Monday, October 31, 2016

On Vulnerability, Bipolar and Showing Up

"Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen." 

~ Brene Brown

It was too soon. 

And yet here I was. At church. Fragile and scared. But I was here.

Less than three weeks earlier I was in a hospital across the ocean. Since then, family had come and packed us to move back to Pennsylvania. I had met with a new psychiatrist and counselor and unpacked us all. It was a blur of time and space such as I never knew.

As we finished the closing worship song, I told my husband, 'I will just wait here for people to come to me.' I was still drooling from one or another medicine. It was embarrassing. Who would really want to engage me right where I was?

The first to come was a friend who I simply remember saying, 'it is brave for you to be here so soon.'

It was brave, I suppose. As I finished with some hugs, sharing as much as I could of how I was, I felt exhausted.

Would this be how I would always feel? Embarrassed? Ashamed? Alone? And yet, needing to step out again and again?

My journey of 'Less-Than' happened long before I was diagnosed with bipolar. Deep inside, I have always felt as though there was something wrong with me. I have always felt shame.

And I don't know why except to say it is what we all carry this side of Eden.

It has been my tendency to step out in a vulnerable way. And so, I have felt somehow, exposed. I never know how to keep it all collected inside of me. There is only the honest of 'how are you?'

And now there is bipolar. Something which I feel called to be utterly honest about. Something which people have many opinions about. Something which yet is a great unknown.

How do I walk this well? How do any of us with our labels? How do we have courage in a world of people 'being good' and 'doing fine'?

As Brown says, the answer is in 'showing up.'

It is also in wearing the white robe of Jesus. One Day we will this forever and ever. In That Day our beauty, purity and perfection will be for all of heaven and earth to see. We will no longer bear any shame, fear, doubt or anxiety.

But what if that Day were Today? What if the truth of Jesus became so real, we walked, here and now, in all He has for us when we are face to face?

Does it sound too far-reaching? Too lofty?

I don't think so. At least not completely. And I know the path for getting there is lined with courage. We show up in church when we are not ready to see others. We take with grace the pat answer of our condition. We love even in our overwhelming 'less-than', because that is how we know the love of God.

We believe He is with us, in us. He is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. The First and the Last. And He owns our stories, our lives. Now and Forever.

And He showed up. Like no one ever has. He came in fragile humility. He received every misunderstanding of who He was. He loved when given nothing but anger and hate in return. He could do all of this because He knew who He was. And He would have us walk His way.

So, bring it all. Your shame. Your doubt. Your fear. Your anxiety. Let's show up wherever we are because we know the real story. We know how it ends. And so we are free to really, truly live.


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