Posted by: minnow | January 6, 2018

Out Stretched Hands

The following words from someone I do not know captured my attention today. Their simplicity and tenderness stopped my scrolling though my FB feed full of status updates and political posts and caused me to consider how I generally move through my day.

“Lately I’ve been replacing my “I’m sorry”s with “thank you”s, like instead of “sorry I’m late” I’ll say “thanks for waiting for me”, or instead of “sorry for being such a mess” I’ll say “thank you for loving me and caring about me unconditionally” and it’s not only shifted the way I think and feel about myself but also improved my relationships with others who now get to receive my gratitude instead of my negativity.” –vijara

I was similarly stopped by a stat I read just before the holiday break from school. According to the article 60 percent of the population cannot go 10 minutes without lying and they average 2 to 3 lies in that time frame. Most of these lies are relatively unimportant and generally told to help us fit in or make oneself look better such as, adding an inch or two to our height, taking five to ten pounds off our weight or saying we watched the movie everyone else is talking about when we only know a few of the most quoted lines. After reading that stat, I tested myself. Sure enough, within minutes I heard myself saying I was ready for Christmas when in fact I had done nothing to get ready–no decorating, no shopping, nothing. And moments later I dutifully answered “fine” when a colleague asked how I was doing. In truth I was fighting a cold and all I wanted was a comfy blanket and my head to stop pounding.

Little white lies–some, like the one I just mentioned, might even be called a nicety or the polite response to the extended greeting of “how ya doing?” which we know is never really meant as a sincere question.  I don’t know if the article I mentioned counted these types of lies but they truly come out of our mouths every day. “You’re lookin’ good!” when really we think they need to put on some weight, or take some off. “How’s that granddaughter of yours?” when in fact we never think about the granddaughter until we’re face to face with an acquaintance and feel pressure to make conversation.

Do these falsehoods actually hurt anything? I don’t know, but I’m beginning to think they might actually be damaging to our mental health. When we don’t trust others enough to be truthful with them, when we’re always only positive or only say what’s politically correct, [Given the group we find ourselves in PC might be politically, religiously, culturally, professionally, or economically determined.] we isolate ourselves. We build emotional walls to keep ourselves safe but they also keep others out. When one wall gets built in front of another wall which is built in front of another wall, some taller and thicker and more important than the first couple, the isolation turns to loneliness and the loneliness becomes filled with doubt. We begin to wonder if we will ever be understood, valued, or loved, if we will ever feel free to be the mixtures of flaws and ordinaries, and spectaculars that we truly are.

Human relationships are full of unintended and insincere communication.At least, this is the conclusion to which my experiences have brought me. The quote I used at the beginning of this post caused me to think about my own relationships in a new way. Outside of my immediate family, I do not have many close ties but I want the relationships I do have to be less polite and more straightforward. I’m not talking about becoming more critical (heck, I probably wouldn’t have any friends left if I did that). I just want to be more intentional with my words. I want others to know they can trust what I say to be what I mean. And when I change what I say or ask their forgiveness for what I’ve said, I want them to know I am truly repentant and am walking in a new direction.

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