I firmly believe when you utter something out loud, it loses power over you. Maybe it is the counselor in me. Maybe it is the external processor. Maybe it is my freedom in Christ. I refuse to let something fester inside me, chain me down, when I've already been released from it long ago. I prefer the John Mayer, "say what you need to say" kind of life. Hence, Oatmeal Heart.
What do you need to say? What came to your mind? What do you think you are not allowed to talk about? Sex? (Well now that it's out of the way). Stretch marks? Why people are so into that Jesus dude? Why some people can have babies and some can't? How your husband keeps forgetting to ask you how your day was? How hurt you are when your friends don't post Instagram pictures of you on your birthday? Your parenting insecurities? The dreamy thought of what you think God might be calling you to be, to say, to do?
It's not that I want you to blurt out everything that comes to your brain. That would be a dangerous way to live indeed. But I firmly believe if you don't tell something where to go, then it will explode on the most vulnerable people in your life. And that most vulnerable person may be you.
In my case, it could be two sweet little guys who I have the awesome responsibility of caring for each day. So I'm just not going to take that chance.
2 Peter 2:19 "For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved."
I'm just saying, if you have to vomit, get a bucket. And, if you have a beautiful song inside of you, find a microphone. Take responsibility for what is already inside of you. Don't be naive enough to think it will never come out if you just ignore it. Let's not let this enslave us. Let's tell it where to go before it tell us first.
This is the beauty of counseling, where you can say anything to one person without it ever coming back to haunt you. But I'm just not satisfied with having only one (paid) person in my life with whom I can share my heart. For all the crap we are afraid to share, there is also beauty and goodness and truth in there too. So for fear of the crap, we withhold the good that could bless a zillion people. That's not a trade I'm willing to make.
So what's bugging you? What's bringing you ridiculous joy? What do you see people doing that drives you bonkers? What is it that you admire greatly in a person? Explore that. Turn off your phone. Listen to yourself for a hot second and examine that over Scripture and with Jesus. And find a person you can hash it out with.
In the Christian life, this is both confession and calling, navigating the tightrope of a tamed tongue while still using it for God's glory. What's the point of asking God to tame it, if you don't want Him to use it?
Our relationships are never better with unspoken words. Sometimes we never talk because we are afraid of what the other person will think, say, post or what the other person will not think, say, post. Our refusal to be vulnerable creates shallow and unsafe relationships, when maybe, the other person is scared of the exact same thing. So we never trust each other, and never give ourselves the opportunity to build up a history of walking through the tough stuff together.
But we don't have time to waste on scaredy pants marriages, friendships, jobs, ministries, or any relationships for that matter. I refuse to be caught on my death bed with all the words to say, because in all reality, I won't have time to say them. I would rather die with nothing left on my chest. And maybe, if one brave person tries, we can teach each other that we are safe, that we can say all the things and the other person isn't going to leave, shame them, or share those words with another without permission.
God has given you a contribution. No one is without something to give. So choose wisely how to steward it. Pause and pray. Write it out. But don't let it stay there. Ask God where he means it to go. And refuse to let the fear of a mess prevent you from getting your hands dirty in your for real, life fulfilling, words and work. Start the conversation. Ask the hard questions. And take that next step towards the dream in your heart, towards the hard discussion that might bring healing, towards living a more open kind of life.
I have the insane blessing of relationships like this. But they didn't happen by accident. It takes work and courage and someone to say, "me first," and take the diving board of vulnerability.
So here are some topics I've been awkwardly, but vulnerably jumping into with my people:
- I'm really sad I have few deep relationships with those who look different than me, who grew up in different places, have different skin colors, who speak different languages.
- I wish I didn't think about what I look like ALL THE TIME, how I look in photographs, if I should or should not curl my hair that day, if I will ever fit into my favorite clothes ever again. It's embarrassing that my brain is still there, after all this time, after all this fight. Just wish I could stop it already. If it were only that easy.
- I'm flabbergasted that I get to be a part of Dayton Women in the Word's ministry, podcast, and blog. I feel genuinely fulfilled, and I know that is not the point, but I'm just accepting that gift and calling it what it is: a Godsend.
- I feel crazy clumsy at navigating in relationships with my dear friends who are struggling with miscarriage, infertility, divorce, and singleness. I'm so afraid that if I say anything about the day to day struggles of a married mom with two young babies, it will be insensitive, or negate the fact that I know, I know, I have it really, really good. The child bearing years can be hard on relationships, but I'm so grateful that these struggles don't have to separate us. Maybe, somehow, we can be closer now than further apart.
- Politics, you guys. Just kidding! I'm not that brave.
- Behind every mom conversation, there seems to be an unspoken question, "Am I doing this thing right?" It can be so hidden and sneaky, but I notice it in almost every exchange. Inside, I roll my eyes. Deeper inside, I know I'm doing the same thing. Deeper still, I'm frustrated that this feeling of mom insecurity might never completely go away. I want to call it out of all of us and smash it to pieces. YOU ARE A GREAT MOM STOP WONDERING IF YOU ARE A GREAT MOM AND JUST STEP INTO YOUR MOM GREATNESS SO YOU CAN CHEER ON OTHERS IN THEIR GREAT MOMNESS.
- I want to write a book, but every time I sit down to write it, I've forgotten the words, so I write a blog post instead. And then I realize that is quite enough.
- Next two are the kickers...How am I doing in this relationship? How do you feel after being in my presence?
- I feel (blank) because you (fill in the blank). BOOM. All you passive people be like "no way Jillian." BUT I DARE YOU TO DO IT.
These are just a few. I know there are more. I know I'm a hypocrite. I'm just saying, let's practice the art of directing our mouths, hands, feet, heart. Let's not pretend any further that there is nothing inside of us. Let's be courageous, call it up and out of ourselves, and into the world which desperately needs true, life giving voices. Let's work towards safe and vulnerable relationships. Practice being both the first to listen and the first to say the brave thing.
So thanks, reader, for allowing me to practice with this blog, for listening with your eyes, and for allowing me to work through tough stuff on this Oatmeal Heart.