Monday, April 28, 2014

Real Life

Saturday I went out on a limb.

I followed through on a plan I'd made weeks ago. I attended an (in)RL Meet-up. I get regular emails from (in)courage. Sometimes I read them. Other times I just hit delete, but when the reminder of (in)RL came up I went and searched for a local meet-up. 

I must have been feeling brave that day because the only local meet-up I found looked like it was intended for moms of young kids. I signed up anyway and warned them I was older with grown children. (It's funny how I find myself almost apologizing for that, as if having survived those years means my life is over!)

I received a warm email in response assuring me that all were welcome.

I wrote the information on my calendar so I wouldn't conveniently forget about it. And when Saturday rolled around, I got dressed and drove to a place I'd never been before to meet a bunch of ladies I'd never met before . . . all by myself.

We worshipped. We prayed. We watched a video. We ate. And then it happened. Share your story. Whatever you want to share. No pressure. I began to practice my relaxation breathing and considered taking some meds. I had an internal conversation with myself about what I should or shouldn't say. I weighed my story against the others being shared. They were telling stories of dreams, of "that thing", of adoption, of blogging, of changes, and families and hopes and sweetness. Beautiful sharing and accepting with a few tears and some laughter.

Suddenly it was my turn and I'd been so busy listening (connecting?) that I'd forgotten to plan what I would say. And the words just started tumbling out. My interior voice kept telling me I wasn't do this right. I hadn't started well. I needed to shut up. I used those terms -- chronic PTSD and survivor of childhood sexual abuse -- but I stopped short of the 2 rapes as an adult, because I worried I was babbling.

And when I stopped, the woman on my left slid toward me and hugged me. She thanked me for sharing my story. The other women began to voice appreciation -- could they hug me? Could they pray over me? And I began to panic.

This wasn't my intent. I didn't mean to seek attention. I clearly had over shared. I told them it was fine that they didn't need to do anything. I hadn't meant to make this about me. I was sorry.

Why is it so hard to believe that they reacted as compassionate witnesses because they wanted to?

They told me it wasn't about me. It was about God using me. Using all of us to connect. To teach and learn hospitality. To see our worth and value as God's hands and feet and voices. 

We shared contact information -- email, blogs, phone numbers. We all agreed we should meet again soon. One woman asked if I'd like to walk sometime. We live in the same neighborhood. 

I drove home with the roof down, singing along with my iPod. And I thought a lot about what I'd said and what they'd said. About what God was leading me into. 

I'm still struggling in my heart with the idea that I didn't do anything wrong. But in my head I know -- I KNOW -- this is what real life is about. Real life is about being real with other people. And that includes taking risks.



linking up with (in)RL

8 comments:

  1. I am so glad you were brave and went somewhere you'd never gone before to meet people you did not know! I host in my home and each year I pray for a stranger... a new friend to show up. I can't imagine how much boldness that takes and I applaud you (and the others who did the same thing!) I trust that you are feeling reassured by God that you did NOT make it about you... in your sharing, and being real - you were letting Him shine through your story and make it all about Him! Thank you for being courageous... for letting it flow and not editing out the hard parts!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am struggling less, but perhaps it's more about letting go of the need to understand and quantify. My prayer is always that I do His will. Many thanks!

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  2. Praise God for bringing you to that precious community of women!

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  3. Follow God's lead, he may just have huge things in store for you. You are very brave & I'm so glad that you found a group of ladies you connected with.

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  4. Melanie, it was so amazing to meet you on Saturday. I love how God used your bravery as an inspiration to the rest of us. I look forward to connecting with you more. Love and hugs new friend!

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  5. Oh, I'm so glad you shared there and have shared it again with us on this post! :)

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  6. Melanie, it was so nice to meet you and a complete privilege to be able to hear some of your story and pray with you. Hope to see you again soon.

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  7. Thanks for your honesty, so many woman have gone through CSA, and can be encouraged by those who have found healing.
    Sounds like you found a sweet group of ladies as well.

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