the spiritual practice of showing up & telling the truth

kathyescobar healing, relationships, spiritual formation, synchroblog 42 Comments

vulnerability is holywikipedia defines a spiritual practice as “the regular or full-time performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of cultivating spiritual development.”  my working definition of a spiritual practice is an action or process or intention that opens up our soul and challenges, heals, and transforms us.”

june’s synchroblog is today & the topic is ordinary courage.  the awesome & amazing brene brown says, “courage originally meant ‘to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic. heroics are important and we certainly need heroes, but i think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. heroics are often about putting our life on the line. ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.”

oh, that lovely but cringe-worthy word–vulnerability.  my guess is that if you’re like me, you have a love-hate thing with it.  it’s brutal, it’s hard, it’s risky, it’s scary to share our real hearts and let ourselves be known in a raw way. and it’s also freeing. empowering. healing. transforming.

years ago a friend told me a little something her therapist shared that i always remember.  part of becoming more loving, more free people is learning how to:

1. show up

2. tell the truth

3. trust God.

4. let go of the outcome.

show up, tell the truth, trust God, let go of the outcome.

i think of these all the time, especially when i am in one of those spots (which i often am) where all i can think of is running for the hills and doing whatever-i-possibly-can-to-avoid-pain.  i am always reminded these 4 things are are a lot like other good-things-for-us & spiritual practices–easy to talk about and really hard to do.

there’s no way to do these 4 things without feeling scared. without resistance. without a do-we-really-have-to-do-this? feeling.

but unless we show up, we’ve got nothing to work with.  we need to be in the room, to be eye to eye, to be in the conversation, to be present, to bring our body & our mind & our soul to the same place as best we can. it’s so much easier to hide, to stay quiet, to hang in the back, to disengage, to guard our hearts.

then, tell the truth. i’d change the wording here and say “tell our truth.”  i think this is probably one of the hardest skills in the whole wide world to learn. so many of us are disconnected from our feelings, we critique all our thoughts, we do all kinds of nutty things in our head that discount our truth. being honest is one of the bravest things we can do this side of heaven. saying “this is what’s going on for me, this is how i am feeling, this is the crazy stuff swirling on in my head, this is what i am afraid of, this is what i want, this is what God is stirring up in me, this is what i am confused about, this is what i dream for” is truly courageous.

next is trust God. yeah, that can be freaky in all kinds of ways, especially for those of us who think we might know better than God what would be a good outcome. or who have all kinds of reasons to think that maybe God might not be trustworthy.  but i do think our best hope is taking a breath after we show up & tell the truth and trust that God is in the midst of whatever we just showed up & told the truth about. that we’re not alone in it, that we’re not abandoned completely, that somehow, someway, God is at work.

and lastly, the one that does a lot of us control freaks in– let go of the outcome.  loosening our grip, letting go of control, realizing we can’t take care of all of the ins and outs of what happens once we show up and tell the truth is really scary–and wonderfully freeing.  for those of us who thrive on control (as in me), letting go of an outcome is so good  because it forces me to reckon with the most important part of vulnerability–i can’t control it. it can’t be managed. it can’t be contained. it can’t be tamed.

when i think of ordinary courage & vulnerability, i think of these 4 things, but i do think they are sort of extra-ordinary, too, because of how hard they are to do. i think of how helpful they have been in helping me stay in when i want to run.

i think of how they really are a spiritual practice because they open up my soul and challenge, heal, and transform me.

yeah, showing up & telling the truth is hard.  

but showing up & telling the truth is really holy, too.


so many great posts to check out! here are the links to other bloggers writing about ordinary courage, too: