EXCITING NEWS: At the end of this post, I’m excited to share with you a brand new project I’m launching. I’m filled with both joy and nerves!
“Do, be, do, be, do…” —Frank Sinatra
On my journey of hope, I am continually choosing what kind of person I want to be. I’m shifting away from the paradigm I grew up with that said the most important thing to focus on is what I want to do.
I am choosing to be a person of hope, believing redemption is possible for all people and all circumstances. I’m also choosing to be compassionate, creative, generous, and authentic. But more than anything I’m choosing to be a loving person. I bet you are, too.
Choosing to be a loving person, unfortunately, doesn’t guarantee we won’t get hurt. The times we get hurt, the times we experience the pain of our shared brokenness, present us with a choice. We can let the pain turn us into bitter, resentful, cynical, miserable people. We can live tirelessly trying to protect our hearts from ever hurting again—to never become invested in anything other than our own stability. Many of us have lived protecting our hearts, that we don’t actually know if we can live unguarded. We may find some peace from the uncertainty that loving others entails, but we will miss out on something really special.
Is There A Better Option?
Yes, there is! Choosing to respond to the pain in our heart with grace and compassion can turn us into superheroes. We are no longer running away from the hurt, and claiming “I’m good!” or “Jesus took away all my pain.” It’s acknowledging that something painful happened, and giving yourself the time and space to understand how it makes you feel. Are you sad, angry, or confused? Where in your body does the pain hurt? Chances are, you’re feeling a whole lot of different things.
By letting pain and suffering have sacred space to do their work in our lives we are letting ourselves grow in wisdom and grace.
There’s something built into pain that can break our ego and our desire for control, ripping our heart wide open so we can spill out kindness and compassion to everyone we meet.
If we let it.
The choice is yours.
Carrying A Heavy Backpack
Sometimes I picture a symbolic backpack that I carry with me wherever I go. Life’s pain and trauma can feel like being handed bricks that are put in that backpack, making the hike all that more challenging.
Do you feel like you’re carrying a bit of heaviness that you never asked for?
You and I will collect weight in our backpacks by letting ourselves love deeply, and then experiencing pain and loss. But I refuse to let this weight leave me crumpled up, or retreating into isolation.
I’m making a conscious choice to let this heaviness remind me I’m driven by love, by heart, by passion. I can actually stand tall and proud, not unaware of the pain of living in this broken world, but more committed to not letting that pain hold me back or define me.
The pain I’ve collected over the years is my compassion fuel.
Making these kinds of hope-driven choices will allow us to see our broken heart as a gift. A gift that allows us to see more clearly the pain in someone else, and enables us to extend a hand of understanding in a way that someone who doesn’t acknowledge their pain could ever do.
This perspective cuts to the core of our ability to experience intimacy with other people, and even God.
I’m choosing to live in a place of vulnerability that knows I won’t be toppled by pain I might experience by choosing to love, rooted in a deep trust that love, connection, and intimacy are what I was created for. The more I know my own pain, the more empathy I can have for another’s.
I love this passage from Undefended Love, by Jett Psaris and Marlena S. Lyons and how it offers a vision of hope for us who carry heavy backpacks.
When we open our hearts to the wonder of the journey and search through the pain for the truth of our experience, we begin to glimpse a new light that will guide us deeper into ourselves, below our insecurities and the broken dreams of our lives. There we will meet our whole, undamaged, and pristine essential self. In touch with this essential self, we can experience powerful levels of intimacy while engaged in the most ordinary behaviors. This is the promise of undefended intimacy. This is the satisfaction of the longing to love and be loved, directly, immediately, and without restriction.
I'm launching a new Conversation Series (some might call it a podcast)! It's called “Saving My Faith”...and here's why. My faith has taken quite a beating over the years…but I still want to hang on to it. Organized religion can be a messy and painful mistress—promising love and connection, and instead offering hypocrisy and shame. Even still, I don’t want to throw the Baby Jesus out with the bathwater. There’s still so much excellent wisdom within Christianity that can truly revolutionize our world. I want to help fight through the clutter and find the really good stuff. I want to save my faith, and maybe help save yours, too.
I just had my first interview and wowza, it was a doozie. Can’t wait for you to hear it. I hope to launch in the next week or two, and you’ll be able to listen to it right here on Substack or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
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"I Choose to Continue" with Love!
This is a beautiful issue Mark, thank you!