Not long ago I was watching Brene Brown via TED TV on the topic of vulnerability. If you haven't seen the video, it is worth the 20 minutes of time, I promise! She is the most honest, down to earth woman [with a great sense of humor] I have ever heard speak.
In her video, Brown talks about the "whole-hearted", those people who have a strong sense of love and belonging, who believe they are worthy of love and belonging.
Whole-hearted people have the courage to be imperfect.
Whole-hearted people have compassion to be kind to themselves before others.
The "whole-hearted" live their life authentically. Meaning they are willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they ARE (a necessary component for true connection to others).
In essence, "whole-hearted" people have fully embraced vulnerability.
I like the idea of living "whole-heartedly", yet it is hard to be vulnerable. It is hard to put out into the world who you REALLY are instead of who you think you should be.
Hard, but worthwhile. Seems to be the theme of life.
A lesson in "whole-hearted" vulnerability was given to our family a few years ago when we were going through a serious financial crisis. Like all the other tough life lessons I have experienced, it allowed me a clearer picture of what truly matters.
When we moved from Wisconsin to Texas in 2007 we bought a beautiful, brand new home. It was our seventh home purchase in fifteen years of marriage. The biggest, yet not the most expensive of those we'd signed for, at fifty-three hundred square feet on an acre of land, this home came complete with hardwood floors and a glass'n iron front door.
A nicer home than I ever thought I'd live in. Ever. "Lucky #7" wasn't so lucky for the Muenches.
It was not long before we began to panic about how much it cost to keep up that much space. A multitude of triple-digit days does a real (Texas-sized) number on the air conditioning bill.
That acre I talked about...well, only the front yard came with landscape which meant we had a huge area of dirt and weeds to develop into a back yard. Do you have any idea how much a decent size tree costs? Not to mention a sprinkler system and sod. This was our worry, while nearly all of our neighbors were installing pools, cabanas and outdoor fireplaces in addition to their lawn and forest.
Guess how many hours a week it takes to keep 5,300 s.f. clean? Too many. I quickly decided life is too short to spend it cleaning. The problem was a cleaning service was nowhere in the budget. Precisely where the pool/cabana/outdoor fireplace budget ended up being, completely out of reach.
So, eighteen months and a slow bleed later, after much discussion, we put the house on the market. Which would have been a really easy fix to our problem if it had sold.
The next eighteen months were fraught with dozens of conversations with our mortgage lender and a multitude of price droppings, to a point where we owed much more on the home than we would ever sell it for.
This was particularly emotionally challenging and draining for my husband. It was at that point I made a suggestion which resulted in a decision we never thought we would ever make.
We voluntarily walked away from our home.
It was hard to admit we had overbought. It was hard to admit we could not afford to be in that neighborhood even one more day. It was hard to explain to our kids that although the house hadn't sold we were going to pack up and move into a 2,900 s.f. rental. It was hard to admit defeat.
Bye-bye credit score of 800.
That life lesson was 3 1/2 years ago, the ramifications of our decision to walk away are still with us. This spring we find ourselves in a new housing dilemma, one that makes us feel naked and vulnerable.
I know we will figure it out, we always do. Somehow, with God's grace, we continue to walk the path. The best part about this stretch of it is taking each step with integrity and authenticity. And, of course, we take these steps together.
That, my friends, is something you cannot put a price on. Welcome to my "whole-hearted" life.