Take a Flying Leap

Vulnerability. A word that strikes fear into the hearts of men. There is something terrifying about being emotionally naked in front of others. Throughout my life, I’ve had a closet full of emotional turtlenecks that I’ve only recently began to purge. Don’t worry – I’m not replacing them with any hoochie-mama shirts where I let it all hang out, but rather, emotionally tasteful shirts that fit me better, let me breathe, and are simply more me.

jump-water-cliff-girl-afraidI have a friend who made a commitment a year or so ago to be as vulnerable as possible with others. In conversations. In life. His courage has inspired me a lot and I’ve tried to follow suit in my life and relationships. His leaps have been a lot more successful than mine. Mine look more like someone who instead of making it to the other side, they leap right into the side of the ravine wall and slide to the bottom in a crumpled heap. But I think it has more to do with the courage at the beginning of the jump. He runs and goes for it. I stand at the edge, look down, close my eyes, and half-heartedly jump/step off the edge. But I’m leaping more and each time, I jump a little harder and I get a little farther.

But still, sometimes I round the corner and run into something that makes me want to run for cover. This week it was dating. Some of my closest friends have someone they want me to meet. Yeah, that kind of “meet”. I’ve not been interested in dating for awhile but I’ve been thinking some about it recently. Maybe they sensed that in me or it is just sheer, freak timing that they brought it up. I joke and throw out some awesome conversation starters that I could begin with that my middle school youth, and perhaps a few select adults, would find hilarious. But if I can be totally vulnerable (which I can because it is my blog), it stirs up all kinds of emotions in me. The greatest hurts in my life came from relationships. A broken heart hurts way more than any broken bone. Am I ready to risk again? Will I ever be ready to risk or do you just do it – ready or not? Insecurity rears its ugly head as well. What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t find poop jokes funny? That’s my entire joke repertoire.

Author Brene Brown says that

owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.

I have realized the past several months that it truly is more exhausting to run away from vulnerability than to embrace it. It is also more lonely, more depleting, more imprisoning, more empty. And not just running away from vulnerability with others but running away from vulnerability with God. I know in my mind that I can’t hide things from God but that hasn’t kept me from trying to only present my “cleaned-up, burden-free, all-together self” to Him. It is much more difficult and dangerous to try and keep myself tethered to the ground through self-sufficiency than to take a flying leap of faith into the outstretched arms of a God who loves to swing me around and around like my dad did to me as a little girl.

Lately, I’m more fearful of missing out on love, belonging and joy than I am of being vulnerable.

What I’m finding is that my desire to explore the other shore is becoming greater than my fear of the leap. The desire for new shores and new adventures is giving me courage to leap higher and farther than I have before. When the butterflies start fluttering in my stomach, I’m learning to welcome them (literally – “hello, little butterflies”) and harness their little, flapping wings for energy rather than trying to find a way to calm them down. When I’m standing at the edge and starting to feel overwhelmed by the risk, I hear God whispering to me with delight and a wink in His voice – “You are My beloved. You are My beloved. You are My beloved! I made you to SOAR!”

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite humans – Bob Goff. There are several quotes from Bob that would apply to this post but this one says it best.

I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.

Take a flying leap with me. What’s something that you’ve been afraid to risk? What’s keeping you from taking a flying leap? What is something worth failing at?

Crushing

It is no secret that I have a major (bordering on fanatical) human crush on Bob Goff.  And to be honest, nearly every person I know who has met Bob or read his book, Love Does, is crushing on him, too.  Why?  Because Bob is attractive. Oh, yes – I am definitely a sucker for baby blues that twinkle with life, love and mischief but it is so much more than that. (Side note: If you have baby blues that twinkle with life, love and mischief, I’m single and not completely unstable. Call me maybe.)

Bob lives and loves in goliath-size style. Seriously. If I told you half of his capers, you probably wouldn’t believe it and would accuse me of exaggeration but that would be the worst mistake of your entire existence.

I love what Jamie the Very Worst Missionary had to say about Bob after meeting him at the Storyline Conference in Portland:

I was particularly charmed by Bob Goff. This man, whom I had stupidly written off as goofy and overrated, is actually one of the most charismatic, enthusiastic, and seemingly genuine people I’ve ever been in the same room with. I LOVED him – Yes, capitalized L.O.V.E.D. him, he was that great.

 See? Crushing ….

