Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Teen Beach and Brene Brown

This blog is sort of my personal dump. A place where I can take all my thoughts and pour them out into the great abyss of the interwebs. It's where I'm starting to work out my convictions and my passions. Some of you sweet friends have been reading along with me for three years now. Having a place to think on "paper" has given me the space to come to grips with my calling - the place where my burdens meet my gifting and talents (in the words of Jennie Allen)
(Also - did I mention I met her?)

The reason I write things like my letter to Anna Duggar is because I have a burden for women to be free. It is for freedom that Jesus set me free. And, as Jesus untangles me from the knots of shame and isolation, I just want other women to know the joy of the same! 

Side note: What is it about the human condition that when we experience something good we want others to experience it too? Well - the reverse is opposite too. As a friend pointed out, you know when you taste something disgusting and the first thing you do is shove the fork at whoever is next to you saying - "here, try this. it's so gross." Why do we do that? Haha. 

I know God has brought me soooooo far in the journey, but trust me, He's still got work to do. In the meantime, I just revel in the freedom He has brought me thus far, and so badly want it for other women. 

Chapter four of Brene Brown's newest book, Rising Strong, says this: 

You may not have signed up for a hero's journey, but the second you fell down, got your butt kicked, suffered a disappointment, screwed up, or felt your heart break, it started . . . The only decision we get to make is what role we'll play in our own lives: Do we want to write the story or do we want to hand that power over to someone else? 

I don't want to get into a theological debate about God's sovereignty. His control and our choices play in our lives in some crazy tension that I don't fully understand and won't on this side of Heaven. But, I am determined to live wholeheartedly within the safe parameters of that tension. Again, the ever-wise Brene Brown says, "You either walk into your story and own your truth, or you live outside of your story, hustling for your worthiness." I want to own my truth. 

When my life crumbled five years ago, I had to stop and make a careful exploration of who I was. I had built my life on what I was doing. On being a wife, a mom, homeschooling, my theology, going to an Acts 29 church. When I discovered infidelity in my marriage, that foundation crumbled in one fell swoop. (Side note: my ex-husband read my last blog and is fine with me sharing!) 

I discovered that I'd been finding my significance in all of those things instead of in Jesus. All of the above are "good things" but they are still a foundation of sand. When the foundation crumbled, I had to seek who I am in Jesus. It was messy. It still is messy. "The middle is messy, but it's also where the magic happens." (Thank you , again, Brene Brown. I swear you can read my mind.) 

My kids love a set of made for TV Disney movies - Teen Beach and Teen Beach 2. (Please don't email me about the evils of the Disney channel.)  The main characters, Brady and MacKenzie, end up trapped in a 1960s movie called Wet Side Story, all about surfers and bikers. MacKenzie meets the female lead, Layla. Layla sees that MacKenzie can make her own choices, that she doesn't follow a scripted status quo, and that she doesn't live for the approval of boys and the hopes of finding her dream boyfriend. 

In Teen Beach 2, MacKenzie and Brady have made it back to real life, but back movie-land Layla was changed forever by her encounter with MacKenzie. Layla wants to do math and engineering. Layla wants in on the adventure that the boys go on. So, she shakes things up and she does it all. And, the name of the movie changes from Wet Side Story to Layla, Queen of the Beach.
I love the song at the end of the movie, "That's How We Do," 

And there's a fresh breeze headed down the beach
Saving me from the heat
A new beginning on a wave of endless possibility 
I feel a good change comin' round the bend
Can't help but move my feet
It's a different story cause I changed the end
I make my own destiny

You guys. There's a fresh breeze blowing among us. We can't change what has happened to any of us. But we can say a "hearty yes to our adventure." (Joseph Campbell).  We can change the end. It can be a different story because of what we choose to do in the middle. 

I know I'm pouring out a lot of Brene Brown. But, man, she's so good: 

When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don't go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending - to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends. 

So let's rumble with our truth. I know, I know. It shakes things up. It makes people uncomfortable. It makes ourselves uncomfortable. But, let's press in to Jesus, safe in His care for us, and let Him show us who we are in Him. When we know that identity, it allows us to be brave with our stories and brave with each other. In sharing our stories, God works and make us wholehearted!

Honestly, I don't have a neat and tidy ending for this one. My thoughts could trail on forever. So, I guess go read Brene Brown's books and watch Teen Beach. But, don't say I didn't warn you that Brene's books will change you forever AND the Teen Beach songs will be stuck in your head for days.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Dear Anna Duggar

Ever since the most recent Josh Duggar scandal news broke, I've had an aching heart for his sweet wife, Anna. I finally wrote her a letter with things I wish someone had said to me five years ago.

