There are holes in my walls, rounded fist sized holes, not an easy admission for one who so owns the preference of order and perfection.
I can recall in those burgeoning first weeks of motherhood, being so off put by the absolute chaos created by the nine pound cherub who had wrenched from my hands any level of systemic organization that I had so strived to create in the nesting phase of gestation. The appearance of mountains of clothing spilling over laundry baskets taunted my very being, and the unused infant gear that I so insisted upon for the very survival of my son, threatened me from every inch of our closet-sized family room. Armed with a degree in Child Development and fresh from a child-centered career, I was absolutely unprepared for the idea that every well intentioned purchase, every scrubbed toilet and every inch of carpet covered flooring would be subject to the sticky hands, sour stomach and the well intentioned creative side of my new little muse.
While motherhood came with sweet instinct to me, the birth of five children in as many years introduced me to the world of imperfection in ways for which I was not prepared. For much of my life I relied heavily upon the thoughts of others to define me. If I presented the picture of perfection before the rest of the world I would be deemed worthy and accomplished, two things that I had yet to find within my own spirit. My children, in public, would be polished and carefully coordinated as to give no indication that life was anything other than ordered. But life behind well-tended exterior walls was far less tidy. In those very early years of parenting, order was a dream replaced by five gloriously needy, messy little beings who, though certainly without the effort of intention, began to teach me the value of chaos and the danger of order.
As my view from the front lines began to shift, so did my appreciation of sticky appliances, Lego scattered rooms, and even the tyranny of a crimson cheeked toddler in the throes of a power struggle, but I continued to grapple with the quizzical assumptions and perceptions of those on the outside looking in, leaving me unarmed and exposed. I came to the understanding that although I was drawn to glimpses of raw truth and openness in others, I was terrified to share my own life in much the same way, certain that without being edited and filtered, my truth was not enough.
I have traveled many miles on this journey, and as much as I would like to have conquered the tension and cultivated a self whose desire is to be deeply seen and known, there are holes in my walls and with that admission comes shame, and insecurity, reinforcing the idea that I cannot afford to disappoint and I cannot afford to trust. Writing is a deep act of falling open vulnerability. To share with ragged, naked honesty is to be split open in essence. But to live without the provision of anonymity afforded by pen and paper is threatening.
The holes in my walls, as deftly as I might attempt to conceal them, are chapters in my story, and though owning the grit and grime of those pages is gut wrenching, it is not nearly as challenging as spending the whole of my life running from them. Today, in the musings poured freely upon the pages of this little blog, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if women were to tell the truth about the whole of their lives. There is a great need in our fractured society for the voices of those who have survived mistakes, tragedies, and trials. The world needs women to let go of shame and comparison in order to cultivate a sense of community and connection that only begins with showing up and being seen in all of our vulnerability and imperfection. I own the holes in my walls.
When I think about vulnerability, I cannot help but picture the Messiah, naked, beaten and bleeding on a cross at the collision between power and vulnerability. Throughout Scripture, Jesus was always willing to put Himself at risk. His heart was split open, interminably vulnerable to rejection and pain. He held nothing back, though His divinity would have allowed a much easier path. He chose vulnerability so that we might know the fellowship of pain and suffering.
When we build walls around those things that make us real, we begin to believe that we are alone, dissonant and isolated. When we begin to share the truth of our lives with split open hearts, we find almost at once that we are the same. I am in the pursuit of crazy, passionate vulnerability, but I have yet to call it home. I long to set down those lists of who I am supposed to be and to put aside those words that are so often used to define success and worth.
In so many ways I have had the opportunity to grow up with my children. And although I have yet to fully surrender my need for order, they have shown me that their security and endearment is not based upon my perfection nor is my vast love for them based upon theirs. Oh that they might know the value of the holes in their walls, because beautiful things break, that is how you know they are real.