what’s worth got to do with it?

I am a little late to the party. Brene Brown’s videos have been creating quite a buzz, but I only recently watched her most well known one, The Power of Vulnerability. Really phenomenal stuff. I am a fan.

I laugh at her humor and marvel at her succinct articulation of things I have intuitively believed but still questioned all my life. And I feel completely validated by the fact that all of what she says is backed by research.

There is only one thing that I have trouble with. It’s not the validity of the research or the conclusions she makes based on them. It is what those things confirm to me about how the world views love. And I simply wish we saw things differently.

In The Power of Vulnerability, Brene talks about people she calls “whole-hearted”. Basically these are people who live full and satisfying lives with deep, connected relationships. She says that what sets this group apart is a belief that they are worthy of love. Those not in this group, those living disconnected and unfulfilled in their relationships, seem to have a belief that they are not worthy of love.

(There’s more to it than that, but if you are not going to watch the video linked to the blue words above – which you totally should, just hover and click and it will take you there – that summary will have to do.)

I believe I fall in both of these groups at different times and moments in my life. I believe the truth of what Brene proposes that this basic self-assessment has a dramatic affect on our lives.

I just don’t like it.

Because while believing we are worthy or unworthy of love may impact our lives in magnanimous ways, either way we are viewing love as something to be earned. And that is the problem I see in the world, the problem I see in myself.

A misunderstanding of love. 

Love does not account for worth. Love is a gift. Truly, no one is “worthy” of it. It cannot be earned. It is not a commodity to be traded for inherent value.

Don’t get me wrong; I think that every human being does have inherent value and worth. I think every human being desires to be loved and needs to be loved and should be loved and is loved.

But that love is not earned by value or worth. In fact, love is distinctly given in spite of those things. That is what makes it love.

Believing we are worthy might help us in life, but it perpetuates a misunderstanding of love. I think the trick is to let ourselves receive love – truly take it in and accept it – regardless of our worthiness of it.

 

(Normally I would stop here because I have a short attention span as a reader so I try to keep my posts under 500 words. So I promise not to hold it against you if you stop reading here. But I just can’t leave this next part out.)

For me it comes down to moments like this: picture a moment of marital friction. I am furious about something. I want to be right. I am stomping around and screaming because I want my way. And then I realize I am acting like an idiot. And I am sick with myself about it. But I want my way anyway. And I know that in this moment I am unlovablly human.

But my husband comes close to me and touches me tenderly on the shoulders anyway. He tries to pull me in for a hug.

In that moment, what do I do?

Sometimes I push him away because I am so furious and confused and pissey and weak and human and unworthy of love that I refuse to accept it. I only want the love that I think I have earned.

And sometimes, due to some intangible miracle, I let his touch soften me. I let it break me. I let it in past my will and my need to be right and my need to control. And I know I am not worthy of it. But that’s okay. It’s love. I can let it in anyway.

So the question for me is not so much if I believe I am worthy of love, but will I let love in even though I am not worthy of it? Because that’s what love is.

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control freaks

The discomfort is seeping out of my pores. I tried to find anything else ready to post. I like to have things more thought out. More refined. More controlled. This one feels more like a zit I can’t stop myself from popping.

Lately, I have been watching and listening to both my self and the people around me, and the theme of control seems to be slapping me in the face everywhere I turn.

I think we as humans grab for control. But I don’t think that is truly what we want. I believe that what each human being truly desires more than anything else in this world is love.

But, as I have mentioned before, love is inherently uncontrolled. Unearned. Unpredictable.

And that makes most of us quite uncomfortable. Including me.

So when we want to show love to someone, we often try to control that person and make that person do what we think is good for him or her. But that is not really love at all.

When we want to be loved, to have someone else show love to us, we also try to control others. Manipulation comes into the mix and things get messy fast. Because we as humans seem to feel loved when we get what we want. But that’s not really love either.

And all the while, during this time when we are grasping for control, trying to make people do what we want them to do or be who we want them to be, we miss the fact that what we are given to control is ourselves.

We ignore that truth and try and control other people instead. Because they seem so much easier to fix. Because taking an honest look in the mirror and dealing with our own stuff is hard. One of the hardest things I have ever done or continue to attempt to do.

However, my hope in doing so is that my haunting need to control lessens and I become more capable of giving love. Freely. 

beauty in the attempt

I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to write what I want to write. I am tired and empty and spent from all of the relational and emotional work I have been doing and I want so badly to pour out what is inside of me onto this screen, but it’s not working today.

I think I have something important to say. A reminder that we all struggle, a declaration to the world, but more importantly to me, that none of us is as alone as we think.

But the words are not coming out right. My passion and vision and desperation are all tripping over each other and I think, “I can’t do it.”  “Why am I trying?” “What difference can one person make?”

But then I collide head first into my conviction.

And my conviction tells me if I want the world to be a more authentic place, then I need to be authentic. If I want the world to be an understanding place, then I need to offer myself understanding. If I want the world to be safe – to value process over performance or perfection – then I must first become safe for myself and give myself freedom to be in process and not perform for others (or myself), requiring perfection at every turn.

