Truth Telling: To Tell My Story, To Feel My Feelings

by Lillian Mark, Community Building Division Operations Manager
Today’s entry comes to us from Lillian Mark, GLIDE’s Community Building Division Operations Manager. Lillian shares how GLIDE has been a place that has challenged her to tell her truth and feel her true feelings.
For me, the most challenging part about being at GLIDE is truth telling.  In 2004, as a GLIDE Emerging Leaders Intern, I found myself challenged by these two “Terms of Faith and Resistance” – tell my story, feel my feelings.  At some point in our lifetime we were all able to do these things – tell our stories, feel our feelings – and then we were asked to manage and temper how we feel and what we think depending on who, what, when, and where.  Eventually, we forgot how to be ourselves, and we forgot our truths.  Being at GLIDE for the past eight years has helped me to discover and experience my own truth, and to be OK with the possibility that my truth may always be true for me, or that it may not be true for me forever.
There was a brief moment in 2008 for six months where I lived on the edge at GLIDE.  A conversation with Jean Cooper, Community Building Division Director, brought to my attention that some of our community members may never “break the cycles of poverty,” whatever that means for them, and whatever that means to you and me.  There was a part of me (I am sure) that knew this all along, but somehow I was not able to accept it.  I began to question why I was doing this work if at the end of the day there will still be people struggling with addiction, sleeping on the streets, and going hungry.  There was a part of me that believed the reason for the work we do (the reason why I am committed to this work) was to end all of this – homelessness, hunger, violence, addition, unemployment, and much more.  For six months I searched for an “out” – I thought about working with youth (prevention at an early age) or workforce development (having jobs will fix most things, right?).  I was ready to leave.
At the end of that struggle, I somehow began to live a new truth.  I began to feel myself believing (not thinking that I believe, but feeling that I believe) that the most important reason why I am here (and why I believe GLIDE is here) is to be with people – to see each other, to hear the stories, and to affirm one another’s humanity.  Today, I am now able to hold both of these to be true for myself:
I believe that innovative, impactful programs support and empower communities to break free from the cycles of poverty and marginalization. 
I believe that at the end of the day, after all of that work has been done, the most important thing that happened was when a woman came to sit in my office to have five minutes of quiet. 
I am now somehow able to live more parts of me than I was ever able to before.  I can hold more of myself, which allows me to hold more in other people.  This is to say that I am continually exploring the depths of GLIDE’s legacy to create a just and loving community that is radically inclusive – where there is room for all of who I am, and there is room for all of who you are.

GLIDE’s Community Building Division, 2012