Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Tag: Brene Brown (page 2 of 2)

Writing “The End”


What circumstances have you been dealt that were beyond your control?

Sometimes our stories don’t go as we had planned, or how we would have chosen for them to go given the chance. We can’t choose our family of origin, which for some can be a major detriment from the beginning. We don’t know when a spouse might leave, our job might be lost, or a health issue could present itself.

Lately, I have been dealing with some anxiety (which is thankfully much better). One of the things my doctor said was that I cannot control my initial reaction to a situation, but I can control my body’s response with effort. Focusing on my heart rate and breathing have been very helpful. We often have more control than what we think we do.

You may not be able to write the beginning of your story yourself, but the good news is you can control the end. What is wonderful, is that “The End” cannot be written without your permission.

In the book, Rising Strong, Brené Brown includes a quote by Maya Angelou that says, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

Brown compiled research about stories of people who were brave, fell and got back up. She was trying to determine what they have in common that allowed them to rise again. Her research found that these people recognized the power of emotion and were willing to be uncomfortable. They reckoned with their emotions through curiosity, rumbled with their stories to find truth, and were able to create a true revolution in their lives (by the way, I think this book is amazing). As she says, “The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.”

Whatever difficulty you may be encountering today does not have to stay difficult tomorrow. It’s in the struggle that we are able to become an even more beautiful creation full of more grace, compassion, empathy, and bravery than we could have imagined.

“Write Your Story” by Francesca Battistelli (click to listen)

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

What will the end of your story be?



Gut Guilt: Wisdom from First Grade


When is the last time you did something truly wrong? I’m not just talking about making a decision that you feared offended someone or upset them. I’m talking about when you 100% know you messed up big time. You told a lie. You cheated. You stabbed a friend in the back. You did something behind your spouse’s back you shouldn’t have. Shall I stop there?

Sunday presented an honesty theme for our family in a random, yet pointed way. Our boys learned about the theme of honesty in their class at church. The sermon my husband and I heard was about Ananias and Sapphira. If you aren’t familiar with the story, they were both struck dead…in church…because they sold property and gave only a portion of the proceeds to the church, claiming it was the whole thing. They had no obligation to give any of it, yet they chose to lie that it was the whole amount just to make themselves look more generous than they really were. Talk about an icky story!

At lunch the boys began discussing someone they know who told some lies recently. “He should feel gut guilt!” Austin insisted.

“What’s gut guilt?” I inquired. I couldn’t recall hearing that phrase before.

“It’s that awful feeling you get in your stomach when you know you’ve done something wrong. Like you want to throw up. That’s how you should feel when you lie, ” he replied most matter-of-factly.

I couldn’t come up with a better definition of guilt myself, and this brilliance came from my seven-year-old. “Did you learn that in church this morning?”

“No. My teacher told us that at school.” See, public school isn’t all bad!

Our family spent quite awhile talking about guilt. Austin was surprised that guilt can be a good thing. It let’s us know we need to seek forgiveness and apologize. He was especially surprised his daddy and I feel gut guilt sometimes. Even grown ups make mistakes. We talked about the dangers of not feeling any guilt and how bad that would be. Austin learned that the tears he sheds after making a wrong choice are a result of guilt, and help him know not to make that choice again. (He also insisted he doesn’t lie, and that could very well be true. He has always been a very honest little guy. It’s one of his best qualities.)

There is a huge difference between guilt and shame, though. Here is a quote from Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly:

“Based on my research and the research of other shame researchers, I believe that there is a profound difference between shame and guilt. I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.

I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. 

I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure. I think the fear of disconnection can make us dangerous.”

Is there anything your gut is telling you to apologize for? There’s freedom in owning our mistakes and poor choices. And the good news is, we are all worthy of forgiveness. Whether others choose to grant that forgiveness is on them, not us.

“Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.” Gretchen Rubin


Daring to Be Different

Have you ever experienced the pain of trying to fit in? No matter how old we get, this can be a problem.

