Crawling into bed a few nights ago Josh says to me, “By the way, I want to see more on your blog, more posts with depth. You haven’t been doing much of that lately. Don’t get me wrong, everything you’ve been doing is definitely fun, but there’s something missing…”
I caught my breath, surprised he’d even noticed. I felt a bit ashamed, “I know. You’re absolutely right. I’m kind of… blocked.”
He looked at me quizzically, “What does that mean? Like writer’s block?”
“Sort of. Thing is I can still write all day long, I just have this wall up specifically when it comes to anything raw and vulnerable. I’ve been trying to process past it for months now but I just feel...stuck.” It almost felt painful just saying it out loud.
He stared at me for a moment, a knowing, compassionate look registering in his eyes. He understood the hurt, the woundedness I’d been struggling with, “Oh. I get it. I do. Why don’t you talk thru it. Maybe that’ll help…”
Grateful for the nudge and his willingness to listen, I started processing right there in that moment and continued on and off thru the weekend. By the time I had talked it all out, I felt like I’d taken a long, hot, cleansing shower. My soul felt clean, even healed in a way. And I knew with certainty what I needed to do next...
I read something from Anne Lamott very recently that cut straight to the heart of the matter, straight to my heart, in fact:
I often ask my students to scribble down in class the reason they want to write, why they are in my class, what is propelling them to do this sometimes-excruciating, sometimes-boring work. And over and over, they say in effect, “I will not be silenced again.” …at some point they stopped telling what they saw because when they did, they were punished. Now they want to look at their lives—at life—and they don’t want to be sent to their rooms for doing so.
I suddenly felt entirely understood. Months before I had spoken honestly, truthfully, lovingly, and I was punished. The force of the punishment was so severe that I recoiled from the blow. I withdrew, quietly removing my heart from harm’s way, and to date haven’t extended it again. But reading Anne’s words a provoking revelation struck me violently, shifting into view as if it’d been lurking in my peripheral just out of sight, as if I’d known all along but couldn’t quite capture it consciously. And it made me angry: I’d been silenced. In fact, I’d allowed myself to be silenced. In an instant it all became so vividly clear, and clarity brought immediate resolution.
I wouldn’t let it happen again. I wouldn’t.
I’m grateful to say that with a great deal of prayer and effort I had been able to disentangle my heart from the hurt months ago, followed shortly thereafter by my head. (that’s typically how it works for me… it’s a process) But I failed to realize the profound impact the whole ordeal had on my creative process. Because my head and heart weren’t still involved, because I was choosing to walk in forgiveness each and every day, I never made the connection. I didn’t see it. I knew something was off when it came to my artistic process, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what.
The word “silenced” struck me. Like dominos falling in line, I made the connections. I saw the enemy’s strategy for exactly what it was, and it made me livid.
This recent revelation in mind, I am declaring today: I will NOT. Let it happen. Again. I won’t.
But in order to do that, I have to be honest about where I’ve been. Transparency is what keeps a person free. If I want to reap a harvest of authentic creativity, I have to sow those very seeds. (which is exactly what I’m doing today) I have to shine a bright light into the darkened corners of my heart, the ones I’d rather no one see, and expose the terrifying truths that lie hidden there. Those dark crevices are precisely the blockages that have robbed me creatively. Today, I’m exposing them. I’m dislodging them. I refuse to fear them any longer.
So here we go…
~The truth is, in the past many months I experienced such depth of hurt that it couldn’t be put into words.
~The truth is, I was met with the sad, overwhelming realization that sometimes you can love a person so deeply, so completely, so honestly that it exhausts you… and still that won’t be enough. They’ll walk away anyway. And you’ll be left to somehow make peace with that.
~The truth is, real humility isn’t easy. It’s painful. Silently holding your ground when you know you’re being blatantly lied to, or about. When you’re being falsely accused, ridiculed, your very character called into question. You fall on the sword again and again, and each and every time it’s excruciating all the same.
~The truth is, it’s terrifying to realize you’ve trusted someone with your hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations, the raw truth of your humanity, good, bad, ugly… only to realize you shouldn’t have.
~The truth is, betrayal has the power to crush hope. It rocks your sense of safety so violently that often times if can’t ever be reestablished.
~The truth is, it hurts deeply when you’ve sown seed after seed of loyalty, only to find yourself reaping the opposite. (at least in that particular garden row—though God is ever faithful to bring tremendous harvest elsewhere)
~And the last truth, the one I’m most ashamed of… is that I allowed these things to silence me. I allowed the enemy to taunt me, to play with my heart, to ridicule me day in, day out. In effect, to utterly and completely silence me.
My vulnerability was shaken to the core. My trust shattered. My sense of safety completely lost. I questioned everything there was to question, multiple times over, feeding the doubt-fueled frenzy. I felt sorry for myself. I played the victim. I over-analyzed. I licked my wounds. And I hoped and waited in silence for truth to be realized, to somehow be justified in the wrong that was done me.
But justification never came.
Because although I couldn’t see it then, He had better. And any kind of justification would have ruined the refining process going on inside me. He intended to use this for my good, His glory. So He let it hurt. He let it linger. Until I understood that He had better. And embraced it.
The bigger truth is and ever will be (this is where I stumbled yet again) that God alone is our hope. And every single time I put hope in anything outside of Him even in the tiniest way, I find myself sorely and devastatingly disappointed.
And secondly, a truth that trumps all else (and where He proved Himself yet again), is that He always has better. If He allows us to walk thru heartbreak, there is always redemption on the other side. If we ask for bread, He won’t give us a stone. (Matt 7:9) It isn’t who He is. He’s our Redeemer. Not sometimes, not on occasion, always.
The glory of walking with God on this side of heaven is to experience life, and life abundantly. As Believers, we never have to settle unless we so choose. For a while there, I was attempting to settle. I was trying my best to accept so-so when He had brilliant. I simply can’t put into words how exceedingly grateful I am that He didn’t relent in His discipline, in refining and teaching me at every turn, in refusing to let me settle for less than His absolute best.
And yes, in the midst of all the hurt and disillusionment I allowed my voice to be silenced. I cowered in the corner for a bit and licked my wounds. But I’m done with that now. Once exposed I don’t tolerate the enemy’s stupidity, I promise you that.
So this, well, this is the end. In a few short days I’ll be entering a fresh, breathtakingly beautiful new season… motherhood. And I will not take this with me. I will not be silenced a day more. My daughter will know me as a woman who speaks the truth, who stands for truth, who revels in truth even when it means personal sacrifice.
She will know me as a woman who cannot be silenced.
Or better yet... The Beginning.