Why some people thrive despite life’s challenges, setbacks and tragedies while others become overwhelmed, consumed and trapped by them is a matter of the stories we hear, share, fear and wear in our hearts and through every aspect of our lives. Author and researcher Brene Brown says that she was shocked by the results of hundreds of interviews by with people from all walks of life. What we know matters but knowing who we are matters more. People who see their story connected to a purpose which is bigger and greater than themselves live life more authentically without pretense, demonstrate greater compassion and forgiveness for imperfections, and have a capacity to listen to others even when the stories, opinions, perspectives and ideas are radically different than their own.
Only, it isn’t that easy. The voices of fear keep us telling a whole different story.
Case in Point: Years ago I served a different congregation; one which had a long history of being at the forefront of inclusivity. With great intention and sensitivity, the congregation avoided words and phrases that some found hurtful, that reminded others of experiences of being excluded or reinforced negative uses of power.
One evening several years ago, in another community I am passing through the social hall when a young woman who was a member of the praise team catches me mid-stride, “Why don’t we use certain words in our songs and prayers?”
Before I respond, another member of the praise team interjects - “The words are hurtful to women.” She says.