Welcome to the Grace of Yes Book Club! We're reading Lisa Hendey’s new book, The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living.
I did a lot of push-ups in high school.
The push-up is nearly a perfect exercise. It works multiple muscle groups all at the same time. That is why it is included is almost every work out program there is. Even the military focuses heavily on the push-up as the core of their physical fitness assessments.
But that's not why I did them. I would do push-ups as a teenager until my arms couldn't move anymore. I would do push-ups sometimes with tears in my eyes--tears that were there when I started and didn’t really go away. I did push-ups because I was afraid.
I was afraid of being too scrawny and small. I was afraid of being ugly. I was afraid of being rejected by girls and of not performing well in football practices. I was afraid of how I looked because maybe, just maybe people would see me for who I truly was.
I still do push-ups today but I'm not trying to impress anyone (except maybe my wife). I do them today more because of my mid-thirties body that is already starting to wear down. Nobody likes the aging process. It does things to your body that you wish you could stop. (Don't get me started on my hairline or the amount of little white hairs that litter the ground when I get my monthly haircut.)
Reading Lisa's chapter about "The Grace of Vulnerability" really got me thinking about the way I have viewed and still view my self-image. In this chapter she talks a lot about the way we view our aging bodies and how we cope with illnesses that affect our appearance.
Sharing that little story about push-ups was hard to do. I don't want people to know that about me. It makes me feel vulnerable.
I can't imagine being in Lisa's shoes and having to write about the vulnerability she felt during her breast cancer treatments. I've known Lisa for a few years now and that made the details of her experience all the more touching to read. It gives me courage and perspective in the work that I do today.
Nothing, though, was more heartfelt than reading about Lisa's "Yes Superhero," Fulton.
I had known a little about Fulton's story in preparing for the launch of Lisa's book. I knew it would be touching and heart-wrenching, but I had no idea how much it would impact me. Sitting in my cubicle, reading about that story, I was stunned. I just can't imagine going through that experience either as a kid or as a parent. He is truly a superhero of YES: physically scarred on the outside but courageous and loving on the inside. Without a doubt, that young man is changing lives.
How is he able to do that? When I was a kid, I was doing push-ups because I was afraid of the way I looked. Fulton isn’t afraid. Fulton isn't worried about himself, he's worried about others. We tend to look inward in fear, while Fulton and the many other Superheroes of Yes look outward in love.
I love the way Lisa put it:
"Because making true change means first and foremost admitting the harm that we do to ourselves and then beginning our baby steps along the highway to wholeness. For those of us who have given in to self-harm of any kind, the ability to seek healing is not found in a vacuum. We must bring ourselves to not only whisper our issues in our souls but also to speak them aloud to the God who knows all. (Hendey, pp. 102-103)
Recognizing our own vanity and the self-harm we may have done to ourselves is just the first step. Let's not be misled to think that step two is inflicting more self-harm through hard work and struggle. We can't "push-up" our way through fear into love.
Instead, we need to turn to God in openness and vulnerability and ask him to make us whole. We need to turn to God and embrace his will for our lives. As Lisa tells us, we need to say "yes" to God's gift of grace. If we do, our life and the lives of those around us will never be the same.
Thank you, Lisa.
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
When have you let fear of self-image lead you to try to hide the way you look?
Who is your "Yes Superhero"?
Where do you feel vulnerable and afraid? What can you ask from God to help you?
Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.
Next week, we'll cover Chapter 7: The Grace of No. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Grace of Yes Book Club page.
Copyright 2014 Jared Dees
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