My thumbs glided across the letters as I responded, “I’m ok, how’s your day?” in reply to my new friend’s inquiry as to how I was doing. My predictive text knew I’d answer this way…the way I’ve answered a thousand times. This time, the text blurred through my tears. My finger hovered over the “send” button as my breath caught. My next heartbeat brought the whisper I’ve come to know. “Open up. Don’t power up.” My pastor says the words so often that I finish the mantra in my head when I hear him start.
I’d rather power up.
When I power up, you tell me I’m strong. When I power up, I write the script. I have a mantra of my own. I even say it out loud as I’m pulling on my skinny jeans and twirling my hair on the wand. “Get up, dress up, show up. Be strong, Amy. You’ve got this.” I always take a deep breath as I pull the keys out of my ignition, swallow any emotions, set my smile in the rearview.
I’m in character. I’m ok.
It feels noble to power up. Outside, looking in, the “power-up” has served me well. Powering up always got me the scholarship, the award, the next promotion, a higher paycheck, the next opportunity. It positioned me to help you, to listen, to care. It kept me from burdening you. Let me tell the truth. It propelled me to a co-dependant lifestyle where I needed you to need me while vowing I’d never need you back. The power-up promised me control as it chained me in loneliness. My swallowed emotions became a rock in my stomach. The hardness traveled to my heart. In a strange twist of plot, I pridefully told you I was ok and resented you for believing me.
I hated the words swimming on my phone screen.
My thumb hovered a second longer, and then landed on the backspace. “I’m struggling today.” I was hurting, I was frustrated. I was scared. I almost couldn’t believe I hit send. I tossed my phone on the table and went back to my task. I almost felt too ashamed to look at her reply when it chimed. Then, a strange emotion of dread filled with hope washed over me as I read her words,
“I’m on my way”
The drive that followed was so similar to thousands of drives I’ve taken so many of you on over the last 19 years of mentoring. You know, the drive where I sit at the wheel while you open up? I’ve spent a lot of time telling you about this amazing grace that loves you in your mess. I’ll admit, I’ve been hesitant to reach out and take hold of it for myself. That day I opened up. She listened. She drove me to another new friend’s home and had me open up again.
I couldn’t hide, and suddenly, I didn’t want to.
When I opened up…they opened up. The months that followed forged a friendship that I couldn’t have imagined in this new place. Opening up broke chains I didn’t know were holding me. It has opened doors into other hearts that were locked when I insisted on being unrelatable. Every fiber in my being still screams, “Power up” all day long. So, I fight. I fight with battle buddies by my side. I fight because I hope there is time left for my mess to point you to hope. I write this blog as I fight. I’ve squandered many of your vulnerable “Open Up” moments with my “Power Up” defense. That has been a disservice to you. I’m sorry. I fight, and I write…in hopes of giving you the courage to open up when you’re not ok. Imagine what we could bring to the people around us if we got honest. Join me? Be patient with me?
I’m on my way.