January 1, 2014.

It was the day I decided that I wasn’t going to be afraid anymore.

Afraid of being seen.

Afraid of change.

Afraid of staying the same.

Afraid of missing the thing I was wired to be.

Afraid of messing up.

Afraid of being known.

Afraid of being unknown.

Afraid of taking a risk.

Afraid of missing the beauty.

Afraid of numbing out.

Afraid of faking out.

Afraid of losing what I sometimes choose to live without.

Afraid to never play or dance or create.

Afraid that fear would rob me blind.

I had realized through a series of conversations and events that the only way I was going to live with less fear (because completely fearless seemed downright impossible) would be to let me be. And “letting me be” meant even more vulnerability. It meant stepping out and taking risks. It meant the possibility of change.

What I didn’t know when I chose the word vulnerability  as a guiding  word for the year was that definition alone could scare anyone who could read:

vul·ner·a·ble
adjective: vulnerable
1. susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm
“we were in a vulnerable position”
synonyms:helpless, defenseless, powerless, weak
Like a herd of middle schoolers might do,  I wandered into something without knowing all of the information. The day I decided to punch fear in the face and choose vulnerability was also the day that the world seemed to grow extra scary trees and monsters. I had to figure out what to do with raw, unsually close feelings.
I’d be a big fat liar if I told you it was easy.
It wasn’t. It isn’t. But I wouldn’t want to change it.
Because the decision to be vulnerable has led to the most breathtaking year of my life.
And things that take your breath away are worth going after.
There are 10 things that I needed this year, through the achy parts and the happy parts. Here’s my list, for the times when you feel life up close.
10. Movies. Namely, Big Hero Six. It’s a Pixar movie. When I saw it, I realized how much people need 1. hugs and 2. a strong support system when in crisis.
9. Snacks. Chobani Vanilla Yogurt. A friend introduced me to the concept of eating it with corn chex, cinnamon, honey, and sometimes chocolate chips.
8. The Bible. She Read’s Truth is an app that reminds me to read my Bible. I forget that this Source of strength exists for us–even as a pastor. I forget.
7. Books. Piles of books. Mostly written for kids but a few big kid books too.  I need to write another post just for the book list. But a few: A picture book titled, “Journey” Julia, Child. At the Same Moment.  A book I’ve a few years ago coming to life again and making more sense than it ever has by Kenda Creasy Dean (Practicing Passion),  Small Victories and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.
6. Bloggers, Facebook ranters, and Pod-casters.  They are wrestling and celebrating in the tensions of life. Their openness opens me.
5. Outside. I would not have been able to see the forest for the trees this year without getting outside to feel the ground beneath me. Running, walking, wandering. Feeling.
4. Art & Play. I have a small tabletop gallery that reminds me of the things that matter most to kids. It’s kept the idea of play before me in a beautiful way. The art on the pages and the quotes stand out to ask me to remember who is sitting at breakfast table. Play breaks up sadness, tension, confusion, fear. It bonds us, frees us, gives us hope. Art speaks in ways that words can’t. Both are liberating.
3. Oils. Citrus bliss diffused in my house and balance breathed in the palms of my hands in the shower were my sanity–at 10PM, 2AM, 8AM, 4PM….I’ve never felt depression before (outside of post-partum) but this year I felt it at weird times of the day and it made me so sad. I didn’t want to medicate. Oils were soothing to me and helped me keep going through the thicker, muckier parts of a journey towards free. David Livingstone said, “The noblest thing a person can do is, just humbly to receive, and then go amongst others and give.” I had forgotten this truth. I had forgotten how to receive. I had stopped believing somewhere that I was worthy to receive. Ugh. How? But I learned through receiving the application of oils from my sister that I could receive. And that I could continue giving. I got certified and learned how to apply oils on my kids and my husband. Probably the best 3 hours spent this year.
2. Music. Rend Collective friends. If you are reading this, THANK YOU for listening and writing words that make sense when the world doesn’t make sense sometimes. The art of celebration has moved me to tears, led me laughter, brought on a riot of dancing, stopped me in my tracks and lifted my head. It’s been a lighthouse for me this year. Also, The Undoing. Steffany Gretzinger wrote an album specifically for me. She didn’t know it, but Jesus was whispering in her ear for such a time as this.
1. Friends (including the one I am married to). On the days when no amount of positivity or prayer seemed to work. They were there to weep with me, laugh with me, point out that I’m not crazy only human, tell me that I’m loved and that they’re listening. I can’t fully describe what these friends are like, except that they are there when you need them most. And they don’t give up.

What have been the things that you couldn’t live without this year?

 

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