I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve learned since starting HeartStories in 2012 (officially 2013). I was in it for what I could do to help others, but sitting here, looking back, it’s been almost seven years of the most intense season of growth of my life. And I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. I live in a constant state of walking in the unknown.
Nothing is sure to work.
Every risky choice I make is made from layers of experience, seeking wise counsel, praying earnestly, and then simply deciding it’s worth it to jump. Merely choosing to do the next right thing. Sometimes that process turns out beautifully, even better than I could have hoped. But it also often leads to painful lessons, challenges, and struggles I didn’t see coming. IT’s the essence of the John Ortberg quote that you’ve surely heard me say a million times. I still feel it in my bones:
“The adventure of ‘yes’ is more alive than the safety of ‘no’.”
But for so long, I assumed that continuing that adventure meant to just buck it up and go. To keep slapping on a happy face and pretending all is well, even when it really hasn’t been. And of course, there is a time and place for buttoning yourself up and getting the job done. But the longer I do this work, the more I watch and learn from women who’ve been leading long before me, the more I’ve learned the importance of being a Go First Girl. In the sense of going first with vulnerability in trusted relationships. Not shrinking back about what real life is sometimes like, just because people are watching. Not ignoring the pain and struggle in an effort to survive. In fact, I’m learning it’s especially because people are watching, that it’s even more important to go first.
It’s imperative to go first, by embracing the struggle as the fire that it is, not consuming, but refining.
I read this quote this morning from one of my (mentors from a distance) Margie Warrell. It sums up this feeling I’ve been having so perfectly, in her wise and open style as she’s leading into a recent live interview with a woman who knows deep struggle and unimaginable pain:
“I’ve learnt from my own heartaches that when we shut ourselves off from sadness, we also close ourselves off from joy.
The only way to truly thrive in this wild journey of life is to open our arms wide to the full catastrophe of the human experience. To trust that no matter how dark our days, heavy our burdens, or deep our wounds, that we can ultimately rise again and forge a new path forward. Not a path that denies our sorrows or struggles, but one that draws upon them to infuse a deeper dimension into our living; expanding – not shrinking – our capacity for love, and life and laughter.”
The refining fire of struggle will expand your capacity for love, life, and laughter.
If only you choose to walk headlong into it. If you choose to stop trying to stuff it down, hide it, and put it out before anyone notices the smoke. If you choose to draw upon your struggle to infuse the deeper meaning into your living.
We need you to become the person this fire is making you.
Hold your head up high and keep walking through that fire today.
The path you’re forging will lead to more love, more life, and more laughter.
Even when it’s so hard to see it through the flames.
to more love,