I’m a little torn between bombastic showmanship and humility. The right choice is of course being humble. But here’s a confession: I like to show off, just like I did in that first sentence when I could have said pretentious instead of bombastic. Last Friday night I read my testimony at the Celebrate Recovery meeting at Judson Baptist Church in San Bernardino. I had given my testimony just over a year ago at my home church. Over the course of a year a lot can happen. So I had updated it.
I added on how I am stepping up into the leadership position of our group. I also told more about how over the past year I have discovered more about myself though my second step study. A static year is not a good year and I was blessed to not just add things, but good things. Working on the update, I read over the text that I had written last year and was pretty happy with it otherwise. It was obvious to me that I had gone over it meticulously before delivering it last time. I am picky about my writing all the time anyway. But I had made every word count in my testimony. Each sentence was as good as I could make it. It’s how I will have to work eventually when I am ready to present something for consideration to publish.
I read over the testimony and felt it was good enough, but I wanted to add something. So I took a scene out of the memoir I’m writing, the opening scene. I condensed it down and changed it to be able to fit in with the rest of my work. I was particularly pleased with how my testimony was now “bookended” starting and ending talking about a voice calling to me.
This opening scene talks about how I nearly left my son Jamie, who was one year old at the time, at the Costco register. I walked away, leaving my son behind only to be shouted back by the clerk to get him. Of course I had the feeling that I was missing someone. I ignored the feeling just like I ignored the clerk calling me. In my testimony, I state I was used to the feeling that someone was missing because I had lost Naomi weeks before.
My overall testimony has its light moments. The first time I gave it, there were a few chuckles here and there. Conversely of course, when I shared the part where Naomi dies even I cried. But the second time I gave the testimony with the “extended” beginning, there were no laughs at all, just tears from the listeners. I started out with a story that jerked the rug out from under everyone who was listening. I set a serious tone for the whole thing. I changed how the whole thing was received.
And what I am confessing here today is that I added the enticing incident on, not to make my testimony more relatable, but to show off. I used to love acting, and maybe I still do. But now I write. I stood up there and read my testimony, but I also tried to showcase my writing. How wrong was it? Wasn’t it okay to try to provide an engaging story as well as an encouraging one that inspired others? Sure it was. But what was my main desire? Was it to encourage others or to show off? The big question was this: Who was I trying to glorify? That is something I need to examine in myself.
The truth is if I want to show off, I can do it here. And readers can choose to ignore me or even message me and call me on it. Roadwalker is a writing exercise. It’s where I practice my and stick to writing at least once a week. If I show off, at least I am doing in a venue where it’s not unexpected.
But even if I get grandiloquent here, I promise I will always be truthful. I am a little nervous that I was very truthful in this entry. Perhaps being verbose like this is something of a defense mechanism to distract from that truth. Maybe if I was serious about stretching my writing chops, I would experiment in a straightforward, simple style. Maybe.
I am going to change my testimony again before I deliver it next time, which is October 4th at Yucaipa Christian Church. I may delete the whole opening scene, or I might just edit it so that it still engages the listeners but doesn’t set a dirge-like tone. My prayer however, is that I don’t make it about me.
I have received a lot of support when it has been time to deliver my testimony. Thanks everyone for that. So far, it has not gotten any easier. I make it easier for myself by showcasing my writing. Maybe it’s not wrong.