“I‘m going to tell you how hard it is to feel like you’re suffocating when your life is so gorgeous, and how badly I turned on myself in the midst of the Hard because I couldn’t do better and be more. I punished myself for being human, for struggling, which is heartbreaking because it prolonged and intensified the struggle even more.” – Breathing Room by Leeana Tankersly
My professor, Em Griffin started each class by reading us a chapter of Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies. The man who’d written the book on communication theory captured my heart with the simple story of a woman who reached the end of herself, her addictions, her version of humanism and found hope in a little African-American church.
Anne’s gritty, tender, unflinching story became my banner as I watched my own world sink and began tearing down years of bad theology and misplaced platitudes. The power of her naked, glorious story gave me the courage to write my own.
Recently, Leeana and I were invited to write for NIV: Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today’s World. It was Leeana’s honest and gracious voice that captured my attention the same way Anne did years ago. Leeana gives us all hope that the neurotic part of our souls can bring dignity and hope for others if we simply pull back the veil and let ourselves be known. Obviously, I’ve dragged this book everywhere, coffee shops, retreats, swim practice, it’s dog-eared and underlined. It’s the type of book you read a chapter at a time in order to embrace your chaos with a little more compassion.
“I will disappoint people and I will inspire people. So will you. We don’t have to run from our magic and our mundaneness.. We turn toward it all, the beautiful mess, and we say. “Yes, I am all of that” and “I see you. I hear from you. I love you.” This is one of life’s greatest reliefs.” Breathing Room by Leeana Tankersly
Leeana and I cut our writing teeth in the same way at the same time from heartache, desperate to know a God who could heal our deep, unexpected, wounds when she wrote Found Art. It’s an honor to shine a light on Leeana’s latest work Breathing Room since I feel like we’re long lost, writing sisters.
Breathing Room is for travelers struggling with what Leeana calls the Hard and the Come Apart times whether it’s in a faraway land or suburban sprawl. Leeana is a fellow wanderer who discovered loss and joy when her family moved to Bahrain with three young children. I love her perspective that trauma is personal and it doesn’t need to be hard by anyone else’s definition. Rest is a sacred word to Leeana and I’m so grateful for the guts she has to share her darkest most inspiring moments with the world.
“Scripture says. ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’ If we allow ourselves the time and space to mourn, we will be comforted. On the other hand, if we believe we must suck it up and cope and steel ourselves against the loss, the comfort will be much harder to come by.” Breathing Room by Leeana Tankersly
For updates on Leeana’s next work Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That’s Been Hiding. Check out her blog for updates and encouragement.
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