The practice of compassionate honesty with yourself and God will give you peace and wholeness. Like confession in the Catholic faith, or taking an inventory in the fourth step of 12-step groups, the act of looking at yourself with a kind and neutral eye will free you.
Think of something important that happened to you. When you tell a story about it, do you leave out the complications and dead ends, the hurt feelings and the confusion, and focus only on the success? Do you portray yourself as friendly, knowledgeable, calm and in charge?
Saturday I had the good fortune to go to dinner at the Claysville Store with some people I hold dear, Tim Carson, Jenny McGee and her husband Dave, my husband and my son. Over fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, coleslaw and the best applesauce I’ve had in a long time, we traded stories about life before we knew one another. Did I mention the biscuits—and the chocolate banana cream pie?
Before I started in on how my husband and I met, my son asked, “What version are you going to tell, the cleaned-up one or the messy one?”
I laughed and said he would just have to wait and see.
When we tell our own stories, it’s easy to embellish who we were. We can make ourselves smarter, cleaner and stronger in the retelling. The cleaned-up version often makes us feel better. Why wouldn’t we slant our own stories in our favor?
Telling the truth about yourself and your experiences strengthens your well-being. How can God reach me if I’m caught up in myself?
Only in letting go of the good and the bad can I make space for grace, instead of grandiosity.
Honesty brings us closer.
You had feelings of jealousy, anger, pettiness, lust, shame or fear that you wish you could deny? Accept yourself. Give your burden to God.
The truth is many times in my life I’ve seemed like a mess, a hairball looking for a drain to clog. The drain I clogged was the flow of love and positivity.
Through honesty to myself, to my journal and to God, I’m able to embrace all the parts of myself: the mess, the conflicting feelings and the memories.
I don’t always tell the messy stories. I have to choose my audience. But I tell the messy stories to the people I love.
So far, they haven’t rejected me. They might even love me more for it.
Lord, give us courage to be real with you.
Give us strength to admit our weakness.
The real stories might be painful;
you can heal us.
The real stories might be messy;
you can clean us.
You make in us a new life.
Let’s rejoice and live it!
What story do you have in your life that has two or more versions? (If you appreciate messy stories, keep an eye out on this blog for news about my upcoming poetry book, Turn. It’s in the final stages of editing and design right now!)