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Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in Everyday Life, Reflections | 0 comments

The Journey of Empathy

People say I’m loud but my voice was taken and I took it back.

I might be clumsy but that’s probably because of all of the hard steps forward I found the gumption to take.

I have a habit of being so anxious I forget to breathe, but I’ve had to learn to question motives and adjust my turtle shell.

My views definitely take the road less traveled as a result of what I’ve endured through my own version of body positivity discovery. Now it’s take me or leave me because I’m done punishing myself.

I’m told daily I’m stubborn since I’ve learned to take up for myself.

So. I might be different, loud, stubborn, and say too much of what should be kept on a hook on my tongue. But I am who I am because of what I’ve made of my brokenness and that makes me smile.

The world lives in a shallow tupperware container with the lid so tight it can’t expand, grow, or even see the light of day. Those who choose to be in that box, well, I do pray for them everyday to emerge from that box and see a whole new light of day. The world is too small and life is too short strawed to live life unimagined and in a container made for storing leftovers, not your entire existence.

The journey of wearing myself inside out, as if a costume for someone to inspect and to fabricate, is very raw and full of loss-loss of friendships, loss of those that turn their backs, loss of your former ideas of how things should fit and how things should be. The journey however is the only way to come out on the other side realizing that you weren’t all the way outside of the box yet. Outside the box is where the journey begins. Hope reveals itself. Life blooms.

My father and I had a conversation the other day about gay people. He mentioned he felt that they were the best people he knows and that they understand empathy. I would say he’s right. But I’d also say he’s wrong. Respectfully. Anybody who has suffered to be who they are and was judged, ridiculed, and dealt with shame has learned what it is to know empathy. Empathy blooms where struggle is born. Empathy grows best where the scars run deep and open and wide and free. Empathy is learned because of those who have had to suffer to learn it. Once you begin a journey of being ashamed of who you are and wanting to be anybody but, you get it. Once you come out on the other side, the very Bible says that once you know better, you do better. You can’t be who you once were. You move forward.

And I realize not everyone would necessarily agree with me, or understand what I’m trying to say. But chew on this: find your truth, be your truth, and be brave enough to live your truth. My truth has just begun to be, and even though it took me a long time to reconcile with it and live inside of it, at the very least, it’s much more comfortable to be inside out than it is hidden inside of a tupperware container.

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Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in Devotions, Everyday Life, Reflections | 0 comments

The Whole Fire

The Whole Fire

Collette Werden

Collette Werden

In an interview, I was asked about my strengths. Sitting with two other women in the same interview, my brain was a flat tire; as useless and deflated as the rubber the tire was made of. I closed my eyes and centered my insides and after everything I’d put myself through to be at this interview, I knew I had to open up a storage container and start an American Pickers rerun.

So I told the interviewers that my strength was the hard years. The years that almost cost me more than I had to pay. The days that were so bad, I couldn’t even cry about them. The walks home from middle school when I’d carefully pack away the bullies, the friends that were simply for show and the shame in not having the strength to admit it, and manufacture the strength to say that my day was fine and pray to God I could shelf the rest of the conversation. The exploded friendship that had a detonator of needing someone to blame. The aftermath of the shrapnel that still affects me today.

The interviewer, probably expecting a robot response, stared and asked me why.

I answered simply that although I got knocked down, with the strength it took to get back up the reflection looking back at me is just a little bit truer than it was before. That I try and repurpose my hard days into strength for the kids that I teach. That they might feel a little less alone. A little less uncomfortable. A little more expensive. A little more courageous.

The room stood in suspension, sort of in a thick pause before the rainstorm rains. I could’ve taken scissors and cut ribbons with the silence.

And finally another interviewer smiled and wrote something down and went to say something and stopped.

As I left, I heard a muffled, I like her.

I cried the whole way back from that interview, mostly because I was exhausted and stressed and drained. That was okay. In that moment I took a piece of my power back from the thieves who stole my sparks and it felt like I rose like the whole damn fire.

And that, God tending my heart and giving me grace, that collision is where my fire flames.

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