During the month of October, this strange and beautiful phenomenon occurs. For 31 vulnerable and exhausting days, I open up my heart to all of you. My imperfect, ragged heart is splayed vulnerably before you, and when it is, something quite magical happens.
You open up your hearts right back.
Every time I muster the courage to be speak frankly about deep and personal wounds from my past, my inbox is flooded with stories of your deep and personal wounds. When I release the fear of judgement (however temporarily that may be) and force myself to speak candidly about my insecurities, you speak candidly with me about your insecurities.
When I confess, some of you confess. When I express shame, many of you express shame. When I push past the criticism and the nay-sayers and I choose to behave bravely even when I feel small and weak and exposed… so many of you are there, also being brave, and maybe also feeling small, weak, and a bit exposed.
This is the power of vulnerability, that when I share my tattered and timeworn stories of loss, you respond with your own. Vulnerability creates room for other people to be themselves, to express themselves, to breathe, to be real, to be universal, to exist next to someone else who understands. Vulnerability tells us that none of us, not even one, is really ever alone. We cannot possibly be alone when at the end of the day, we are all the flippin’ same.
For Day 20, Jay and I made a small donation to a hospice home near us called Sunset House. Our neighborhood block party was on Saturday and as a group we continue to raise money for this worthwhile cause. I also made a donation (and by donation I mean I bought myself a candy bar) for my little neighbor’s fundraiser to go to Washington, D.C. It was a huge sacrifice, but I live to serve, so.
Day 21, I made a donation to Foodlink while checking out at the grocery store, and more importantly, I tried to express appreciation and admiration today whenever I felt it. I sincerely thanked my volunteers for all they did at church today, I brought cake (and lots of jokes and banter) to the staff at the movie theater where we rent space to have our church services and I went all the way out to my car because a little girl wanted a something I had already packed up. These were all simple, small things that I would do any day of any month all year long. Still, I think that we underestimate the cumulative impact of simple acts decency.
Extending grace and decency to others in a world that can easily feel hyper-combative and cruel, is another way to remind people that we are all the same. We are all small. We are all weak, frightened and exposed in one way or another. But, we are also all these glorious creatures who are profoundly loved by the one who created us. We are capable, tenacious and brave. I know this because you are all my precious darlings, and when I tell you my deep dark secrets, you tell me yours. You hold me with your words, you comfort me with your encouragement, you honor and humble me with your mirrored vulnerability. And when you share your own scary truths, whispered back to me, however hesitantly, but still so so beautifully... it is a revolutionary act of love.