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]
I cannot put into words how much admiration I have for! You are an amazing person and we are so blessed that you are willing to share with all of us! Praying for you.
Thank you, Denise. You’re so kind!
for *you, sorry – darned trigger finger!
A wise person, AKA you , recently said “You got this, Bruce, because God has got you!”
Today, I go for a bladder biopsy. Placing myself in a His more than capable hands!
Prayers welcome and appreciated
Father God, healer, give my friend Bruce great comfort and peace while he walks through this undone, unknown place. Reassure him of your presence, your activity, and that you are more than able to handle even this!
Thank you Michele for your transparency. Your statement “Pain provides a unique and unparalleled life perspective” is oh so true. It makes all the superfluous fall away, and helps us to see better those things of true importance. Looking forward to your video.
Thank you for this post! Websites and social media often paint an inaccurate picture of what life looks like. We are all people in-progress, being sanctified and conformed to the image of Christ more and more each day. None is perfect. None is immune to pain.
Blessings from another imperfect sister!
And back to you, Lauren! 🙂
Can I just say that my life has been anything BUT tidy. I’m sick of hearing about how God has taken someone’s messy stuff and tidied it all up, even though I know for many these are encouraging stories.
Mine has been heartbreak and sorrow followed by more of the same. I had begged God for just ONE writer to send me something written in the midst of great trials. Then you happened across my FB feed.
I’m sorry I prayed if it meant you have to suffer. But I need to know your pain to help me with my own.
So thank you. And I’m so very sorry you have to go through this.
It’s worth it to me if it helped you to know you’re not alone. I’m glad we’re in this together, Lorraine. <3
Yes, thank you for being real. I know during my own health struggles I felt like people kind of rolled their eyes at me. Sometimes I didn’t look as sick as I was and still am, so I just quit saying much about my struggles. I felt like they didn’t care that much or thought I was over-reacting. Either way, I just stopped talking about it and let it go.
Yes, you said that well Georganne. I’ve had moments like that as well. It’s easy to look at my posts on Facebook or other social media channels and assume I’m back to my old self. AND it’s easy for me to slip into the expectation that I should just “bounce back.” All of this actually makes me more committed to being as honest as possible—both for the authenticity of my own healing and the permission it gives to others to do the same. Thanks for sharing, my friend.
we each walk a path that is only ours to walk, but every once in awhile, our path intersects that of another – a beautiful someone who shares their courage (even if they’d deny that) and thereby gives us a drop that gets us through the next tough step in our own walk. If that someone never allowed us a glimpse of their courage (which they’d say they didn’t feel) we would have stumbled on our own path.
May I have courage like yours, especially on the days when I’d say I have none, and may God grant me the privilege of shining for others like you shine for me. Love you:)
While tuning in to Michael Hyatt’s podcast today I was disappointed to hear you weren’t there. I can not imagine what you are going through right now, but wanted to let you know there are people praying for you. Thank you for being real in your writing!