Impeccability

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Today is Monday, Day 111 in Bahrain’s stay-at-home time, day 76 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad. Suleika gave us the prompt today inspired by Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements.  The first agreement is “Be impeccable with your word.” According to Ruiz this “is the most important one and also the most difficult one to honor.” The prompt from Suleika: “Write about a time when you were NOT impeccable with your word.”

Impeccability: the quality of being without error or fault; to be incapable of sinning 

Being impeccable with our word is impossible based on the definition of impeccability. We will make errors. We will fail at times–as today’s prompt suggests. Being impeccable with my word has a firmer foundation in my life now as I’ve gotten older and wiser and more redeemed. (I totally believe in the Gospel–the Good News that Jesus can save us from our fears, selfishness, power-hunger, greed and then help us to be impeccable with our word.)

I must have been about ten years old. I was a tomboy and never wore dresses outside of school. (Yes, dresses were required for girls in my school in 1968, believe it or not. The following year, when that rule was abolished, I literally wore my one and only pair of jeans to school every single day of grade 6.)

Anyway, we had a neighbor who had a granddaughter who stayed with her at times. The woman shopped for the girl and when an item perhaps didn’t suit her or fit her properly or whatever, she asked my mom if she wanted to buy it for me. I don’t remember how many times this happened, but one time I especially remember. We went to the woman’s house. There it was–a red nightmare, the hook of the hanger dangling it from the door frame. I held my tongue and bit my lip. It was handed to me, like a last meal before my execution. It was made of polyester, and it was backed in foam, more suitable fabric for a seat protector in an old person’s car. When I tried it on, I looked like Po the Tella Tubby in a jumper. My skinny legs were the clapper in a big red bell. The foam polyester looked like it was strong enough to survive a nuclear bomb, and it could not have been uglier or more uncomfortable. Instead of being impeccable with my words, I answered, “Yes,” although quietly and haltingly, when the inevitable question came: “Do you like it?”

Why, oh why, did I always feel I had to say what I thought people wanted to hear? It was part of my upbringing, to be sure. “Be cute at all costs,” was the unspoken but highly valued life force in my family. That was evident in the fact that my mom, witness to all this ugliness, paid for the jumper and took it home for me. We both were not able to be impeccable with our word.

My mom and I never spoke of it. It hung in my closet until it was added to a future donation bag.

Fortunately, by God’s grace I have learned to be more honest, but I have a boatload of stories like this I could have told about when I have NOT been impeccable with my word.

8 thoughts on “Impeccability


  1. Oh, this one was a funny one!! I actually chuckled aloud! My mom and I have been there, too!


  2. This story took a twist I did not expect. I thought you’d offer your honest opinion about the dress and regret your candor. I’m projecting, of course, my own experiences of having too loose a tongue. I’m glad your mom didn’t make you wear the dress.


    1. Glenda, thank you for your comment. It’s so funny that we read things through our own lenses, isn’t it? I’m glad I surprised you today!


  3. Interesting that trying to be polite ends up as not impeccable words. Your description of the dress was super vivid and expressed your feelings very well.


    1. Yes, there could be a line drawn between being impolite and honest. I guess as Glenda said, my word would be less than impeccable if I said what I really thought. However, it’s been a lifelong journey to learn to be politely honest.


  4. Denise, I’ve not met another person who has read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. It’s quite powerful. I agree, that first agreement is most difficult, but the second is just as difficult for me. I love this story you shared. It made me smile, but I can feel the frustration in your brilliant description of that “red nightmare” and your not so impeccable use of words. I’m sure we can all relate to the use of not so impeccable words. Something we can all work on. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Marina,
      Thank you so much for sharing. Actually, I just learned about The Four Agreements from yesterday’s prompt for The Isolation Journals. I will be reading it soon.

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