I was reminded by someone recently that writing makes us vulnerable. It’s one thing to ruminate in your head, quite another to share those words anonymously, and even more threatening to put your name on the page – so that all the world will know who you really are and what you really think. That realization stops many people from writing.
The comment brought me back to the recent shootings in the United States of young black men by white policeman. Because racism is personal to me, I had a lot to say about those incidents. When I finally collected my thoughts enough to write a few posts (see the My Journey category on the home page of this blog), I suddenly found myself with cold feet. My community and my church struggle with racism; it is unveiled most particularly as “white privilege.” What if I upset regular readers of my blog? What if what I write is misinterpreted or shared in anger with others? What if sharing that I am in a bi-racial marriage provokes readers to react to future blogs with a negative bias? What if???? Finally, I rose above the “what ifs” and published the posts.
Weeks later I wounded another person deeply. I was distraught and anxious as well as disappointed in my self. At that time I was reading Louise De Salvo’s book Writing as Way of Healing; I understood that writing about the incident might ease my mind a bit. So I wrote. The result was raw and anguished yet thoughtful. Others must have been in this situation, I thought. Maybe they would appreciate reading about my experience. Should I publish it on my blog? I went back and forth for days and decided to publish it. (Only God can Mend a Heart in the Living as Apprentices category.) When I woke up the next day, I was mortified. What had I done!! What would people think?
The heavy self-analysis that resulted from my publication of those two blogs was very instructive. I saw that I had resurrected three false narratives, embedded during my childhood, that I thought I had buried: longing for approval, fear of abandonment, and keeping secrets. Here they were, strangling me again. The common thread in those narratives is the fear of vulnerability
Jesus is my model of how to live. Jesus was always completely vulnerable. He prayed, he cried, he expressed his fear, he was angry, he grieved, he was disappointed – and he did all it out in the open, with his brothers, the disciples, and in front of his “adoring public.” He was misunderstood, under-appreciated, and derided, but his story never changed. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” he said.
As an apprentice of Jesus, my goal is to stay open in the same way. With that goal, writing becomes an act of faith. Even though I am exposed and defenseless, I can feel safe because the One who knows me best accepts me where I am and gives me grace to continue the journey. When I find and share my “voice” I am free to live without fear.