On Being Vulnerable

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Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the correlation between what we put out into the world, how we view our own privacy and the level of vulnerability with which we are comfortable sharing with others. Facebook, blogs, and other social media sites have completely changed the level of involvement we’ve come to expect in the lives of people we come in contact with, most of whom we don’t even know. Not even a little bit. It has also changed what others have come to expect of us.

I’ve thought a lot about happiness and misery, reality and perception, and this constant game of true or false we seem to play online. It seems that everyone now has a platform. It is expected that we are to share our struggles, to put it out there so that others might benefit from our private stories. You aren’t alone. Others go through this too. This is largely a good thing on some platforms: those struggling with depression or mental illness or thoughts of suicide, those dealing with infertility, thoughts of inferiority, failure or insecurity (i.e. every encouraging Mommy blog post, ever). We are now in constant need of validation, and I think there are certain areas of our lives where this has become extremely dangerous and damaging to our relationships.

Those closest to me know that I have always been comfortable in my vulnerability, and in the past I found myself really frustrated with others who hid their feelings and protected their own vulnerability. I highly valued authenticity and transparency: raw realness. I enjoyed it in college lectures and discussions, and I came to expect it from my family and closest friends. There was always, and still is, a very personal element in how I stand when I feel passionately about things, honesty, saying the hard things, and standing firm when I draw a hard line on what I will or will not accept. In the past, it almost hurt my feelings to know someone wasn’t being honest with me, or themselves, about their feelings, whether it had anything to do with me directly or not. I wanted their trust, which to me meant they would show me the most vulnerable parts of themselves. And if they couldn’t do this, it meant they weren’t authentic, that our friendship wasn’t “real.” I have wholeheartedly come to believe this is not true. At all.

My feelings about someone’s comfort level in exposing their vulnerability has everything to do with me, and nothing to do with them. In short, when those thoughts cross your mind, that someone “wants everybody to think their life is perfect,” and you start sounding irritated, that’s your own insecurity talking. It could also be this nasty thing called jealousy. There is a very fine line we must walk in our Facebook lives. We get our news from there, we make inferences and draw conclusions on the state of our “friends'” marriages, what sort of mother a woman is from how many selfies she posts, whether she works, whether she stays home, if she’s seeking attention, validation or being passive aggressive or vague. People use Facebook to say things. People have come to expect us to say things too, to share enough to make us vulnerable, to make us relatable. But what if we don’t share our struggles, what does this mean? If we share the happy moments only, suddenly we find ourselves being crucified for trying to make everyone think we’re perfect. However, when someone “overshares,” judgment comes fast and furious about what should be our private lives. Facebook doesn’t make us public figures, and no one has a right to the private moments or struggles in my life, or your life. We let others see what we are comfortable with them seeing, and it is solely our choice on who sees what. Those closest to us can see what we don’t say, they know our souls to the core and help us coax it out when we need. Sometimes it’s as clear as day to see through someone’s bullshit, but when it comes to others’ expectations of what we owe them in terms of our vulnerability, we could all use a dose of reality on what we are required to give, as well as what we have come to expect from others.

The older I get, the more private I’ve become, and the more I’ve come to respect the autonomy and privacy of the family in which I grew up. Our interpersonal relationships were never public fodder. My parents’ disappointments in us, discipline issues, times of unrest, big challenges, even sicknesses: big things stayed within our four walls. This wasn’t to trick others or paint an inaccurate picture of our family, it was to respect the privacy of our struggles, to anchor our relationships in trust and safety. Until I married and had my own family, I never felt safer than in the presence of my parents and my brother- because they were the keepers of my heart. Despite my teenage angst, the fight to spread my wings, my mistakes and failures, I knew without hesitation I could place it all in the hands of my family and it would be safe there. Despite my resistance and that stretch of cross-armed, pinched-brow years, I knew this to be true: unconditionally they loved us, and protected us. It was not complete transparency or the dumping of every secret, and they didn’t expect this of us. If I give my children nothing else, I pray that I can be this safe place, a place of trust for them as well. The beauty in having children is deep and wide, and extends every day in application of every area of my life. There is something so powerful in bearing witness and sharing our lives with others, telling our story, if we are moved to do so. But as adults, there isn’t an unspoken rule of law that we are required to do this with people who, because of their own expectations, demand or try to force that we do it.

