I don't consider myself to be an overly emotional person. Crying is like throwing up to me. Super painful and mortifying. If you have seen me cry, there is a good chance you caught me on an off day and engaged me in a conversation about foster care...or attended my wedding (tears of joy are a little different, I guess).
Anyway, I've been (slowly) reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker – it's changing my life. Seriously, stop reading this right now and go buy the ebook, then come back and finish this...
Good. So, I went on trip recently and took the book with me. I was reading the chapter on Spending during my flight when Jen Hatmaker and her hilarious, raw, and cutting words made me break down and cry in the window seat over the wing on flight 4087 to Kansas City.
In the final reflection of her month of reduced spending, Jen writes about how she had come to realize that her consumption had become so entwined with her connecting with others. In the beginning of the month of reduced spending she saw her friends less because she wasn't grabbing coffee or lunch out with them like she normally would. Later in the month, though, she started inviting people over and connecting with them without spending money. And then I cried.
Here's what she said:
There is something so nourishing about sharing your living space with people where they see your junk mail pile and pee wee football schedule on the fridge and pile of shoes by the front door. Opening your home says, "You are welcome into my real life." This square footage is where we laugh and hold family meetings and make homemade corn dogs and work through meltdowns. Here is the railing our kids pulled out of the wall. This is the toilet paper we prefer. These are the pictures we frame, the books we're reading, the projects we're undertaking – the raw material of our family. It's unsanitized and truthful. We invite you into this intimate place, saturated with our family character.
Maybe that doesn't seem tear-worthy to you, but it struck a nerve with me.
I spend a lot of time fighting for my family. Protecting them, advocating for them. My children have experienced so much pain, and live with a lot of trauma baggage. They have some behavioral issues and social delays. Special needs and anxieties. I do whatever I can to help ease the burden and facilitate healing. At home, at school, in the community, with the foster care system. It's a lot and I wouldn't have it any other way, because they deserve it. But, the truth is it takes a lot of energy and there's a lot people don't see and may not understand. At the end of the day all my energy is spent and I don't have what it takes to open up my home and expose the "raw material" of our family. So I don't.
I have built a wall around my home and invited very few people in. I love this place, our home. It's a beautiful mess, covered in love and Legos. It's sacred. And I don't want you to walk on this sacred ground, but I need you here. So I'm working on it.