I have been thinking a lot lately about the different paths to personal discovery and self-improvement. The continuous stream of emails, comments, reviews and connections from readers keeps me aware of the many different places we each are in life. It is no secret that everyone is in their own place on their own journey, yet I feel as though this notion is pushed far back in our brains rather than right up front where it may best serve us.
Not one of us is perfect. We all have our demons rolling around. To add to those demons is the shame of them being exposed, no matter how small. When they are exposed, the last thing anyone wants is for them to remain a permanent fixture, coming back to them in critiques or reminders from loved ones or strangers…perhaps worse, enemies.
But an amazing thing happens when we let go of this shame, when we remove the fear and expose as many demons as we can. In that moment, we can live the feelings to their fullest, discovering that these demons, these fears, these shameful pieces of our broken selves hold zero power.
I have been publicly writing for several years, everything from superficial housekeeping and recipes to exposing personal thoughts in my book. I can tell you honestly that not a week goes by when I want to hit the delete button on my blogs and unpublish my book. These are pieces of me, some I hold with pride while others bring me shame and they float around for others to read at their whim, critiquing as they will sometimes without a second thought of my humanity.
But each piece I have written exposes me during a certain place on my path and all those around me are each at their own place. Despite the fact that picking up my book and glancing through it makes me want to edit it to pieces to show where I am at now, that would serve no purpose to someone reading it who is in the place on their path where my words may help them. It shows the old me no compassion and shows those who relate to those moments no compassion either.
I am still no where near perfect. I raise my voice at my children. I eat too many cookies. I gossip after church. I judge those around me. I am a sinner, daily. To publicly hide those sins gives them power. To run back through my written past and cleanse each piece is insulting to my soul, to my reality. Living in secrecy, fear and shame serves purpose only to Satan himself. Hiding our faults fuels his use of them.
I grew up conditioned to live in secrecy and shame and it did me no good. I thought I always had to be perfect lest others judge or condemn the core of me. I vowed to myself to never go back to that.
Thus, my words will remain out there for any who wish to view them, complete with my sins and my glories. Everything from my thoughts, to my budget, even down to my waistline because I have nothing to hide.
I realized years ago that writing is my calling from God to help those who need to read what I write. He chooses whose hands my words land in but those individuals choose what they do with those words. My responsibility is just to show up and write. Write honestly. Write purely. Write without shame.
So when you stumble upon the words of another, whether mine or the millions of others who God leads you to, recognize that, like you, they are imperfect beings on a journey. And before you jump to point out their failings, consider that their words may not have been meant for you. Or better yet, consider that they may be.
– Walt Whitman
(As I sit here, pondering whether to leave this post as one I wrote just to make me feel better or to press the publish button to allow others to read it, I recognize that it is shame, fear, worry, anxiety that runs through me. No matter what I tell myself, these feelings are still there, plaguing me. So with that, I will publish it as the only way to take away their power. They have no power. Zero.)