The date was Saturday, March 7, 2015.
Not quite four months ago.
It was three weeks after my last hospital stay, the hospital stay during which my beloved doctors took me to “the brink.”
Their words, not mine.
But on March 7, I was home. Recovering. Sort of.
Enter nine people. Video crew, make-up artist, a living room full of equipment, and three of my closest friends, including Kathi Lipp, Joy Groblebe, and Traci Scheer. While they set up cameras and lights and rearranged my furniture, I curled under the covers in my upstairs bedroom, waiting for “It’s a go!”
That was about the time I seriously questioned my sanity. Months before, while planning the March 10 release of Undone: A Story of Making Peace With An Unexpected Life, we’d talked about shooting a video series to go along with the book. But that was before the whole “the brink” thing. As time moved closer to the shoot, I had to face my significant physical decline. As a result, I planned to cancel. It didn’t make sense.
Or did it?
You see, too often we speak from our nice-and-neat places. We wait until a conflict is resolved, a relationship mended, a disease healed, a prodigal welcomed home before we talk about the challenges endured, insights gained and lessons learned.
We want a red bow at the end of the story before we’re brave enough to talk about it. But sometimes the most necessary story is the one without a bow at the end.
In fact, I eventually came to the conclusion that the benefits of speaking out in a hard space far outweighed any negatives. Why?
- Pain provides a unique and unparalleled life perspective. I didn’t want time and healing to cloud the clarity suffering provided.
- Vulnerability in hard spaces facilitates trust and healing. I can’t be trusted to talk about the goodness of God if I’m not willing to honestly wrestle with how I don’t always understand Him.
- Inviting people into your undone story allows for deeper relationships. Relationships only develop to the extent that its members are willing to be appropriately transparent.
- An in-progress person creates opportunities for connection with other in-progress people. The countless emails and messages I’ve received over the past year have convinced me: my story is merely one drop in an ocean of suffering.
- Personal imperfection turns the attention appropriately to something—Someone—greater than ourselves. If I’m only willing to show the polished version of myself, then I am still clearly all about myself. You don’t need me or a nice red bow—you need a real and worthy God who shows up when you need him most.
This was the primary theme behind Undone. And this is why I decided to go ahead and shoot the video series on March 7, even though it was hard. To give you an idea of what “hard” looked like …
I still had an open tracheostomy stoma in my neck (I had to press my hand firmly over the opening to gut out every single word).
I ate my meals through a feeding tube.
At least half my hair had already fallen out.
I weighed my lowest, approximately 35 pounds less than I had three months before.
I was on 24/7 pain medication and anti-nausea medication.
I slept most of every day.
I’m not telling you this so you leave sympathy comments or feel sorry for me. I tell you these things only so you know this:
These videos are the most raw, unscripted, unedited versions of me you’ll likely ever see. This is the real stuff. Real life in all it’s gory undone-ness.
Starting tomorrow, I’ll be sharing brief clips of this one-hour video conversation every Wednesday. Each of these six videos will address a different topic, which I’ll introduce via a brief blog post. If you’d rather watch the conversation in its entirely, I’ll include a link to that video as well. Throughout our conversation I answer questions like:
- Does God use imperfect people?
- Where do I find my value?
- What’s the “Facebook Effect?” Is it real?
- How can I help someone who’s struggling?
- What rough edges do we hold back?
- How do I deal with disappointment?
Honestly, this is uncomfortable for me. Embarrassing, even. But my hope is that you’ll find some peace and purpose for your own undone story by getting a glimpse of mine. Perhaps you’ll find a compassionate friend who understands your pain.
Most of all, however, my greatest desire is that you meet and get to know a very real God.
A God who loves you and your messy, complicated story more than you’ll ever know.
And a God who is more than able to help you make peace with your undone life.
[callout]REMEMBER! These videos begin tomorrow. To make sure you don’t miss a single one, be sure to subscribe to regular blog updates via email. Then the videos will be delivered right to your inbox every Wednesday, even if you’re offline, out of town or forget. See you then! [/callout]