Anyone who knows me knows that my filter is a little, well, thinner, than most people’s. It lets more through.
I’m not super awesome at hiding how I feel and I would rather people know where I stand with something or someone than leave everyone guessing.
There have been times in my life where over sharing has gotten me into trouble. Big trouble. And there’s a point where it’s not truth-telling or being honest or being candid, it’s just being rude and obnoxious and sometimes even mean.
A lot of my becoming an adult was (is) learning how to share in the Katie way I do without it being all about me. One thing I cannot stand is when people say they just “tell it like it is” and they’re rude and hurt people. That’s not telling it like is, that’s thinking the world revolves around you and it’s You Day everyday. No.
Part of preparing to come to Thailand was asking people to support us in various ways. One of the first things we did, before a website and before fundraising, was create a prayer team. This team is a group of people both of us know really, really well, and they each are the kind of people that if we called in the middle of the night and said, “I’m in trouble, somethings happening, I need you to wake up and pray until I say stop,”, their response would be “Absolutely.”
For the last year plus, we’ve asked them to fast and pray for us and we’ve asked them to wait on God for us. We’ve asked and even expected them to ask God things on behalf of us. There were times when things were bad or hard or we had an important decision to make, and God gave these guys words for us. That’s pretty amazing.
Anyway, I just sent them an email asking for prayer. And I’ve been meaning to send it for like a week, but I haven’t wanted to. And after I wrote it, it sat in the Draft box for a day as I mentally reworded it and mulled it over.
Why? Because it was a deeply personal over share.
As I’ve gotten older and my sharing has tempered a bit and I’ve grown more and more comfortable into who God has made ME to be, I’ve come to see and understand that my sharing, when done well, is a beautiful exercise in vulnerability. It is, hands down, the thing that people say makes them the most uncomfortable with me at first and at the exact same time the thing that makes them want to be my friend.
The beautiful thing about being honest with your story and your crap is that it frees those around you to be honest with theirs.
I’ve learned the hard way that no one benefits from a brave face or fake smiles or acting like things are sunshine and roses. You don’t, because if you’re like me at all, then you compare yourself to me and that leads to shame. And I don’t because I’m not being known and whatever issues I’m dredging through aren’t actually getting solved, they’re just getting the Nashville filter on Instagram.
That said, if in my previous life of living in a place where I spoke the language and had literally everything I needed and wanted at my fingertips I was blunt and honest about my life- about fights with Stephen, about being scared I wouldn’t love Shepherd, about not wanting to be a missionary, about being scared of being bored being a mom, whatever it was that I was sharing, then wouldn’t it be smart to practice vulnerability even more so now? Now that I am so exposed and in a hard place and feel weak and powerless and need God more than ever before?
So I sent the email.
I sent the email that said we’re in full blown culture shock. We visited the hospital where Inside Baby will be born and I burst into tears in the elevator. Why? It’s not home, and this is happening. I will labor and deliver our second baby here in this hot, sometimes smelly, place that is so.far from everything. Stephen had his own version of a breakdown (my breakdown = sobbing in public places, Stephen’s breakdown = silent anger) over the systems here: driving, internet, communication, all of it, and our inability to get things done the way we know how.
And all this stress, all this missing the comforts of home, leads to arguments and fighting and feeling alone. It’s not dissimilar to when Shepherd was born and we had to navigate a new normal or when we were going to surgeries and had to learn new ways to compensate for each other.
But it is hard.
And yes, I can say all the comforting things, like this is normal and we knew this would happen and we’re talking through it and we’re not leaving and we still love it here and we know God has called us here and all that, but my vulnerable self doesn’t need to protect myself right now with softening what I’m sharing.
It’s just hard. And it’s going to be hard until we adjust or pull through it.
And sometimes my vulnerability is shot down or made fun of or just not received well, and that’s okay. Sometimes people do see it as an over share, not as an act of brave vulnerability. And that’s okay, too. But I know that I gain not one single thing pretending everything is unicorns leaping around my living room when what I really need is a knowing nod and someone to hug me and say, “Yeah. It’s hard. It’s not forever though.” You don’t get those nods when you talk about unicorns.
Culture shock is hard. Moving to a new country is hard. Having a baby away from what you know is hard. Being a man and feeling the need to provide for and protect your family and not being able to do that in a traditional sense is hard.
Also, it’s hot as balls here.
So, like I said, I sent the email. And I will keep sending emails, and writing blog posts, apparently. And I will meet new friends here and I may shock them or make uncomfortable at first but I have faith that if they’re the friend for me, it will either prompt them to be real and vulnerable or just make them feel safe with me. And if not, well then I’m a funny story they can share with friends.
And my ask to you is to be honest. Over share a little. Be vulnerable. If not for you, then for me. For me so I’m the only one that gets raised eyebrows at the ladies’ Bible study. It’s way less lonely. And even if people look at you weird and it makes you not fit into normal circles or whatever, it’s worth it. The people your honesty will attract are the ones you want.
So, my life is hard right now. And I’m sure your’s is too in certain ways. Let’s hug it out.