Confessional Living

Taking a good look in the mirror… acknowledging what is actually there… and then living out that vision can require a certain level of honesty that is often times not very easy to do.  Truth is that, what is actually there isn’t always pretty… and most people tend to only want to show what is desirable… not what is worn and tattered.

This way of living can be referred to as: confessional living.

Many of us at one point or another have had the experience of putting a great deal of energy into maintaining an image that life is better than what it actually is.  For many of us, this took the shape of covering up a bad relationship in the home so that friends and family members aren’t able to get a good glimpse into the separation that is being experienced between two people.

Sin is anything that breaks relationships.  We’ve all contributed to the breaking of relationships at some point.  Unfortunately… we’ve become better at covering up the sin than we have at letting a healing light be shed on it that we learn to become masters in masquerading.  ‘Nothing to see here.’ … and if there is nothing to see… well, there is nothing to confess.

With ‘nothing to confess’… the relationship will undoubtedly experience such a separation, that a breaking will take place.  And that is when all hell will break loose.

Forcing an exposure of that which was unconfessed or unseen can bring a level of violence at emotional, mental, sometimes physical, and spiritual levels that can wear down an individual rather quickly… but then again… you probably know that.

You need to be realistic about the nature of the broken relationship.  You’ve experienced them.  You may feel like it’s killing you.  But keep this in mind… the damage done to you is not the last word on your relationship with yourself, or with others.

You can be set free.

Below are five things to keep in mind as you adopt a confessional life, rather than a coercive, manipulative life that you hope will protect your image, or a relationship that is long since broken.

Be honest about the bad in your life.  Nobody is perfect, and every new day is an opportunity to come to terms with this.  It doesn’t matter the lies that may be spread about you… even if that is what is forming ‘popular’ or facebook opinion about you.  If you spend more time defending yourself against the voices of others… you will not take the time to be honest to yourself… about yourself.

Invite someone you trust to come in and look at the bad in your life.  We can get by with a little help from our friends.  In our relationship, we have a simple framework that provides the safety needed to come to the table who we are… no more, no less.  Three things: allow for randomness… no retreat… no judgement (see below).

Tell it like it is.  Within the framework mentioned above, you have space to not to have to be serious all the time, or just allow what comes to your heart/mind to come out (randomness)… you have the space to wrestle through running away from letting your voice be heard (no retreat)… you have the space to just be you without getting belittled or looked down on (no judgement).  I will expand this in a later post.

Lay down the power to control how others see you.  Some days may be easier to do this than others.  There is going to be a temptation to project upon others what you want them to see… but this is what tends to get us in trouble in the first place.  When we put a certain image out there, then we will eventually need to spend energy maintaining it… and then we lose sight of the honesty needed to be real with our self.  To remedy this temptation: nurture the close and safe relationships you have versus spreading yourself out there.  As you heal and strengthen in less relationship, you’ll have the ability to expand your boundaries (should you choose to).

Lay down the power to control how others see your abuser.  Chances are good, you’ve got haters on your hand.  Those who are not going to like seeing you find a life without them.  These people ‘know’ you… these people ‘know’ your buttons… these people ‘know’ how to keep you in your place.  You have probably spent a great deal of energy protecting these people over the years, and now that you have made the break from them… hell has been unleashed upon you.  This is the point where the abuser is able to become the ‘victim’ to family and friends… and you are going to want everyone to see these frauds for who they really are.  You are going to be tempted to beat the monster… by becoming the monster… at which point, you’ve played right into their hand.  Fight or flight are not the only two options… there is a third way…

(more to come…)


It’s a hard thug life

There are powers that be.  There are those that be on the receiving end of the aggressive power that wields  its way into a position of control.

 We are always willing to tap a thug on the shoulder to get their attention and offer the opportunity to change course before the natural path of aggression they are on leads them to a brick wall.

 This requires a bit of assertiveness on our part, which can be a challenge of its own, considering that previous attempts to just keep the peace conditioned our responses to the thugs to be passive in nature.

 Aggressive people love to have passive people to rule over.  All they have to do is throw a fit… or threaten to throw a fit, and the passive person will take another step backwards to avoid a beating of some form.

 Standing your ground with a thug who is used to being able to push you around and backwards is usually interpreted as an act of aggression against them.  They flip.  In many situations, you can feel their blood beginning to boil.  As someone who is passive by nature, it is at the boiling point that I would typically begin my retreat.

 There are two obvious responses to thugs:  fight or flight.

 Nothing new there.  Most of us are familiar with those terms as a phrase.  As in many things, though, it is worth unpacking the terms to reveal a deeper understanding of what we mean.

 One way to respond to a thug: FLIGHT

  • Roll over and stay… good dog.
  • Drop to your knees, and crawl back.
  • Retreat and withdrawal
  • Hang the white flag and surrender

 Another way to respond to a thug: FIGHT

  • Grab a frying pan and start swinging.
  • Recruit their family members to feel sorry for you and turn on them.
  • Post something about them on facebook.
  • Do the exact same thing you say they are doing to you, and justify your actions because of your own pain.

 The above mentioned responses tend to lack creativity, and are the easier routes to take… but they aren’t nearly as fun as the third option below.  Why?  Because nothing is as gratifying as flipping someone’s world upside down in the hopes that they get it.

 The third way to respond to a thug:

  • Seize the moral initiative
  • Find a creative alternative to violence
  • Assert your own humanity and dignity as a person
  • Meet force with ridicule or humor
  • Break the cycle of humiliation
  • Refuse to submit or to accept the inferior position
  • Expose the injustice of the system
  • Take control of the power dynamic
  • Shame the oppressor into repentance
  • Stand your ground
  • Make the Powers      make decisions for which they are not prepared
  • Recognize your own power
  • Be willing to suffer rather than retaliate
  • Force the oppressor to see you in a new light
  • Deprive the oppressor of a situation where a show of force is effective
  • Be willing to undergo the penalty of breaking unjust laws
  • Die to fear of the old order and its rules

 What you’ve got to be careful with here, is that you don’t turn ‘the third way’ into a means of revenge.  In the end, our hope is that the thug sees the error of their ways, and turns things around.  Reconciliation has its place.

 But, in case they don’t make the change… grab some wine and enjoy the circus.