“We can’t be brave in the big world without at least one small safe space to work through our fears and falls.” ~Brene Brown
The women who share a community meal in my home every Monday make up one of my small, safe places. This spring, we are also reading and discussing “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown.
Her prior book, “Daring Greatly” explores the courage to be vulnerable and take risks. “Rising Strong” acknowledges the reality that the willingness to be courageous and vulnerable does not guarantee success. In fact, the opposite is true. “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fail. Rising Strong is about what it takes to get back up.” (Brene Brown)
Our weekly, post-dinner conversations about this book have been so, so good. Continually directing my heart and my mind to meditate on Grace. Grace from God, with ourselves, and grace with others.
Grace is undeserved kindness and goodwill, given freely. It’s both pardon and forgiveness for an offense. As well as a releasing and a blessing to enjoy a great life anyways.
Getting up when we’ve been knocked down – regardless of whether it’s by our own doing or someone else – IS HARD. Almost impossible, really, if our collapse is weighed down by shame or unworthiness.
Grace is powerful because it removes the burdens of regret, guilt, and shame. It’s the gift of freedom. Freedom from being defined and stuck in our weaknesses, traumatic experiences, or failures.
Authentic encounters with grace changes us.
Something I’ve realized is that the blessing of grace from our communities cannot work it’s magic apart from vulnerability. We can’t fully receive freedom from being bound by our failures if we’ve never been honest with our people that we have been wounded or fallen short.
Shame-filled secrets are powerful. Brokenness kept in the dark becomes a stronghold over us. Stealing our identity, stripping away our peace, and robbing us of our joy.
I believe in privacy and protecting our stories from gossip and gawkers. I think we should be wise and discerning about who we open up and entrust our hearts to. But within those boundaries we also need to create at least one safe space with at least a few people where we can be real. So that the people who truly know us – at our best and our worse – can remind us that we are enough.
Enough to be loved, cherished, and valued – regardless of our mistakes and misfortunes.
This is one of the most significant reasons why I believe that we need to be developing authentic community in our lives. Fun social groups can form haphazardly. But the sacred connections of true community require intention – the continual showing up to a safe space to be real and vulnerable, with an openness to both giving and receiving grace.
This is the lifeline that so many are aching for.
So how do we do this? How do we intentionally create the sacred space of community where vulnerability and grace can be shared?
Of course, I believe that gathering people around a table to share regular meals is the best place to start. Breaking bread together on a routine basis is a natural way to establish relationships that can grow into mutual trust and vulnerability.
Reading a book together to discuss topics of faith, friendship, vulnerability, and grace can also be a helpful in moving relationships to deeper levels.
But what ever common ground you create to unify and engage your people – listening well and holding space for people to express raw and dark emotions and fears is necessary in order for grace to move and heal. Holding space is sitting with people in the mess while they process and ponder their feelings and the sources of their pain – rather than rushing them towards hope, happiness, and relief before they are ready.
Developing an authentic community takes time. The key is to keep showing up. And to keep holding space to be real. Not showing up with only a smiling face. But with the truth of our hearts, the longings of our souls, and the questions, doubts, and fears that lurk in our minds.
Because few things in this world are as comforting and healing as some one we trust saying, “Me too” or “I still love you anyways” after we’ve shared something ugly, hard, and vulnerable.
Shared meals and book discussions are just two of the numerous ways engage in community as we hold the space that moves relationships from social to authentic so that we can give and receive the transformational gift of grace.
I’d love for you to share in the comment section about other ways that we can create small safe spaces to work – together – through our fears and our falls.