“I know I need to learn how to gracefully express honest transparency. But sometimes I give in to fear… The more I dance around, the more emotional yuck… it’s exhausting.” ~ Lysa Terkeurst, NYTimes bestselling author in her newly-released book “Unglued”
This past weekend was very tough.
It was time for me to cross my next street.
The street of writing my book.
The last time I looked at my manuscript — writing the belly of my book — I experienced a panic attack from seemingly nowhere.
I’ve done way harder things than string letters into words earlier in my life — growing up strong without a father and putting myself through college, relocating to a foreign country as a missionary to serve at-risk teenagers in the ‘hood (everyone knew someone in a gang (or were in one themselves)), transitioning back to “civilian life” managing high tech product releases without batting an eye, and waking up exhausted every two hours to feed a colicky baby boy for months. I even dared to do it again by having a second baby boy.
I never felt afraid doing any this. At least, I was never aware of feelings of fear.
Until writing words on a page became more than stories being retold. Writing memories led me to a place deep inside, where I have never wanted to journey back, since I’ve grown up.
The very act of speaking from my heart — in print — has brought me back to childhood trauma —
— when I didn’t know what to do as a little girl.
— to memories of feeling trapped between uncertain choices.
— to dilemmas where I felt torn between what I wanted to do and what I had to do.
— when my words didn’t matter anyways, so I didn’t say them any more.
I returned to the places in my life — where I first became unglued.
Unglued. That’s how my friend — writer, speaker and Proverbs 31 President — Lysa Terkeurst titled her new book.
And I got a chance to review it this week. Eventhough this book is less than a week new on the market, Lysa’s Unglued been written in her heart years before it’s hit a word on the page.
Unglued is a word that Lysa uses with great vulnerability through every page of her book. She talks about how she gets mad and how she gets sad. She talks about how she’s imperfect, but how she’s making the journey to “imperfect progress”.
Lysa doesn’t let up for 200 pages — her unraveling and God’s putting back together. Lysa calls it God’s chiseling work in her heart, so she can be free to be unstuck from her dark places.
Lysa whispers early in her book “Unglued” —
“Oh God, chisel me.
I don’t want to be locked in my hard places forever…”
You might ask, why would someone want to share about something so personal, with such transparency? I think I know why.
Lysa doesn’t want to leave any part of her heart unexplored by Jesus — even in her raw emotions.
I know because Lysa was one of the circle of friends I confided in early on, when I realized my journey to heal would not be an overnight journey.
I called in her my raw emotions. I confided in her, right in my unglued moment — afraid. Afraid of uncertainty, afraid of not knowing what to do with people who are hurtful towards me.
The words Lysa shared with me were honest, practical and encouraging. It’s Lysa’s way and it’s how she speaks throughout her book to her readers. It’s vulnerability that allows us to open up.
Because when I’m afraid — I stuff.
I am a stuffer.
But God is changing all this. I no longer want to be a stuffer anymore.
Stuffer or Exploder
Lysa talks about two ways she views responses to raw emotions: The Stuffers and The Exploders. Lysa talks about herself as a stuffer —
“I stuff because:
I don’t feel safe enough to confront this person.
I don’t know how to address the issues.
I don’t want to get rejected.
I don’t want to make things worse, so I convince myself I can just let it go…”
As I read these statements, I gained another insight into why I am a stuffer.
Stuffing is actually another way of saying, I hide.
Whenever things got too hard for me, I got through them by avoiding conflict — by hiding my raw emotions.
Keeping the peace is a lot easier than confronting what’s messy.
I stuff because it was survival.
But hiding hurts us inside. It keeps us from dealing with what’s really bothering us.
It keeps our wounded selves separated from Jesus.
Lysa says when we stuff, we avoid asking ourselves the harder question: What Do I Really Want?
What I Really Want
“What do I really want?”
This is a powerful question, that I find uneasy with answering. Because for me, answering this means I’d have to face conflict. Pain. I’d have to change. Relationships would have to change.
So I want to hide instead. Because I’m good at it.
No, Bonnie. You can longer hide.
“But, Jesus… I don’t know how not to… ” I reply.
Write. And you will know. I will protect you.
Just like the agoraphobic who avoids going to the grocery store because that’s where she last had her panic attack. Just like the man who won’t cross a street because that’s where he was last hit by a drunk driver.
Me. I’ve been waiting to be unafraid before I write.
It turns out I have no choice, if I want to write. I must write afraid with Jesus.
This is hard. Not easy.
But, what I want is freedom.
What I want is my full voice.
What I really want is to find Jesus in my unglued.
Are you a stuffer or an exploder?
How do you handle your raw emotions — when you find yourself emotionally unglued?
What do you really want?
Pull up a chair. Click to comment and enter to win a copy of Unglued.
Today’s post is written as one of many in Lysa’s Unglued Book Blog Tour (Click it to read more Unglued stories).
1. Share a comment by this Thursday 8/23/12. Winners will be contacted Friday 8/24/12.
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* Full disclosure: The publisher Zondervan provided a review copy of Unglued but did not influence the content of this post.