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I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. – Anne Lamott

I was broken.

When I arrive in Tampa with a car full of stuff and $500 in the bank I was broken.  I don’t know how else to describe it but that.  But you know what I found? Grace.

I still don’t understand grace.  That I’ve received what I couldn’t earn, what I couldn’t hope to deserve.  But here I am, five years later, whole.  I am whole. That sad, insecure, broken girl from 5 years ago?  She is but a distant memory.

You know what I appreciate about that?  Even though I don’t understand grace, I’m am able to give it because I have so desperately needed to receive it over the years.  The Lord has brought so many broken people into my path the past few years.  People who remind me of me.  People who needed the grace I found as desperately and completely as I did.  And now, I’m getting to walk with many of them as they become whole again.

Last week I told you that people are messy.  They are.  And most if not all of them are broken in some way or have been.  But I love that.  It’s the perfect reminder of how mighty my God is to save.  And He is.

As I sat with new friends over mexican food the other night the second person in a month said to me, ‘you don’t share much about yourself’.  I’ve spent a lot of time since the first person brought that to my attention thinking about why that might be.  The truth is, few people notice.  I’m a good question asker and I work at knowing what’s going on in other people’s lives.  I’m loud and friendly and I think most people think of that as knowing me.  But the truth is, I’m a lot more private than you might think.

At first I thought that perhaps my lack of sharing started after a rough season last year.  I find that trusting people has gotten harder for me in recent years.  Let’s chalk that up to experience.

After a lot of thought though, I don’t think that’s it.  Truthfully, I’m in a good place.  I think I probably wore people out talking about  myself when I was in the thick of getting my footing here.  But now?  Well, things are good and it’s given me the chance to really invest in people.  I’m probably in the least ‘needy’ season of my life to date. I’m in a great place. Not one without storms, don’t read me wrong on that. What I mean is I’m in a healthy place in my relationships, my job, and my life.  A place I’ve waited for and worked towards for 28 years.

So lets talk about my major shortcoming in this. One of the toughest lessons I learned last year after a friend took their own life was this: we can’t afford not to be vulnerable with people.  You can be the strong one for some of your friends and family.  You can be the person who gives the advice, talks through the drama, and works through people’s problems with them.  You can be the one who owns the home that everyone uses as a safe haven.  But you cannot be an island.  You have to find people you trust, someone you can rely on, and you have to be wide open with them.  Share your struggles, talk about the hard stuff, let them help with your load.

This doesn’t come natural to me.  Those of you who know my family know my Dad has a somewhat public job.   So I grew up in a family that had to keep a lot of things within itself.  You can’t afford to be the one who let something slip before the news is out.  Perhaps I get some of my tendencies to talk a lot without giving anything away from that.  But some of it is my personality too. I’m strong.  Even I sometimes  forget how much I still need a good support system, not just to be that.

I can tell you with absolute honesty that it is just in the last year that I feel like I’ve gotten in a really good place with friendships.  I’ve always been close to my family and had friends.  But the depth of my relationships now is something I’ve waited my whole life for.  To be surrounded by the kind of people I can be completely transparent with.  Having that?  It’s priceless.  Having people who will laugh with you, cry with you, and just sit with you on the best and worst of days.

I feel so grateful that I finally have those people in place in my life.  And even though there’s still really only two people outside of my family that I am honest with in a no limits fashion – it’s a great start.  Each time I meet with my bible study girls I find I’m more and more open with them as well.  It’s something that takes a conscious effort for me but I realize the value in it and I’m grateful for people who keep drawing it to my attention.

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