Sometimes I don’t even have to close my eyes, my mind just goes there. I can see them so clearly, the memories… as if I’m stepping back in time. As if I could enter that space and relive that moment. If I take a deep breathe I can smell the room; see the cars parked outside of the window. I can see the entrance to the steps that lead to the path that cuts down a small hill to the sidewalk. I can see the rain running down the window as I sit on my metal frame bed, brown in color. Feel the texture of the light blue bedspread with pink hibiscus flowers printed on it. I can hear Norah Jones “Come Away with Me” and my mind goes to that place. To those feelings. Freshman year of college in a place far, away from home; 500 miles from comfort, yet at the same time right where I was supposed to be. It was a courageous decision to move that far from home and yet when my parents pulled away, though it was uncomfortable, I knew that it was where I was supposed to be. It was God writing that part of my story.
I often wonder why, 4 years later when I graduated, I chose to stay. At the time I was dating someone, but I don’t fully believe that was why I stayed. The decision felt uncomfortably comfortable. I felt a pull to go back home, but more of a pull to stay where I was.
This past week has been a whirlwind. Nearly five years into owning a business, surrounded by the best team we’ve ever had, the final approval for our infant area finished, I felt as though God was about to write the biggest chapter of my life He’s ever written. My husband and I had made some big decisions and life was going great. It was all coming full-circle. And just as the plane was circling to land, the alarm went off and the plane started going down.
This week I found out that Here We Grow was being investigated for maltreatment. That’s not a typo. A basic playground accident occurred and I followed the state protocol and reported the circumstances. My friend who owns another center had done the same less than 6 months ago, only I soon found out that her and my situations were being handled very differently. Our report had been flagged, triggering an investigation for maltreatment.
Maltreatment. What a hard word to swallow. It sounds so awful. I would never hurt a child, nor would anyone within our learning environment. Yet there I was sitting on the phone with the investigator, shallowly breathing at my desk telling her my email so she could send me the information for the investigation. I hung up and told my best friend/Assistant Director Jen, “We’re being investigated”. She and I sat there in disbelief.
And then it happened.
I could feel it in my bones. I had felt it numerous times. I could hear Norah Jones in my head and I could see my college room. I could see my parents helping me move into my apartment in New Ulm, after college and pulling away.
I could feel it.
I felt uncomfortably comfortable. I new God was about to write a big part of not just my story, but those at Here We Grow, and even beyond.
Some might say that’s a bit of a stretch. How could one possibly know what God is writing? Of course, no one knows until it’s written, until the events have played out. But I felt this odd sense of calm. And I knew it was going to be okay but that I would have to do one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. I would have to be vulnerable like I’ve never been before… in a very public way (yippee my favorite – sarcasm). I asked Jen to please give me some time alone and close the door to our office; I was going live on social media about what had just happened.
I was going to share the story up close, in the most personal way I could think of.
I was going to let my emotions out; unfiltered, unedited and raw.
I was going to share the news I’d just received and how I felt in that very moment. Which meant one thing.
I was going to cry.
While people were potentially watching me.
And we all know how I feel about crying.
Two days later when I met a friend for coffee, she sat across the table from me and said with tears in her eyes, “I think it’s one of the most courageous and brave things I’ve ever watched. You were so vulnerable. It was…. It was like I was seeing you naked. And I wanted to scream ‘No Beth! Please just cover up a little bit!’ like maybe a little fabric right here (as she placed her hand on her neckline to demonstrate) but part of me hoped you wouldn’t, that you’d keep going. And you did. It was how you live. We could see everything. It was so raw. It was so Brene Brown”. We both laughed when she mentioned Brene Brown, because she is kind of my jam.
And at that moment my viewpoint shifted.
This was going to be it. It would be the most courageous thing I have ever done.
I would stand in my truth, fully… unfiltered.
Be that through tears, through passion filled borderline anger, or whatever raw emotion I was feeling.
I decided to be human about child care. About how it feels to operate in a system that aims to serve humans but has absolutely no element of humanness within how it operates.
I was going to embrace uncomfortably comfortable.
I was going to be fully human.
And that day, I departed from the number one and slid up to the number two.
So here I stand, uncomfortably comfortable; I can do no other.