I cleaned out my closet this week. I tried all variations of skirts, tops, sweaters, pants on and looked in the mirror to decide give, keep, throw away. Editing what looks okay, what looks best, what doesn’t fit.
I recorded a podcast episode this morning in my husband’s professional studio. I interviewed our friend, Chris Fabry, who is a professional radio host. I can go back now and have Steve edit out all my “ums”, awkward pauses and yes, even that one question where I basically ended with…”Um… I think I’m stuck in this question, Chris…” Ha. Yes, Chris rescued me out of it. And with the touch of a button it can disappear and be edited.
I’m so sorry I was so upset. I didn’t want you to see me that way. But honestly, I was and am struggling with this. I wrote something like that to a friend because I was embarrassed that as we had been talking a couple weeks before, I had broken down completely. Like, ugly cry face and all. And later I had become frustrated I couldn’t hit an edit button and take it all back. I wanted a redo. I wanted to look in control, composed, wise, and… able to lay down a good joke while I was at it! Instead I was a mess of mascara and red cheeks. Instagram filter needed, please! Edit edit edit.
I was leading some couples through a worksheet from a marriage counseling program. “Allow the other person to state what they wish they had more or less of in your relationship and how that would make them feel. Your job is to listen and repeat. Don’t defend yourself – just listen and repeat.” Yes, doing this is harder than it sounds…allowing no edits in your closest relationship.
In a book I recently finished, the author told how the fictional story he had written had been inspired by his grandfather’s real-life experiences in World War II. He had been writing the book but hadn’t let his grandfather see it because he was still editing and working on it. Then his grandpa died and the author was left with regret. He wrote beautifully: “…I had decided to wait until the novel was perfect before I gave it to him to read. What a fool I am. If you will forgive the one piece of advice a writer is qualified to give: never be afraid of showing someone you love a working draft of yourself.” (Chris Cleave, author’s note in Everyone Brave is Forgiven.)
I can’t get rid of that quote from my mind. Never be afraid of showing someone you love a working draft of yourself.
The modifier of “someone you love” matters because it is within the context of those closer relationships we develop the ability to show ourselves for who we are and know we will be loved. Context is key here. These relationships are few and far between and, of course, the burden is also on us to be the person who loves and welcomes and doesn’t demand editing before accepting.
To sit over coffee and ask questions. “Before we change the subject, let me ask a couple more questions…” a friend said to me this week, showing me she loved me by taking the time to sit with me and listen to my thoughts on a situation, when my impulse was to brush it off and not have to keep talking about it. You don’t have to edit this, she was -in effect – saying to me.
To not be afraid to acknowledge the hard stuff. “That must have hurt. How did it make you feel?”
None of us are experts at everything, which means (logically speaking), we are always beginners and learners and in the process of growing. How much better is it to be in that process with a friend by our side?
I’d rather be in the process of messing up and moving forward than stuck in the place of being too afraid to try again.
I’d rather be a person who sits with my friend and listens as they tell me the full story. No edits.
I’d rather be the person that says, it didn’t matter to me that you broke down, I appreciate that you were willing to be honest.
I’d rather be the person who doesn’t reach for the edit button.
I’d rather show the working draft than regret what I missed by reaching for perfection.