A New Way to Lean In

Posted on November 5, 2013

When I tell people my life’s story I’m usually met with glaring eyes and awkward silence. Sometimes there are I’m sorry’s or other exchanges of condolences. But then, there are a few times when people will muster up the courage to ask how I made it through the things I experienced.

The simplest and most Christian answer is, “…by the grace of God.” Hallelujah! It’s certainly true. If it weren’t for God’s love I wouldn’t be a fraction of the woman I am today. But that’s an easy an answer. It’s an answer we toss around because it sounds pious and RC (religiously correct). Except it leaves out the details.

I believe the reason the bible goes to great lengths to outline the stories of the men and women who we herald as the pillars of faith is because God is all about process. Surely the Creator of the earth could, at the snap of His fingers (assuming God has fingers), perform miracles without human involvement. Yet, He so rarely does. It seems that God allows us to partner with Him to make the impossible happen.

So, how did I do it? How did I overcome those nasty blows life dealt me?

I learned to lean in.

I know this idea of leaning in; demanding more from your work place, was introduced earlier this year by Facebook’s Chief Operating Office, Sheryl Sandberg. I’m not talking about climbing the corporate ladder in stilettos or brushing up on negotiation skills. I’m talking about a new way of leaning in. A way that requires pressing into the pain. That’s how I got through my trauma.

Of course it didn’t start that way. As a child I experienced a great deal of abuse, which turned into a pattern following that followed me into my adult years. For a long time I suppressed what happened to me. I channeled my energy into becoming a perfectionist. This wasn’t a healthy approach because my pursuit of perfectionism gave me a false sense of reality. I believed if I did everything right then I would never be susceptible to hurt. This line of thinking crippled me more than empowered me. Rather than facing my issues, I was running from them.

It wasn’t until I stopped running that I began to see a significant change in my life. I faced myself. And then I acted on what I saw. It started with walking away from an unhealthy and emotionally abusive marriage. I stopped making excuses for myself and the people who hurt me. I started asking myself the hard questions. I learned to grieve when grieving was necessary. I started being vulnerable about my weaknesses and pain. I stopped pretending like I had it all together because I didn’t.

I worked through the forgiveness; forgiving my former spouse as well as myself. When I needed to see a therapist, I saw a therapist. I committed to really walking my life with Jesus, not just calling myself a Christian, but truly modeling His heart. I stopped negative thinking and self-doubt. I practiced being kind to myself. I surrounded myself with people who truly loved me.

I leaned into the truth about Jesus.

I leaned into the pain, accepting it, healing and moving on.

And then I leaned into the promises of God.

Was it easy? Hell no. I hated going through the process of confronting two decades worth of pain. But it was worth it. I would do it all again to experience every phase of the journey.

God’s grace certainly gave me the strength in my weakest moments. And He used my pain to make something beautiful out of my life. He promises He will do that for us, but not void of our participation.

We can never see positive change in our lives until we learn to push into what has hurt us. Or until we face what we fear the most. Confronting moves us towards solutions. It makes us brave. When we lean in, we push back on the lies we’ve been fed. See–leaning in is not solely the act of human effort which makes our lives new. It is the posture of saying, “God I’m willing to meet you here. I’m showing up and trust that you can do something with these broken pieces.”

And that–my friends–is where miracles occur.

Now it’s your turn:

How will you lean in today?

2 Replies to "A New Way to Lean In"

  • SM.
    November 5, 2013 (6:37 pm)

    Great post, as always Shakirah! (Now I’m really wondering if God has fingers…LOL) I’m leaning in by focusing on Christ and allowing Him to keep my mind in perfect peace, no matter what is going on – the busyness of life; the lengthy to do list; the ups; the joys; the worries; the stress; the unanswered questions – staying in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).

    • Shakirah Adianna
      November 7, 2013 (9:06 am)

      Hi SM!

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Focusing on Christ and His perfect peace is a brilliant way of leaning in!

      And I’m assuming because we’re made in His image it’s quite likely He has fingers. LOL