Becoming A Brave Truth Teller


I know deep down in my bones that I was made to be a truth teller. We all are. But telling the truth takes some serious courage. Especially when the truth of your life is uncomfortable, undesirable, irreconcilable, or flat out inexplicable. I haven’t always had truth telling courage. I struggle with it even today.

Honest: it’s taken me weeks to find the courage to share this post. It’s choppy and all over the place and may upset someone. I hate that fear still gets in my way. But here’s the deal: it’s not the absence of fear that makes us brave; it’s finding courage to stand up, speak up, and show up right in midst of our fear. We can do this brave thing, dear ones…one small step at a time!

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Back to truth telling. It’s not about finding the right words or being a great writer. It’s all about being brave in the midst of your fear. It’s about speaking your voice when fear threatens you into silence. Or when a particular person threatens you into silence. There is no one who gets to silence you when God calls you to share your story. And no one who gets to control the telling of your story.

I’m pausing here. Thinking about a few people who haven’t wanted me to tell the truth of my story. There are some who’d like me to keep silence or to tell the story their way. There are some who think it’s my job to protect their secrets and their image. And I did that for a long time. But the deeper truth is, I’ve been my greatest enemy: trying to control my own story and refusing to share the parts that don’t fit my desired outcome. Oh, Lord. Here comes another surrender. God, I surrender the desired outcome of my story entirely to You. Give me the grace and courage to just show up and participate in the truth of my story each day!

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I’ve been told I have a way with words…a way of articulating things that others feel but can’t find the words to express. I know this is a gift from God. How else could my words give you language for your heart and story when our details are so very different? But with this gift comes a shadow side. I’ve used words to dance around and diminish my own truth. I’ve used words to convince myself and others that things are better than they really are. At first, it was about self-preservation. I didn’t even know I was doing it. I wanted to believe the best in everyone and everything, and wanted to give everyone else a reason to believe the best, too.

But when your story breaks beyond your ability to cover the cracks, there’s no more dancing around it. There’s no more holding it all together and trying to control your story with well-crafted words. Only tears will speak the truth of your heart in these cracked open places. Tears just might be the most honest thing about you. Let them rise and reveal the truth of you.

Pain doesn’t just break you. If you let it, pain points you to the truest places inside of you. Those cracks in your story that broke so wide open you couldn’t cover them any more? They are the places where your beauty is forged and your bravery rises. I’ll never forget the cracks in my story. And I’ll never forget what was forged in those broken open places: the truest parts of me.

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A few weeks ago, I received news that cracked my story wide open yet again. There’s no sugarcoating it. The man I was married to for 20 years asked another woman to marry him. Six months after divorce.

How is this my story?!?! I knew in my gut this was coming. A long-distance, whirlwind romance and quick engagement is familiar. That was my story, too. When I learned of a trip to Mexico through social media back in June, I knew. It felt so predictable based on what I’d come to know. But knowing something in your gut and finding out it’s true are two different things. Predicting something doesn’t prevent the pain of it. The truth can really hurt.

As I heard the word “engaged,” my heart pounded inside my chest like a jackhammer. Not because he’s moving on, but because of what he’s left behind. Two beautiful daughters who’ve seen very little of their father while he travels every week to spend time with another woman and her children. That’s the ugly truth. It’s not the truth I want to tell, but it’s the truth we’re living. I’ve never felt sicker, sadder and angrier all at once in my entire life. A grown woman’s heart can handle a lot, but when pain comes to your children, and you can do absolutely nothing to prevent it…that hurts something fierce.

Of course, there’s more to this part of my story, and it’s mine to tell in its right time. Not today. There’s no rush. I know my story matters, and I’m also mindful that it’s not just my heart on the line here. I have two teenage daughters whose hearts mean more to me than anything else in the world. I’m fiercely protective over them and mindful of how my words and choices affect them. I respect that they will have their own stories to tell one day, and I bless them to speak their stories fully and freely in their own time. (Even the unflattering, uncomfortable parts that involve me.) But out of respect for myself, I will speak what I can of my own story as the time feels right for me…bravely, truthfully and tenderly.

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To tell your truth, you have to know it. And to know it, you have to accept all the parts of it: the beautiful and the broken, the desirable and the undesirable, the parts you can make sense of and the parts you can’t.

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I’ve been writing about my life since I was 10 years old. In 1985, I stapled together three different colors of heart-shaped paper with my Hello Kitty stapler and created my very first journal. Over the last 33 years, I’ve filled thousands of lined pages with my wild, ever-changing handwriting. Nine years ago, I started writing online, sharing beautiful things on a blog. My intent was to share the inspiration behind my design work as well as my love of photography. But the writer in me couldn’t resist the deeper expression of my own heart through words, so in 2014, I left LLH Designs behind and started Bravehearted Beauty.

