At church on Sunday our Pastor quoted a Scottish poem that I found very inspiring. I quickly whipped out my pen and some preschool bedding plant fundraising sheets I found crumpled in my purse (oh, the exotic life of a mom) and got it down on paper:
"I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day,
I'd rather one would walk with me than merely show the way.
The eye's a better pupil, more willing than the ear,
fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear."
These words have been rattling around in my brain for a few days, and each time I consider this poem, the ring of truth is just a little bit louder and clearer. Words don't mean much if we don't have actions behind them. We all have a built-in sensor that goes off when someone's words and actions don't match. I recently found myself in a situation where a person tried to assure me with their words that they weren't feeling a certain way, but the body language and tone of those words were screaming something different. It was easy to spot the truth, but how do we convince people that their words and actions are not aligning?
I think I've come so far in this journey of authenticity that I can't stand to see others clinging to the hope that they won't be found out when they are lying to themselves. If you are angry, own up to it. If you are baffled, admit that you aren't sure what is going on. If you are happy, dance with true joy. By all means, please don't tell me you are fine when I can see that you are hurting. It's the adult version of lying, and we teach our kids to always tell the truth. There is a difference between intentionally being mean and hurting someone's feelings, and omitting certain things because it won't benefit a person to hear what you have to say. We all have to navigate our way through these emotional minefields, and the right way to behave is not always black and white. There are often shades of gray. We make mistakes and learn lessons in our relationships. That's a big part of life.
I'm talking about being in touch with our emotions and our words. They should be in the same basic vicinity of each other. This congruence makes our example meaningful and true for others. It's important to me to be as transparently honest as I can. Sometimes it causes hurt feelings, but it's worth whatever price I have to pay, because to be fake is to be eventually found out and busted. I want my words and my actions to match, and where they don't, I beg my family and friends to point it out to me so I can address it. Every now and again we all need to be reminded to check this ratio and see if it lines up. Giving our kids an example that will light their own path to adulthood is worth it.