We were young and newly married – not just “the honeymoon stage” – the actual honeymoon.
Jocelyn and I spent the first eighty five days of our marriage preparing for and then serving on a missions assignment in Northern Ontario. The ministry was hard. Fatigue and discouragement got to us. We failed to finish our assignment. We quit.
Falling And Rising
Bags packed and seat-belted in for the milk-run on a Bearskin Airlines Metroliner, more than our stomachs were upset. We left Attawapiskat on James Bay with heads down. Never had we failed like this before. We let down our missions director. We let ourselves down.
Looking back, Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong would have been the perfect tonic for us.
Brown says if you are brave enough, often enough, you will fall.
Falling is Brown’s strangely ironic precursor to success.
That is a hope-filled thought for the fallen.
Truth And Tenacity
In Rising Strong, Brown addresses the complex nature of failure. We “gold-plate” failure and grit, she says, “skipping over or sugar-coating the process and the pain involved in falling and in deciding to rise again.”
“Rather than gold-plating grit and trying to make failure look fashionable, we’d be better off learning how to recognize the beauty in truth and tenacity,” she says.
“Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends.”
Hope Is Learned
Says Brown, “In my work, I’ve found that moving out of powerlessness, and even despair, requires hope. Hope is not an emotion: It’s a cognitive process…. hope is learned.”
Jocelyn and I learned that finishing is different than quitting. Its always too soon to quit.
Rising strong is about learning to have the hope to finish anything well.
Ten Rules Of Engagement For Rising Strong
1. If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall; this is the physics of vulnerability. When we commit to showing up and risking falling, we are actually committing to falling. Daring is not saying, “I’m willing to risk failure.” Daring is saying, “I know I will eventually fail and I’m still all in.” Fortune may favor the bold, but so does failure.
2. Once we fall in the service of being brave, we can never go back. We can rise up from our failures, screw-ups, and falls, but we can never go back to where we stood before we were brave or before we fell. Courage transforms the emotional structure of our being. Straddling the tension that lies between wanting to go back to the moment before we risked and fell and being pulled forward to even greater courage is an inescapable part of rising strong.
3. This journey belongs to no one but you; however, no one successfully goes it alone. Since the beginning of time, people have found a way to rise after falling, yet there is no well-worn path leading the way. In lieu of the sense of safety to be found in a well-traveled path or a constant companion, we must learn to depend for brief moments on fellow travelers for sanctuary, support, and an occasional willingness to walk side by side.
4. We’re wired for story. In a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, there’s a surprisingly simple reason we want to own, integrate, and share our stories of struggle. We do this because we feel the most alive when we’re connecting with others and being brave with our stories—it’s in our biology.
5. Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands. We are born makers, and creativity is the ultimate act of integration—it is how we fold our experiences into our being.
6. Rising strong is the same process whether you’re navigating personal or professional struggles. I’ve spent equal time researching our personal and our professional lives, and while most of us would like to believe that we can have home and work versions of rising strong, we can’t.
7. Comparative suffering is a function of fear and scarcity. Falling down, screwing up, and facing hurt often lead to bouts of second-guessing our judgment, our self-trust, and even our worthiness. I am enough can slowly turn into Am I really enough? If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that fear and scarcity immediately trigger comparison, and even pain and hurt are not immune to being assessed and ranked.
8. You can’t engineer an emotional, vulnerable, and courageous process into an easy, one-size-fits-all formula. In my interviews with others and my own experiences, I’ve seen the process take twenty minutes, and I’ve seen it take twenty years. I’ve seen people get stuck, set up camp, and stay in one place for a decade. While the process does seem to follow a few patterns, it presents no formula or strictly linear approach.
9. Courage is contagious. Rising strong changes not just you, but also the people around you.
10. Rising strong is a spiritual practice. Rising demands the foundational beliefs of connection and requires wrestling with perspective, meaning, and purpose.
APPLICATION: Is Brene Brown a favorite author of yours? What have you learned from her? Please leave a comment below.
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