I Told My Story and Life Kept Going
One month ago, I did the very hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I spoke my truth out loud to the people closest to me.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I shared it with the entire world.
For years, I thought that telling my story publicly, especially to my family, would be the end. The end of life, really. That might sound dramatic to you, but as an enneagram 1 hellbent on being perfect and terrified of being seen as bad, exposing this deep, dark, painful, shameful truth about my life felt like the hugest and worst thing I could imagine. It was petrifying, paralyzing.
I thought that surely speaking my truth would lead to my rejection, my being cast out, my being abandoned and removed from relationship. I thought that it surely would be the end.
But here’s the beautiful, mind-blowing reality: it wasn’t.
It wasn’t the end.
I wasn’t rejected.
I wasn’t cast out.
I wasn’t abandoned or excluded or judged.
It wasn’t the end at all.
It was a stunning, humbling, undeserved, unbelievable, life-changing beginning.
The world didn’t end when I got honest out loud. In fact, the world kept on spinning, just like it has been for ages. The sun rose again. Life kept going. My friends were still my friends. My parents still loved me. My job was safe and secure. Honestly, quite little actually changed, except for the very big relief I felt and the great big weight that was lifted from me.
It hasn’t been easy, and it wasn’t like sharing my story with my loved ones was a walk in the park, but I’m still in awe of how the Lord used those first hard conversations to start to remake and renew and solidify my relationships with the people closest to me. There is still so much work to be done, and I think we will be continuing to unpack and understand for many years to come, but these first few weeks have gone infinitely better than I ever could have imagined.
It’s been a full month now since the evening I sat down in my parents’ living room and sobbed as I tried to get the words out. It’s been a full month since I hit that publish button.
I have lived 30 days since then. I have sat in my counselor’s office four times since then. I have gone to church, led small group, babysat, gone grocery shopping, done my laundry, laughed with friends, cried a few times, and signed back up for yoga.
Life has kept going.
That might not seem like much to you, but I never thought it would be possible, so it’s truly amazing to me.
I have to admit, too, it’s been strange. I felt like it was important to share with you all about how it’s been going, because I don’t want to give the impression it’s all been sunshine and roses since I shared everything.
It’s been harder than I expected, and easier in some ways, too. I don’t think I ever entertained the idea of a life after my story was out there. I didn’t know how to imagine going on from that point, didn’t know how to picture my relationships or foresee how it all would play out. I didn’t even know if I would get through the telling of it, much less the aftermath of it all. And after it went well? After I was blown away by love, inundated with messages of support and encouragement and kindness, wrapped in hugs, prayed for, and held? After nothing actually ended except the power of shame and fear?
I haven’t really known what to do with it all now.
I didn’t really plan for this. I didn’t prepare for this. I didn’t even expect this, at all.
It’s a whole new world.
It feels like uncharted territory.
There’s a newness to this season that is both exciting and a little intimidating.
You see, I carried that story for a long time, and it was heavy, but I got used to it. I had learned how to hide behind it, use my secrets as a guard to keep people out, deflect from questions that might require honesty, and on and on. I wasn’t living freely or honestly or openly, but I had learned how to make do.
I don’t have to hide anymore now.
The mask I used to wear is off, and I’m learning what it feels like to have the air touch my skin. The guard I used to hide behind has been torn down, and I’m learning what it feels like to actually let people get up close.
I can be known! How incredible.
…and I can be known… holy shit. How terrifying.
Isn’t vulnerability fun?
Everything feels new now.
I spent years afraid to even dream that this could be my reality.
I spent years running away from the truth, hoping I could just get far enough away that it would never catch me so I would never have to face it.
I spent years hoping my story would just get tired and leave me alone.
But instead, one month ago, when I stopped running and looked fear in the face, and I did the hard thing by the very grace of God , I was a conqueror over sin and shame and all things evil, through and in Him alone.
Because of God’s strength in me (and not at all because of my own self), I defeated a really nasty, ugly, vicious thing that day. Praise Him for that. Seriously. But each day that I have lived since, I have continued to fight the battle against fear, against the lies, against the shame that threatens to reawaken inside of me. I had a mighty victory that day, but the war isn’t over. It won’t be until He comes again and wins it once and for all.
So now I’m learning that although I did that big, hard thing, there is still more to do. When life keeps going, storms keep coming, sin patterns keep returning, friendships keep evolving, relationships keep changing, I keep learning, and the journey keeps moving onward.
It’s been weird to show up at counseling these last four weeks, honestly, because I think some part of me thought that once I told my story, I would be good, fine, healed, all done with all that therapy stuff. I’d be all cured, right?!
Good one, self.
The work of healing and growing and finding freedom will never stop. I’m learning that now.
I’m learning that I really just peeled back a big layer, but there are so many more beneath it. There’s more dirt to dig through. There are more roots to dig up, more seeds to plant, more soil to till, more cultivating to do. Some weeds have been killed, and some new shoots are sprouting up, and it’s just reminding me this is a new season.
This is the season of learning to live out of a place of freedom.
This is the season of finding a balance between honesty and still guarding my heart.
This is the season of sharing an updated story, one whose most recent chapter is one of victory and progress, one with a hopefulness that wasn’t really there before, one with reasons to celebrate because evil didn’t get to win with me.
This is the season of discovery, and curiosity, and exploration.
It’s a season of newness.
It’s a season of celebration.
It’s a season of joy.
And it’s beautiful to me that it’s also the season of Advent, of waiting, of anticipating the glory to come, of patient hope and confident declarations against fear. It feels fitting that I find myself here, and now.
Phew. It’s a lot. I’m sure I’ll be wrestling with how to find words for it all until I take my last breath, and I’m realizing that’s okay. I won’t ever have it all figured out, will never have it all understood, and there’s a lot of freedom in just entering into the mystery of how God works and moves and restores. Little by little, step by step, day by day, all I can do is just keep going in trusting faith in a God who establishes those steps and leads me into the way everlasting.
I’m more grateful than I know how to say.
I have been undone, and I am being rebuilt.
I have been humbled, and I am being healed.
I have wept, and I am finding great joy.
I have tasted and seen His goodness, and I am feasting on His faithful provision.
Life, it turns out, keeps going. Thank God for that.
May He be glorified each and every day.