When writers commit to vulnerability in their work, they are inviting readers into the most sensitive areas of their lives. Layer upon layer of garments, grit, and grime are shed with every word until nothing is left but the bare essentials. Authenticity and truth-telling leave a person naked and unarmed. It’s both a scary and freeing place to be.
Too often, we view vulnerability like a super power, treating those who possess the uncanny ability to be completely honest like they are made of cold, hard steel, brandishing their mistakes and faults like a sword. What we view as a weapon is hardly even a shield. Instead of deflecting or conquering pain and trials, authenticity leaves people bare and unprotected.
It’s easy to respond with judgement even though the battle cry of vulnerability is, “I’m human. I’m just like you!”
We heap on expectations and assumptions like transparency equals perfection. The fact is, authenticity and vulnerability don’t exempt one from mistakes. Truth-tellers are brave, but they are not invincible.
Glennon Melton, of Momastery.com, is well-known for being one of those brave truth-tellers. She has made a name for herself writing about faith, marriage, and motherhood with an honesty that can be shocking, humorous, and heart wrenching all at the same time.
The blogosphere has come to honor and glorify this type of all-or-nothing honesty and, in turn, readers have come to demand it. But, we don’t always remember that life is a process. What is true and real right now may not be true and real a week, a month, a year from now. It is unreasonable to apply static standards to the ever shifting seasons of life.
Most of my readers have agreed to an unwritten rule that we don’t use the truth’s I tell against me… I walk onto this field every day without armor or weapons, by choice, and so the risk is that every once in a while, someone will shoot. It happens, it hurts, and it always makes me want to quit writing.
Glennon in Carry On, Warrior
I have been guilty of being a sniper, standing on the sidelines applying static standards to the conclusions someone has made about the ever shifting seasons of in their life. As a consumer and producer of this type of honesty, I want grace and tenderness to infuse my response to vulnerability. I want to see past the point where my views intersect with theirs and appreciate where our thoughts may diverge.
It is with this in mind that I read Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, Glennon’s collection of new essays and best-loved material from her blog.
Glennon is unflinchingly honest about her “brutiful” life, sharing the ins and outs of addiction, a shotgun marriage, motherhood, and friendship. Her perspective on life and faith will appeal to Millennial Christians who are frustrated by the anti-this, anti-that sentiments prevalent in religion today.
I didn’t always resonate with her sense of humor (though I won’t go to the dentist without thinking of her) and her challenges with motherhood/marriage aren’t quite the same as mine, but I found her honesty disarming in the best of ways.
There were gems like this:
But when your miracle doesn’t happen the way you planned, it becomes important to look for peripheral miracles. Peripheral miracles are those that aren’t directly in front of you. They’re not the ones on which you’ve been too damned focused. You have to turn your head to see peripheral miracles.
Carry On, Warrior (261)
And, since the book contained selections from her blog, I will be able to refer back to some of my favorite pieces.
- Birthdays and Unwind – two winners about marriage
- On Weaving & Repentance – great thoughts on mother-in-laws
- Rejoicing – a great practice for parenthood and life
And then, there were the pieces that reminded me of other writers I love and admire and their unique battle cry.
- Gifts are Bridges – Emily P. Freeman in A Million Little Ways
- On Profanity – Francis Chan in Crazy Love
- Hostressing – Shauna Niequist in Bread and Wine
- Wherever You Go – Tsh Oxenreider in Notes From A Blue Bike
Overall, I enjoyed reading Carry On, Warrior – in part for the reason I think everyone should read Can I Ask That and also for those little gems that challenge and bloom into truth for the giver and receiver.
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