As a kid, I imagined that shipwrecks and quicksand were going to be a lot more of a problem than they turned out to be. I’d sometimes lay in my bed at night envisioning myself struggling onto a desolate shore in tattered clothes. The terror was not about getting marooned on an island, but being ALONE on that island with a ball I named Wilson. If it was a Swiss Family Robinson situation, I’d be cool. I could eat coconuts and raw fish as long as there were other people and a badass treehouse.
As a new mom I felt very, very alone. I was also newly married, so I tried to make my husband into my girlfriend. He was a terrible girlfriend. First: When I had an emotionally crazy day, he was scared of me. Second: He does not like drama. He can hash out all of life’s problems in under 30 seconds. Third: He makes fun of all TV shows. Fourth: He doesn’t even like junk food.
I like to think of myself as fun and relaxed, as brave with a touch of crazy. I’m the one who loves to laugh and awkwardly dance in public, the one who jumped off the cliff first and who shaved her head because she felt like it. I’m the one who traveled across the world alone.
So naturally, I thought I was going to be a really fun parent. A free spirit, spontaneous and unconcerned with dirt or danger. I’d probably raise kids who were sponsored by Red Bull they’d be so fearless and capable.
I sat across from you today. You are struggling, you are tired.
As looked into her eyes I recognized the exhaustion and the fear. I recognized the question, the one that asks am I going to be okay? I remembered a dark season in my life. I remembered when I was so undone with anxiety that I couldn’t take the kids to the beach or even make it out of the house.
I remembered when I had no hope.
I remembered a friend who showed up every single day on my doorstep. She’d ask, “What are you afraid of today?” I’d tell her and she’d listen. She’d really listen…that was the gift. When I’d run all out of words I would sit shaking on my porch trying to feel the sun that beat down all around me, but never touched my skin.
Friends, we need each other. Live bravely today. Live shamelessly. There are people that will take your invitation. Not only will you find belonging, but most likely you’ll give the gift of it to someone else.