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I love sitting on the front porch with the women in my family: my mother rocking the porch swing back and forth with her heels – listening deep, offering wisdom words; my sister-in-law wrangling a toddler, with a pregnant belly growing – flipping through her phone; and me nursing a baby, listening for the big kids playing in the yard – drinking something fabulous.
These women are a part of my story. We are a family becoming.
- It is messy.
- It is often ugly and often beautiful.
- We rub one another raw.
- We interrupt and talk too loudly.
- We have been hurt and we have been loved.
- We can gossip with the best of them.
- There have been tears (mostly mine).
- There has been good and weird, encouragement and discouragement.
My mom says that if there is a kind of family you want to have – you have to make it with the people you have been given.
We are learning the hard work of becoming – as women, as mothers, as a tribe.
Whatever I happen to find on this front porch: I feel safe here.
This is the safest place to own your story – and to have women help you grab it and not let it go.
I learned a long time ago that the front porch is a safe place – conversations can stay there or begin there, but they rarely end there.
This is My Story
“Shame is about fear, blame, and disconnection.
Story is about worthiness and embracing the imperfections that bring us courage, compassion, and connection.
If we want to live fully, without the constant fear of not being enough, we have to own our story.”
(Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are)
The part of the story we come back to most often on the front porch is Church and the relationships we have discovered there. We talk about what we grew up loving and needing or where we have been deeply wounded by churched places. And the more time I spend outside of that weekly gathering of Believers the more I come to understand the pieces that have been a part of me – that I garnered from the church – that have no place in my life anymore.
The more time I spend beyond those walls – the more I find that I am OK with myself, before God, and the world – the way that I was created, raised, intended, and purposed to be.
I realized on that front porch that there is nothing wrong with me.
I discovered that the fears, insecurities, and emotional bullies that have tried to claim my life- are nothing new or unique.
Women everywhere hold them, avoid them, live with them – and the safest place to let them go is here and now.
One of the residual, emotional church bullies that has tried to claim the most space in my life and heart is Shame.
Seriously – shame believes she has a right to be here. And I am not buying into her lies anymore.
I watch where my own mother has been and the stories she tells about her own church history.
I witness my grandmother’s story and the places she has been.
I listen to my sister-in-law’s love for traditions and church things and the goodness she has found there.
And I feel brave enough to be OK with the story I have chosen.
These women help me to be brave.
This place where I am right now was not forced upon me. I may not have willing chose it, but I did choose it for myself.
And I don’t have to ask permission or receive approval from anyone for the right to live the way in which I choose to live.
My life on my terms before my God.
No more than that. No less than that.
And shame does not have any place in my heart or life anymore.
Shame is not allowed to live here.
The front porch conversations have helped me to be brave enough to recognize her ways and to let her go.
So I gave shame a one way ticket back to where she came from… and I gave myself permission to move on without her.
No matter what my life may look like moving forward, shame is not invited to come along.
Shame is not allowed on the front porch.
Because the front porch is the safest place to own your story.
Join the Journey,
Questions From the Front Porch:
- When have you felt shame?
- Around whom have you felt shame?
- Name three genuine life encouragers you have known – who have inspired your life.
- Name three life-suckers – people who have brought shame and condemnation to your heart.
- On a piece of paper write down the moments, events, stories, people, things that have made you feel the most shame
- Sit with that list as long as you need to – then burn it. Burn the list. Let it go.
- Watch this video on shame from Brene Brown:
- Consider this quote from Brene Brown: “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
- What parts of your story have been shamed that you could openly grab and be honest about – write it out, speak it to someone who has earned the right hear your story.
- You can show shame the door out of your life.