The Courage Required to Tell Your Story

vulnerable heart

Photo Credit Darwin Bell

Brené Brown, my favorite blogger, speaker, author and generally wise woman speaks of courage:

“The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart…

Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

Telling our story is incredibly dangerous.  Scary.  If I tell my story, you might realize just how dangerous/different/terrible I am.

I love this picture from Darwin Bell, the way he captured a heart in peeling paint.  There’s something really honest about it.  Some days our hearts feel just as fragile and impermanent as flaking paint.

In researching The New Jim Crow this week I came across a poem “Telling” by Laura Hershey in a study guide.

What you risk telling your story:

You will bore them.

Your voice will break, your ink will

spill and stain your coat…

…Your happiness will be called

bravery, denial.

Your sadness will justify their pity.

Your fear will magnify their fears.

Everything you say will prove something about

their god, or their economic system.

Your feelings, that change day

to day, kaleidoscopic,

will freeze in place,

brand you forever,

justify anything they decide to do

with you.

Yet if I never tell you my story, we will never get to know each other.  When Brené Brown spoke here in the Twin Cities this fall she argued that everything valuable in life requires vulnerability.  There is nothing worth having, experiencing or being that does not require an amount of risk.

The challenge for us then, is not only to be willing to take the risk of telling our story, but to be a safe place for others to share with.