J and K are for “Just Kidding: when faithful things change”

I’ve been processing grief. A formerly close friendship recently changed and the full reality of how marred it was didn’t hit me until now. The friend in question was my “best” friend since middle school and she came clean that for the last 5 years or so, she had been walking on eggshells around me because she finds me to be easily offended. We diverge significantly when it comes to religion (my faith is rooted in advocacy and she identifies with non-denominational theology), race discourse, and me protesting the pipeline was not a subject that was lightly breached with her. So, this person said to me that “the ball is in your court” to stop putting her in the “white, privileged, evangelical” box. This post is not about her and I’s interaction. This post is about growth.

We all make mistakes. I’ve heard it said (can’t remember from where) that people who went through or who are currently undergoing significant hurt often hurt those close to them. Brené Brown argues that in any given time, people are doing the best they can (an idea from her book “Rising Strong”). That doesn’t mean it’s ok for people to hurt each other. But we hold in tension that vulnerability involves both giving and receiving- and that receiving entails asking. Apparently the hardship of opening up is worth the growth at the other end.

Reader, I have been vulnerable with you. You have had a front row seat in reading about how I handle confrontation, how I look fear squarely in the face, and how I get creative about frustrating options. I was born a fighter. I don’t run. So if I choose to lean into growth, regardless of how long it takes me, then I’m actively opening up paths that will be life-giving. (Given how unpredictable my life is, I’m dealing with that fucker called growth at my own pace, thank you very much!)

That said, follow your gut and protect yourself. Be careful who you trust with what. Learn to recognize when it’s time to release a person or thing. Remember that at your core, like Brené Brown says, you are worth of love and belonging (even you, Tom Brady).

A year ago, I was not as brave as I am now. I’m still building self-respect. But I’m so proud of how I have held discomfort without giving up. I let myself break when breaking was the only acceptable human route I can take towards healing (this idea stems from theology of the cross, in case you nerds are interested). I never grow by myself. I grow because of others, I grow alongside loved ones, I am spurred onto growth by those who walked before me.

I hope wherever you are in your victories and challenges, that you realize that hurts don’t have the last word. I hope you embrace the pain and wisdom that come with growing into your vulnerable self. I hope that your growth yields multi-fold realizations about what it means to  love and be loved. And maybe at the end of the journey we’ll compare notes and reminisce together about how far we’ve come.

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