walking with a limp

I finished Brené Brown’s latest, and not surprisingly, I loved it. With each of her books, I find that her writing voice and arguments are getting stronger. She’s the only author whose books I want in all forms — audio, electronic, and hard copy. I love listening to her read, because her Texas accent and expression makes it sound like she’s in the middle of a conversation.

There are SO MANY parts of the book that stood out, but here’s a favourite passage that’s mean a lot to me, especially lately. This segment comes from an interview she did with a minister who went against church doctrine, and stood up and supported the LGBTQ community:

I suspect the wilderness is a permanent home for me, which is both happy and hard. A dear friend sent me a text during those harsh first steps out, having broken party lines irreversibly after publicly wrestling through a fragile doctrinal interpretation.

There is this wonderful and strange story in Genesis 32 about Jacob physically wrestling with God all night in the literal wilderness, and upon realizing that Jacob was positively not giving up and in fact hollered, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!,” he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of socket, a permanent reminder of the struggle of a determined, stubborn, dogged man with God; an absurd and ballsy move, as outrageous as it was impressive.

My friend texted me: “You are like Jacob. You refused to let go of God until He blessed you in this space. And He will. You will indeed find new land. But you’ll always walk with a limp.”

So I’ve chosen the wilderness, because it is where I can tell the truth and lead with the most courage and gather with my fellow outsiders, but this limp will remind me of the cost, what lies behind me, what will always feel a little sad and a little bruised.

Was it worth it? Unquestionably. And I hope the limp shows my fellow wilderness dwellers that I’m acquainted with pain and didn’t make it out here unscathed either. Outliers, I suspect it won’t hinder our wilderness dance party in the slightest.

I love this passage, so much. I know exactly what it feels like to metaphorically “walk with a limp.” My body and heart are indelibly marked with these wounding occasions, and I won’t ever be the same because of them. But — I don’t regret the times I’ve had to wrestle, and I don’t resent the injuries that have resulted. And yet, I do feel a little sad about them.

Lately I’ve had some really difficult days where I’ve felt like I’m in “the wilderness,” and I’ve added a couple more bruises to my heart.  It can be a lonely place when you stand up for yourself, and you’re not understood. It feels especially heartbreaking when you’re not understood by people who you love.

I like reclaiming the story of Jacob and his wrestling angel, in terms of my own struggles. I’m no longer going to think about difficult experiences as a means to build up my internal calluses and “get tougher” when it comes to numbing my wounds.

Instead, I want to have that “strong back, soft front, wise heart” and recognize that having a limp won’t stop me from moving forward. Or from occasionally dancing.

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