I’ve read two of Brené Brown’s books, and I was intrigued by the premise of this book. She hinted previously at writing more explicitly about spirituality, and I wanted to hear her thoughts specifically on faith and community. This book surprised me and challenged me in ways I did not expect, and it’s going to sit with me throughout the next few years of this challenging and exhausting presidency.
Brown starts, as she often does, with a pivotal moment in her life that challenged her for years on end. Maya Angelou, in an interview, said that she didn’t belong anywhere or to any community, and this sentiment sparked a disagreement within Brown that lasted until she read the quote in context. Belonging is not necessarily about conformity—it’s about identifying who you are and who you want to be, and how you are your best and most authentic self in a world that often demands conformity. She uses the acronym BRAVING, but mercifully, avoids using it too often. She provides a challenge for us in a toxic political climate to elevate our conversation and show how we can find true belonging together.
I confess, I’ve struggled mightily with this idea of belonging. I’m a feminist, a Christian, an academic, and a moderate Democrat. Good luck fitting all of these things together! Something Brown has challenged me to do is strike out into the “wilderness” and not fear the desolation but find the wild beauty within. Another thing she has struck within me is to avoid dehumanizing discourse and to be balanced and fair in my criticism. This book is, in my mind, a must-read.
Cross-posted to my blog.