Being a child of the 80s, I spent many an hour watching The Wizard of Oz growing up. Fast forward to today and it had been a while since I’ve sat down and watched it…until the other day, when I saw it on TV and thought “ya know, the kiddo might want to watch this…let’s check it out again.” Not to burst anyones bubble on what truly is a classic movie, but I didn’t realize just how downright weird that movie is. Haha. Needless to say, we’ll stick to Bluey and Rapunzell (which is our current obsessions of our almost 4 year old baby girl.)

With that being said, there was a moment in the movie that literally stopped me in my tracks, even demanding a rewind just to make sure I heard what I thought I heard. You see, as kids, we didn’t pay much attention to the words of the shows we watched, but as adults, they just hit differently when you hear them.

Let's set the stage. Dorothy and Toto aren’t in Kansas anymore. They’ve already had encounters with a good witch and a bunch of Munchkins. Their house has taken out a bad witch, while simultaneously setting them on a collision course with her even worse sister. Looking for any way possible to get home, they set out on their journey to see “the Great and Powerful Oz”.
As the story goes, following the famed Yellow Brick Road, they meet a brainless scarecrow. As their small tribe now grows to three, they have a run in with some not-so-nice apple hurling trees, finally making their acquaintance with a rusted ole tin man, who himself is desperate to feel the faintest of emotion due to his lack of a heart. Just as with the scarecrow, their trio grows again to four (including Toto, of course), but nevertheless, the goal remains the same…”we’re off to see the Wizard…the wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
I grew up in the country, and I’ve spent my fair share of time in the woods, but the wooded terrain they quickly find themselves in is one that I wouldn’t really want to be in when the sun starts to set. Just as they begin to realize the real danger that could be lurking around the next corner, out comes the main character of this here blog.

In one swift moment, out jumps this big ole gnarly looking lion, seemingly looking for a fight. Challenging both the Scarecrow and Tin Man before turning his sights to Toto, he’s quickly put in his place with a protective swat to the nose from Dorothy. Immediately bursting into tears, this massive and seemingly ferocious lion’s mask falls off, and he is standing there with every ounce of cowardice that embodies him exposed. But as with the others, the growing group is sure that the wizard can give the lion the courage that he wishes he had, so they invite him along.
And that’s where I the Cowardly Lion utters the statement that stopped me in my tracks. In response to their invite, as he is wiping his tears with his tail, he says...

“Wouldn’t you feel degraded to be seen in the company of a cowardly lion?
Cause I would!”

- The Cowardly Lion

You see, all too often, that is me.
I am willing to bet that you can probably relate to that as well.

No, I’m not calling us all cowards in need of a good dose of courage. But there are a few truths that I am going to drop on us all…

1. We’re pretty good at putting up the facade, hoping that nobody will see through it. We’re champions at putting on the mask, trying to hide our vulnerabilities and insecurities. To a point, that’s just human nature. Nobody woke up this morning just wanting to be seen in our most vulnerable states, whether it be amongst our closest friends or the people we just met. But I’m not going to give us too much slack in the rope of “human nature”, cause we’ll get just enough rope to unintentionally hang ourselves with. 
“That’s just the way I am.”
“I’m the tough guy/gal.”
“Vulnerability is weakness.” 
“I can’t let them see that part of me.”
They're all lies we tell ourselves, hoping to tie the mask on our face a little longer and a little tighter. Then one day, we’re faced with the inevitable…The mask falls off, and you can’t begin to imagine the THUD it makes when it hits the ground.

2. When the mask falls off, it takes part of us with it. When our insufficiencies are exposed, when we’re caught, when we can’t run and hide, when we’re fully seen, our self-confidence goes out the window along with any bit of self esteem we have. You know what fills that gaping hole? SHAME. Brene Brown (one of my favorite authors/speakers, says this about shame: 

“Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough. Shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury our story. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes."

3. The Lion was standing face to face with what he needed, and he didn’t even realize it. He didn’t need some magic dose of courage or anything like that. He needed the strength that can only be found in his tribe. He brought with him a very real struggle. Just like you and I do. When we “show up”, whether we realize it or not, we bring both the good and not so good with us. We are human, and every single one of us are flawed in more ways than one, and as Brene Brown goes on to say… 

“What we don't need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human."

4. His shame led him to believe that he wasn’t even worthy of being seen with the other misfits in the group. From our perspective, we can see that they were just as flawed as he was, only in different ways. He went on to say that they would feel degraded to be seen with him. A quick search of the ole Google machine will tell you that the word degraded means “reduced far below ordinary standards of civilized life and conduct.” If we’re being honest with ourselves, while we might not use the same words, we probably sometimes carry the same feelings. We can’t imagine why anyone would want to be seen with our messed up selves. Here’s the thing: That tribe that the Lion didn’t realize he needed are the same folks that needed him. Together, as the show moves on, you see that all of them end up finding the safety they needed in order to grow and become the people they were supposed to be. 

So, what would happen if we began to practice this? What if we don’t wait for the mask to fall off? What if we take down the artificial facade that we think is covering the  damage on the inside? What if we begin to allow our vulnerabilities to actually be strengths?

Another one of my favorite authors/speakers is Craig Groeschel, who says this:
“We might impress people with our strengths, but we connect with people through our weaknesses.”

And I’ll finish with this from Brene Brown:

We've lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we're feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage."

- Brene Brown

For Every Warrior!