brene brown is changing my life
i've been reading brene brown's book daring greatly and it has been rocking my world. i recently finished the chapter on shame. Brene defines shame as "the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging."
i was particularly struck by her description of how men and women experience shame differently. the top two shame triggers for women are looks and motherhood (whether you're a mother or not). the main struggle for women is to be perfect without looking like you're trying. funny that with all this feminism stuff, our number one insecurity is still our looks. and then kinds. if we can have them. when we have them. how far apart they are. how we choose to raise them. all the mommy wars. and we're judged for everything, no matter how we do it. damned if you do, damned if you don't. there is no winning! god help us all.
for men, the top two are failure and being wrong. their main struggle is not to be perceived as weak. and this is perpetuated by women, not just other men. as women, we don't want to see our men show signs of weakness. it scares us. we can't handle it. i realized that i have this mindset towards david. when i was going through my darkest times in our marriage post partum and then my last battle with anxiety/depression/insomnia, i needed him to be my rock. i needed him to be in control, to make decisions, to show no weakness. because i was weak. i needed him to be strong because i was weak. but in putting that pressure on him, whether in a season of darkness or not, i am making him my jesus. i am saying it's not okay for him to have human feelings like me. it's not ok for him not to know the answer. which goes back to that whole we are all broken truth that god is hammering in to me. i am broken. david is broken. we both think, say, and do broken things. and if we expect each other to measure up to some impossible standard, we are only asking for failure. i have to be okay with weakness in my man, because he is human. he is not god. making him god is unhealthy for me AND him.
one of the people brene interviewed was a therapist who had spent twenty-five years working with men. he talked about pornography being a way for men to meet their needs without fear of rejection. sex is very vulnerable. and if a man seeks out his wife and time after time she rejects him, whether he understands why or not, that hurts his self-worth. i am in no way excusing use of pornography, but that reasoning had not occurred to me before. in a group interview she did, brene discovered that men feel more worthy when their wives want to be with them sexually. it doesn't matter what your body looks like (our #1 shame trigger). our spouses want us because we are theirs, and they are ours. and when we come together we contribute to their self-worth. again that made me think both ways, we have to make sure we are getting our worth from jesus and not making our spouses jesus. with that right thinking spiritually, how powerful to truly realize how affirming sex can be for men. and then if women truly understand how their husbands see them and how much it means to them, that contributes to the self-worth of the woman too. i am beautiful because i am his (his meaning god's and my husband's). god made us for relationship, for community. and we experience that most intimately with our spouses. how important it is to understand each other and how to affirm our self-worth. and how do we grow in that? vulnerability.
brene pulled an excerpt from a prior book, the gifts of imperfection, which included the quote "we can only love others as much as we love ourselves." a biblical truth! jesus tells us to love god, and love others as we love ourselves. as we practice love for ourselves, we can extend it to others. god has given us the pardon from all sin. jesus was the sacrifice that covered us so we can stand before god righteous, if we accept that sacrifice and live with him as lord. if i truly understand what this means, that god has forgiven me, if i truly understand where i stand before god, then my only response can be love. love for him, for what he's done for me, for myself as his creation, and for others. brene used words similar to those used by a member of our church as he was sharing his experience with grief and loss. he said in the midst of grief and loss, show up and be yourself in your weakness. brene said that practicing self-love has given her "the courage to show up and be vulnerable in new ways" which is "what love is all about."
i've only just begun the chapter on vulnerability. already i was struck by her first vulnerability shield: foreboding joy. experiencing joy takes vulnerability, and when we want to protect ourselves from that vulnerability, we expect that something bad must be about to happen in our most joy filled moments. this is so me. i am so morbid. it's like once you realize how good you've got it, you realize how much you have to lose. after getting married i would be worried about david dying somehow and what would i do. i feel that even more after having a baby with him! and oh that baby. what would i do without her? i remember being terrified something would happen to her when we were in the hospital after she was born. and now i worry what if she gets childhood leukemia? what if she texts and drives and gets in a fatal car accident 16 years from now? and everything in between. i always thought i was crazy for thinking these things and that i was the only one who did so. sharing some of my thoughts with david in the last few years has shown me i'm not crazy. but having brene write it out made me feel even more validated. she says "if, like me, you've ever stood over your children and thought to yourself, i love you so much i can barely breathe, and in that exact moment have been flooded with images of something terrible happening to your child, know that you're not crazy nor are you alone." yes. this is me. also like this with my puppy babies. i feel like every time i would well up with love for either of my dogs i would immediately think WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WHEN THEY DIE?!?! if that's not the biggest joy killer. now that the human baby is in the mix, of course she is elevated over the dogs in the hierarchy of grief. so what is the remedy? gratitude. i need to get that ann voskamp book one thousand gifts. find joy in the little things in life. practice recognizing them and being grateful for what you have. so good.
bina has been sick every other week for the last several weeks. first we got the stomach bug, then we got the fever cold sickness. fever started last friday and we have residual yellow snot and a cough starting. looks like we're never leaving the house again. kidding. until we're better. sunday david went to church alone while i stayed home with the sickie, and then we swapped and i went to small group alone in the afternoon. we're in the middle of a study on mercy. it's good stuff. kind of goes with this whole shame/vulnerability motif i've got going here. and brokenness. god is really driving this home. i'm excited to see what he has in store. our small group will be doing something to practice mercy as we go through this study. we tossed around some ideas during the last meeting. i'm looking forward to getting to know our group members more and to partner with them in mercy.
ok back to the snot bucket that is currently dismantling the bookcase and trying to grab the drill on top of it. just a normal day at the sobey household.