Well…this is a really ironic time in history to have decided to launch a coaching business based on “how to create peace in your life,” but I did commit to publishing a blog each Wednesday, and I know my only option is to discuss the current events in our country.
As I type this, there is a protest two miles down the road from me with hundreds of people. After I tucked my children into bed, I turned on Facebook live and watched a stand-off between the protesters and a line of officers wondering if this peaceful gathering was going to turn violent. Peace is not what I feel. I feel fear. I feel pain. I feel anger. I feel frustration. But I do not feel peace. And I know so many others in our country can relate to this too.
I didn’t want to write this post. It felt too heavy. I tried more than one way to get out of it. I feel unqualified. I’m about as “woke” as the mother of a newborn baby who hasn’t had her morning cup of coffee yet. I was really hoping I could just copy-paste some beautiful words from a black woman, amplify her voice and not have to risk getting this wrong.
But alas, I knew better. That’s called plagiarism. And by the way, when I actually asked a black woman to guest blog she called out my fear and told me I had to write this. She reminded me these are the times you lean in, not step back.
My dear friend Victoria (a powerful, bad-ass black woman I must add) who has been fighting for social justice every day for nearly twenty years gave me the best advice. She reminded me of the immense struggle I faced several years ago when I felt forced to stay silent. She reminded me how little peace there was in my life during the days that I was holding so much inside. She reminded me how much peace I invited in my life when I opened up. She reminded me of the cathartic experience I had when I started living and speaking as my authentic self. And she encouraged me to share my journey of the inner peace that can be gained from speaking your truth. Because, she said, there are a lot of people whose best pathway to peace is to use their voice.
If you have followed any of my writing, then you have probably already heard that starting in 2011 I knew I wanted to be a blogger, but I spent YEARS trying to figure out where I fit in.
I CRAVED community and yet I couldn’t find it. I didn’t belong anywhere.
I was too conservative for the liberals and too liberal for the conservatives. I walked with God and shaped all my belief systems around the teachings of Jesus but had left the church. I tried the moms groups, but I was an entrepreneur hustler whose husband did the cooking and managed the bedtime routine. I felt like they had laser beams and could see through me and were thinking “She’s a phony. She doesn’t belong here.”
One day on a walk through the neighborhood with my husband I started crying and said, “I just feel so alone. I don’t belong anywhere.” I was craving a label to place on myself and none of them fit. Every term I knew out there that helps place people in a box didn’t fit me.
Later that night, we started talking about the root issues. The reality was, I had some REALLY strong beliefs swelling inside of me that I felt I couldn’t share. And I am not a quiet woman.
“If I speak my truth, I will upset them,” is what I told him.
All I could see was the loneliness getting even worse. That I would be shamed. That I would lose people close to me. And my husband, who is one of the calmest people on the planet, got so angry that he started dropping eff bombs on me (in the nicest way). To kindly paraphrase his comments to me,
“You mean to tell me that you walk around all the time preaching about how people need to live out their purpose and fulfill their dreams and you are not pursuing yours because of what a handful of people will think? So what you’re saying is that you have a deep desire to write and could potentially impact hundreds or thousands of lives but those people don’t actually matter. What actually matters is what a couple people think of you? So you will let a couple people stand in the way of the lives you want to impact? Do you realize how hypocritical you sound?”
He was angry. And he was right.
I sat on the couch with tears streaming down my face. Because the truth hurts. The truth stings.
In that moment, I knew things would not be the same anymore. I would make people around me feel uncomfortable. And I didn’t know where this would lead.
But I started talking. I started talking about how I am a person of faith and also an ally for the LGBTQ community. I started talking about white privilege. I started calling the church out for strange behaviors I couldn’t tolerate anymore.
I read A LOT of Brene Brown. I taped to my bathroom mirror a quote from her book The Gift of Imperfections,
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
And do know what happened?
It did cost me relationships.
It did cost me my community.
It did make me VERY uncomfortable for a VERY long time. Who am I kidding? It’s still uncomfortable on a regular basis.
But do you know what happened?
I gained new relationships.
I gained new community.
I found peace. Deep, rich, genuine, inner spiritual peace.
My exterior is in alignment with my interior, which is in alignment with the path I hear God calling me toward. And it feels so effing good.
Last week I had coffee with my priest, who happens to be a female, and we talked about current events and the state of the church, and the vision of what God can heal it into becoming. It was a beautiful conversation. And I didn’t utter one word that I thought was what I was “supposed” to believe to be a “good girl.”
That was peaceful.
A couple years ago, when I was in the heat of the pain and everything was shifting, I was able to spend some time with one of my mentors, an old college professor of mine. As I vomited words all over him to describe my inner anguish he said, “What I am hearing is that you are grieving the loss of your tribe and you are searching for your new tribe. Ah, yes. That’s a difficult journey.”
And it was…but it was so worth it. The space in between the two was lonely. It was my wilderness.
My encouragement for you tonight is to find that alignment. What is the still small voice inside you calling you toward? I call that voice God, but I am totally okay with whatever name you want to give it. Many people like to call it your “knowing”. It’s what you know in your gut to be true. Are you listening to it? Or is your brain dominating the conversation? Is your life dominated by the comments from people “shoulding” all over you? Does your life align? Do the words you speak align with your inner voice? Until your knowing, your heart and your words are in alignment, you will not have peace.
May you find your voice. May you live your truth. May you create peace.
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