I’m a wounded healer, a hope carrier, a love warrior…I’m the best kind of dangerous.
MAY 20, 2020 NICOLE CLIFTON

Hey all, it’s been awhile. Listen 2020 has been a ridiculous year so far, on so many levels. I’ve needed to go quiet again to deal with some of what’s in front of me. However, I recently read Jen Hatmaker’s newest book “Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire” and at the very end, she writes out 12 statements that are fully true about her. She encouraged readers to do the same for themselves if they were looking for ways to be more fully integrated with who they really are. As I’ve now completed 12 years of adulthood, I suppose that coincides with the 12 statement I’m about to make. I have been doing a lot of reflection even just about the last 10 years and pondering how tumultuous my 20s were; I see how much I’ve changed since the last time I entered a new decade of my life. So this felt like a timely reflection. Here they are, in no particular order.

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– I love to read and I love to learn. I have been book-obsessed since I was small. They feel like magic to me and holding one in my hands feels like having a friend. I can’t do the e-book thing except on rare occasions when I’m forced to; real, tangible books are where it’s at. I always pack too many books for trips; I never get to them all. I have a “To-Read” list that I will likely never complete because there will always be more good stuff to read out in the world! Call me Belle, call me Hermione Granger, but being in a bookstore or library makes me thrilled & ecstatic, while makes me feel safe, peace, and at home. I want to be a life-long learner, and that means not just in what I read, but in the other media I consume, the experiences I choose, etc. There is always room to learn more and to grow into a healthier, wiser person.

-I’m an ambivert. I used to think I was an extrovert and over the last 5 years I’ve come to the realization that that’s not entirely true. I am a Both/And person. I have seasons where I see that extroversion be more dominant, and other seasons where my introversion has been more dominant. The last few years I’ve been more introverted on many days. I’ve craved more alone time because I’ve been recuperating from a lot and have had to be really careful with how I spend my emotional energy. Now at 30 years old, I am just trying to be more self-aware and pay attention to what I need in the moment.

-I need to verbally process. I love to talk. I just do. I like being able to share my thought process with my safe people, to be able to talk myself towards a decision, to gather input and feedback. Sometimes I have to verbally process the same situation with a few different people in order to feel settled moving forward. Lots of time I already know the right thing to do and just need someone to listen, to be present and hold space for me to move all that’s jumbled up inside of me out into the world so I can de-tangle all of it and see clearly what I need to move forward. And I also know that sometimes I will miss the mark, so I surround myself with people I deeply trust and who are incredibly wise. I know sometimes I need input to help me when it comes to my blind-spots.

-Injustice deeply matters to me. I cannot NOT care; I can’t stop caring. Whether it’s about LGBTQ+, racial injustice, body image, toxic masculinity, rape, abusive relationships, human trafficking, mental health, etc. and more all get me going. I am not the perfect ally or advocate in any of these areas, but I want to continue to keep educating myself and being willing to use my voice/influence to create awareness about issues like these so that I can better love those who have been more marginalized. Like everything else, there is always more to learn and always more ways I can be invested in making the world a better place.

-I believe in the power of story. I love learning the stories that have shaped the lives of others and integrate story work into how I lead and how I love. I think our story is what makes us who we are. So many of us function on autopilot, not taking the time to review what has already been written and think about how it may impact the story that will be written in the future. Being able to return to previous chapters to find patterns, to identify shame we gathered along the way, process how important characters have impacted how we show up in current relationships, etc. are all so important. Engaging with stories is powerful and has the capacity to transform who we are and the relationships we have. As I design my future as a writer and a speaker, I know that my story is the platform that will move me into what I want. I know that it is the power of story that connects us all, that changes hearts, that prods transformation.

-I was designed to lead. Now there are times when it is absolutely better for someone else to lead. Someone who is more qualified and capable, and I’ve tried to be better at taking a step back when I need to in order to fully support someone else’s leadership. And……. I’m not a background kind of girl. I wasn’t made to live there all the time. None of those traditional gender roles or complementarianism that I learned about ever made sense to me; it’s not how I was designed and I feel it in my bones. I’ve got big dreams for the future and I’m excited for what’s to come.