“So try,” I tell myself.

Because I am a writer. Writing has become more than a hobby or something I do on the side. Writing is a part of my life. Writing does not define who I am but I cannot be me without it. No matter if anyone reads it or not, I am a writer.  (http://youareawriter.com)

And the kind of writing I offer the world is honest and it comes out of the very things I am struggling with right now. I could write all about how I think everyone else should be better human beings, how the world needs to change and be a better place than it is.

But I don’t.

I write about my own honest and arduous transformational journey in letting love in. Which I believe changes a person from the inside out. However, I also believe allowing myself to receive love that I don’t think I deserve or have somehow earned is much, MUCH harder than it sounds.

So today’s struggle is letting myself be a writer even when I am not perfect at writing. When the words do not flow the way I want them to. When I walk away with still so much trapped inside of me that I wanted to get out.

But I tried. And sometimes that’s all I’ve got.

choices

Why am I so drawn in by this young woman writing about budgeting? Let’s face it; budgeting is not the most riveting reading material. But I am completely giddy. And it is not because of the budgeting information.

There are a couple of blogs I read written by young, single girls out chasing their dreams of travel in the big, wide world. I so enjoy reading about their adventures. Sometimes I ask myself……why?

The natural answer would be jealousy. That would fit nicely. They are living the life I am not. Except jealousy is not it. Not because I am so evolved that I never, ever feel jealous of anyone or because jealousy is evil and I am perfect and would deny it even if I did feel jealous. But because I know in my gut when I find the answer to the why I search for behind my sub-conscious choices. And my gut says that’s not it.

Their writing is just as fun as they are, but there is something else that draws me to them. And when I read this post about budgeting for a nomadic life, I figure it out.

Much of life is choosing what I am going to do with what I have. And somehow budgeting makes that all so obvious and black and white when most of the time living it out seems murky and confusing.

I love these girls and their lives and their writing because they are choosing to live their dreams. And so am I. And those dreams are completely opposite of one another. And somehow, that is incredibly clarifying and energizing for me.

Because there are days, like Tuesday’s post, when I need to be reminded that I am home with my kids because I choose to be. Because as far back as I can remember, the one thing I desired most in life, the one thing I longed for was to raise a family with my husband and grow old together. And not just the picture on the Christmas card for other people to see. The real deal. A lifetime of love and life…together.

And sometimes living that out is different than I thought it was going to be. Harder. Trickier. Messier. But no less beautiful. And while I acknowledge living my particular dream requires my husband’s choices as well as my own, it is still the life I choose everyday.

And I remember all of that when seeing someone else making different choices and being just as fulfilled as I am. Their dreams are no more or less valuable. No more or less meaningful. Slightly more glamorous at times (which I think is so fun to read), but no more or less beautiful.

So thank you Kate McClafferty and Hilary Billings! May we all have magnificent adventures whether at home or traveling the world!

my moment on the couch

Why is this so hard? I leave the boys in the garage, buckled in their seats and ready to go to the World Famous San Diego Zoo. They are only missing the keys to the van and me.

I, however, need a moment. A moment to breathe. A moment to let myself feel as frustrated as I am. A moment to give myself some compassion and try to pull something out of myself I don’t think is there.

Because parenting is hard sometimes. Really, truly, very hard.

I had been listening to a bounty of bickering ALL WEEK LONG. I had done what I could to set us up for success at the beginning of Spring Break. I noticed the boys were having a difficult time remembering how to talk to one another, how to listen to one another, and how to treat one another with a general sense of respect.

You know, the kind of respect I, as their mother, would hope they would treat any other human being with. Apparently brothers are exempt “human being” status. So I reminded them what respect looks like and that every person is entitled to being treated with said respect, even brothers. And I told them this was our project for the week.

Needless to say, things did not go as I might have hoped. By now we were all completely saturated in our collective humanity. And in my desperation and exhaustion with it all, I was looking for my children to be different and change their behavior to be the way out. But I know that I know that I know that I know….that the only way out is for me to lead them.

But I don’t think I can. I don’t think I can change my attitude. Because I am so utterly tired of their bickering and arguing and childishness. However, they are children. And I am the adult.

And these are the moments when parenting is entirely impossible. When I have given all of the patience and grace that I think I have inside of me. But the job requires more.

So I let myself have that moment, inside my house, on my couch. And I practiced giving myself compassion, mercy, and tenderness. The kind I imagine God has for all of us, even parents who have reached the end of themselves like me. Honestly I didn’t think it would help much but it was all that I had.

I told myself this job is just as holistically difficult and insurmountable as it seems. “Of course you are spent and frustrated and done with bad attitudes,” I said with gentleness. And maybe a touch of attitude all my own. And I soaked in that compassion and understanding for a moment.

And then I reminded myself that they are not going to change their attitudes until I change mine. And it will be hard all day long to lead them out of here. And it will likely be hard the next day, too.

“But you are their leader,” I said. “So lead them.”