How You Build Your Story Matters

Three questions from discomfort to spur your growth.

Yesterday, episode three of the Uncomfortable Grace Podcast sailed on the audio waves into homes across the nation. So far my co-host and I have discussed discomfort, tension, and growth: Three topics that will run as undercurrents for every episode to follow. Although we already have a handful of new episodes in the hold, I want to take a moment to refocus and adjust our sails. These are questions we ask ourselves each time we rise, and we invite you to ask yourself the same.

image of sailborders on choppy water, with one tipping over completely in the foreground.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

1. What are you passionate about?

Finding what stirs and ignites your soul matters. What you are building for yourself and your future matters. There is a deeply rooted passion in your spirit; not a calling, not a job, not a career. Finding what thrills can feel daunting and overwhelming. It can take a lifetime, but it doesn’t have to! What you are passionate about is what moves the needle toward wholeness and happiness in your life. Where do you experience the most joy in your daily life? Is it so infrequent that it only happens once in a blue moon? That’s okay! But nail it down. What is the thing that makes your chest feel heavy and light all at the same time?

It’s time for you to admit that you crave purpose, connection, and creation. Your contribution to the world may be the very thing that moves the needle toward wholeness for a stranger across the globe! Take a risk today — observe your story like an outsider, looking in. What do you see in your story that sets your heart on fire?

2. Can you silence/befriend the critics, inside and out?

Sight into your story is one thing. Navigating toward the source without being shot down by the critics is quite another. Many a ship has taken on water, between the crashing waves from our inner critic and from the assumptions we make about the opinion of others.

Confronting the external critics comes easier once you’ve learned to befriend the one inside your heart. We can learn and practice dismissing the opinions from those we would never seek advice. Those critics outside of the stadium get no play on these airwaves. But as a former risk-averse creative paralyzed by fear, I’ve found the one true way to combat my inner critic: Embrace.

My inner critic is still me. Sometimes she runs her mouth, talking a big game but really hiding behind insecurity. She’ll often quote something that sounds like wisdom but feels like frostbite. But when I realized my inner critic was my 10-year-old self, watching the moments of risk with wary eyes because of the potential for pain and failure, I was able to offer her a moment of grace.

My inner critic wants to keep me safe, security, certain, and protected. My inner critic has been with me through the trauma and loss and is too easily rundown by fighting her good fight all on her own. It is my joy to remind her that she fights at my side, covered with the authority I carry through life. She is not alone. And neither are you.

Befriend your inner critic. Treat that child inside as the vulnerable, hopeful, and scared kid. This is intense, difficult work! But you can do hard things well! Not because you are innately talented at hard things, but because you can recognize where you need support, affection, and grace through the challenges.

3. How can you uncover growth through tension?

You have one life. One chance to uncover the richness of your story, your life, and live wildly with a heart on fire. That chance will present itself to you repeatedly until you finally welcome it in the door. Tension shows up, inviting you deeper. Tension is the catalyst for your story bubbling to the surface.

When we embrace our story, we owe it to ourselves (and that inner critic) to accept all sides. No story is without shadows. If you hate the idea of pulling your precious ideals, passions, and story off the pedestal — take heart. You’re not alone in the resistance to such an uncomfortable invitation, but if the promise of peace means anything to you… then this is a beautiful place to start.

Accessing peace is like any other process — start where you are with what you have. There is no magic formula or shortcut to take. Simply acknowledge that tension begets growth. If you want it, you can have it. You just need to be willing to push back. After all, it’s only the wind that moves the sails.

Big gratitude from me!

Mandy