On Monday I talked about honesty – in telling the truth, and in not failing to tell the truth.
I talked about honesty that was based on love, not fear.
About whether our honesty is about connecting more deeply or about the avoidance of punishment and pain.
But today I want to go deeper.
Because I know that for me – and for many, many others – there are multiple layers of truth that we simply do not acknowledge.
Truth that we completely fail to realize exists.
And it’s truth that we really can’t live fully without!
It’s the truth that our bodies are telling us, “I’m tired … I’m hungry … I’m sore and in pain.”
It’s the truth that our emotions are telling us, “I’m sad … I’m excited … I’m simmering with rage.”
It’s the truth that our souls are telling us, “I’m frazzled … distracted … trying to juggle too many things.”
These truths are deeper than the facts in front of us. The facts answer questions like:
- Can I or can’t I afford to hit snooze one more time on the alarm clock before the day starts?
- Does this child or does this child not need my time and attention?
- Do I or do I not need to start dinner right now?
- Do I or don’t I need to finish this blog post before going to bed?
The facts are simply the facts.
But regardless of the answer to the fact-based questions, we desperately need the wisdom found in the truths our bodies, emotions and souls are telling us.
We need to know the truths not because it will necessarily change whether or not we do what needs to be done. As adults, sometimes we just have to get on with the task at hand.
But even if it changes nothing about whether we do the task, the truth can change everything about how we approach the task and how we treat ourselves (and by extension everyone around us) while we are doing the task at hand.
So if I can’t afford to hit the snooze button one more time, but I acknowledge that I am really tired, I might go start the kettle for a tea before I wake the kids up, just to gentle myself into the day.
If my child needs my attention but my body needs to move it might be time for a walk to the park together or a bike ride round the neighbourhood instead of a cuddle on the couch.
If I need to start dinner but my body is in pain I might bring the ingredients over to the table and sit down to do the prep work – or I might choose a simpler, quicker option for tonight and leave the more complicated dinner for a day when I’m feeling better.
But if I’m worried about finishing my blog post before I go to bed when I’m tired and no longer concentrating well, it might be time to go and do some yoga or mindfulness exercise and come back to it all in the morning when I am fresh and able to bring my best to it. Especially since it’ll make it easier not to need to hit the snooze button so many times tomorrow!
You see, the truth opens us up to the opportunity to give ourselves grace – and in doing so, improves the chances that we will extend grace to those around us as well!
Because when we try to pretend that all is well – when we just grit our teeth and try harder – what we are feeling and experiencing and trying to lie to ourselves about becomes hard not to pass on to those around us.
And of course, since we’re lying to ourselves about it, it’s not likely that they’ll know what the problem actually is – and they may even assume that it has to do with them!
So we may unwittingly be hurting the very people that we’re screwing up our eyes to push through the pain for in the first place!
This is something I’m trying desperately hard to learn these days.
For example, yesterday morning the alarm went off earlier than my disabled body would have liked.
A phantom-like pain from arthritis in most of my joints left me feeling nauseous, and made it hard for me to move.
But it was still time to wake everyone up.
It was still time to go down and make breakfasts and lunches.
There were still dishes that needed to be done so that I could do that.
And as I was going through the motions I started to feel resentful. My husband came down and I started getting grumpy at him, indirectly blaming him for ‘keeping us up too late’ the night before and – because we’ve been working on this one together – he asked me “are you angry, or are your in pain?”
That was all it took.
I realized I had enjoyed myself the previous night just as much as he had. That I valued the time we had spent with the kids late into the evening. That I love making sure that my family leaves in the morning with full bellies and a full bag of food for the day. I just don’t love the pain and the muscle weakness and the nausea.
But over the years I’ve gotten so practiced at lying to myself that it’s there that I wonder how often I have snapped at my kids or my husband when it was never about them? How often have I carried around a bag of resentment when I didn’t even really mind doing the thing – only having to do it in pain?
So I’m awfully thankful that my husband noticed.
I’m awfully thankful that he helped me get to honest.
But clearly I still have some work to do on this one!