On Wednesday night of this week, I was speaking with someone about being truthful and honest to the people in our lives. He stated that being too open can lead to betrayal and pain and therefore he doesn’t share his story for fear of being taken advantage of. It was a fair argument but I told him maybe his issue wasn’t being fearful of openness but being open to the wrong people. People we can trust, who won’t use our words and experiences against us, who will listen to understand and be a shoulder to lean on are invaluable.
Earlier in the week, I shared a fatherhood presentation to a group of fathers who have young kids in school. There were dads who were going in to work late and some who had worked all night diligently sitting there to learn more about how they could be involved in their children’s lives, especially when it comes to education. After the presentation while saying; “goodbye” to the fathers one of the attendees came up and began speaking with me. She had some questions about getting a father involved and shared her story. What she told me was hard to hear with many issues and other challenges she’s had to overcome. I couldn’t believe how open she was being when we had just met a few moments earlier. She believes I am someone she can trust with her family.
Openness, transparency, is something most say they desire in themselves and others. However, these can bring feelings of uncomfortableness, questions that aren’t easily answered, and an unsettling fear of not being skilled enough to meet the need. When these thoughts are rushing through our minds the need to breathe and be still must be remembered. Most people don’t want you to fix them they simply need someone to listen without judging. If there are problems to solve and mysteries to unravel we can do them together as we travel this path called life.
This morning, while getting ready for worship, I thought of an elderly woman I used to attend church with who had some unspoken rules she followed when it came to “going to God’s house.” Two that I remember were; “No candy and women always wear dresses.” I thought they were silly rules but the woman and I had a special relationship so it didn’t really matter.
As she got older she developed breathing problems and dry mouth occurred as a result. It was then that her rule about no candy was broken so she wouldn’t cough during services. I also remember a Sunday when I called her and she told me about a rash that was covering portions of her body and all the dresses she tried on were uncomfortable. I asked the simple question; “Couldn’t you wear pants?” There was silence on the other end for a while and then a soft voice replied; “I hadn’t even thought of that.” It was after this phone call her no pants rule was broken, though still not very often.
The more rules and regulations we have the less peace. We can wear ourselves, and others, out by placing burdens of expectations on our collective shoulders. The joy we could know by living simply becomes complicated when we slap our paradigms of how things should be in different facets of life. Trusting and letting go, allowing the journey of life to unfold before us unforced and naturally, will lead us to peace of mind, body, spirit, and freedom.