Look. I'm done with the shame that surrounds the women in these situations.

Enough with it. Enough with the shame.

I get together every month or so with some amazing, awesome, beautiful, funny, smart women. We also have an epic group text going. They've been through similar trauma to Anna Duggar and myself. It's bonded us together. It's definitely a cool group to hang with. But, trust us, you don't want to qualify for it.

Not so long ago, we discussed the shame we've felt. The fact that deep down, even if they don't want to admit it, a lot of people think that our husbands' infidelity and indiscretions were ultimately our fault. That somehow, we had some fault that drove them away. Or that behind closed doors we were impossible, horrible witches so really we left our husbands with no choice.

We've felt more shame than if we'd actually done something wrong.

We wonder what people think about us. At times, our insecurities have shot up like skyscrapers.

So, it's time to start talking. Silence creates more shame. Bringing it into the light makes the shame fall away.

I know this letter is sort of dorky. But really, underneath the make-up, skinny jeans and Frye boots, I'm still the same dorky girl with bad hair that I was in middle school. So bear with me. And, if you are in her shoes, I pray that some part of this might help you put the pieces back together.

Dear Anna,

I wish I could fly across the country to Arkansas and give you a giant hug. I wish I could come help you with your sweet kids and give you room to live, breathe and think. Four and a half years ago, I was you. Three babies instead of four - but like your sweet baby Meredith,  my third was only four weeks old.

I wasn't in the public eye. I've never been on TV or been a celebrity. But, I have discovered infidelity, felt the shock and the intense trauma when the bottom fell out. I've cried out to God, sobbing in the middle of the night from emotional pain that hurt so badly, I could swear I felt my heart physically break. I literally wanted to die, and cried out to Jesus that He could come back any time. I was ready.

I've wondered why my formula hadn't worked. Why good theology, homeschool, church and praying didn't "work." I wanted to know why my obedience and my "perfect" lifestyle had utterly failed. I sunk into depression as I faced the devastation of betrayal and mentally combed through my life with a fine tooth comb to find an answer -- what I could have done better, where I must have failed, what I said or didn't say.

I so badly wanted to be able to take the blame, just so I could have the satisfaction of an answer. Or at least make some cognitive peace with a life that now seemed to be nothing more than an illusion. I was disoriented and was grasping at the air, in a free fall, trying to get my feet to land on solid ground. Like spinning on a tilt-a-whirl, desperate to be able to fix my brain in some concrete place. Life had become an intense roller coaster. Albeit, not one I had stepped onto voluntarily. Rather, a ride I woke up on one day. Strapped in by the safety bar and unable to get off.

Sweet Anna. None of this is your fault. Not even one tiny bit. Not a crumb. Not a millisecond of it. True, you are not perfect. You are a vile sinner. Yes, in your human condition, you deserve Hell.

But sister, you do not own one ounce of responsibility for your husband's sin, his deliberate choice to break your marriage covenant. And, don't tell me that if I only knew how awful you were, I would see the truth.

I don't care how witchy you might have been. I don't care how lacking your physical relationship may have been. I could watch footage of your entire life, every moment and every step and I would never be convinced that this is your fault - not in whole and not in part. Your husband's actions were his and his alone. There's a great God in Heaven who has watched it all, and He agrees!

Please, take care of yourself. 

Yes, I believe in God's power to redeem and restore. I believe God is so big that He can restore your marriage.

I also know you are God's daughter - one He cares for deeply. And also a daughter who currently has a big, open wound. When I was back at the beginning, where you are now, I felt torn down to nothing. But, God rebuilt me. He will rebuild you. 

You are Josh Duggar's wife. Maybe you are called to this marriage, homeschooling, and the Duggar life. But those things do not define YOU. God defines you. You are more than your marriage. You are more than a mom to four gorgeous kids. God cares about you. And you are His. And He cares most about you knowing Him and His love for you.

So please. Lean into Jesus and those around you who love you. Don't believe the lies that this is your fault, and that you could have stopped it if you'd been better. 

You are a gem. Your life is not over. God has big plans for you, no matter what the outcome of this big, giant mess. 


All my love, 

Jocelyn (a slightly crazy girl in Oregon who always, secretly, really thought it sounded like fun to have 19 kids)