I just had a memory from my Senior English class. Cannot was a spelling word. With great boldness, I told half the class that cannot was most assuredly two words. The memories I have that fill me with the most anguish are memories of leading others astray. Half the class missed that word on the test thanks to my assurance. I stuff my feelings when those memories come creeping out of their hiding places. Shame forms a ball in my throat and makes my arms and heart shake. And so often, the stakes were much higher than a missed spelling word.
Most of those memories were made before any major changes had occurred in my life. I'd never experienced a great undoing of habits. No safety nets had disappeared. The struggles had never changed faces. It's so easy to be certain when you only know one version of what life looks like.
The greatest gift (and tragedy) of having life unravel several times over is that assurance begins to feel more like quicksand than solid ground. I think it's because the only things that survive are the things that bend to life the most willingly. Love, relationships, work, faith, hope--they survive only if they adapt. This appears to be so true that looking back on what seemed absolutely true and unchanging can be excruciating.
Exchanging hard, fast truth for supple, living truth is no simple task. And there are many days that I wonder if it was worth it--if that girl who was so sure the of multitudes of things that she hadn't begun to master was not better off than the woman who is sure of so little.
But these are just today's thoughts. Most days I recognize intentional suppleness as an ally. Otherwise, this winter would have been a complete misery.
It's amazing how something as beautiful and longed for as Spring can be an assault on the senses (another surprise from this climate). A reminder that everything I thought I knew, everything I expect to experience, and every way I expect to experience living hinges on life being the same as I've known it to be. But it never is, is it? Eventually a cog is thrown in everyone's wheel. Hopefully, when we address the shakeup of change we come out on the other side wiser, a little more flexible, and, maybe, a little less of a badly informed know it all.
Because, certainly that much snow can melt that fast. In fact, my neighbor just informed me that the spring melt was slower this year than last, hence the dry basements.
I'm wondering now, if snow that I thought could not melt away so quickly can do just that, then what of the shame I carry? The Sure Girl can't carry shame forever, can she? Even though I can't imagine shame melting away, it must be possible. Shame over the Sure Girl has stopped Supple Woman dead in her tracks time and time again. In fact Supple Woman is peaking around corners and worrying over her next move in a big way at the moment.
When I shine a light on it, it's not so much that I led others astray, it's that I was (and remain) wrong with such boldness. . .chronically.
But this is something I would admire in you. So maybe that's the truth for now to melt the shame away. Or maybe it's something else.