Here are a couple of pictures of my son from his school awards ceremony:



He’s the one with the hat…the only one out of approximately 200 kids with a hat.


The previous evening he took about 15 minutes trying to pick out what he would wear. This was serious business to him. He decided on the hat, but I expressed my concern that the day of the awards wasn’t “hat day,” normally reserved for Fridays at his school. He assured me he was pretty sure his teacher would let him wear it for the ceremony.

As his mama, I was worried he would stand out a little too much. I worried some of the kids might tease him for his choice, but I stuffed my concerns and let him take the hat in case his teacher didn’t see a problem with it.

During the awards, as I watched him stand alongside his peers, I felt a great deal of pleasure not having anything to do with any of the awards he won. My satisfaction came from the fact he desires to be his own person without fear of repercussion. As a kid, I would have preferred to blend in. There’s something to be said for someone willing to stand out for the right reasons, someone not afraid to march to the beat of his/her own drum.

This story makes me recall a trip my husband and I took with Joshua to Gatlinburg when he was a little over two. One of his favorite songs to listen to on that trip was a song called “Anticonformity.” He called it the “No Way Song.” (I promise he liked normal kid stuff like the Wiggles, too.) I vividly remember him perched in his car seat doing some serious head banging as he would shout, “No way!” at the appropriate time. If I had only known then that it was a foreshadowing of his future.

Here are the lyrics:

“Anticonformity” by Krystal Meyers

It’s all around
Pressure from my so-called friends
It’s all around
I’m measured by some stupid trend
It’s all around

Everyone is just like them
It’s all around
It’s all around
It’s all around

So I’m anticonformity
I don’t try too hard to be
I’m not what you think you see
Inside I’ve made a change
And I’ll never be the same

They conform
They conform
Forget about variety
Yeah they conform

They don’t know what they believe
They conform
They conform
They conform

Image is overrated if it washes off in the rain
You know you gotta go deeper to go against the grain

(If you’re curious you can watch it here on YouTube. We really knew how to rock.)

So, to be honest, recently I’ve been internally freaking out a little, as mamas tend to do. Under Armour is all the rage at my son’s school. Left up to me, he might have a shirt or two, but it comprises a good portion of his wardrobe due to my generous mother who wants to buy my boys what they like to wear. I’m not one to be too attracted to labels, and his obsession has baffled and worried me. As I sat in the bleachers watching my boy go against the grain, my mind eased a bit. I can only hope this line of thinking sticks for when he is a teenager.

Why do I worry about such things?

Because I want my son to feel like he belongs, but I don’t want him to feel like he has to fit in. There is indeed a difference. Brene Brown talks about it in her book Daring Greatly. Here is what she says, “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

We all have a desire to belong. Do you know the pain of trying to fit in? I do. I have a few painful memories I could share.

Brene Brown also says this, “Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting.” I can’t decide if I find that statement comforting or not. If nothing else, I see it as a challenge to become the kind of person I want my children to be. And hope that God will fill in the gaps in spite of who I am.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a child, or an adult, feeling like you have to fit in can be a danger. My friend and I attended a conference several months ago. We suddenly noticed a trend. First we noticed many of the women were wearing their hair in a messy bun, then we observed scarves were quite popular, and finally dark-rimmed glasses seemed to be the rage. We actually started counting how many of each. In fact, my friend noticed occasionally you could spot a woman with all three items. She termed it the bun trifecta. Now, I know this probably sounds incredibly immature of us, but it was kind of a “thing,” to the point I wondered if I had missed a memo. I didn’t know these things were quite so popular. I’m just not trendy like that. Honestly, I had a brief moment of feeling a tad bit like an outsider because I didn’t seem to fit the mold. Can you relate?

So, here’s to anticonformity. Maybe next year Joshua will wear a bow tie, but whatever way my son chooses to stand out, I will celebrate his individuality and learn from him to dare to be different…dare to be myself.


You can download a copy of Brown’s parenting manifesto here. I think it’s a great model of things we should desire for our children that will help them become confident and secure individuals.

You can buy Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown here. I highly recommend it.

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