Kate Swoboda has a website called Your Courageous Life, and in one of the articles, she writes, “Instead of being “bad people” who whine, moan and complain, we are actually people who are trying to handle a lot of feelings. Maybe those responses are an attempt to release an overload of those feelings.” This is exactly what I’ve been thinking, trying to find the words to say out loud.
I am a work in progress, tip-toeing towards becoming a man who extends grace, to you, your friend, my neighbor, and to me. (Not the Grace that saves, that’s obviously not mine to give – instead, the grace that stands, trusts, and consents. The grace that holds your hand and walks through hell with you. The grace that walks in when everyone else walks out. The grace that… Well, you know what it feels like when you know that you just have to confess something, to get something out into the light, and it’s scary, and embarrassing, and you feel the crushing weight of shame? The grace that disarms those emotions, looks at you with love, and speaks a fresh word.) This is the man I’d like to be, it’s who I believe I am created to be.
That journey comes to an abrupt halt, because too often, I simply cannot extend that grace to me. The voices in my head tell me I am less than, that I am lacking, not enough of whatever. Not that I am ‘trying to handle a lot of feelings,’ but that I am fundamentally flawed. The voices are the same that worked tirelessly since junior high to deceive me, to back me into some very dark spaces that had no exit.
I recognize this got heavy, fast, but that’s ok, we’re friends, right?
Two weeks ago, on a Saturday morning at 5:30 am (!!!), I participated in a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) hot yoga class with my sister. She meant it as a beautiful spiritual experience we could share, a sacred space, like the best church service. It wasn’t. It was inhumane. Pure torture. The room was set to a million degrees and the sadistic instructor, a gorgeous woman named Lee, was bent on destruction.
The class was an hour long, and I was a beast. A warrior. I was a finely tuned athlete who was capable of EVERYTHING, who would domesticate the assault, aggressively transferring its power to me. The Man.
This is the full truth, it happened just like I said, until I had to leave the room. I couldn’t jump again, my limbs were jelly, my heart pounded like a jackhammer, I think I may have cried a little, the room spun faster and faster, I wondered who would care for my friends at the Bridge for the months (years?) of recovery.
Once I crawled to a seat outside, my body quickly rebounded, and just as quickly, my head rang with the familiar noise. “You call yourself in shape? You are nothing, pathetic, an embarrassment.” Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t believe them, even for a moment.
True, Lee won. And that’s ok. I almost made it – after a minute or 2, I returned to the room just in time to cool down. If I could’ve only lasted a little longer… But that’s ok, too. If I would’ve stayed, I would’ve missed the most important part. Failure. Well, maybe the failure wasn’t the most important part, but the REAL most important part couldn’t have happened without it.
I said Lee was bent on destruction, and she was, but I think maybe it wasn’t me she was looking to destroy. She opened the class with a quote, “Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of yourself.” My self has a truckload of consequences, I guess all of our selves do. And maybe tolerating those consequences (whatever they are) looks like quieting/ignoring/annihilating the voices withholding grace, telling you that you are anything less than enough, less than lovely, less than a beloved child of the Living God.
Lee won, and I did, too.