Brave Enough to Believe the Best Fighting our (nonsensical) inclination to reject the positive...

I first met Lee Wolfe Blum twelve years ago.

At the time, I had recently published my first book, Life Inside the Thin Cage, and was running a fledgling ministry for those impacted by eating disorders. Lee had overcome her own eating disorder and was just beginning to dream about how she might be used to bring hope to those who had struggled as we both had. She wanted to speak, and to write a book, and I secretly felt a little superior to her since I was already doing both.

Not that I like to admit that out loud…

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At Soulfest in 2006. Lee's the blonde in the middle. I'm the one in the hat...

Over the years we stayed connected. I flew to Minnesota where she lived to meet with some thought-leaders about how to grow my ministry. Lee volunteered at a festival we went to in New Hampshire. She attended our Hungry for Hope conferences. She even spoke at a few of them. And always, ALWAYS, she continued to dream about one day writing a book.

And then she did.

In 2013, Lee released Table in the Darkness, a compelling read (with an awesome cover!) that documented her harrowing battle with anorexia which had almost taken her life. By the time Table released Lee had been working directly with eating disorder patients and their families for awhile. More doors opened for her to speak. She was living the dream. Which is to say, she was living life – messy and broken and hard and bumpy – but getting to do something she had really wanted to do in the midst of all that.

Last week Lee celebrated the release of her second book, Brave is the New Beautiful. And she is just that – Brave and Beautiful. Reading the early manuscript I laughed and cried and was so very proud of my friend. Her honesty and vulnerability are rare gifts. Gifts that help so many of us Type A overachievers know we’re not alone.

Even in areas we’re pretty sure no one else can relate to…

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This week I sent Lee an invitation to appear in one of our webinars for our Lasting Freedom online support program at FINDINGbalance.

She said yes, which wasn’t surprising. We’re friends, after all. But a line in her response caught my attention. With Lee’s permission, I will now share the following UNEDITED email exchange…

Lee’s note at the bottom of her email is in reference to a book of mine that was canceled last summer. More on that another time. It’s the highlighted part that caught my attention.

I thought I was the only one who hesitated opening emails that I know probably contain good news. 

So I had to dig…

A little context here…

As a nonprofit CEO, a key part of my job involves fundraising for our cause. I’ve recently learned that less 5% of nonprofit professionals actually enjoy this task. I’m with the other 95%.

Asking for money is awkward for most of us, I’m learning, but my awkwardness comes with a twist: when people DO give – which is GREAT, right? – I experience an immediate, physical flare of shame and fear for having asked in the first place. As if every donor is secretly berating themselves for having been tricked into doing something nice for me, and it’s only a matter of time before they abandon me for having needed them.

Sound familiar?

Many of us have such a hard time receiving good gifts, we’d almost rather not get them in the first place.

Because then we must contend with the fact that we feel like we don’t deserve them. And work our butts off trying to prove otherwise. Which is exhausting. And ridiculous.

And why the heck do we believe this anyway?

See, this is what I love about Lee.

She’s brave enough to not only go to therapy, but to share about her journey publicly. That’s what her Brave book is all about – being honest about the things she’s learning as she continues to dig into the yuck beneath the polished veneer others may project upon her: established author, awesome mom, loving wife, dynamic speaker, ministry influencer, funny girl…

Kinda like the veneer I assume people expect me to maintain. Or the maybe the one you do…

And when we explore why it’s so darned hard to let go of negative habits, we are reminded of just how hard Satan has worked throughout our lives to convince us of negative things about ourselves. And how terrified we are that someone else will discover these lies and believe them to be true.

'When I receive a compliment I find myself afraid,' Lee wrote me. 'What if I don't measure up to who they think I am? What if I let them down?'

And here, I think, is the universal truth we all must grasp if we are to stop nonsensically rejecting the positive things in our lives.

We CAN’T measure up to what some people think of us.

We WILL let some people down.

and…

We will still SURVIVE.

Not only that, but we can THRIVE.

Just like my friend Lee, who shared this final thought in our email exchange this week:

'I find when I can accept who I am in Christ, and allow myself to be real, authentic, and vulnerable with exactly how I am feeling I then don't jump from these two extremes. I want people to know the real me. The brave, broken, and messy me who also is beloved and adored by Christ. I am perfectly unfinished and this is something I struggle with and that is ok. 🙂 I am working on it.' - Lee

Brave is the new beautiful, says Lee. And I, for one, believe her.

For one thing, she lives what she preaches. For proof of this, you only need to read the first paragraph of her new book. Which you really should buy. TODAY.

And that “veneer” she worries about not living up to? It’s pretty much all true. Maybe not all at the same time, but collectively for sure.

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Lee rockin' it out at Hungry for Hope 2014 (Also featuring Jeanette Henriques, Laura Leemaster, (yours truly), and Jeanette Yates)

She is an established author (who still dreams of writing more books), awesome mom (who readily admits to the chaos of raising three boys), loving wife (who doesn’t hide the fact that marriage takes work), dynamic speaker (who is constantly honing her craft), ministry influencer (who is continuing to grow her network) and YES, a funny girl.

And one of the bravest I’ve ever known.

I want to be beautiful like her.

Don’t you?

(Click to Buy on Amazon)

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