"The most powerful teaching moments are when you screw up." - Brene Brown
The other day I was in a meeting , when someone mentioned one of many foibles I remember from Sunday services this summer. To my chagrin, I felt myself blushing.
I wish I was more spiritually mature than my blushing revealed. I wish my inner impulse was as wise as my later analysis - which agrees with Brene Brown. However this is one of those things that is a lot easier to accept in theory than in reality. Blunders and bumblings are much more romantic in the abstract than they are when facing them in the actual moment of their mess.
While my brain knows that mess- ups are an indication of the kind of experimentation, risk-taking and collaboration that are necessary for a whole-hearted life, my gut reaction, my embedded beliefs, in the face of even smallish errors, are not pride, but shame. I was embarrassed.
In any new relationship, there is a period where you only see what is right about the other. Whether a new friend, a new love, a new congregation, a new minister - for a time it seems there is only glorious poetry and magical symbiotic unfolding. I watch this a lot with newcomers to Unitarian Universalism - the first six months, or year - there are only gifts here - and this place and this faith are, to use the technical term, "dreamy." But after a while, any meaningful, authentic relationship based in humanity will reveal its parties' imperfections. And when these imperfections arise, it is inevitable that we may want to turn away, feeling like the initial gloss is not quite so shiny after all.
And yet, anyone who has stayed in a relationship for the long haul will testify that intimacy is only possible when your flaws are revealed, and you are loved nonetheless. The gifts of love are made possible through our mutual acknowledgement of imperfection, of neediness, and in our refusal to agree with our dominant culture that "going it alone" is any kind of ideal.
As we move into our second year together, my promise to you and to myself is to keep on screwing up. (Oh that sentence was hard to write! ) And I promise to keep trying to accept these mess- ups as indications of my trust in you and our mutual willingness to try new things, to be real together, and to learn and grow in ways simply not possible when we spend all our times protecting that shiny gloss.
I'll need your help, of course. I'll need you to promise to keep screwing up too. And I'll need you to promise to not let shame or self-protection grow so that it would prevent us all from receiving the gifts of learning and connection that are only possible when we willingly muddle through messes together. I know it's a lot to ask. But, let's give it our best shot. Together.