I could do a whole blog series about the awesomeness of Bob.  Or you could just buy his book and read for yourself.  No, really. Go buy it.  All the profits go towards some awesome work in Uganda and The Mentoring Project in the US, so even if you don’t like the book (which you will), you’re still helping some awesome kids around the world.  So, win-win.

Mel-Goff

One day, Bob, one day. #Thankyouphotoshop

One of the many things that I love about Bob is how he makes things happen. Whether it is something heavy like defending the wrongly accused in an Ugandan court room or whether he is tying a young Ugandan boy to helium balloons to see how many it takes to lift him off the ground. (Apparently, it took 1,000 before he had lift off.)  Bob lives and tells these capers as a master storyteller – a storyteller who tells a story in such a way that he or she makes you believe you can live those same stories; that perhaps you were even involved in the one he just told! You walk away excited, energized and motivated to make things happen in your own life and in the lives of others because the best capers involve other people, resulting in extraordinary moments and memories for all involved and pointing us to the biggest lover of them all – God. Love big. Love HUGE. The way God loves us (or wants to love us if we would let Him.)

I’ve been taking notes, Bob. I’m jumping off the dock more and more. I’m ambushing people with helium balloons to give their spirits a lift. I’d roll my jeep if I still had it. I’m working on my cannonball so I can get people drenched with love.  I’m not just talking about it any more. I’m helping tell the story by living it. Because that is what love does.

Thank you for sharing yourself and your stories with all of us crazy, fanatical crushers. We love you for it. L.O.V.E. you.

*******
Unexpected blessings today:

1 – A beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered with the wish of “Surprise blessings!”  Indeed it was. Thank you, H.F.! 🙂
2 – Great dinner conversation with my roommate. It is good to get knee-deep in life together.
3 – Gorgeous thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms like a

Do For One

This is the sermon I shared on May 27, 2012, at First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, MO

Title: Do For One What You Wish You Could Do For Everyone   Text: Mark 1:35-45

Hall Moore

Ron Hall and Denver Moore

In 1998 in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron Hall, a white, wealthy art dealer met Denver Moore, a black, homeless drifter.  Ron’s wife, Debbie, had convinced him to volunteer with her at the local homeless shelter, the Union Gospel Mission.  This was way out of Ron’s comfort zone but his wife could be very persuasive so he went.  As they served meals and visited with the homeless guests, they were drawn to an allusive Denver Moore.   Miss Debbie, as Denver referred to her, was convinced that Ron needed to become friends with Denver.  Ron didn’t see how they could be friends with so many apparent differences in their lives.  But as I said, Miss Debbie could be very persuasive.

Ron and Debbie tried to make conversation with Denver.  To ask questions.  To learn more about him.  Denver didn’t make it easy.  He ignored them and refused to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Tuesday as he referred to them because of their weekly day to volunteer at the mission.  After several weeks of consistent volunteering, Ron finally was thrown a bone.  Denver apologized for purposely avoiding them when they were just trying to be nice.  Ron seized the moment and invited Denver to join him for breakfast the next morning.  Denver accepted.

Ron picked Denver up at the shelter the next morning and over their grits and eggs, Ron carried the conversation and peppered Denver with questions, trying to get to know him, and rambling about art impressionism.  After a while it was clear to Ron that Denver wasn’t listening and was utterly bored.  So he stopped talking.  After a few moments of silence, Denver looked at Ron and asked, “What you want from me?”

Impressed with the direct question, Ron replied with a direct answer.  “I want to be your friend.”

“Let me think about that.”  Denver responded.

About a week later, Ron spotted Denver walking and invited him to coffee.   Ron got to rambling again and after some silence, Denver spoke.  “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you asked me.”

Ron had no idea what he was talking about.  “What did I ask you?”

Denver replied, “Bout being my friend.”  Then he continued. “There’s something I heard ‘bout white folks that bothers me, and it has to do with fishin’.  I heard that when white folks go fishin they do something called ‘catch and release’.  That bothers me.  I just can’t figure it out.  ‘Cause when colored folk go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that’ll look.  Then we eat what we catch … in other words, we use it to sustain us.  So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all the trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water.”

Denver paused to let it sink in.  “Did you hear what I said?”    Ron nodded, afraid to speak or to offend.

Denver looked away and then locked eyes with Ron.  “So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me:  if you is fishin for a friend you just goin’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend.”   Then Denver’s eyes soften as he said, “But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I’ll be one.  Forever.”  

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