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Showing up when you’d rather give up

 

showing up

I recently finished Glennon Melton’s book Carry On, Warrior. I cannot encourage you enough to read this book. Quite honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever lived. Strikingly honest and bold and courageous, Glennon forges a path of truth and grace and living out our broken, messy lives in a tumultuous balance of strength and vulnerability. It’s raw and real and so, so good.

But the line that has burrowed a deep place in my heart, in pages of underlines and dog-eared corners, is that her family always showed up. Despite how many times and ways she took them for granted or needed to learn life the hard way, they showed up when she needed them. They showed up when she didn’t even know she did.

I’m so happy they showed up, because look what they get to see. I wonder what would’ve been if they didn’t.

Because not all of us live in families that show up. Some of us belong to families that kinda sorta gave up.

Mother, father, sister, brother these are not neutral words. These words evoke emotion. Memory. Story. Whether by God’s design or our own choosing, we surround ourselves with those to whom we belong. And for some of us our own family has given up on us. A friend has walked away.

The threads of family run deep. Each of us holds a story carved on the walls of our hearts and we carry the burdens on our back.

A dream lost, a hope unfulfilled, a need never met. Rejection, abandonment, abuse and pain run through us all.

One broken life impacts and affects the entire family. One addiction, one betrayal, one broken promise leads to another. One family legacy handed down to the next. Family sets the structure for our belief. Our security. Our deeply held convictions about life.

In what I am sure is one of the least likely takeaways from Glennon’s incredible book, for me it is showing up. Perhaps because it’s the thing I’ve seen and experienced the least.

Showing up is hard. Showing up means we face our fears and are brave enough to speak our truth AND listen to another when they speak theirs. Showing up requires us to be strong enough to face temporary discomfort for lasting relationship. Showing up means we are willing to give grace and offer forgiveness even when we don’t feel like it. Especially then. Because undeserved mercy is what we so desperately need every single day of our lives.

And the truth is we live in a time when it is easier to give up than show up. It’s far more comfortable to write someone off, wall up our heart and walk away.

But what does that prove? How does that help us grow or learn?

What kind of love gives up, when all any of us really need is for someone to simply show up?

We show up in a million different ways in any number of seasons. There is no right way, but I know giving up isn’t one of them. Giving up, walking away, writing off, supposedly indifferent and bitter to the core isn’t a way we show up, ever. Sure, we might be present and we might be vocal but giving up takes many forms. Indifference, silence, unforgiveness, disinterest, division, resentment, hate – these are the symptoms of those who give up and it’s difficult and painful and unfair to bear.

And yet it is the life in which we live. We cannot change those around us, we cannot change our own flesh and blood, but we can change us. The only thing, the only way, the only hope we have is that each of us, one at a time, will put down our sword.

Do you show up or give up? 

Regardless of the family you were given or the friends you have chosen, if you’re living a give up life, GIVE IT UP. Let it go. Surrender the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that keep you trapped in your fear, distraction and anger and show up in your life. Show up in your family. Do the work, the hard and painful work that is required to uncover the unspoken wounds you carry around that find their outlet in your life. What is inside you will find a way out.

Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

When you know your pain, embrace it for what it is and not what you wished it would be, then you have the power to decide how far it will propel you forward to the life you were created to live. Giving up will get you nowhere. Giving up takes you back. Show up. Find your courage, find the strength that is hidden in the deepest places of your soul and live. Teach your children, your friends, your family and your community what it means to show up in your life. To sacrifice your comfort for the sake of freedom. For the gift of loving each other well. The world needs your voice. It needs your heart, your mind, your spirit and your life. Show up.


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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Rose-Marie April 23, 2014, 12:22 am

    Tammy, I love reading your posts. They do mean so much to me, even when I can’t comment on each one they are so encouraging and heartfelt. I appreciate your writing and your style of writing as well. In regards to this particular blog post I wanted to ask you a few questions. I was raised in what was a very strong family dynamic situation-two large families…all VERY close-they were always together, always helping each other, always around. My husband also came from a large family, however they weren’t so close. After we got married and due to marrying me…well, his family totally cut him out of their lives. We tried and tried to understand and invite them around and do things, etc. We even tried to discuss it face to face on several occasions to make sure what the real problem was…but to no avail. They cut him out (his mom gave me all his baby books and everything that used to belong to him) and haven’t looked back. It has been this way for 14yrs with no communication but an occasional passing by in a store. Sad part they live almost 5min from our home, we have two beautiful boys now 14 and 12 and they don’t know who they even are. I’m telling you all this to say so that I can understand where I need to be as a Christian woman. I have prayed and prayed and forgave and asked for forgiveness and given it up to God any and all bitterness and resentment, etc. I haven’t nor have I ever wanted to give up on the relationship…but it seems like they have. A friend of the family even told me once that they (the family) were content with how things were and it is what it is. So how can I change anything? What can I do as a Christian to Show up for them and not give up on them when it is out of my control? I want to teach and show my “community what it means to show up in your life. To sacrifice your comfort for the sake of freedom. For the gift of loving each other well.” Just wondering your thoughts. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Tammy April 23, 2014, 4:10 am

