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April 28, 2017
A LETTER ON MY BIRTHDAY

Good morning dear heart,

I’m writing this letter to you on my birthday, thirty-six, four years to forty. I woke up while it was still dark to the sound of husband snoring next to me. “You’re snoring” I whispered and kicked him. It’s a delicate dance we’ve been doing for fifteen and a half years. It was 4:30 a.m. and a finch had already started to sing outside our window. I laid there thinking about you, dear heart, about the letter I would write on the day when I mark another year of life lived, another hoped to be lived.

I have thought about doing this for awhile now, thought of sharing some of what I’ve experienced in my short/long years on this mud ball, in this nerve bundle of a body, on a place where you could find the words. As it’s gotten more real and begun to come into focus I’ve heard the voice of resistance. I’ve heard it more times than I can tally.

The voice comes in forms of accusations like, “who do you think you are?” and “Nobody wants anything you have to give.” It comes in the form of a friend who just wants to care for me saying, “maybe now isn’t the right time..” It takes shape as my deep fear of people who could read these letters, even some of my nearest and dearest, and not like what they read. It’s a growing awareness that I can’t be good enough. It’s something I know deep in my gut: No matter where my heart is, what my story is, and what I share, I can’t be good enough.

If I’m sharing the real stuff, the stuff none of us talk about but we’re desperate to know we’re not alone in, “it’s not going to go well..” At least that’s what Anne Lamott told me a couple weeks ago. I got to hear her speak with three of my closest girlfriends and, by some shooting-star miracle, I was able to ask her a question and receive her answer. It was true and beautiful, merciful and lacking in bullshit – Anne’s specialty. Sitting here now, I realize it’s the reason I’m writing you. God knew I would never grow the cojonés to finally do this without my favorite author of all time telling me to, explicitly.

At the end of her answer she looked me in the eyes and said, “Make a deal with yourself – you’re doing it now as a debt of honor. And so, yeah, just do it. That’s what I hope you take away from tonight is just do it. It’s now. There’s no such thing as “as soon as”. When you’re tired there’ll be other stuff. When your kids leave home they’ll be other stuff. If you ever get a real office there will be other stuff.. always, always, always. That’s the voice of the oppressor that keeps us silent.”

I can’t be good enough but “good enough” isn’t the point of this. The point is grace, grace, and more grace. I can’t be young enough or hip enough or safe enough or pedestrian enough or witty enough or talented enough to make everyone love me or my words. But these letters aren’t about “let’s make everyone love me.. okay? on three… “ These letters are about grace enough. When I know I’m not good enough, there’s grace enough for me. When my words are inconvenient or when the sharing doesn’t go well, there’s grace enough for that. To borrow from Anne’s words to me – There’s grace enough for all of us, always, always, always. All the rest – the trying to be good enough – is the voice of the oppressor that keeps us silent. Dear heart, I feel the weight fall off my shoulders when I picture it.. living with “grace enough” instead of “good enough” as the point.. don’t you? with love and grace,

from,

ash parsons

I love your heart and am so glad you’re using your voice. I read all of your letters at once yesterday so I can’t pull them all apart today, it’s melted into a mash of goopy love for you. Your truth about IG, yourbeautiful story about your father and the red balloons, our favorite girl Anne speaking into you, aaack it’s all soooo Grace. Thank you Ash. I look forward to knowing you even more. Xo A

aaack Alecia!
Thank you for your kindest words.. for using the words “goopy love for you”, for reading and letting it all mash together like potatoes. Thank you for connecting to what I shared.. I don’t know what happens for you when you share the “real you” but for me, it’s a mix of relief and an almost instant “oh shit” vulnerability hangover. I guess that’s what it’s all about though.. knowing we’ve shared a piece of this messy pie with another human and can never get it back. that’s how we know we’re doing it for real and not just treating life like an odd dress rehearsal. please do keep reading these letters, and please write back your own letter ..
ash

Girl, you are so incredible. It’s funny because I needed this, and it’s funny because in my need to hear this, I did hear it. Ya know? Like you wrote what I needed to hear and then I found it. The world is crazy and beautiful and so is life. I’m so thankful for truth tellers like you for the internet to be able to share that truth with others who need it. I’m learning how to embrace grace in this current phase of life, but it’s so so hard. I feel like accepting grace is just proving to myself that I failed. If I didn’t fail, I wouldn’t need grace. And yet, I can’t not fail. I will always fail. So of course I need grace. Doesn’t it seem silly that we need grace to accept grace? I think it’s hella silly.
Anyway, thanks for your journey. I can’t wait to continue on it with you and I can’t wait to learn and grow.
Thank you!
Jenna

Lovely Jenna,
First of all, thank you thank you for your kindness and open response to these letters. I am so glad you needed to hear it. I need to hear it. every day.. serious short term memory problems over here. And I’m even more grateful that you found it when you needed it. I know exactly what you mean. this crazy world and the way our stories seem so written before we even get to them. Thank you for listening.

I want to know more about your learnings in accepting grace, I want to know why it’s so hard. I know it’s hard for me. It’s not glamorous work. It’s sweaty and messy and oh-so uncharted. The catch 22 you mention.. that grace = I failed but failing = I get grace. yep yep yep. It’s true. And not failing isn’t really much of an option, at least not for long. At some point the other shoe drops and we remember we aren’t perfect. damn it. I thought I could do it this time (like I said, short term memory problems). And yes we need grace to accept grace.

here’s the problem I’m wrestling with right now.. Not only do I have to fail in order to get grace, I actually have to accept grace for myself first in order to be able to give it to others from a genuine, open heart. that makes me say many fuck words because I know how messed up I am inside. I know the ways I fail more than anyone else does. I see what’s inside this shell, and sometimes it ain’t pretty. I guess I’m learning to accept pretty is not the point. Being beloved, being lovely because I am irrevocably loved, that’s what it’s all about.

write me a letter sometime. I want to hear more about the struggle. I think there’s something for me to learn in it with you, jenna.
ash

I’m carving those words on my heart “grace enough” not good enough. You speak such truths to the strongholds on our lives. It would be an awesome place if we could all just give each other a high five and say grace to you, you made it through the shitty day. ❤️

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