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.