Steel Magnolias Gone Star Wars
On stress and pain: are we shooting the right target?
For all you new Nashvillers out there, let me divulge to you one of my most personal and ridiculous SHEcrets of the city. We talk a lot about self-care in the world of women, of its vitality to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. And we say heck yes to all of it – the spa, yoga, me time, essential oils, cocktails sans kids. We must take care of ourselves. But if you’re like me, you may admit that some days just can’t be soothed by bergamot tea and a lavender candle. Some days it’s not a tranquil vinyasa flow we need, it’s to freaking take something out! Blow off some steam! Let me explain.
Tucked inconspicuously on 2nd Avenue downtown is the antiquated, 90’s kid’s dream. Laser Quest. A solitary outlet for kids amid the myriad of honkytonks and peddle taverns just off of Broadway, and a haven to blow off some serious, non-Pinterest-able steam. Picture yourself racing and bounding around in the dark like Steel Magnolias gone Star Wars and get out your stress while no one can see how truly out of shape you are! Okay, so not your everyday self-care, but effective.
The problem with Laser Quest therapy is that half the time you shoot, you hit the wrong target. It’s dark, there’s smoke everywhere, every wall is black and tall with very few peepholes for a direct line of vision to your adversary. So many times, we feel like we’re fighting our foe when really we’re sniping our own teammates.
It took me blundering around with a laser gun in hand to realize how often I shoot at the wrong target. How often I buck up each morning claiming, “Ok Lord, I can fight the pain and the shame and the hurt back today if you just give me the ammo.” We want to feel strong and courageous in the daily battles we fight. We want to overcome the weakness in the dark so that our sisters with perfect Instagrams won’t see how broken we are in the light. But who are we really healing, blinding shooting alone in the dark? Y’all, we’re fighting the wrong fight. We’re shooting the wrong target.
All the things that hurt us, big and small, deserved and utterly unfair, we can absolutely conquer them! But not in the dark with our open wounds and a laser gun. When we fight the enemies of not-good-enough, too-broken, and too-lost, we’re not meant to fight them alone. Yes, the pain and shame must be defeated, but we must conquer isolation first. We’re women – of course we’re strong! Yet what her majesty, Brené Brown dared to call the world to wasn’t strength but vulnerability. The power our pain has over us is that it keeps us in a boxing ring, when we should be on the battlefield. Not fighting it one-on-one, but as an army.
This past Saturday, I was defeated. Though surrounded by compassionate friends and family, the first Thanksgiving without my husband left me deflated. “But I survived,” I told myself. No fatalities, but many wounds. After that I longed to isolate. I dreaded the small business Saturday sale we’d committed to after the debilitating week of tears and sharp memories. But the Lord yanked me out of bed and over to our pop-up sale, and oh the divine way He rewards even His most heel dragging children.
During the sale that day, we met a lady from Indiana who detoured all the way to Nashville to come to the pop-up. A courageous woman just 25 years old opened her heart to us (strangers!) and shared her fresh wounds from also having just lost her young husband. Talk about snapping me out of my self-pitying isolation! She was raw and vulnerable and opened her arms in which others could heal and be held – now that’s hitting the right target.
The point is this. We’re never alone unless we convince ourselves we are. Countless sisters hurt and cry and carry on in the same dark valleys we struggle through each day. Time and time again, I’ve watched the Lord comfort those with the courage to step out and share with others in their struggle. He affirms us and holds us and floods us with strength in our most honestly fragile moments. He reminds us that we are His and that none of His children have to walk alone.
Let’s stop isolating in our pain. Let’s get out of the dark and quit shooting the wrong target. Let’s step out like Hailey did and into the light knowing we’re not going to shatter. Let’s give someone else a hug when we need one so badly ourselves, and I assure you, the Lord won’t leave us to fight alone. Let’s share our hurts and struggles in love, knowing that vulnerability is the painful yet perfect glue to bind us and ultimately defeat our hurt, together.