Five days down in the #Write31Days challenge and I was feeling pretty darn good this morning. Ideas for Day 6 were rolling around – no doubt some genius words about ALLOWING.
Then came similar messages from two people I love who are familiar with my writing. The short version was, “Stop writing about allowing if you aren’t going to ALLOW your writing to be authentic.”
One of them asked if I can tell when my writing is from my brain, not my heart. Of course, I can.
“Then be real or change topics or stop the challenge because the last two days read more like a homework assignment!”
OUCH. But you have to love friends who are honest.
Okay, then. Let’s get to it.
Allowing is, in large part, being who you truly are. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
So tell me, when was the last time you were fully and completely yourself? No pretense, no guard. Let me know when you come up with that answer.
We use the phrase “out of the mouths of babes” when a little one says something honest, astute, to the point. We laugh – sometimes awkwardly because that truth is embarrassing. Sometimes enviously because we wish we could be authentic too.
Kids have no resistance to who they are and what they think. They yell whe they are happy and cry hard when they aren't. They make CHEESE faces in photos. They don’t worry about a crooked tooth or a long nose. They just smile big.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ disciples try to stop children from gathering around Him. When I read the story, I see the kids running to Jesus, jumping to be held, grabbing His legs. Was it because He is God’s Son? Unlikely. They no doubt recognized the genuineness, authenticity, and unconditional love that flowed from Him. They connected with that because it is who they were as well.
And rather than chase the children, Jesus told the disciples they would do well to be like the kids.
From the time we are born until we learn differently, we allow our true nature to dominate.
And then we don’t.
What happens? What do we learn that changes us?
In a word, shame. They are as many manifestations as there are people, but they all fit in the box marked Shame.
In her TED talk on shame*, Brené Brown says shame is a hidden epidemic, and the secret behind every broken behavior. She goes on to say that shame plays two recordings: Never Good Enough and Who Do You Think You Are?
Have you heard those recordings?
I sure have.
Let me say right now that parenting is the hardest job ever. I don’t have children of my own, but I have loved and been involved in many children’s lives. I have mad respect for the enormous challenges parents face. So if you are a parent, PLEASE do not think I am being judgmental.
Here is a hard truth: whatever we don’t clean up in our lives affects the people we love. It just does.
Sometimes directly by harsh words and actions that come from anger and resentment, and is flung on people around us.
Always indirectly when it keeps us from being authentic and true to who we are.
Every one of us has shame.
Well, unless you are third generation super family that cleans up every emotional spill the same day it happens. If you are, there are talks shows and specialists waiting to hear from you.
Brené Brown says shame needs three elements in order to grow: secrecy, silence, and judgement. Sounds like a soap opera…or a lot of folks I know.
I don’t know what your shame is. Maybe you haven’t even identified it. So I will share a bit about how my authenticity slipped into the shadows and maybe a bell will ring for you. Or a knot will form in your gut.
I was born to a single mom. Not such a big deal, right? It was in 1959. At least she thought it was.
I love my mom tremendously. I wish she understood what an amazing job she did raising a child at that time without a husband. I have a wonderful extended family for whom I am eternally grateful. But on a day to day basis, it was just the two of us. So many times, I have compared my life at a certain age to hers at that age. When she was 30, I was 9. I think about myself at 30 and wonder how I could have taken care of a 9 year old. My mom gave me many life gifts (not purchased from a store), with the greatest being a love for Jesus. She did the best she could and I can never thank her sufficiently.
But she has never moved past the shame she felt. That isn’t a criticism at all. Not in any way. Frankly, it breaks my heart. And, as an adult, I see how it has affected her, held her down, hurt her spirit. She is bright and funny and loving…and it’s all covered under a heavy cloak.
When you’re a kid and your Mom is sad, what do you do? Try to make her happy. Do anything to make her feel better, with no understanding about why she is unhappy or the impossibility of anyone but her changing that.
And what happens when you fail? That’s right – the recording that says “Not Good Enough.”
A 10 year old kid can’t recognize the insidious nature of shame on her own. So it grows and spreads. And morphs into shame of her own. And it steals authenticity and it halts ALLOWING. Until it is stopped. Then the long clean-up begins.
Your shame probably looks different. Not pretty enough or as pretty as__, not smart enough or as smart as ___, not a good boy/girl like your brother/sister. Maybe it is much heavier than that.
Or maybe it comes from a dream that whispers Who Do You Think You Are? No one in our family could do that. We don’t go to college, we work in the factory. You can’t make a living doing ___, you aren’t talented enough. Who Do You Think You Are?
I don’t know where your shame originated. But we all have some measure of it. And it keeps you from being who you truly and fully are - the one the Creator of the entire universe formed in your mother’s womb.
Not a random coupling of egg and sperm.
A unique, unrepeatable miracle.
Carl Jung said shame is the swampland of the soul.
I have put my boots on and am going in. Not to stay, but to wade through and come out on the other side.
If you are uncertain about doing that, I hope you will at least come back and hear about my muddy journey.
ALLOWING begins with being who you truly are, and who I truly am.
Thanks for reading.
We will talk again tomorrow… there is much more to say about ALLOWING.
I am participating in Write 31 Days. Click here to read more about it and see the other amazing bloggers.
You can see earlier entries below this blog or in the sidebar under 2015.
Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.
Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life!