“Life is just messy, and we will clean it up.”  -Sarah Ezell

Thank God for those whom we wrap up in our arms and absorb their stories for them when they place their hurt delicately in our care, and for those who wrap us up, protect our stories, and help us fix things when we are in desperate need. When it comes to our vulnerability, we could all benefit from reevaluating what we’ve come to expect from others in terms of what they share with the world, what they share with us, and what we’ve come to believe they owe us, and approach it with more understanding, respect and grace. We can always assume there are struggles. We can always assume nothing.is.perfect. We are all flawed and damaged and worried and stressed because LIFE. But there is also happiness and purity and dedication and pride and thankfulness. The presence of one set of feelings does not negate the presence of the reverse, whether it’s on Facebook or not.

Oh how I have come to love and respect those dear to me who are introverts, keep a bit of distance, or privacy. I am so blessed in those moments in which I serve as a safe place, a landing place, or a listening ear but I’ve grown to understand not everyone needs me to be that person in their lives. I can be, but I don’t have to be.

Wednesdays are for deep thoughts around here. Thanks for reading! Have a great one!

Is Anyone There?

Hello? Hi.

It’s been quite long enough since I’ve posted, and there is so much ground to cover, and so much to catch up on, I’m not even sure where to begin. Since our move I’ve been adjusting to staying home with two busy toddlers. It’s sort of surreal to spend my days watching them laugh and grow, being able to witness it all for myself. In these little moments I think, I’ll remember this forever, and I couldn’t be more thankful to be doing this for a season in my life. There are scores of posts on Mommyhood, encouragement, camaraderie, relishing each second, and so on. This is quite an odd time in history to be staying home, and I waiver between a tiny bit of panic that I’m not nourishing a career, and complete and total gratitude my uniform is now makeup-less and raggedy, most days. It’s an odd time because feminism is being redefined, and has honestly become almost polarizing, pitting woman against woman with little respect for her position to actually choose her own path. It is a strange world now, with social media pressing and pushing and molding our view of societal parameters, our view of ourselves, and of reality. Looking now at the back of two bustling and noisy little heads, I realize these are short and fleeting moments in an altogether short life, and truly I have fallen into a completely comfortable place in my new role in my family. I cannot wrap my mind around these little lives entrusted to me to protect and nurture, and the more I learn about other mothers, the more I realize what a rare and special example I had while growing up. I can only hope and pray to honor her by loving my children and rearing them in her example.

So, how is Charleston? It’s a dream. We are in that weird limbo phase of making friends and plugging in to the community, but we still drive around the Holy City, visit local beaches, and it’s like, we live here! Some really don’t believe that we aren’t struggling or homesick, or that I’m not crying into my coffee every morning, or lonely, but in short, we haven’t looked back since we left TN. This is how I know we were ready for the next chapter in our lives. We are expecting our third little one in June, and I’m sure I’m in for it then, but Joseph and I just teamed up and took this on, and we’ve done it. We are closer already and I look forward to what the next few years will bring our marriage and our and bond as a family of five. The challenges are real, and anticipated, but our strength and resilience has shown through. We have room to breathe and space to grow and become whomever we want to be. It’s not lost on me what a blessing, what an opportunity this is for us. It’s an adventure, and I really believe there is something very true and real about what a person decides to believe about themselves. Strength of spirit, of mind and will: it makes all the difference. Being covered in prayer and surrounded by support has made it even easier for us. Things have gotten heavy at times, there have been challenges, and I know there will be more ahead, but we are seeking God’s providence in our lives in a way we haven’t before, and I cannot tell you the relief and peace I feel to have that sort of power behind us.

So anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook has seen snippets of our progress in our sweet cottage-y house. Hang with me here and I’ll be ramping back up at The Salvaged with home tour Fridays, beautiful images, favorite shops and inspiration for those of you who want to share a little corner of the web alongside me. True to the classic, “Wednesday Musings” of the past, I thought it appropriate to start again here and see where it goes. I am making plans, and have lots of people behind me, pushing me to tap into my creativity and actually do something with it. And I am making plans! Boring as this rambling post may be, I’m keeping at it. See you soon!

