I hadn’t been going to church much lately. I stopped going regularly last fall, and lately, I’d really been missing the spirituality. Felt like an actual hole in my gut that kept wanting to be filled. For weeks I’d been anticipating each weekly church newsletter to see what the sermon/service was going to be about, wanting to read words that inspired me, that called for me to come back and let my soul be gently rocked back into a sense of peace. No such sermon showed itself. My church is very progressive. There’s a fabulous focus on social justice and a fire within its heart to right all the wrongs in the world. This is something that I always found admirable about the congregation. Lately though, I’ve been needing, wanting, yearning, craving for something for me. Something to help soothe my demons, my monsters, my angst, my anger, my pain. Each week, I’d wait for the email that outlined the content of Sunday’s gathering, and each week, the topic revolved around fixing the city, the state, the country, the world.
As I type this out, I feel so small, and petty and selfish. I’m not surprised. I’ve really come to realize lately how little value I put on myself. Even now, with all the strength I know I have, with everything I’ve been through, I’m still not good enough to like myself. Sad. Truly sad. At times, I have moments where I push through the scathing thoughts my brain throws in my path, and I do something that is for myself, for the right reasons. I’ve done plenty of things out of selfishness, out of uncaring for others, but they weren’t actions that were ever intended to be ‘good’ for me. This week, I sought out another church to go to, to find what I needed for me. I checked out the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Columbia. As it would have it, the message for their next service was centered around Brene Brown.
I discovered Brene Brown last year and have been an ardent fan since. Brene is a researcher, and she has spent the 15 years or more studying vulnerability. What makes us vulnerable, how being vulnerable can open us up to living a fuller life.
That was all I needed. I went to the UUCC service on Sunday. I’m glad I did, but I’m also petrified because I’m getting ready to do something that is the epitome of vulnerability, for me. One of the readings during service was a poem by Rumi:
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
“The dark thought, the shame, the malice. meet them at the door laughing and invite them in” .
“The dark thought, the shame, the malice. meet them at the door laughing and invite them in”
This, is the essence of vulnerability as Brene Brown describes it. Allowing all of your faults, your fears, your ugly parts, to come into the light. Expose them, welcome them with open arms, and embrace them.
I’m 46 years old, and I’ve carried with me inside so much ugly, so much shame, so much guilt. It’s time to welcome the ugly, the shame and the guilt into the light.
This is step one. In the next few days, as I compose my thoughts, I’ll take the next step. It’s hard. My chest is constricting as I type this, my breath is short, and I want to turn away and forget. I’m not. I’m saving and publishing this post and I will continue.
Ugly, shame, guilt, prepare to be shown the way out. Out of my heart, out of my soul, out of my being.