one million words

find your voice. tell your story.

#write31 Day 21 Confession

They say you can develop a new habit (or change an existing one) in 21 days. Unless you are a baby (<6 months), then you can learn a new skill in 3 days. Today is day 21 and my mind is anxiously searching for a measure of writing progress, sudden insight or direction.

Today is confession day according to Jeff’s writing prompts. In some ways every day is confession for the blogger unless you don’t write about yourself or your life but most of us beginning writers (and many experienced ones) write about ourselves and what we know just because it’s the easiest place to start. Perhaps the most rewarding.

Culturally, thanks to Brene Brown or Glennon Doyle Melton, just to name a couple strong voices, we are embracing vulnerability more and more. This is mostly helpful, it seems in connecting with others in deeper ways. If we are the first to tell our scary, brave story, hopefully others will open up as well. For the most part this has been true in my life. Some people don’t know what to do with vulnerability and will judge you and walk away. This too is part of the process and must not be feared more than never allowing your truest voice to speak. You can’t be vulnerable and please people at the same time. But your vulnerability can hold space for compassion and empathy. True vulnerability is not offensive. It brings freedom, releasing others to be their truest self.

I am halfway through the word count which has been a general ramble on vulnerability. Dragging my feet to confess which is not a popular spiritual practice, at least it’s never been in my faith tradition. Let’s get together and confess our faults, failures and shortcomings to one another. Wohoo. James (and others) actually recommend that practice but I can’t say I’ve even been part of a smaller circle of friends who do just that. Breakfast with two girlfriends every other months is probably as close as it gets for me.

Confession stirs up shame which I have worked hard to overcome. I am not sure you ever overcome shame. It may dormant for a while then will pop up when you least expect it. I think I confuse confession with (self) condemnation or lean towards the more familiar voice of self condemnation as a pseudo-confession of sorts. Pseudo-confession never brings relief, it does not have a clear endpoint. True confession assumes you are loved and forgiven before you ever open your mouth to confess. Grace, I hope, will filter the shame out of my confession.

Is confession a list? A story? An embarrassment? A way to let myself off the hook? A silly mistake or something deeper? Can I infuse confession with humor so both of us won’t feel awkard?  What feels safe to share online? What could backfire? What are the consequences of confession? 

I am not a confession expert. How many people need to know my faults? What I am gathering, even from my reluctance in writing this post, is how deeply I want to be faultless, non-offensive, loved and accepted. I am selectively vulnerable and even some of that feels cliche. Marriage is hard and you already know that. I am impatient with my kids and will latch on to a power struggle like a bulldog. I am my kids primary teacher and they are behind in a couple subjects. I rarely make my bed, forget to pray for my parents, don’t remember people’s names, get easily overwhelmed in crowded, noisy places. I am jealous at other people’s lives who make it look easy. I don’t love my neighbor like myself. I am critical and offensive, irritable and over my wordcount. Does this sort of confession help? I can’t tell.

What about you? Do you have a life-giving confession practice?

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