Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

The Ugly Truth About Influence

They told us be strong, be put-together. They told us stand in the place of strength. It’s in the mythology of leaders, of politicians and public figures, and sometimes even in the church. Influencers are sturdy oaks, unbending: refuge in their strength.

But these unyielding oaks, these sturdy-and-strong are not the ones who will positively influence our world, not the ones with the power to truly transform it. That power belongs to the brave, the vulnerable, the overcomers with a story.

This should be you. It should be me. Be strong. Be put-together is a lie when truth and experience show power works best in weakness. And this is the ugly truth about influence: sometimes it requires telling the ugly truth.

Everyone who has ever imprinted my life did it with raw honesty, loving authenticity. I saw their pieces, respected them all the more. I knew I could trust them with my grief when they shared their own, trust their wisdom when I knew it was hard-won.

Ten years of working with young people, and they never cared what I’m good at. I never changed a life with a special skill or acting like I had it all together. Time and again, when I scraped up courage to bare my soul, others found permission to not be okay.

So I called a student in the psych ward after she attempted suicide. I told her what it was like to be so depressed I couldn’t put on my shoes. And I shared my story with a room of young women. The anger and bitterness I’d had to uproot from my heart made a girl say maybe there’s hope for me, too. And I write things that terrify me and find others are terrified, too, but just waiting for someone to go first.

We can be the ones to go first. We can give others permission. And permission to be broken is permission to heal.

Don’t mistake me: I’m not advocating for oversharing, for trainwreck Facebook statuses and awkward attention-seeking tales. Neither would I suggest you share details that are too personal, would hurt others, or would be inappropriate based on the context. Sometimes, you need some distance before you can tell some parts, and that’s okay.

But please, tell your story.

Own your story; don’t allow anyone to take it from you. It is your birthright, your gift, to have come through and stand alive on the other side. And it is a gift to the world, a message of hope to those still in the middle and the struggling, maybe just a step behind.

Tell the ugly. Tell the shame and tell the success. But tell it to serve, tell it to encourage, tell it to say me too. Tell it to those who need to hear it, tell it with grace and tact and

And this, this is overcoming with a story. This is changing the world, one person at a time. This is what it means to be the voice of hope.

Because hope says you are not alone.

Hope says you can make it.

Hope says there is more, just hold on. Keep going; it gets better.

Your influence is your authenticity. You are strong in your story, not just the victory but the low moments, too.

We need you. We need your honesty, your realness. We need you to leverage your struggles, not just your strengths. We need you to influence, even if it means telling the ugly truth.

8 Replies

  1. In our weakness we are strong. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Thank you, Pamela! Sending you hugs and sunbeams today!

  2. Jocelyn Simmons

    “tell it with grace and tact”, No greater advice for those who struggle with baring their souls. Every time I’ve gotten over myself and let the Holy Spirit speak through me, ministry happened. It is so strange to hear your own voice speak wisdom that you know for sure that did not come from you.
    Many times I’ve said to myself, “crap! I need to wright that down”, and let it pass. Thank you again for being you and sharing what it takes to be His arms and hands.

  3. “Everyone who has ever imprinted my life did it with raw honesty, loving authenticity. I saw their pieces, respected them all the more. I knew I could trust them with my grief when they shared their own, trust their wisdom when I knew it was hard-won.” I love this. I was just talking with my husband about this last night. Its so true that the best way to build authentic relationship is to be authentic and vulnerable, to give permission to be imperfect.

    1. It is so true, Lisa! And it’s a much more free way to live, isn’t it? Thanks so much for coming by!

  4. Good words Sarah encouraging.

    1. Thank you so much, Troy!

  5. Two favorite lines, “Be put-together is a lie” and “Hope says you are not alone.” Yes, yes, yes! A great read for my Monday morning!

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