      First of all, I am so sorry Rose-Marie. I can only imagine the amount of pain and loss for everyone involved, especially your husband. I must say I am not a counselor and what I say next is only my opinion. As it is, we can never change another person. I know I’ve certainly tried every way possible and drove myself and others crazy in the process! I guess when I say “show up” sometimes that means for ourselves. For the family we do have. The friends that are there. You cannot be in a relationship when one party doesn’t want to be in a relationship. You can’t change their mind nor should you have to. You are worthy of love and family and belonging. I guess I’ve learned that when things like this occur, it is not about you. Although it feels really personal and it’s hard to convince ourselves of that, it’s true. So I guess I believe that showing up can mean loving someone from afar. It can mean praying for them, and releasing them to God’s capable and loving hands. It can mean smiling and saying hello when you pass them by in the store. Showing up can mean promising yourself that you’re not going to blame yourself or live in the horrible state of doubt, isolation and self-analysis that hold hands with rejection. Teaching your children what it means to love and forgive and accept others so that it doesn’t pass on to their generation. Not everyone is going to like us and I’ll be honest, that’s really hard to accept. But no matter how hard we fight it, we have to accept it. Showing your community what it means to show up in your life is to keep going. To hold your head high and continue to engage in your life and love others well despite how they treat you. To sacrifice your comfort might mean having an honest conversation with your children about why they don’t know half of their family. It’s painful but it’s a part of their story. It’s your story. And despite how brutal the facts are, there is beauty that can rise from the ashes. In reflection of Easter, we know that hope can rise from dead places. Compassion, grace, mercy…these are the gifts of sorrow. What man means for harm, God means for good. It sounds like you are doing all the right things. Praying, forgiving, offering grace and fighting bitterness. That is showing up, in every good way. Praying for your heart and your family to be at peace. I am a prisoner of hope and I believe God is still a God of miracles. Praying for one in your family. Blessings to you Rose-Marie. xo

      • Rose-Marie April 23, 2014, 2:16 pm

        Thanks for sharing a bit more in detail, Tammy. I appreciate your explanation and opinion. It does make a lot of sense and God has provided my family with the ability to move forward with our lives gracefully. My husband still very much loves his family despite the way they have treated them, and he would show up for them in every way needed if they called. He and I both have prayed about it and given it to God to handle at this point. My family has a very strong dynamic and has accepted my husband as a son/brother/friend for many years, even prior to our marriage. He feels loved and cared for by them as all those things as well, so he’s like one of the family. Our children have been made aware of some of the situation and just have learned to accept it because they don’t know any different. Praising God that he is so good to help me in accepting what I cannot change in others, and learning what I can change in myself. Learning to take advantage of any and every opportunity to spend time with family and friends because life is too short. Thank you for your words of encouragement and hope.

        • Tammy April 23, 2014, 2:18 pm

          It sounds like you have a beautiful family Rose-Marie. xo

  • Donna April 23, 2014, 1:53 am

    Loved the Aristotle quote as it is so very true! I zipped through the first 70 pages of Glennon’s book this past weekend & am looking forward to finishing it soon. I am in awe of her ability to be so brave & brutally honest about her journey. And, your posts are never a disappointment & I always am blessed by them so thank you for that! 🙂

    • Tammy April 23, 2014, 4:12 am

      Thank you Donna! I too am amazed and inspired by her and hope you enjoy the rest of her incredible book! It was one of the fastest reads because I just couldn’t put it down! Blessings to you. xo

  • Laura April 23, 2014, 6:48 pm

    Thank you for this.
    Your words brought ‘you are not alone’ to life in my heart today.
    I hope to get Glennon’s book soon.

    • Tammy April 24, 2014, 3:09 am

      I’m so glad Laura. You are definitely not alone. {hugs}

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