Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Love Trumps Honesty

"But I'm just being honest . . . I'm just telling you how I feel . . . I'm just trying to be authentic."

Consider this, if honesty was the highest value in life then here's how most people's days would go:

"Good morning son or daughter (we'd say to our kids), I'm tired and don't want to make your lunch this morning. You are 5 years old and still so needy. I can't wait until you're older and more capable. You seem to not even care or notice how much I do for you. I think you're selfish. Have a good day at school." 

Can you imagine? 

Love makes us want to hold back our "honesty" and instead give unselfishly to others. Love gives us endurance to make lunches over and over again even if they come home squished in a lunch bag because they had pizza day at school and we didn't know. Love inspires us to listen when we feel like talking. Love allows our desires and needs to become second place as we put someone else's needs before ours. Love trumps honesty.  It needs to.

So, why do we let down our guard and think that being transparent about our feelings is the best thing and the most important thing? Where have we learned this?

I believe we let ourselves become mentally and emotionally flabby. We don't think its necessary to exercise restraint or take time to care for ourselves . . . so we just let whatever is on our minds and hearts land on other people.

I meet people at Safeway, who if asked how their day is going, unload ALL their thoughts and feelings to me, a stranger, as if I was their most trusted friend. It's like a tap with a leak that just drips all day. There is no restraint, no privacy, no sense of care for their own heart or for mine. What they feel and think is most important and you come away having been splashed by their transparency and honesty . . . but you don't necessarily feel loved, and I'm not sure they do either. Since they do this with everyone, then it obviously is not satisfying the deep need they have to be heard. 

I have a few close girlfriends and a mentor whom I book time with to 'unload' some of my thoughts and feelings. I ask my husband for some time to talk and he'll set aside what he's doing or give me time later in the day when he's done his work so I can talk or run some ideas or thoughts past him. In these relationships, I can have help sorting out my thoughts and feelings . . . with the main purpose of being able to love better. My kids are not necessarily the ones who need to listen to all my issues, nor my neighbours or family members or friends. That is not their job. My journal gets honesty . . . and then, like last night, I burn stacks of journals in a fire in the backyard. Honesty journalling has done its work but its not necessary for others to read. 

If you know me, you know that I love real conversations, genuine discussions and transparency. I will nudge conversations to go deeper if possible and love to really get to know people. So I'm not saying that we must keep things shallow and not reveal true feelings. But I do feel that too often, we depend on anyone and everyone to hear us out. We are so desperate to be heard, accepted, loved and approved that we share everything and all things with anyone who will listen as an attempt to find love and acceptance. Facebook can sometimes be that place for people. It becomes a cry for help rather than just a friendly "here's what's new" post. We must find safe and appropriate places to ask for help.

When the garden tap leaks, there is no power, no force, and the garden hose is useless for what is was intended to be. It is there to water the garden, cause things to grow, and to nourish and feed the plants, but instead it drips and sprays water onto your pants while you're trying to spray the flowers. The tap must be fixed so that it can restrain itself and then distribute water with power and efficiency when required. 

If you're feeling like a leaky tap these days, desperate to have someone listen to you or understand you, it might mean that your tap is broken and needs attention. You might just need to take care of yourself right now. That's okay. Find a trusted person, a counsellor, a mentor, a close friend and ask for some intentional time to pour out your thoughts and feelings. You need that. We all do. Then we can get on with the privileged honour of loving others! Healthy people take time to care for themselves properly so they can care for others. It must work in that order! 

"Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns." Philippians 2:14-16 (The Message)

(If you need a recommendation of some good counsellors or mentors, send me a note and I can suggest some resources for you!)