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Rule Breaker

FH030027This is me in our shoebox dorm room my junior year of college. Those yellow slips read “sign out violation notice.” I attended a small, private university in Nashville called Lipscomb. Apparently at 18 I signed a “policy” that I would adhere to the rules and regulations of said university, which included a sign out policy. In other words, I had to leave information with the dorm on where I was spending the night if I stayed out past midnight. If I did stay out past midnight, or one in the morning on weekends, we were not allowed back into the dorm, and were supposed to have left our proper sign out information. This created a situation in which it was a constant battle of the wits to outsmart the head resident, sign out to legitimate but unreachable hosts, or somehow sneak back into the dorm. Most of the time I threw up the proverbial finger and did what I want. Hence these six sign out violations. Sometimes I actually did go home to see my parents. They called once to check up on my sign out information at home. My Dad answered the phone. Big G. And even he didn’t shake this head resident after replying, “I’m looking right at her.” That crow still wanted to actually talk to me.

Somewhere in my rearing I started resisting the “follow the rules” rule. I always toed the line, really closely, and sometimes blatantly bounced right over it with outstretched hands and a take-that face. I didn’t like being told what to do. I still don’t. Dad, I can thank you for this. Alex and I both have this written into our DNA: we do what we want. More so me than Alex. We learned this through the many stories you told us. Like, chasing Mom in high school and telling her you were going to marry her even though she had a boyfriend. Or flattening a**holes on the football field who picked on smaller boys and having to run suicides for it. And just generally saying to the world: this is my life and I will do what I feel. Just call me BOSS, you said. And you are. This did not go over so well for me as a teenager. It sort of translated to: I am doing this my way. If my curfew was 11:00, I came home at 11:05. Close enough, right? I mean, is five minutes really punishable? When teachers or coaches tried to break me like a pony and force me into submission, I fought harder. There were only a small few that fell into this category. Most of my teachers and professors were people I highly respected because they were smart, carried a cool confidence about them, and I wanted them to like me and think I was also smart and confident. But for these few others, the more they tried to force me to respect and fear them, the more indignant and indifferent I became. It infuriated them. And I sort of felt like that was a win. And I thought it was amusing. Exasperated adults in authoritative roles were funny to me, especially when I could reason my way out of punishment.

I think I have finally figured out how to use this trait to my advantage as an adult, and like a chess match I try to make my play count. I break rules now in a way that makes sense, with air-tight explanations and common sense reasoning. I think I grew out of the blatant rule-breaker part, but I am so thankful Dad, perhaps unknowingly, gave me this edge in life. It has helped me stand solidly and unafraid in Regional Directors’ offices, fight for my family, defend my friends, speak truthfully, and make my own way. So, here’s the rule-breakers today, I raise my glass to you.

Happy hump day folks!

Black and White

Here on this blog things stay pretty light, so I haven’t quite decided how to approach deeply controversial topics. I have no problem discussing them though, so for the most part I figure I would let my writing lead the way.

I recently heard it sarcastically put that “…this is the year of the racist…” We have all been talking about race in this country in a very heated way following the death of Trayvon Martin. There is so much heat around this issue that it seems it could literally burn you up. My personal feelings on this case are simple: while every attempt was made in a court of law to prove or disprove George Zimmerman racially profiled, defended himself against an aggressor in the darkness, or maliciously tracked a child down and killed him, it seems no one will ever know exactly how this situation went down because one party isn’t here to tell his side of the story. Our individual interpretation of this event comes down to what we truly believe about each man, and that comes directly from how we’ve learned to interpret race, our own personal experiences, and what information we’ve been fed via the media. While I have internally debated what I believe about the man I see on television, his side of the story and the interviews, very simply it is a great tragedy to me to see a young life cut short, no matter the circumstances.

On the heels of this verdict, a Cheerios commercial has stirred up hateful comments and controversy that has pushed me over the edge. A precious, tiny girl asks her Mama about Cheerios being “heart healthy,” and the commercial cuts to her Daddy snoozing on the couch covered in cereal.  I loved this commercial the first time I saw it, because I have a daughter, and a child’s precious heart wanting to care those she loves melts me every time. I smiled at her expressions and even noted that I liked the actor who plays the Daddy. Then a few days later I hear about controversy with a Cheerios commercial. I had to re-watch it online to even catch what people could be upset about. Oh. Mommy is white and Daddy is black. You cannot be serious. I have been consumed with this since I heard it. I am ashamed that in 2013 we are still talking about interracial marriage as controversy.

