Brene` says that shame, in women, says, "Do it all. Do it perfectly. And never let them see you sweat. Shame...is this web of unattainable competing, conflicting expectations about who we are supposed to be. It's a straight jacket."
A straight jacket. Do you ever feel imprisoned by your shame? Me too.
Brene` says there is a remedy to shame. Something that makes it go away. And I want it. Here it is, "Empathy is the antidote to shame. The two most powerful words, when we're in struggle, "Me Too.".
There is nothing that brings me into community with other moms better than when they look at me, with my three-day-old dirty hair, yoga pants stained with ice cream and my ten-year-old-too-small t-shirt that says, "I'm too pretty to work" and they smile and say, "Me too, sister. Me too."
We've used (and over-used) a word in our culture in recent years, especially in the church world that I'm immersed in. The word is "community." It's what we call the group of people we do life with. Our people. The ones we identify with. The ones we go through the trials of life with, laugh with, barbecue with, workout with, scream to, cry to, pray for. Our posse. Our cronies. But a new word has emerged that I love better than the word "community". The new word is really an old word; a Biblical word. The new descriptive for "my people" is my "tribe." Tribe. In the Old Testament when God chose Israel to be his people, His beloved chosen nation, He sovereignly placed the people into twelve tribes all stemming from Jacob (the leaders of the twelve tribes were Jacob's sons Genesis 49). The twelve tribes were a band of brothers and sisters who made it through tough times together. And they partied like rock stars when things went well (okay, maybe not. But they definitely knew how to celebrate a win together).
Tribe. Sounds fierce. And my people are fierce. I don't surround myself with wimps. I ain't got time for that! My tribe is made up of people who have suffered everything from death, divorce, adultery, suicide, infertility, the pains of adoption, cancer, anxiety, depression, despair, alcoholism and any and every other "ism" there is. And yet, my tribe doesn't walk around with open wounds covered by bandages; wounds that still bleed and need healing. And my Tribe doesn't walk around hiding the places where they've been wounded. My Tribe doesn't pretend to be above it or over it. Nope. My tribe walks around with scars. Their scars tell the stories of how their wounds have been healed by God the Great Physician, the Healer, the Giver of Life, the Almighty. The glue that holds my Tribe together is vulnerability. We share our scars with each other. We share our pain, our weakness, our neediness. We are honest about where we just can't seem to get it or hold it together. We look at each other in the eyes, we listen and we reply, "Me too".
Brene` says, "If we're going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path. It's seductive to think, I'm gonna go in there and kick some ass when I'm bulletproof and when I'm perfect, but the truth is, that never happens...and that's not what we want to see. We want to be with you and across from you, and we just want the people we care about to care greatly."
Me too, Brene`, me too.
Find your Tribe. Share your scars (share your scars even while you're wearing those ice cream-stained yoga pants). Your Tribe will take you places you could never get to all by yourself.
I know what you're thinking, "But this is hard. I want to give up."
Yeah, me too.
But instead of giving up, let's put on a new pair of shoes and get ready for the walk ahead and after you start...KEEP GOING.