One time, I shoplifted.
Once, when I was twelve, I took a lollipop from the candy store.
I ate it, but it tasted like death.
The second time, I was 18.
I know. My character should have been more developed by then. It was not a proud moment.
I was with a friend when I saw a package of six tiny Christmas bows. They were the size of a penny. So shiny and cute.
Tons of kids shoplifted in high school, but I never went along with the crowd, until that day.
I don’t know why those little bows stole my heart. When my friend saw how much I wanted them, she said, “just take them. They will fit right up your sleeve.”
So I did.
I stole. Christmas bows. At Christmas. To put on Christmas presents. To celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
I could never open them. I did not know what to do with them. I never knowingly took anything again that wasn’t mine.
I was reformed.
That package of Christmas bows sat in my Christmas box until after I had kids. I finally gave them to Goodwill.
Confession is good for the soul.
And not just the person confessing. Allowing each other the freedom to fail is a gift. And accepting each other, failure and all. And loving, in spite of it.
Fears of failure and of rejection break relationship. Fear of being left out or misunderstood because of imperfections we can’t control, our body shape, our age, our family tree. Fear of being unlovable because of screw ups and missed opportunities and bad decisions.
These fears cause us to try to cover up and act like something we’re not.
And healthy relationships can’t be built on lies.
I don’t know why humanity still struggles with this.
Like we think anyone is perfect. Like it’s a surprise that people make mistakes and don’t know everything.
It shocks me when my kids cry over something new they learned at school, and they can’t do it perfectly the first time. Like, kids, seriously, it’s school. The whole point is finding out how much you don’t know and learning how to do some of it, right?
But when their little egos confront their own ignorance, that bubble of thinking, “I’m the best Lego builder in the world!” gets busted. They discover that, not only can you build awesome Lego structures, but you can also mechanize them.
Lego robots. A whole new level. Dang.
And they have to do the hard work of focus and self discipline until they achieve some level of mastery.
And then, when they conquer that thing, they are elated.
It’s a cycle. That is repeated often. And it makes me look at myself.
How often do I encounter my own weakness and suddenly hate my life?
Like it’s a surprise. Like it’s never happened before.
There is a thing that well meaning people do sometimes when you confess a failure. They will say, “Oh, you didn’t really steal. Or, let’s reframe that. You didn’t really fail/sin/screw up. You are a great person. Don’t beat yourself up about it. God loves you just the way you are.”
I love the heart of encouragement, but it seems to me that there is a hidden fear of failure in that kind of response. Pushing back the idea of failure with both hands so that no one has to be embarrassed, or not know what to say, or see each other with eyes wide open. Like when you walk in on someone in the toilet. That one awful moment of being frozen with the door open and seeing that thing you can’t unsee.
But, um, you know, people go to the bathroom. Is it really that shocking? And people screw up. All the time. Really good people. Pretending we don’t and being afraid of admitting it makes for some seriously pointless conversation.
I love when I say, “Wow. I did this thing.”
And the person next to me says, “Amen. Thank You, Jesus.” Or, “Oh. Yeah. Me too.”
Like they are happy for me when I see something I need to see. Like they aren’t afraid of it. Like they might even like me more, because I was willing to go there.
I appreciate that level of real.
It’s why I love Brené Brown.
I’m a huge fan.
Her viral TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” was one catalyst in my walk away from fear and shame.
It’s my favorite ever TED Talk. The guy who plays eleventy million pop songs on the ukulele is a close second. And the lady who power poses like Wonder Woman in the bathroom. If you don’t know yet, I love when people maximize time in the bathroom. It’s just so efficient. People go there. Might as well admit it and use the time wisely.
This talk is funny, deep, honest, and life changing. Seriously. If you only ever watch one TED Talk, this is the one. Click here for link. Over 26 million views and counting today, for a reason.
Courage, shame, and vulnerability. I’m praying for all of us to get that breakthrough.
Courage, the original definition of courage..it’s from the Latin word “cor,” meaning “heart.” And the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. . . the courage to be imperfect.
If you find yourself wanting more of Brene’s insight, her follow up talk, “Listening to Shame,” where she discusses dorm room break-ins, vulnerability hangovers, and the fear of shame, can be found by clicking here.
Empathy is the antidote to shame. . .The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me, too.
Confess your faults to each other, and pray for each other, that you might be healed. Jas5:16.