Giving Permission . . . to LEAN

31 days of giving permission 200x130

So, right now,
these people (and a few others)
are saving my life.

These are sisters at the soul level,
and I find that I lean on them for all kinds of things
that are good and important and transformational.

It’s hard for me to lean on others.
I’ve always been the go-to girl,
the strong one, the leader, the loud-mouth.
It’s taken me . . . oh. . . about 40 years,
give or take a decade,
to understand that I am weakest when I try to go it alone,
that strength is truly found in numbers,
that I was never meant to carry the weight of the world
on these shoulders, even though they are b-r-o-a-d ones.

We are communal creatures, even when the community drives us batty.
We need one another to make it to the next Big Thing,
and we’re designed that way on purpose.

Nobody was ever meant to suffer life’s tragedies —
or celebrate life’s joys — all by themselves.
Yes, indeed, solitude is a good and necessary thing.
It helps us become quiet,
it centers us on the Center,
it encourages and nourishes and gentles and guides.

But the solitude and the silence,
the centering and the re-creating
come to fruition in the messes of everyday living,
in the intersections we have with others.

When we learn to lean,
we learn to grow, and even to flourish.

So, right now, this community is the one that
helps me find my way home in the dark,
the one that holds me accountable,
the one that teaches me new things about grace

Have you found some leaning space?
If so, tell me a little about it.
If you’re working’ on it, let me pray for you.
I’d be honored to! 

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  1. As a former (and possibly again one day future) go-to girl, I recognize that I, too, am in a season of needing to lean. Surrendering to it feels a lot like taking a few steps down into a pool and then just letting go and gently falling into the water. It comes around me. It envelops me. The weight I have been carrying doesn’t disappear, no, but it lifts. It is not all being borne on my shoulders anymore.

    (Isn’t it funny that I use that metaphor after my 2 trips into the Frio last year? It was just what I needed, to give up control and let myself fall in.)

    • What a great picture, Marilyn – yes, stepping into the water and floating for a bit. So glad you are discovering the joy of leaning on others. You’re so right – it doesn’t make anything disappear, but is lightens the load. And that Frio dousing has some wonderful layers of meaning!

    • Marilyn, that was one of my favorite parts of that retreat!

  2. Me too. I’m the fixer. The go-to girl. And I know a few others just like me.

    The thing I realized in my relationships with these other go-to women in my life is that it’s really hard for me to get “in” with them; to go deep. Our relationships flit around on the surface, and we become experts at finding a million different ways to describe the weather in our particular towns. I wonder if these women have people in their lives with whom they go deep, and maybe I’m not that person for them. I don’t really know what to do about those relationships.

    What I can do, I discovered, is lean; in all the places God has given me to lean.

    • Good point, Deidra. When I crashed and burned about 5 years into my last job, it wasn’t the other fixers who gathered round me – it was those who had been broken and were willing to say so. Now those people also helped others, but they did it so much more wisely, they set good boundaries and the knew how to lean – on God and on friends. Glad you have some places to lean, my friend. (And the ‘million different ways to describe the weather in our particular towns” – gah. yes.)

      • Ah, the ministry of the broken ones. Present and unpretentious. Love this post and discussion, Diana!

        • Amen. Love that phrase – ‘the ministry of the broken ones.’ That is who we are. Always so glad to see you, Marilyn. Wish I could get you off the ‘ask permission’ list. I’ll have to talk to my consultant about that (Lyla Lindquist!)

  3. Oh how I have learned to lean. When my brother suddenly died in 2005 (the only sibling i have left after losing two as a child) I was devastated – 4 months later my husband unceremoniously lost his job as executive pastor at the church we loved. After the job fiasco, my world of those i trusted was small indeed, but they were my life. I have been challenged by a counselor to broaden that and slowly I have been inviting others into my life and it is oh so life giving. I’d rather not be needy – last night i told some friends they could call me at 2 a.m. and i’d be thrilled, but I would have a hard time calling them!

    • What a road of sorrow you’ve been on, Carol! I am so glad you are following your counselor’s advice and letting people in. Keep it up until you have at least one friend that you would be willing to call at 2:00 a.m.!!