Full disclosure: I am a white thirty year old woman married to a white twenty-nine year old man. I was raised in a small town in Tennessee. I am a Christian trying to figure things out. So here it goes: WAKE UP people. If you’re preaching to your children about being unequally yolked, wake up. You think you could look Jesus in the face and tell him that He meant black + white = “unequally yolked” and back it up biblically? What a hilarious conversation that would be with the man who associated with prostitutes, tax collectors, and criminals. And just what color do you think a person living in Nazareth might’ve been? He probably didn’t look Swedish, I can tell you that. I cannot believe I live in a country where the color of a person’s skin is still lending itself to a heated discussion over a beautiful child chatting with her mother at breakfast and pouring Cheerios over her Daddy. The beauty in this world is so often bashed and shattered by those with an agenda, but for the life of me I cannot figure out the agenda. What is it? Fear? This perpetuated division is sickening and I am OVER.IT.

I heard that several children were interviewed with age-appropriate questions about race following the national attention of this commercial, and one response was something to the effect of ‘underneath we are literally the same – we have organs and a heart.’ How much clearer could it be? What truer words have ever been spoken? My prayer is that I will raise my babies to evaluate a person’s character: one’s stuffings, one’s goodness, loyalty, and integrity, his or her heart, mind and intentions. Haven’t we learned anything about loving one another?

On Turning Thirty

This thing will happen on Sunday that I had no idea I had any feelings about until last night.

Thirty.

When I was sixteen I had some pretty delusional ideas about what thirty would mean, namely being and feeling old. And I had no idea what it would look like in my life. I had hopes about my future, and always knew I wanted a family, but back then that felt like a lifetime away. Five years ago I had a new boyfriend and dreams about our life together started to take shape. Even still, thirty loomed out so far in the future to me that it never occurred to me to think about what I would feel emotionally when I hit such a milestone. So I started thinking about my sixteen-year-old self.

And I wrote myself a letter.

Lacey,

This is your older much wiser self. Right now I will be thirty in four short days. Thirty. With all that is ahead of you, you need some pointers. Mostly you will figure things out all on your own, because as we know, you’ve been saying “I can do it MYSELF!” since you were two. You will still be proud of that when you’re me. Don’t change that.

On Love

Take it easy. Even though I’m you, I bet you will not listen to me here. Regardless, listen. Your first love really is something like magic. Everything is magnified when you feel it for the first time, and it is something real. Even though Mom and Dad got married when they were nineteen, you won’t. And that is a really, really good thing. Don’t be so serious. Put your friends first, the ones who let you know their hearts, the ones you know who need you. Don’t define your worth based on what a boy says or does or thinks of you. One of the best boys you’ll ever meet is your brother. When you tell him you’ll be there, show up. Be loyal and be happy. Most importantly, have faith that the love that God intended for your heart to feel in this life will wash over you in waves for years to come and it will enrich your soul in a way that you would never believe. There are many decisions you will make in the next few years, and all of them will lead you this seat I’m sitting in now. Even when you feel like it isn’t, it IS going to be ok. Be content that there is a plan. And he has the most beautiful blue eyes you’ll ever see. Believe that.

On Friends

I have a handful of friends stretched out across the country that I would do anything for. You’ve only met two of them. Be friend-LY with everyone, but it’s ok if you’re not friends with everyone. I know you want to be included and have a place to belong. Make your own space and be confident in who you are and all you have to offer. Look around at the people who truly love you and be confident in the things they see and love about you. Your lifelong friends are out there, and you’ll find them. Seek depth and goodness and those who are creative and passionate like you, but learn from those who are different from you. Stay open and honest and be real. Be humble when you’ve made a mistake and try to make it right. You’re going to hurt people, but always just try to make it right. You will be hateful. You will humiliate yourself, and be humiliated by others, and make choices of which you will be ashamed. You are going to be alright. You and I are still very much the same, I just have the proof it’s all worth it. There will be drama, and a little of that is ok, it keeps things interesting. And makes for some great stories. Just bring it down a notch. And let friends go if they keep perpetuating nonsense. Get your facts straight before you blow a gasket. Just remember: two sides. Two sides to every story. One day in the future for you, not too long ago for me, your ability to see both sides will literally help save a friend’s marriage. Stay strong in your convictions, but allow yourself to grow and change your mind. Don’t stay staunch and hardnosed on things. You’ll develop your own code of conduct and what you’re willing to accept. You will see things in this world and they will break you. And your opinion on some things will change. Choose wisely who you pull close to your side to do life with.

Random pointers:

Pay attention when you drive that car. Poor thing needs a break. Oh, no car yet? It’s coming. It’s not a Cougar.

