Early in the pages of her new book, Audacious, Beth Moore asserts (yes, I’m prefacing a book review with a quote from another book—I have way too many books open at once these days, but they’re all so good!):
…I believe that God can use a book to mark a life. It doesn’t even have to be a great book. It can just be well-timed. He can cause a set of pages to hit a pair of hands with the kind of timing that sparks a decision that marks a destiny. Something within those pages becomes a catalyst that shapes a calling. (2)
Many books have illustrated that phenomenon for me. Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly has been the most recent—and one of the most powerful—book to fit Moore’s description.
Unpacking all the ways I have “dared greatly” over the past 2 months (ultimately beginning with my applying to be on the For the Love launch team back in March), is almost more than I can process. I’ve had to keep it mostly contained just because I can’t find sufficient words to convey what is happening, but it’s gradually leaking out, one thought, one action, at a time.
When I applied to Jen Hatmaker’s launch team (on a complete whim), I NEVER could have imagined that it would result in such a dramatic change in my heart, I NEVER would have fathomed the doors that have opened, I NEVER would have made all the divinely-appointed connections with women across the country that I have befriended. I NEVER would have considered flying to Texas to meet these women. (Heck, I wouldn’t have even WANTED to fly—period.)
But God, in His all-knowing, ironic, astounding ways, had a different plan. A plan to awaken my heart from the darkness it was lingering in, to restore my faith in Him, to reveal Himself anew. When I think of how close I came to dismissing that launch team application, I shudder—because it was such a catalyst for change. The launch team rejection turned formation of #the4500 was SUCH A BEAUTIFUL GIFT—a gift that just keeps on giving (cliché, but so very true). (And, I apologize for bringing #the4500 up over and over, but if you knew how incredibly special it was, you’d surely forgive me. #sorrynotsorry)
I recently found myself wading back through posts from #the4500’s first couple of weeks. One of Anna’s many posts about Daring Greatly soon came across my screen, followed by one in which she explained why she kept bumping particular posts: “…I’m also secretly doing it for those of you ‘lurkers’ that read these conversations quietly without commenting, hoping to draw you out. You are part of this group for a reason and your voice matters. If you are afraid to speak out or speak up, that DARING Greatly post I keep bumping IS FOR YOU. YES…YOU! (You know who you are.)” When I saw that post, I could only laugh at the irony.
I’d seen her recommendations imploring folks to read the book from the time I joined the group—and I was intrigued in it from the beginning. But I kept putting it off. Finally, at the end of July, I ordered it. Then the post office screwed up and instead of delivering it, the book was returned to its sender. I re-ordered it, and it finally found its way into my hands at the end of August. It arrived just as I was headed into what was one of the hardest, lowest weeks of the year. That week brought mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. It was one of those weeks you really just don’t know whether you’re going to make it through—where you just want to throw in the towel and be done.
So, I didn’t start reading DG until the second week of September. Getting past the intro and first two chapters was slow-going because there were so many gut-wrenching truths that I had to face about how I’d been living the past two+ years (longer than that, really). But then came the dream I had about meeting Anna and others in #the4500 and ended up texting Anna the night I shared my dream in the group. That was a Friday; by the following Tuesday, I was halfway through the book—and ready to have a conversation about it.
And that’s how I found myself on the phone with Anna for an hour and a half on a mid-September Tuesday. Daring greatly. Having a lengthy conversation with someone I’d never actually met in person. (Still blows my mind to this day…three lengthy phone calls later!)
All the opportunities and revelations that have occurred since that evening have piled into a huge heap of grace—a pile of outrageously daring leaps of faith—long-carried wounds of my heart healed, lessened fear and anxiety, active engagement with the women of #the4500, involvement in an actual book launch team (that one’s already a wild ride I can’t wait to tell you about!), deepening faith, a commitment (and utter excitement about) to Splendid TX, a renewed passion for writing, an openness to showing up for my own life…the list goes on. Sometimes God orchestrates the perfect storm to turn us around and have us head back toward Him, and in this case, #the4500, Anna, and Daring Greatly all collided at the moment my heart was receptive–and gave me the swift kick I desperately needed. I think sometimes we need God to drop someone new into our lives to bring fresh perspective that we wouldn’t be able to hear from a familiar face—because something in that first conversation with Anna unlocked the recesses of my heart that were holding me fearful and captive, a prisoner of circumstance and choice, of perceived failure and wastefulness. It gave me hope.
So, what’s this book about anyway? Well—it’s not a feel-good read, for sure, but if you can really dig in and apply Brown’s principles to your life, it will change you. She’s on a mission to bring the need for vulnerability and shame resilience to everyday life, “to dare to show up and let ourselves be seen,” to practice courage, to own our stories. She encourages us to learn to recognize our “shame tapes” (which she likens to the gremlins in Steven Speilberg’s horror film) and bringing them to light:
Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. That’s why it loves perfectionists—it’s so easy to keep us quiet. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees. Shame hates having words wrapped around it. If we speak shame, it begins to whither. Just the way exposure to light was deadly for the gremlins, language and story bring light to shame and destroy it. (58)
And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 8 weeks: bringing light to the darkness by wrapping language and story and words—in #the4500, in conversation with Anna, in the pages of this blog, in the more private pages of my computer files—around the gremlins that had burrowed into my heart and mind.
I can’t make you read Daring Greatly. But I can tell you that if you struggle with feeling like you are enough, if you are tired of projecting a false sense of security and contentment to the world around you, if you are looking for a more actively engaged way of life, READ THIS BOOK. (Or Brown’s The Gifts Of Imperfection.) I truly believe Brené Brown is on to something with her work—and I think it is absolutely worthy of sharing.
I’ll leave you with the quote Brown used as the basis for her title (from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” speech):
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly… (qtd in Brown 1)
Own your story.