and what He’s already written for the future.
As I move forward cautiously into new relationships with others, I recognize I’m being given an opportunity to develop healthy relationships without my history being a major obstacle. All they have to go on is what they hear me say and what they see me do. But even this can be challenging.
My counselor has encouraged me to hold back on telling my whole story to the people I am just now starting to get to know. I will admit I’ve struggled with this. The struggle has been long and hard, the loneliness suffocating, and the desire to know that others understand and accept me overwhelming…just like it was ten years ago when I walked into my former pastor’s office. And that’s what sometimes scares me to death.
Listening to Dan Allenders podcast today called What if I Fear My Story? I was challenged to really look into the depths of my heart into what my motivations really are in telling my story. I’m going to admit that some of my motives I am not proud of. Some reveal my selfishness and pride and others reveal a deep need to be healed.
Once again I’m faced with on one hand my own depravity and tremendous need for grace and on the other my God given dignity that was created for relationships that will reveal God’s love.
Brene Brown has written a very insightful book called Daring Greatly about how to be vulnerable and build healthy relationships. I started reading this book last week, and it helped me to understand why my counselor was encouraging me to hold back in sharing. Brene says:
Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process.
We can’t always have guarantees in place before we risk sharing; however , we don’t bare our souls the first time we meet someone. We don’t lead with “Hi, my name is Brené, and here’s my darkest struggle .” That’s not vulnerability. That may be desperation or woundedness or even attention-seeking, but it’s not vulnerability. Why? Because sharing appropriately, with boundaries, means sharing with people with whom we’ve developed relationships that can bear the weight of our story. The result of this mutually respectful vulnerability is increased connection, trust, and engagement.
Ouch! These statements socked me right in the middle of my stomach, and I realized that some of my yearnings to share really revealed a desperate heart still struggling with deep wounds and seeking for attention and a weak woman very much in need of God’s grace for her strength. I hated seeing this. Part of me wanted to hide in my room and never come out, but the other part of me remembered that God created us for relationships that glorify Him. It’s all about finding a balance of what to share with others and when. It’s also about asking God to reveal my heart motives in why I’m sharing what I am. Brene encourages that we ought only tell some of the most difficult parts of our stories when we’ve worked through them with close friends. Dan says we should ask ourselves what we are gaining from telling our stories. He said when some people share their stories it is obvious they are longing for the forgiveness and grace of God. For example, when I told my story to my counselor for the first time I was desperately longing for this. But Dan describes another motive for sharing our story. He tells how often through telling our stories of victimization we at times use them to find justification for our sin and self righteousness. Ouch again!
I thought about my first lunch with two ladies at the church where we’ve been visiting. I could tell right away that both of them were kind and compassionate. During the course of the conversation, we shared about former experiences in churches. One of the ladies described some of her own struggles with those in leadership that had hurt her. I found myself blurting out that my former pastor had been deposed. Thank God this lady wasn’t meddlesome, because I could tell I’d gotten her attention with these words. She didn’t push, but rather said she was so sorry. At that point, I remembered my counselor’s advice not to over share and the conversation soon changed. Later, I was so thankful. Not telling my whole story I didn’t have to come home worrying what these ladies were thinking about me.
I asked myself today what was it in me that caused me to blurt that my former pastor was deposed and how I was still struggling as a result. If I’m honest, part of it was a desire to be seen as a victim and pitied. Even further past this was a yearning for attention and affirmation. As I realize this an old familiar feeling of shame and self condemnation start to fill me. When will I get enough attention? What’s wrong with me? Haven’t I learned that there will never be enough human affirmation to satisfy my heart?
But then I remember that God doesn’t want me to live in shame. He’s covered me with His righteousness. Since I’ve trusted in Him He guarantees I’ll never be put to shame. Then He comforts me with the knowledge that not only does He understand those longings in my heart for affirmation and assurance, but He also fulfills them. I have His affirmation and I am complete. As this knowledge sinks in I begin to feel at ease. I can trust Him also to lead me to what to say and what not to say. The desperation dies down and I can rest and trust Him and take my time in developing the healthy relationships He has created me to have.