JOYFULLY NAKED. (With All My Clothes On.)

3 May

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” -Brene Brown

Lately some of the Pitt Pals and I have started a bit of a joke to describe the different ways we think. Example 1: Rachel is an engineer. When I describe her way of thinking, I move my hand in a completely straight, vertical line in front of my face. She is a logical problem solver, and her thoughts don’t dwell in the realm of intangibles. Example 2: I’m, well, I’m me. When Rachel describes my way of thinking, she moves her arms in unrecognizable patterns above her head, because she knows that I’m fascinated by the intangible space where thoughts and feelings collide. So to all my engineers, you may not like this post. But to my other emotional thinkers out there, I think you’ll get where I’m coming from.

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If you’ve been on a retreat or two or twenty, you have heard of the great paradox of vulnerability. We grow up thinking that to be vulnerable is a sign of weakness—that you shouldn’t let them see you cry. But you know what? That’s horse shit. To be vulnerable, to speak your peace when your stomach is in your throat and your feet are sweating through your socks, now that’s strength. (Sorry for the language, mom.)

Side note: I’ve developed a slight obsession with the Christian biblical character Mary Magdalene in these last few weeks. Here was a woman who opened herself right up to the Big Man himself, basically saying, “here are all the awful things I’ve done in my life, here are all the reasons I know I’m not perfect. This is all I have to offer. But here it is. Here I am.” Talk about vulnerability. She poured out her heart. And you know what? She was loved. (More than any of those men, if you ask my opinion. But I digress).

I think of Mary Magdalene when I think of vulnerability. These last few weeks I was nudged in the same direction that she walked. Echoing Mary Magdalene, numerous times this month I’ve been asked to say, “This is all I have to offer. Here it is. Here I am.” WHOA. Talk about sweaty feet.

A few different conversations took on some serious tones lately, and I’ve spilled the contents of my heart to lovers and friends, admitting to my fears and insecurities in some of my most important relationships. I poured out word vomit (happy 10th anniversary Mean Girls!), without knowing how it would be received. But you know what? Despite the chaos and confusion of my heart, I am loved.

Last weekend some of the Pitt Pals bused it to Cleveland for the day to surprise me and see the city I call home. Mom and Pops took us all around town, showing off Cleveland’s best side. Then the girls came to my home to see the streets and the Stars where little Martha reeked havoc. I’ve always had an uneasiness bringing friends home with me—showing them my deep roots, mixing family and friends. There’s a certain vulnerability there. But you know what? Despite my insecurities, I was loved.

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            Those of you who know me well are quite familiar with the disease that I so articulately named “Martha’s crazy stomach.” I’ve had a nervous stomach since high school, but I consistently wrote off morning sickness and persistent nausea as a normal outlet to stress. Last week I decided that enough was enough, and with the support of a dear Pal I decided to see a doctor for my beautifully-named ailment. And you know what? I’m going to live! Sucking it up and showing a little vulnerability where my health is concerned has helped my doctor and me to create a plan of attack to cure Martha’s crazy stomach. And despite this surrender of independence that I’ve tried to hold onto for so long, I love myself.

Sorry to disappoint, but despite the title of this entry, being naked and vulnerable is not always my favorite pastime. But I’m beginning to learn that when I take off my mask and show a little vulnerability, the joy that arises is deeply rooted. I’m not just loved in spite of what is found. I’m loved because of it.

Cue the Full House music, because that’s been my latest lesson in the Burgh.

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