I wasn’t going to publish the following post. I wrote it quickly yesterday and without the time to upload to my blog, a day passed and I thought “nah, I’ll just keep that one to myself”.
Then I went to mass today. And the married deacon talked about the TIME Person of the Year – the Silence Breakers. He talked about people living in a time when we “go along to get along”. A time when we turn our heads to things that aren’t right. A time when seeking discomfort isn’t something anyone signs up for too frequently.
This is the same deacon who baptized my daughter. Today that now-8-year old carried the gifts forward in preparation for her first communion. It wasn’t until I walked up the aisle alongside her that I realized how symbolic the homily was. My two daughters, who are usually in the basement with the other children, were sitting beside us today during the homily. Whether they paid attention or not is something I won’t dwell on, but the fact that they heard our deacon talk about Advent being a time when we repent and reflect was powerful. That if we all lean into the discomfort of justice, our society could be forever changed.
So here goes, the thing I wrote that I’m now allowing to see the light of day:
I was alive yesterday. And by alive, I don’t mean “on fire” or “running on all cylinders”.
I was sad. I was disappointed. I was proud. I was humbled. I was frustrated.
I was alive because I Iet myself feel these feelings. And I provided space for others to share theirs, too.
I led a session on vulnerability, courage and bravery for the women’s group at my company. I shared my story of loss and a bit of my story of guilt. I heard others share their #metoo story, their admissions that they haven’t been showing up fully at work and in life, that they play it safe, and stay quiet. In that room I saw so much potential. So much promise. Giving others space to turn these admissions into action plans reminded me of the power of speaking our truth. We have to strip down to our most vulnerable and truthful place to know where we really want to go in life. I joked that we would need Kleenex during the session. I was surprised that it was really true.
This experience was coupled with receiving both disappointing and shocking news throughout the day. I drove on the freeway and walked the aisles of stores trying to process these feelings. All of this “aliveness”.
It was also during this time that I realized I was letting myself go numb. Who wouldn’t want to feel numb when they are sad, disappointed, and frustrated?
Then I reminded myself that it’s only through letting ourselves feel the tough feelings that we can experience the truly joyful feelings.
I’m asking you: How alive are you today? Are you going to try to tough it out or numb it out? Are you ready to embrace the low as much as the high?
There is no Small Town Leadership lesson for this post. This is a lesson for all leaders – and all people – if we are willing to FEEL, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much pain in the world.