going first

In college the big thing was accountability groups. Or prayer groups.
And I always left feeling like absolute crap. Like I was doing something wrong. And was just not made right. That something in me was broken. Because I couldn’t pull it together like everyone else.
But the truth was. Most everyone else was just lying. Either outloud or to themselves.
Because they would ask for prayer for their sick grandmas. Or that they missed a quiet time. Or only spent 1 hour in prayer that day instead of 2.
And when I talked. I spoke about the party I had been to the night before. Or my boyfriend. Or the fact that I hadn’t had a quiet time all week. And why doesn’t the bible actually mention the word “quiet time” if it is so important anyways. And when I had questions I asked them. Even if they were ones I already knew the Sunday School answers to. I wanted to know how my friends went from knowing the right answer to actually feeling it.
And I was met with a lot of stares. And sometimes people would write down verses for me to read or memorize. And I’m sure they all remembered to pray for me. even though I always lost the little notecard that I wrote down everyone else’s requests on.
And eventually I learned that some of those same people were struggling with some of the same things I was. Or had. They just chose safer things to say out loud and pray for.

And in the grown up world. Only some of that has changed. I almost never sit around in accountability or prayer groups. But sometimes we go around in Sunday school and voice concerns. And rarely are they personal. But very occasionally, someones voice cracks. And tears slip out. And they get real. And the whole room changes.
Because, someone always has to go first.
And I read about it in a book that I love….Anne Jackson's , Permission to Speak Freely, but she really got it from here.
And it is called giving the gift of letting someone else go second. And I’ve hung on to that thought ever since I read the book.

A month or so ago. I wanted to tell a friend something that I thought they’d get. Something I was a little ashamed of. But thought maybe they needed to hear it too. Something that I thought might help the both of us to talk about. But it meant I had to divulge and I wasn’t totally sure it was safe.
But I did anyways. I sent a text and waited.
And called another friend and said I wanted to throw up. Because going first is scary. And of course it was ok. And my instincts were right on. 

When I fight with my husband, one of us has to apologize before the other. When I make a new friend, someone has to be the first to ask or tell or hug or show another layer.
And I used to spend a lot of time waiting. Being second or third or fourth. Or sometimes never taking a turn at all. Because I didn’t want to look dumb or be vulnerable or get hurt.  And sometimes going first backfires. Because no one goes second. 

But there is a shift in thinking about it as a gift that makes it easier.

And so, I’ve done some things out of character for me ever since I read about it. I’ve written even more long crazy emails. I've hit send. Or publish. Or apologized. Told my story. Or stammered through some awkward conversations. I’ve hugged and said I love you and asked people for coffee. All when I didn’t know how they’d respond. And occasionally. I heard no. Or nothing. Or didn’t get a response. But more often than not. Someone went second. 
And it was a gift to both of us.

a few good seconds...my son's about to tap in his second goal of the game last weekend.

and many months ago....my second child on her second birthday.


Kate said...

I don't know if this will make any sense, but this really really good important post reminded me of a kind of odd and quiet game I played with a group. It was meant to help you tune in to one another, feel as one - we stood in a circle (holding hands?) and closed our eyes. And waited. Someone would start. 'One.' and then someone would go next. 'Two.' and if two people talked over each other you would start over. On a really good day, the 14 of us got to 50.

Learning when to speak, when to listen, it feels like one of the biggest lessons of life to me. Now, sharing truths, that is one of the more awesome (in the sense of inspiring awe) faces of God.

RaeAnn said...

Wow I can really relate to the feelings in this post. I was the same way in prayer groups and such. I'm thinking I should read that book. It sounds like it could help me too.

Thanks for Sharing

Writerly Wanna Be said...

Oh, been there. I feel my heart beat and I want to speak out...and sometimes I get the courage. Sure enough, it was the right thing and it gets people talking. I call that listening to the Holy Spirit, imagine if we all listened, every time. Keep on speaking out, be first. I will try more too. And if someone else does, I will try to let them know they did the right thing and not be silent. (I am guilty of that too) Great post!

Goge said...

I am going to get this book. Thank you so much for sharing. This is my first visit to your blog and as I scrolled down I would think,'Oh, I like that, this is where I'll leave a comment.' But then I would read another and think the same thing. The note stops here. I second your first.
Loved the video of your little ones dancing and singing.

I too never quite knew where I fit in. Maybe, a little though, I am starting to understand that I fit in me.

I am now your newest follower!