Unexpected and Continuing Gifts of Grace

People often ask memoirists why we write the story of our life.  Writing is for me a spiritual practice — an exploration of the deepest terrain of my soul. I felt compelled to write my story. In the beginning stages, I couldn’t have told you why.

In my studies on the art of writing memoir, I learned of the importance of writing honestly about our shortcomings … of not glossing over our flaws and failings. I was determined to be as honest as possible. That meant facing head on a fear I had lived with from a young age … the fear that there was something wrong with me that made me unlikable and unlovable. You may remember that I kept Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, in the book cubby above my writing desk.

At the end of eight years of writing A Long Awakening to Grace, I received a whole new perspective … my life finally made sense. The writing proved to be healing and transforming … an unexpected and welcome gift of grace.

Publishing what I wrote was another matter. I needed to let go of a coping mechanism I had used since childhood to avoid criticism … being quiet and invisible.

For many years as an adult, I hid. I cut myself off from old friends who would have wanted to know what was going on. I didn’t want to tell them.

Except for my twelve-step support system where it was safe to be open and vulnerable, I lived a double life. I avoided people and activities where I might need to reveal my life beyond the superficial. In my professional associations, I didn’t talk about the nitty gritty details of my personal life, even with colleagues I trusted.

Publishing my memoir was a big deal. In exposing my flaws and shortcomings to my readers, I risked the possibility of actualizing my childhood fear of being judged unlikable and unlovable. My editors even prepared me for such a possibility.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” ~Brene Brown

 

The truth of Brene Brown‘s words revealed itself in these comments from readers:

“…it took courage to be so open and vulnerable.”

“…your honesty and vulnerability shown through … You are a true hero in my eyes.”

“Your willingness to be vulnerable and open about your challenges and struggles and self-criticism leave me in awe.”

If there are readers out there judging me, they are keeping quiet. If and when judgment comes, these voices will override them:

“You memories have given me hope I can survive the past two devastating years.”

“…your sharing has given me strength and courage. …your brave vulnerability has been healing for me and I am extremely grateful.”

“Your story confronted me and gave me hope.”

“Your book will bless many people.”

 

More words of wisdom from Brene Brown:

“Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world around us a little braver.” Brene Brown

And then last week, an awareness began to float to the surface of my consciousness. I’ve put it all out there … my worst stuff … for the world to see. I no longer need to hide. I’m truly free … another unexpected and welcome gift of grace.

10 comments

  • Diana

    The world/universe is going to be enhanced because you are a full participant in its unfolding and will be blest because of that….It never needed your wisdom more…..

    • Oh Diana, Leave it to you to see the larger picture. In that context, it is crucial that I have unfolded to this place. Thank you for expanding my horizons … as you always do. Love you, Linda

  • Carol Mills

    Kudos for a job well-done! I feel privileged and blessed to know you..

  • So true and beautifully articulated, Linda. So human. So courageous. So vulnerable. So healing. For you. For me. For all of us. Love, Mary Jo

    • Mary Jo, I am touched that what I wrote is healing for you and that you see it as healing for all of us. As a sister memoirist, you know what it’s like to write your truth and then put it out in the world. You support is vital and I plan to return the favor when your story is published. Many thanks, my friend.

  • Dennis

    Linda – I am doing similar work on myself right now and found reading about the courage you showed to face and express early painful and fear inducing experiences is inspirational!! Thanks for your courage and commitment!!!

    • Dennis, your response to my post is another unexpected and welcome gift of grace. It seems as though our relationship is entering a new level and I give thanks for that. If you are willing to share about this part of your journey, I would be interested in hearing about it and honored that you trusted me enough to share. Blessings and look forward to seeing you Saturday.

  • Cindi Remm

    You are a beacon of light for others to follow. Thank you.

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