Jason gave me the new Amy Grant album Somewhere Down the Road for Christmas, and I've been enjoying her soulful lyrics and soothing melodies while I drive my kids hither and thon. One of her songs contains a line which says, "Love has made me unafraid." The song is about all of the change in our lives, and how with more love and understanding comes a courage to be who we really are without fear of the consequences.
I have been living this out for awhile now, and discovering that it is both the best and the hardest way to live. It's easier to pretend, and to hide your true self from others, because you can't be hurt in quite the same way. Living authentically as yourself in all circumstances threatens and upsets quite a few people who are important to you, and finding ways to manage that has been challenging.
Some days I feel as brave as a lion, like I could take on anyone and do anything. Those are the good days, and during them I feel certain that I could never go back to the people pleaser I once was. But then the hard times come, and I am confronted by people I love about the way I am now, and the fear overtakes me like a sudden storm, blinding me with doubt and sorrow.
All I know to do is keep on walking (another fabulous Amy Grant lyric). I don't want to hurt anyone with my words, my countenance or my actions. But sometimes I do. There is collateral damage when we value ourselves higher than we used to on the priority scale, and the loved ones in our lives must adjust to our new approach. It becomes rocky, and even though we know the changes in us are good ones, it sometimes takes some convincing for others to see the benefits.
There are no manuals in life. There is only instinct, hopefully cloaked in kindness and mercy, and clear communication helps to grease the wheels of our relationships. I always want to do the right thing, but I'm recognizing that it's not always possible to know what the right thing is, or to be able to carry it out. All we can do is our best in any given situation, and ask for forgiveness when we miss the mark.
There are days where I know for sure that love has made me unafraid. And then there are the other days, where I cower in fear and wonder if I'm on the wrong road. I have to understand that I can't get it right all of the time. If I'm wrong, I can admit to that and try to fix it going forward, but I can't be inspired all of the time about the right thing to do for each person in every situation.
It takes two people to communicate with each other. Guessing and reading into situations has gotten me in trouble before, and when I get on those roads I know now to look for an exit sign. I can only do my part, and must let the other side slip through my fingers. I wish it wasn't so very hard to let go, but it's important to learn how to do it now instead of later, and be gentle with myself when I fall back into the old, comfortable behaviour patterns.