Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dear Hilary, Love Hilary: The Beautiful Brave Things

Some days it takes a letter to yourself to teach yourself. Some days, we need the wise words of our own hearts. A while ago I started writing these letters to myself, bits of advice modeled after my favorite advice columnist, Dear Sugar. She knows how to spin these beautiful, fierce, true words and somehow carries kindness that doesn't compromise.

Dear Hilary,

I wrote to you a little while ago, back when there was just me and these questions about how to do what I needed to do. How to have the hard conversation, how to say the things that I don't want to. I wrote to you because I was afraid of putting honesty into the air. Well. I did it. And now, I guess, I want to know what to do next. You told me the awful obedient things are the way to the truth. What happens after we do those awful obedient things? Where do we go from here?

Not Wanting To, But Trying


Dear Trying,

Wow, sweet girl. Just wow. Let's take a moment, and listen to the story you just told. You did an awful obedient thing. You took the truth and you ran with it, into the chaotic and beautiful future. You listened close to your own heart and spoke from it. You chose the truth. Even though it sucked. Even though you knew it would be hard, cupping the phone to your hand or sitting across the table or writing the letter or saying "no". Even though everything in your squirmed away from the pain of it, you took that deep breath and pushed yourself out to the edge, to where the obedience is.

So here you are, Trying. On the other side of an awful obedient thing. And it is strange and new. Maybe you go for a run in the early frosty morning and you feel the absence sounding out from inside you. Maybe your feet carry you but your heart feels a little left behind. How could it be any other way? The truth never promised to be painless. The truth never promised to be easy, or convenient, or even an instant horizon full of sunlight that makes you safe and secure again.

The truth promises to be good. The truth promises to be faithful. The truth promises to be life. And, my dear sweet Trying, that is what you just chose.

Listen to me, because time is short and there will be so many hundreds of moments where the awful obedient things present themselves to you. Sometimes they will be in clever disguise. Sometimes they will be glaringly obvious (remember that story I told over here before?). Sometimes they will ask you to be silent and sometimes they will demand that you find a voice and shout. Sometimes the awful obedient things will hurt, and hurt a lot. They will wrench your heart the way that the doctor resets the broken bone. They will test you, push you out towards that blossoming future you that feels so unreachable now.

But the awful obedient things are also called the brave beautiful things. You lay your heart bare for someone else, for yourself, you say no when you need to say no, you ask for something, you hold someone's hand or you walk away or... whatever it may be. Those are beautiful brave things. Let those things carry you.

Do not spend your life wondering if you messed it up. No doubt it wasn't perfect. No doubt there were things you said and did that you shouldn't have, or moments where you ached to say something and stayed quiet. But the beautiful brave things are not beautiful and brave because you did them according to the perfect rubric.

They are beautiful and brave because they are alive with the truth.

They are beautiful and brave because you chose the awful obedience.

The beautiful brave things, love, they make you beautiful. They make you brave. 

All my love,

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