Do not work at that bank full time the summer after your Senior year. Fight long and hard on that one. That one is worth the fight. Get that lifeguard certification you always wanted and stand up for yourself. Hard.

Wear sunscreen, not baby oil. And stay out of that damn tanning bed. You are going to feel ridiculous when you look back at how tan you were. And even more so now, as I stare at those crows’ feet creeping in around my eyes. Wear a hat, don’t get sunburned. Healthy glow in the summer and you’re good.

Do not work at Captain Video. Some things you cannot unsee. Just don’t do it.

You will know where you are supposed to go to college. Hint* it’s not Rhodes or Vanderbilt. This decision is pivotal. Listen to your heart. It’s leading you the right direction.

Stop recycling boys. There’s a reason it didn’t work out the first time.

Stay away from the crazy. It’s contagious.

There is a moment in the middle of the night a few years from now when you can barely control your tears and are repeating to yourself, “why can’t I leave, why can’t I leave?” You are standing by your car. You have your keys. Leave.

Don’t get the cat.

Go to Memphis with Katie and Erin.

Go to Columbus with Katie and Erin.

Go to Chicago and Mexico and on a cruise.

Get out of your bed after you’re already in your pajamas to meet your friends for drinks.

Go to the cliffs and jump in darkness. Be careful climbing back up. And don’t think about snakes.

Be scandalous and daring and bold. Be you.

Walk around your college campus very slowly on the day you pick up your cap and gown and look around. This place will shape you, and will shape your life. Honor it.

Laugh it up and be able to make fun of yourself. Some people don’t get you. That’s alright. You’re a little awkward. But the people who count think you’re really funny.

One day a man will get you, and he will get on his knee and ask you to be his wife. He will tell you that you are a dying breed, that he’s never known anyone like you, and your heart’s searching will all be worth it. He is all you’ve ever wanted and more.

On your wedding day it will snow a little…

Take heart sweet girl, your life is both completely normal and exceptionally special. And without giving too much away, your future is blessed in a way you cannot yet comprehend. Twice.

I am turning thirty. Thirty looks good.

Hugs,

Me

A Father’s Love

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To my heart, sweet heart, to my sweet, sweet love:

Since Valentine’s Day last year, your whole outlook has changed. I watch you strive and love, and I watch your heart break just a little like mine every time she does something new, gets a little bigger, grows a little taller. Tiny eyes, hands and feet, tiny voice and tiny hugs, growing into who she will become. Watching you love her has been such a blessing in this life. She is your girl, no doubt about it. Becoming a family and starting this journey with you as Mama and Daddy will be our greatest adventure. I remember the look in your eyes when we first saw her heartbeat, when we saw she was “she” and I fell in love with you again. The funny thing about watching the man you love grow into a wonderful Father is that somehow your chest keeps expanding to absorb the soul-crushing memories into your heart and hold them there forever. We take pictures and laugh, but deep inside I struggle with worry about what is around the corner. I have mini-panic-attacks in just a second or two. But, then, there you are, and I remember God’s promise for the covenant we made together: you are there in front of us. You are our protector and our fighter. You cover us in prayer at night and fight your own battles to rise above, to be something greater. You strive to make us better and lead us, and you are. You are. You and I, we made something that’s beautiful and messy, chaotic at times and a lot of hard work, but there is not one thing I would change. This weekend we will celebrate our Fathers too, but Aurelia will look up at you, scream Dada at the top of her lungs, and I’ll probably cry at the sight of pure happiness on your face. Your Father’s heart in this first full year has only made me love you more. I’ve been given more than I deserve, and I wanted you to know how I see you love our babies, and what a blessing you truly are. And I needed more room than the inside of a Father’s Day card, so I thought this would do.

All my love, my sweet husband.

No matter what the word Father means to you, how it may hurt, how your own father or the father of your children has fallen short of what the responsibility truly means, or if you’ve lost him, or he has left, please know that God’s design and absolute perfection of a father’s unconditional love can only be found in Him. If Father’s Day is hard for you, regardless of whether you accept it, or believe, there is an unwavering commitment to you through the love of Jesus Christ. I hope this Sunday is a beautiful one for you. If you hug your Daddy or kiss your husband, remember when you snuggle your sons that you are raising them to be fathers one day too.

To all the Dads out there, happy Father’s Day. And happy weekend!