      • the thing is, if i won’t call these deep soul friends i have, i guess it’s not the friends, it’s me. I dont’ want to be a bother…. I do have a few i would call, but i sure wouldn’t want to. I am learning though.

  4. I thought about doing the 31-Day thing but knew I would never be able to keep up. Heck, I haven’t been able to keep up with reading the posts I’ve wanted to. So this is the first one in your series I’ve actually taken the time to pull up a chair and read.

    And look what was waiting for me here? Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to lean on you and for leaning back.

  5. Oh this gives me such room to breathe and lean. Not only to lean into these friends and others but into Him. I love coming here, Diana. You are able to put into words, what I didn’t even know I needed to hear.

    But, PS how about the humming of Lean On Me that’s now on repeat in my brain?!?!

    • I heard the exact same thing while I was writing this one, Kristin!! Thanks for coming by – I read your wonderfully real post this a.m., from my hotel room, and didn’t leave a comment. I loved it – thanks for it.

  6. I have been learning to lean
    resistant too often
    part of my journey to surrender

    there is a spot right here
    on my shoulder
    for your weary head


    • I know this is a huge part of your own journey right now, Karin. So I’m reserving a little space for you over here on my shoulder, too. (BTW, I read all of your posts, but cannot get from the email back over to your blog to leave a comment, so I try to hit ‘like’ on FB whenever I see your posts there. You and a couple of others don’t have a direct click-and-it-takes-you-to-the-actual-blog in the email version.)

      • scroll to the bottom of the email – there should be a line that says:

        “Posted By Blogger to Flickers of a Faithful FireFly at date and time “the Flickers of a Faithful FireFly” should be clickable – it is on the email I receive

        let me know

  7. I love how this gives us permission to honour others with our leaning, too. Self-sufficiency, like anything else, has a tipping point into sin. I struggle with that one. This is a good reminder too, to build community for each other. LIfe is isolating enough as it is! I just made coffee with a dear friend, a real support for me. I’m taking more of the right pride in becoming a leaner 🙂 Much love to you – I have a proper note in the mail to you soon believe it or not! A good old fashioned kind xo

    • Well hello, friend. Yes, indeed, self-sufficiency takes us right over the edge, if we’re not alert. BIG issue for me, always working on it. I look forward to your ‘note’ – so rare! Thank you. (We’re traveling in New England right now, seeing such beautiful countryside, fall colors, small towns. Been tiring but terrific.)

  8. Mutual leaning … is my favorite kind.


  9. I’m a pretty stubborn go-it-aloner, but I am learning, ever so slowly, to lean on a precious few who I trust. They are lifesavers.

    Lovely post, Diana – way to go with the 31Days. It’s kind of tough, isn’t it? And it’s only Oct. 3 – whaaaaat?!

    • I did it last year, too, Michelle, and yes – it’s tough! And I’m not working very far ahead. . . and actually, I’d better get with it. . . right now!! Thanks for coming by.

    • Michelle, we love it when you come out of solitude and lean on us. It is an honor. It actually feels good to be leaned on sometimes. You know that, right?

  10. Amen to the leaning, Diana. It’s something I need to do more of, something a lonely heart craves–that yada’–you know? To know and be known? Seeing all these smiling faces around this table makes me so happy. So happy.

    • Yup, ‘that ‘yada’ = we all need it. Just paste your own sweet face onto that table gathering, Laura, because you’re one I lean on in many ways. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Ahhh…how I wish I could sit at that table. It’s hard to lean when you’ve been the go-to girl. As I think about the weeks ahead of me, I dread being dependent on others…especially those who have depended on me. But there’s nothing like sisters in Christ…like many of you…who I do believe I can tell anything and you’ll love and pray me through it.

    • Would love to have had you at that table, Patricia. And I know you will be dependent for a while. But that’s really okay, you know? You’ve spent your life taking care of others – let them have the pleasure of helping you for a while. And yes! You can tell me anything you need to. Praying for you tomorrow and beyond, my friend.

