“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”

Mark Nepo

Beneath Every Attitude

In Every Summer Has a Story, I shared the beautiful words of Brene Brown:

“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”

As I thought about “walk inside your story and own it,” so many faces came to mind, with mine first in line. I thought about those in my life and practice who have decided to stand and walk inside their story and those who took a couple steps and turned back.

Owning your story takes tremendous courage.

It requires a great deal of time and energy looking “beneath” the surface. As Mark Nepo writes, “We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

It asks us to remove the layers of invisible personality protection, our defense mechanisms and coping strategies, in order to find our essence, our truest self, so we can. “When we hesitate in being direct,” continues Mark Nepo, “we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.”

Going “beneath the layers,” begs us to “unglove” so we can feel and experience life to the absolute fullness (John [10:10]).

Layering is an awesome thing to do with clothing, yet in our emotional life, we want to present our truest, most authentic self, with grace and love.

Beneath the Layers

“We work so hard to get somewhere, to realize a dream, to arrive at some destination, that we often forget that though some satisfaction may be waiting at the end of our endurance and effort, there is great and irreplaceable aliveness in the steps along the way.”

Mark Nepo

As women, we are masters at layering our true selves, aren’t we?

I know I am.

I can do LAYERS, both in clothing and in the presentation of myself. Having lived a great deal of my life in front of mirrors and audiences, I can turn it on and work a room.

I’m wondering if you relate.

Picture yourself entering a meeting, an event, an appointment, or maybe, even your family.

What do you see? What do you feel?

Do you feel “an irreplaceable aliveness?”

Do you feel seen and known?

Do you feel heard?

Beneath is Where the Treasures are Hidden

Beneath is an interesting, shall we say, layered word? Defined, it simply means, “at a lower level or layer.” I particularly like its Middle English meaning, “Denoting a mason: from lay + -er. The sense ‘stratum of material covering a surface’ (early 17th century) may represent a respelling of an obsolete agricultural use of lair1 denoting quality of soil.

A stratum of material covering a surface.

When we consider “beneath” in light of our inner being, our essence, our deepest, truest self, we realize that very often our true, God-breathed nature gets buried beneath a whole stratum of materials: busyness, achievement, status, activities, sadness, grief, unresolved childhood trauma, disconnection, perfectionism, broken relationships, misunderstandings, meanness, and so much more.

Into or among the deeper aspects of something, as opposed to those that are most easily identified.

The Idiom Dictionary, beneath the surface

Going beneath the surface in our lives requires three things:

And, sometimes, depending on the “layers,” going beneath the surface requires both a guide and a small community of trusted, authentic, safe people.

Going Beneath and Beyond

As the leaves are falling around me and the wind blows hints of a chill, I find myself so thankful that I went beneath the surface of my life in order to take off “a whole stratum of materials” covering my truest self.

I’m sure I have more layers to remove, but today, I am grateful for being here.

Further along than ever.

Happier and more content with “me” than ever.

Stronger than Ever.

One week from today, I face a milestone birthday and I invite you to join me all month long as I share in a special series, “Reflections.”

I want to look back. Celebrate where I have come from. And in doing so, hopefully my story will inform yours and together, we’ll “unglove” ourselves so we can feel and see and hear all life has to offer.