-I’m an Enneagram 8 (with a 9 wing).I was designed to rock the boat, to challenge the status quo when things aren’t as they should be. I have what it takes to speak truth to power. I can smell BS from a mile away. As Sarah Bessey says, I believe in being a peacemaker not a peacekeeper, which means that in order to have true peace, sometimes we have to have hard conversations so people can find actual healing, love, acceptance, justice, peace, etc. I will not dull my roar. I will not extinguish my flame. I will fight to protect all the ferocity and strength that I possess, because it is an asset and not a liability. Yes, I am deeply passionate and crave intensity. That’s typical for 8s. Lots of people assume 8s don’t feel very deeply and that’s certainly not true about me because I feel things really deeply (and yes, it’s exhausting). I also don’t love competition just for competition’s sake. I don’t like to argue or debate just because; I absolutely am ready to go through if it’s something I feel deeply convicted about. I don’t take delight in challenging authority just because, and it can actually feel really lonely for 8s to always be that person or be seen as a troublemaker. For me, I try to take that and spin in, knowing that I have the capacity to be the best kind of dangerous.

-Christian faith is a part of my upbringing and pieces of that upbringing still remain in my life. Faith deconstruction has changed me for the better. I am a more loving, integrated person than I’ve ever been. More patient and a better listener than I’ve ever been. More gracious, more gentle, more kind than I’ve ever been. And I am realizing how much of church culture has hurt people, myself and so many people I’ve loved. I’ve delved into dismantling the toxic beliefs of purity culture, learning what it actually means to be sex-positive and have healthy conversations around sex, realizing how much the church has hurt LGBTQ+ people, how much the church is missing the mark when it comes to addressing racism, etc. Call me an ex-vangelical or a progressive Christian or what have you, but my faith or convictions about faith no longer fit in the spaces that I grew up in. I’m still figuring it out what that means, but there has been so much freedom and goodness and healing out here in the wilderness.

– I love my people really deeply. Really deeply. I feel deeply protective of them and once I’m in, I’m in. I’m known to say “I’m in your corner” on a regular basis because I want people to know I’ve got their back. There have even been situations or people that I should have walked away from sooner and I didn’t because I so deeply believe in the power of love and wanting it to heal in the ways and times that I want it to. I have to remember that every once in a while, I have this savior complex pop up and must remind myself that I cannot save people, I cannot fix people, I cannot change people, I cannot always protect people. Glennon Doyle said that “maybe love is the opposite of control” and as I age, I’m trying to figure out how to integrate that into how I love other.

-I believe in authenticity and vulnerability. I think that so many people spend so much of their lives pretending, wearing a mask, hiding certain emotions or parts of who they are. It’s literally suffocating us. It keeps us lonely. We worry about being judged when so many of us have experienced similar pain, similar shame. Being vulnerable can feel scary or even excruciating, but like Brene Brown says, it is also the birthplace of all we are longing for (love, belonging, etc.) As an Enneagram 8, I’ve had to work really hard at learning to lean into vulnerability, to reach out to my people when I’m struggling and need help. I’ve also struggled a lot with perfectionism and am often my own worst critic. Learning now how to be kind to myself in areas of my life that have held my deepest shame has been really challenging. The truth is that life is really messy and life brings pain to us all. We were not made to suffer alone. I feel like there have been so many seasons in my life where I have craved that authenticity in relationships and in community, and I have known that sometimes I need to take the vulnerable risk to go first in sharing so that others feel safe to do so as well. I want to offer others “the gift of going second.”

-I believe in the transformation of pain. I hate clichés like “Everything happens for a reason” because sometimes the only reason is that our world is a broken, messed-up place and lots of bad things happen that should never have to happen. We don’t have to subscribe trite, hollow sayings to make meaning when people need to honor their pain because it matters. AND we have the capacity to heal from our pain. To make meaning in our own time and in our own way. Knowing that pain and grief will always be present in our stories, that we cannot eliminate vulnerability from our lives. But I have chosen to take the most painful things in my life and to do the hard, intentional work of healing so that the pain doesn’t always have to be so sharp and raw, but that the pain can be transformed into passion and power.

-I believe in hope. Not light and cheery optimism, not fluffy, cotton-candy happiness. Gritty, messy, tenacious hope. I am not a glass half-full kind of girl. I say I’m a realist, which optimistic people normally equate that to being a pessimist. Okay fine, whatever. It’s a mix of both. What keeps me from jaded, cynical thoughts that would consume my entire being is hope. Hope sometimes means faith in God, in things that are bigger than me. Sometimes hope means gritty resilience after feeling the full weight of pain and letting it transform you. I believe in creating the futures we want and not settling for the subpar realities that may be in our present. The reason that things like love, hope, peace, justice, etc. still move us is because they still matter. They are worth taking a stand over. They are worth fighting for. They are worth the effort and the work and the tears needed to forge a better world and healthier relationships.

I’m a wounded healer, a hope carrier, a love warrior. I am fierce and resilient. I am tender-hearted, a deep-feeler, a world-changer. I’m the best kind of dangerous.

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