poetry of raw truth: mistakes and glory all in one

Jennifer Camp
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Jennifer Camp, co-founder of  Gather Ministries, and author of  Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both  Facebook  and  Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.

I resist talking to her. Although I am desperate to hear her voice. Or have her hear me. It is confusing, which way the conversation will go. 

I see her there–separate from me though part of me–and I edge in closer. I have been watching her from a distance, studying her posture, the way her hands hang at her sides, the jut of her hips. But it is her eyes I am afraid to read. For that would require closeness. Intimacy. Begging for permission. And her time. Her attention. Her voice. Oh, how I long to hear her voice.

But I have told you that already.

How would a conversation with her begin? Can I even speak the first words?

“Hello. You are unknown to me though I can’t keep my eyes off you. Do you mind? Do you mind my staring? Do you mind my curiosity? Can we speak, face to face? Will you share with me your heart?”

Would that be weird? Would she tolerate my questions, my attention? Would she exhale, earnest in her appreciation to be known, seen, heard?

I want to know her. Understand her. And she is a puzzle to me. Pieces of memory and imagination. Experiences lived and unlived. She has traveled long distances to get here, and I want to honor that sacrifice. A life of trial and beauty. A journey of mistakes and glory all in one.

She is me. And I am her. And we need to get to know each other. Starting from the middle, the beginning, both the songs of joy and the dirges of sorrow. There is much I can teach her. And much she will help me understand. Do I dare to begin? To speak? To listen? To ask her the toughest questions? To invite her to stare into the face of shame and speak truth–instead of lies–straight back?

I think it is worth finding out.

For this week’s Loop Poetry Project prompt, I invite you to explore an unedited, raw truth about yourself–something about you that you love and admire–or something about you that you struggle to accept or understand. 

Let me give you some background that explains why I think this is important.

One thing that is difficult to do as a writer is to write unselfconsciously–to write without caring whether or not you will be liked by the reader. (We all do this, right?) We want to sound smart, appear decent. We want to seem wise, put-together, kind. But if we care more about the presentation of ourselves than the sharing of what is true, two things are happening. First, we are dismissing the opportunity for intimacy with the reader. The voice of the poem is much less effective when it is filtered and untrue. But secondly, and most importantly, we are rejecting the invitation for our own deeper healing. Each poem, if true, is an entryway to the mysteries of the human heart–an invitation to delve deep and discover what God is saying.

Here is something to consider: Can you imagine beginning a poem with an admission of failure or error? Personal or professional. Minor or major. Not because you are trying to get better at self-condemnation. Certainly not. But because you don’t want to hide. Because you want to take off the grave clothes of shame and let God into the places of vulnerability that we so often want to ignore and hide. 

Can we let our poem, this week, be a declaration of glory in our weakness? Can we look for how we are beautiful even in our brokenness? Can we write from a place of honesty and self-revelation rather than from self-accusation regret, or blame? And remember, you don’t have to write your poem from the first-person point of view. Rather than saying “I was cruel to the girl in the mirror,” you could say “She was cruel . . . ” if that helps you not censor yourself and write from a place that is unfiltered and raw, beautiful and safe.

Here is mine:

If you need help getting started, here are some questions you can ask yourself that might help: 

  • What mistakes do you have trouble surrendering?
  • What worry makes it a struggle for you to sleep?
  • What did you forget to do this morning?
  • What secret makes you most insecure?
  • What is something about which you refuse to speak?

Use the first person, if you’d like–or have the speaker be someone outside yourself, an observer, someone else telling a story. Do whatever the poem requires. Listen to your heart. It will tell you the right words to say. 

Photograph by Abby Camp

And then, when you’ve written your poem, consider sharing it with us here, by pasting your poem as a comment to this post. Or, open up your heart to sharing it with your community on social media (on your personal Instagram feed and your personal Facebook page) and make sure to use the hashtag #looppoetryproject. Another place to share–where it will be kept private except for the members of the private Loop Poetry Project group members–is to the Loop Poetry Project Facebook page. (Click here to join!)

Much love to you, from this one true heart,

jennifer

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com

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About Jennifer Camp

Jennifer Camp, co-founder of  Gather Ministries, and author of  Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both  Facebook  and  Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.