After all of these years and all these words, there’s something I’ve only recently discovered: I’ve been writing, but I haven’t always been telling the truth. Not even to myself.

There’s no shame in that. I was writing as vulnerably as I knew how at the time, but much of the real truth of my life was hidden between the lines. Hidden in the words I didn’t want to write, didn’t have the language to write, or was too afraid to write. What would others think? Would I be believed? What would those who brought harm and heartache to my story do to me if I told the truth? What was the truth? Any attempt I made to speak my truth was usually dismissed, denied or reframed by those who thought they could control the story. Fear silenced me for decades.

I can now look back at my personal journals and even the last several years of my blog and read between the lines. I can feel and remember many of the details I didn’t or couldn’t write. And I’ve even heard from a few of you who’ve experienced similar stories, that you could read between my lines, too. Some of you sensed what was going on before I could admit it to myself. Others are shocked because I worked so hard to protect my story and those who are involved in it. I never wanted anyone to get hurt, but I was hurting inside almost every single day.

During my decades of silence, I didn’t remember much of my past and struggled to comprehend my present. But my body held the story. As Dr. Bessel van der Kolk reveals through research and neuroscience, and as my own experience validates, the body always keeps the score. For me, the hidden details of my story have been carried in tight muscles, migraines, autoimmune responses, intestinal pain, adrenal fatigue, inexplicable hives, a struggle to breathe deeply, depression, anxiety, and on the outside, a curled up, self-protective posture that no amount of trying hard could straighten. I didn’t feel safe in my own body. I rarely felt well. And now I know why: all the trauma, heartache and harm buried deep inside was manifesting in these ongoing, unresolved physical ailments. No wonder traditional medicine didn’t bring healing to my body.

Now that I’m in a safer place in my own story and in my own body, the details of my story are rising to the surface. I’m learning to give voice to my story, first to myself and sometimes to others. Giving voice to my story is healing not only my heart, but also my body. {More on that to come. I can’t wait to tell you more about my experience with Trauma Sensitive Yoga. Soon I’ll be offering it here on my farm, sharing the healing I’ve received.}

At first, it’s enough to just to learn your own story and to hold it close. For a time, that’s powerful, safe, needed and good. But in it’s right time, there’s a deeper healing that comes to you and to others in the sharing. A brave truth teller is willing to share her story. It doesn’t mean she shares all of her story with all people all of the time, but she’s willing to speak the broken parts of her story for the greater beauty of bringing healing and restoration to herself…and others.

There is POWER in your story! I love the way Dan Allender articulates this in To Be Told:

“Your story has power in your own life. And it has power and meaning to bring to others. I want your story to stir me, draw me to tears, compel me to ask hard questions. I want to enter your heartache and join you in the hope of redemption. But your story can’t do these things if you can’t tell it. You can’t tell your story until you know it. And you can’t truly know it without owning your part in writing it. And you won’t write a really glorious story until you’ve wrestled with the Author who has already written long chapters of your life, many of them not to your liking.

We resist telling a story we don’t like, and we don’t like our own stories. But consider this: if you don’t like your story, then you must not like the Author. Or conversely: if you love the Author, then you must love the story he has written in and for your life.”

As I wrote here, I haven’t liked my story and didn’t want to tell it. Abuse and divorce. Who wants to write about those things? Not me. But I also know I wasn’t meant to live in silence as a permanent victim to the harmful parts of my story…or as a bitter, resentful hater of the undesirable parts of my story. I don’t love all of my story, but I’m beginning to love what my story has produced in me: deeper capacity for intimacy and empathy, a stronger sense of identity and worth, an eye for beauty in broken places, a calling to bind the brokenhearted and a more authentic, tested faith. All of these things have come through the cracks I so desperately wanted to prevent and cover. It’s time to let them show, for these cracks are where I’m being made more beautiful.

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The truth will set you free, but before it does, there will be a battle. This isn’t surprising if you consider spiritual warfare. We have an enemy who hates truth and light. He’s called the “father of lies” and “prince of darkness” for a reason! If that sounds too other worldly, consider the attack against truth in this world. Every truth teller has encountered it. Some people won’t like or accept your truth. That’s okay. Truth telling isn’t about validation or acceptance. It’s about healing and freedom. Some people will try to send you back into silence through intimidation and accusation, especially if your truth exposes something they want to keep hidden. I’ve experienced this in response to some of the things I’ve written here on my blog. Is public truth telling worth it? That’s something I take to God every time I write. Nothing is published without prayer.

