I was a newlywed.
One year hadn’t even passed yet, since we first said our forever wedding vows. But, I was already counting the days. Circling dates on the calendar like First Kiss, Anniversary of Our Engagement, and other cringe-worthy sappy-drenched remembrances. I once thought I was going to be single for the rest of my life because my 30th birthday had passed and well, I just never fell in love. So, you can imagine how amazed I was to find myself married to the love of my life.
You know, I kept these special dates private. But, for a small group of girlfriends, the ones who threw a bridal shower for me, I thought it was safe to be a little… you know… sentimental.
So, I thought wouldn’t it be great to throw a one year get together for those who came to my bridal shower — and share the wedding photos and catch up with each other.
What I really love is connecting with others by swapping stories.
There’s a coming home feeling that happens, when we can share stories with each other — as they’re happening, don’t you think? That’s what home feels like. When we’re all on the journey and we can share the sugary happy stuff as well as the bitter heartache as well.
I had gotten so excited about the idea of a reunuion, I even started thinking of the different themes we could do for our little “party”.
But, my heart was struck frozen, when I picked up a phone call from one of my girlfriends.
Just Too Much
“So… you really want to get together… ” she begins. My friend read my email about the reunion. “a one year gathering of the bridal shower…?”
“Yeah! Wouldn’t it be great if we could all get together again? I could show you guys the pictures we finally got back from the wedding… and we can all catch up!” I was taking a breath to start talking about all my different party ideas when my friend continued her words.
“Bonnie, I hate to tell you this. I know it’s a really big deal to you that you got married. And I’m happy for you. But, getting together just to see the wedding pictures– for a first year reunion? That’s just too much.” My friend started telling me that there was something that’s been bothering her about me. She first chalked up my starry eyes to being in love and all the wedding bliss. But, now that after I’ve been married, it’s getting worse. Always talking about Eric and I did this. Eric and I did that.
“It’s really not that big of a deal. But, you talk about it as if you two were the most romantic people on the earth. It’s just too over the top. You’re not some teenager anymore, Bonnie. Life isn’t always a fairytale, you know.”
I was completely shocked. And totally. Completely. Embarrassed.
My first thought was, What was I thinking?
I took my friend’s words into my heart. And checked myself. It’s true. I’m not a teenager anymore. I told myself. So I cancelled the reunion.
The Most Beautiful Gift
I became very guarded after this conversation happened. This wasn’t the first time something like this happened. I often would take people’s criticism and adjust myself to avoid being misunderstood or judged. It was one of my greatest fears — that I’m unlearning as I take steps to find my voice and heal — afraid that people won’t like me. That I’ll be rejected or inadequate.
But, now that I’ve journeyed through two years of working through PTSD, I’m learning that people-pleasing was really a protection for my heart. It wasn’t that I was being fake around people. What I did choose to show them was authentic and real. But, the problem is that I hid myself a lot. My opinions, my preferences, my passion. My dreams. And in the process of hiding those things I felt were special, I also hid my heartache, fears and disappointments too.
All this is giving way to a new journey: being whole. Being vulnerable.
All the pieces of my heart have been coming back to me through my journey to heal.
And I’m learning the greatest gift God has helped me to live is my story.
The greatest gift God has given you is your story.
And it’s the most beautiful gift you can offer to others: your story.
Not some of it.
All of it.
Not just the hard parts — but the good parts too.
Even if your dreams and passions feel too big for your hands, they are not too big for your heart.
God put them there and your voice is found there. In the journey of those desires.
Taking The Risk
All of your story is worth sharing — because your memories and experiences make you uniquely you.
Honor your journey because God is especially close to those parts of us we often hide.
The truth is we all have a story. And we all want to be free to tell them.
Because we all long to be known.
I’m sharing this story with you — not to make my friend look bad — because we are all human and we all fail our friends in our moments of weakness.
I share this story with you because I am having to make peace with my fear of how people will judge me or view me when I release my story to print.
I’m revisiting this memory because I’m learning to feel again the shame I felt. Except this time, instead of hiding, I want to mourn the sadness. Feel the grief.
I want to accept that the risk of being present in my joyful moments — as well as my sad moments — is part of living.
Accepting the risk of getting hurt is a part of living. Showing up. And being present with Jesus. Holding His hand and allowing His arms to wrap around my shoulder. So, I can walk the little girl in me out into the world.
Yes, I’m not a teenager anymore.
But, I am still God’s little girl. His beloved daughter.
With friends who love me for who I am. They don’t have to be many. They just have to be real.
Rewrite New Memories
Next month April 25-26, I’ll be taking a new step to be present in my story.
My hope is that by sharing my story, others who are in the middle of their faith journey will see the beauty in their story — all of their story. And as they hear my story, they’ll be reminded in their hearts what they’ve always known, but somehow found it hard to believe: you have a story worth sharing.
Even though I’m speaking at (in)RL, I have to challenge myself to invite my In-Real-Life friends to get together and do this (in)RL gathering.
Because, as you can imagine, I find it hard to write the email to invite my friends to this year’s (in)RL gathering. There are a cast of wonderful speakers who will be sharing their stories, so I’m tempted to pick out segments that skip over my story.
But, I have a pressing feeling that Jesus wants me to rewrite a new story and create some new memoires.
How about you? Is God calling you to rewrite some old memories?
Does inviting a group of women — or joining in an existing group of women — feel hard or easy?
I want to take some now. Let’s take them together.
I’ll be writing up that email, to invite an small number of friends I know In-Real-Life for an (in)RL meet up. You can register here too.
Pull up a chair. Click to comment. I’m curious what you think.
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