“Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be – a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation – with courage and the willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgement and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.” – Brene Brown in Daring Greatly
In the opening pages of her book, Brene Brown has already kicked in the locked door of my life, and thrown open the barred windows letting light fill the dusty space. I was recommended this book as preparation for my sabbatical. And dang, it’s as if it was written specifically for me.
Perhaps my life is best summarized by autocorrect. Every time I type my name…autocorrect tries to change it to “shame.” It’s a daily metaphore of my inner life. But shame is not my name. Not my true identity.
As I begin sabbatical at the end of this week, one of my goals for July and August is to retrace my life journey. From growing up in South Dakota, high school in Fort Scott, college and early marriage years in Cincinnati…so much of who I am is shaped by the stories of that journey. And I need to put some deep hurts behind me, restore some neglected relationships, and confess some locked away memories.
Recently I asked someone to act as my “sabbatical priest,” to hear my confessions. And after about 5 minutes of conversation it was clear they were uncomfortable in the role. I get it. I probably would be too. Most of the time we prefer to see people through our own presumptions rather than actually hearing people, we want to perceive people rather than truly know people.
So, to fill my need for a priest, I have decided that those of you who brave enough to read these words will act as my sabbatical priest…to hear my confessions. I will dare to be vulnerable, to become real, to find the truth in my stories. Maybe even to the point of oversharing. Don’t judge me yet…I’m just processing. No thoughts are final…this is discovery mode.
But I do still have a confession fantasy. It may never happen, but I hope it does. I fantasize a moment when I could unashamedly speak aloud all the thoughts floating about in my head. I picture myself face-to-face with someone and verbally naming all the rogue desires, the stuck-on-repeat mental tapes, the blurry memories that seem unbearable to tell, and the paralyzing secrets. I’m convinced that speaking them aloud would rob the tapes, stories, and secrets of their power. I want to re-teach the autocorrect-thoughts of my mind. I want to take back my name. Own my stories. Live free from shame.
I’ll start with this, the most simple truth I can confess: My name is Shane.