At the end of the day, this is where I land: if the truth of my story has the potential to heal and set people free, I want to be brave enough to share it. I will always seek to honor my God, myself and my daughters in the sharing of my story.

At the end of all of this writing, this is what I’ve discovered: truth telling is a lot harder than writing. Anyone can learn the skill of writing; only the brave learn to tell the truth. Strong skills help you feel safe and protected…until life falls apart at the seams and your story appears to be unraveling beyond any skill set. But this, my friends, is where you get to dig deep, find courage, and bravely tell the truth of your life first to yourself, and in time, to others. This is where you find the deeper healing and freedom you are meant to experience in this life. This healing and freedom is FOR YOU! I am for you. I honor you and all of your broken and beautiful stories, even the ones you’ve yet to tell. May the cracks in my story give you courage to enter into the truth of your own broken and beautiful story.

Grace and courage to you, dear hearts!



P.S. I’m not an expert or a therapist, but I do want to say something about fear. Fear kept me silent for a longggg time. But there are times when fear is valid and needs to be honored. There are times when your fear is telling you something important: that it isn’t wise to share your story outside of a therapist’s office, that it isn’t safe to confront your abuser or to speak your voice in the presence of a person who causes harm. Sometimes staying quiet keeps you safe. But as with any form of self-protection, there comes a time when it’s no longer serving you…when it’s doing more harm than good. And that time has come for me. Please remember as you read my story that I didn’t just wake up one day feeling all brave and start telling my truth to the world. There were years when I couldn’t speak my truth even to myself. There were years I could speak it only to a therapist. And there may be years that I can only speak it here in broad terms, not details. Only God knows. Every person’s process and timing is unique. There are no formulas. There is no rush. Listen to your intuition. Trust that voice of God inside of you.

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  • Angela Herskind - So so good! Keep speaking your truth and letting light in through those cracks!
    “Ring the bell that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” CohenReplyCancel

  • Traci - Ugh. I’m so sorry. This is exactly my story too- I’m just a little further down the road. There are parts of it that are still brutal because the children’s hearts are involuntarily woven into the fray. I know what you’re going through. I’m so sorry. Thinking about you. Praying for you and the girls.ReplyCancel

  • Campbell Kimmy - As usual, your ability to cut right to the heart of the matter with beauty, dignity and grace inspires me. Thank you for once again being willing to be vulnerable in order to help others. We all have a story and it shapes who we are and who we become. Can we be brave enough to confront our story, especially the ugly and broken parts? Reading this gives me courage to examine my story closely and stop running from the parts that are hard. Thank you. Much love to you and your girls-continue to THRIVE!💜💛ReplyCancel

  • OregonGuest - Wow. I continue to be astounded at your courage to put yourself out there. I have tried to keep my private life private and control how or if the “broken” parts of my life are exposed…and it’s hard. It’s impossible, actually, because I’m only in control of me (but wow, the drive to pretend everything is all roses is huge). One of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read is Everything Happens For A Reason by Suzanne Northrup (and yes, I know, that sounds obnoxious — I haven’t lived your life and this sounds like, geez, get over your stuff) — but the basis of the book is that you are a soul who chooses to experience everything you’re experiencing in life, the good and the bad, in order to become a more enlightened being. Oh, wow, that REALLY sounds obnoxious. I guess the way I take it is, God doesn’t make mistakes. The glory and the crap are both intended, they’re both divine (and I’ve struggled until recently with whether I believe in God, so forgive me whether I’m getting any of this right). It doesn’t make life any easier. It makes life glorious…and heartbreaking…and part of God’s plan for you, even if it’s not pretty. I think if someone had told me that everything happens for a reason when my dad died, my mom died, my sibling divorced, my husband cheated, my child threatened suicide, I would have punched them in the nose. But deep down, I do believe it, no matter how hard it is at the time. I am praying for you, Linsey. I’m praying that you come out the other side of this whole, even more brave, grateful for the experience you had with your husband (the good, the bad AND the ugly), because knowing that the end of the relationship and coming through the heartache – that’s probably not the right word — was something you needed to experience to grow as a human being, because you ARE growing, even if it is not at all the way you had planned. I say this not having experienced exactly what you have experienced (parts of it, yes), so I apologize in advance if this sounds awful. I just think that great things are in store for you and your girls, and it is just possible that what you are going through is part of the plan. Is that awful? I don’t mean it to be. I am really rooting for you and your happiness. And I want you to keep writing — that’s important….for you and for all of us.ReplyCancel

  • Believing The Story Your Body Carries » Bravehearted Beauty - […] way I began to remember my abuse was through my body. I referenced some of these things in my last post. Six years ago, inexplicable hives gave way to flashes and sensations from my past, triggered by […]ReplyCancel