We all have a story to tell.  No matter how young or old we are, we have a story.  From the moment we are born, we begin to weave a story.  Thin transulecent, gossamar fine lines, like spider webs begin to unfold and there we are. Creating. Being. Intersecting.  Influencing.  Touching.  Writing our stories.

I was looking at my teenager’s instagram and I saw the letters TBH.  Everything these days has a quick little moniker.  LOL, which is still the most annoying end of a sentence- because I feel that unless you are laughing out loud you shouldn’t write it.  SMH, or shaking my head, which I guess means you whip your hair back and forth.  And TBH, or “To Be Honest.”  Which can pretty much be the best way for people to tell you’re amazing or be insulting because it’s Middle School, and hormones and awkwardness make kids hormonal and awkward.  Such a different world than when I was in Middle School where I would pull the phone cord as far as I could into the laundry room and turn on the dryer so my parents couldn’t hear me waiting for a call, from someone who usually didn’t call.  But I was there- just in case.  Social Media, and the fast paced, Information driven world allows our kids to tell people exactly what they think.  They have become bolder.  And so are we.  I think it’s easier to be inspired. But it’s just as easy to be crushed by the cruel words that someone types.  Everyone is a critic. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has smoother skin and is craftier.   I even get mean spam comments on my blog…from mean spammers just wanting to be mean.

All of the things I hope to accomplish by being vulnerable and real are tarnished instantly.  As someone who I don’t even know pulls at the strands of my story and my ounce of bravery unravels a little bit.

We have become a Nation where the news is instant, but the “facts” aren’t always the truth.  Where the public mistrust is high, because we’d rather have a scandal than face the facts.  We write, we share, we don’t think about who we are affecting.  But sadly these stories aren’t the stories being weaved, these are electric currents that run and zap.  They damage and hurt. They snap.   And there is horror.  There is real evil.  Against families.  Against Children.  Addiction.  Soul Stealers.

But there is also beauty.  For a long time I couldn’t see the beauty.  Maybe it was the darkness.  Or maybe the fog of last year.  Or maybe it was that I had spent too long letting the words and critics singe and unravel my story.  My family. My truth.

Sometimes the meanest, worst critic, was me. Sometimes I was wound so tight that no one could even see my story because I hid behind the stories of others.   People more important.  People who needed to be tended too.  It was ok, because at that time I was needed.  Sometimes we need to just be there.

And not just sitting next to someone, distracted by our phones and the electric currents that keep our mind active…but the realness of sitting next to someone.  In the silence.  Listening to what they have to say.  Hearing their story.

Not making it about us. But being there for them.  I thought about that recently as I thought what it would be like if People like me asked for people TBH.

To Be Honest…I’m terrified to know what people really think of me…

Because I know what I think about me.

And this world has almost too much honesty for me to bear.

I see myself in the mirror.  I see the too thin skin and veins.  I see my dark stretch marks and the faded tattoo on my hip, I see the long scar from Grace’s C Section.  I’m not perky and my skin isn’t tight.  It sags and is round.  I see the circles under my eyes, and my chipped front tooth.

I don’t need you to tell me I look tired. I know I look tired.

I know I’m not pretty when I laugh. I’m ugly when I cry.  But I still do both.  A lot.

I’m not always patient or kind with my kids.  I have yelled and swore, I have put them to bed some nights and not had them brush their teeth because I’m so tired.  I spend a lot of time second guessing myself especially now as my parenting of children is having to change as we parent a teenager. I was never prepared to have to tell my kids not to tell people what their Dad does, to raise them in a world that views Heros in a negative light.  I want to raise them to love the Lord, to have faith, and there are Sundays where they complain as we get ready for Church and I worry.  Will they know you?  Will they love you? Will their story include You… God of my Heart?  I lay awake at night and see pictures of little round faces, lines of our stories- and memories spinning across the ceiling and my heart aches.  My heart aches because the story is unfolding too fast.  And someday I won’t be able to say sorry for all the times I wasn’t enough.  For any days where they went to bed wondering if I’d loved them enough.

I don’t need to hear the phrase “just you wait” when it gets really bad, because I know I’m in over my head. I always have. Because I’m not good enough for them. I’m not good enough to be the best mom.

See I’m too aware of all the pressures, and those electric zaps that threaten and bring our kids down.  I’m too aware of the pressures to fit in, and almost stay invisible, but to still stand out in a way that’s cool.

We’re not that different these days you know. And yet we still try to point out why we are SO different.

Labels. Prejudice.  Judgement.

I have loved the same boy since I was sixteen, and he knows every inch and curve of my imperfections.  He knows Me, and I worry that someday that won’t be enough.  That my love and passion for him will cover the times I have hurt without thinking, and have spoken without love. I am not easy to live with.  I feel everything deeply. Whether it’s friendship, family, even books I’ve read.  I feel it.  And that can be a lot to deal with every day.   I’m not the best wife.  I mess up a lot.  I want to be better. More.  More honoring.  Less tired.  Better.  I am my husband’s biggest fan, but I can be critical.  I can forget the way he carries our family.  I feel like I should have been stronger last year. I want to take on every critic who has made social media and media in general a land mine and marred how hard he has worked.  He is my best friend and we are a team, but sometimes I’m a pretty crappy team mate. I worry someday he’ll change his mind, about all of this.  Our Story.

I don’t need to hear how I could be a better wife.  I know I should be better.

To Be Honest all the Words that fly across in the face of my family are not needed.  I don’t need to hear your opinion on Police.  Or My God.  Or my body, or my kids. People are so bold…But seem to be forgetting that there are people who are living this life every day with integrity and maybe just maybe you have it wrong.  I don’t need to hear what you think, because my truth and what I see are MY Story.  And sometimes when we are so opinionated we fail to really read between the lines. To read the whole truth. I want justice too, But I also want the Truth.  To see the whole picture. When we write, and we spew, we forget that our electric words can zap and steal.  Hurt that cannot be taken back.

We can’t unsee cruelty.  We can forgive.  But we cannot unsee.

What do we need? What do I need?  We need to close the computer, put down the phone, turn off the electric current that makes our story pulse, and  step away and really look in the mirror.

Who am I?

I am writing my story.  It is long and some pages stick together but I love deeply. Maybe I’m not good enough for my kids or the man that I love, but I love them with my whole being.  I work out five days a week, and am not airbrushed… my body has held and nursed, has carried and loved.  My eyes wrinkle because I laugh, and who needs to look at themselves when they laugh? I don’t, because I love to laugh, and really maybe its not about how I look- but how I live.  I live fully, even on my bad days.

We need people who are present and real.  The critics, the currents that tug and sweep away can never bring the fulfillment human contact can bring.  The connection between two people, where their stories intertwine. We need eachother. We need each other’s Stories. We need to layer our stories and get each other, because we want to.  Because we’re human. Because we can choose to love greatly, and choose to forgive. Because if we look at ourselves should see how we live. How we love.

Our stories are written with each breath.   What a gift to give…

To Love.

Be Present.

Your story is Worth Living.