  12. I come to this from a different space right now. For starters, my entire country has been totally caught up with the America’s Cup yachting, and everyone has been exhorted to ‘Lean with Dean’ (the Team NZ captain) for weeks! Lol… so my first thought when I saw the title of your post was that it was going to be about yachting! 🙂
    I find it hard to lean on others, not because I’m a go-to girl exactly, but because my experience of leaning is that I am often not supported, but left to fall on my face. There’s also something about not having extended family of my own that makes it very hard to reach out to others to support me/my family. If my own parents can cut me out of their lives, why would anyone else want to let me in to their lives, or come into mine?
    So yeah… this is a tricky one for me.

    • SORRY about the yachting confusion!! And I get your reluctance, your protectiveness. But I also know that, in the long run, it doesn’t work all that well. You need a trusted friend or two. Hopefully, your husband is one. And hopefully, you’ve got at least one woman friend who is trustworthy and reliable. I’ll pray about that with you, okay?

  13. I L O V E this!! Every single word…and especially these:

    “So, right now, this community is the one that
    helps me find my way home in the dark,
    the one that holds me accountable,
    the one that teaches me new things about grace”

    Your words, this post, at this moment is PURE GIFT! Thank you!

  14. I love the silence and the solitude. I’d probably stay wrapped up there if given half a chance. But the family leans on me. I’m learning to lean on others.

  15. What a joy to see this post!

    Then a little smarting sting, because this–This! is what I need to learn.

    Thank you, Diana.

  16. Oh! Oh! Oh! I hope I am part of the community that drives you batty! 🙂

    Have you ever been part of that little trick where you sit on someone’s lap and they sit on someone’s lap and it goes around in a circle until everyone is perched on someone’s knees? There is no chair or anything holding up anyone in the circle. I imagine you could do something quite like that with leaning, and the resulting “structure” would be stronger and could withstand more outside forces than any one person could stand alone.

    I’ve never been invited into a circle like that. Or if I was, I just missed it. I really can be that obtuse at times. Now I am at a time in my life when I have been invited (and I remembered to accept the invitation!) into that sort of communion and it really does take the weight off of me to just lean in. Honestly, I did it without knowing for sure that anyone else was going to lean in with me. And what an amazing surprise it has been to find such a group of lovely, trustworthy, concerned leaners. (<<<is that a new word?) What a gift. God has been very gracious. So gracious that I've almost forgotten what the alone-ness feels like.

    • So glad to read this, Carolyn. And yes, this is a group of ‘lovely, trustworthy, concerned leaners.’ Seems a perfectly good word to me!

  17. Diana, that first sentence brought tears to my eyes! Really?

    • Yes, Megan. Really. It has been a huge gift to me to walk through life with all of you for the last year, one that I couldn’t have planned but one that I am grateful for every day.

  18. I love thinking of all of you together.

  19. Mary Gemmill says

    Diana- your blog often speaks to me but today it spoke very loudly !
    I am working on increasing my leaning space because I am retiring in December, thus leaving a wonderful school community. My Mother died this year and stepdad is 90 and has 2 recent heart attacks and when he goes I will have no one in the family to care for. My boys are in their late 30’s and might never marry and my daughter and hubbie live in Melbourne Australia, as does one son, whilst I am in New Zealand. I have 9 wonderful prayer partners- but am aware I will need to ” make community” with new people soon.
    Thank you for expressing ” my” situation so well today !
    Many blessings from Mary:

    • Mary! Thank you so much for de-lurking – glad to meet you! Yes, retirement is a huge transition. It took me most of the first year to kind of settle into this new reality, but since then I have grown to love it — a lot! And maybe, just maybe, now is the time to take care of YOU. What do you think? Praying you find good people to lean with.

  20. Diana, there is a whole lot of amazing goodness in that picture. Those are some beautiful, strong woman of God who banded together are a force used by the Lord. What a blessing to be able to lean into this community, to be upheld. Thank you for this series. I think it will definitely challenge me.

    • Thanks, Janel. It is a great group to be a part of and I’m grateful. So glad you’re along for the journey this month. Thanks for letting me know.