You wake up, shower, grab breakfast, and head to work for the day. So far so good. You slog past one of your least favorite co-workers, say good morning, but the coffee hasn't kicked in so all you can focus on is how obnoxious her shirt is. She looks at you with shock written on her face. "Why would you ever think that? I love this shirt!" Her words startle you out of your brain fog, but you stumble past her into your office. That was weird. "What was weird?" You glance up with surprise at your cubicle buddy. "What do you mean you don't want to deal with this today? You ain't no piece of cake to deal with either." Your eyes widen and you make a mad dash to the bathroom. What's going on? What's happening? "Why you acting all panicked for?" A voice says from the stall. You pause, hardly breathing. Strawberries. "Mmmm. I love me some strawberries." The toilet flushes and a tall woman walks forward and turns the faucet on, "Especially on top of a big ole bowl of ice cream." She turns and looks at you with a scrunched brow, "What do you mean everyone can read your mind? You might want to get that checked out."
I love writing for many reasons. It helps me process my own thoughts, allows me to create and explore other realities, and enables me to share a part of myself with others. However, that is also what makes writing so scary. It would be an absolute nightmare to wake up and everyone could read your thoughts! Yet, this is exactly how I feel every time I push the share button on my blog, and how I feel allowing the world to read my book. Because, while there is a part of me that wants to share, it is the most terrifying feeling to allow others to read my writing. It is inviting others to read my thoughts and take a look at how I view and process the world. ￼￼ For me, and I suspect for all writers, my work is not just words on a page, it is an extension of me, and not only that, it is a deeply personal part of me. When I get applause for my thoughts, it is the best feeling, but... as they say, it is impossible to please everyone, so when people read my thoughts and disagree, or worse, feel I wrote a disastrous mess, that cuts deep and feels like a judgment on my very self--not just the words I typed out on a page. When I hit the button, you all become mind readers, and I have no control over which way the reader judges my thoughts. It is for this reason that I have resisted writing a blog for so many years and resisted sharing my stories, except among a trusted few. As Jessica Pedraza said, "It's a terrifying thing to bare my soul and expose it to the world." And yet, here I am, doing just that. How did I get here? Well, I'll tell you. I had a couple of choices. I could continue writing and never share anything I write, but that seems a bit like burying my talent in the ground (check out what Jesus had to say about that: Matthew 25:14). I could filter my thoughts, and only share what I feel wouldn't be too embarrassing, but I firmly believe honest writing is the best writing. However, this option still leaves my mind wide open for the world to read. Then it dawned on me. My main fear isn't everyone reading my mind; my fear is rooted in what will be on everyone else's mind when they take in what I have to offer. I am afraid of being judged, of being disliked, or thought stupid. Every time I go to hit that button, the fear is right in my face: everyone is going to think I'm an idiot.
I don't say this to garner sympathy or to shock everyone--that is actually another faction of my fears. I share so I can take you through my journey. Because when I realized fear of judgment is the root of my fear of sharing, a lesson my dad taught me as a kid came to mind. He was reading Jesus's well know words out of Matthew chapter seven: "Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." I remember my dad reading these verses out of his tattered Bible opened up on the kitchen table, and he paused in his reading and said something like this: "You know, sometimes we project on others the judgments that we ourselves make. Maybe what Jesus was saying here is actually more along the lines of: 'Are you feeling judged? Watch out! You might be judging others!' Because we tend to expect that others are judging us in the same way that we judge others." Webster's dictionary defines projection as "the attribution of one's own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people." Is this what Jesus was getting at? Are the judgments we feel actually reflections of the judgments we make? As those memories came flooding in, I realized that maybe my fear of opening up and allowing people to read my writing came from the harshness with which I judge other people. I do not consider myself a particularly harsh or judgmental person, but God has a way of exposing parts of me that even I didn't realize were there with His refining flame. Is it possible that my intense fear of exposing my thoughts to the risk of rejection, mockery, or unacceptable quality due to me casting those judgments on others throughout my life? I find myself asking God's forgiveness for my own judgmental heart.
That brings me here: exposing my soul and letting the world read my mind. While I do have many reasons for doing so, at this moment I am learning to live without judgment in my life--to be a kinder, gentler person who takes in others' thoughts and actions with grace and understanding rather than condemnation, and in doing so freeing myself from the judgment of this world, all the while being reminded of the One who sees and knows all our thoughts, and has the right to condemn us all, yet instead offers perfect grace to anyone who will accept it.