Looks like I am going to be going back to my roots. My life is presenting me with many opportunities to test my own congruence about valuing differences and acceptance.
On a personal level I am having to re-define relationships because our differences are no longer open for dialogue and more about black/white and right/wrong. Of course, in this course of re-defining I am having to look at how I am holding on to my position or presenting what is important to me. In the past, I would say I have always been a bit like my boxer, Bailey. People know where I stand, and I can look tough. However, equally like Bailey, I am not nearly as tough as my bark.
I have been learning that indeed I am quite an open-heart-ed person, who cares more about the relationship than my own point of view. Most of my life I think I have covered up this softer side because I really did believe that a tough front would be safer and create less pain. If no one ever knew that I cared deeply, they would more likely give me an honest opinion. Plus, I grew up watching lots of strongly opinionated people sit around a dinner table and wrestle with politics, religion and various other intellectual challenges, and it seemed to me, the best at it, were the most opinionated and loudest. So I went that route.
Many years later, a few health challenges and lots of deep emotional de-armoring, I am realizing that there is indeed another path. One that isn’t easy for me but much more fulfilling and quite frankly, honest. That path is one of vulnerability and intimacy (into-to-me-see). The problem with the new path is that I often have a shaky voice and don’t sound quite as solid. Also I cry. I am not comfortable crying. Just doesn’t come easy. Plus, big tears for me is usually not so obvious to anyone else. Inside I am wailing, but outside I think I look a bit more tight.
Still, I like me better this way. I like being able to finally say to the world – I care more about you and I connecting, having an honest dialogue than I do about a truth, or any one opinion.
Of course, I am also learning that this is not a value that everyone has or is interested in considering. Some folks really are all about finding ‘a truth’ – or the ‘truth’.
I work in relationship to a very charismatic leader who has become quite respected for some very simple and practical wisdom when applied to business, teams and leadership. I love his message – well the message in the books. It seems he is becoming more interested in including his strong religious values as part of his message. He has a platform from which to speak and wants to speak about what matters most to him. On one level that is great. However, his religious beliefs are not mine. At first, I thought this wouldn’t be a problem. I respect differences and have always loved working with teams, people who are very different than me. However, I am getting the message that may be my belief – but not his. He believes in one truth and that truth quite clearly makes some people ‘wrong’ or eliminates the values of others. That’s not okay with me.
So now both on a personal and a professional level, I am being challenged to stand forth. To show up and not fight about these issues but to speak from my heart, my heart that feels a bit broken right now. Much like the Leonard Cohen lyrics, “a crack in anything is where the light gets in”, I believe this broken heart of mine is an opportunity to discover what is next for me. To find my own words and message.
I do have something to say about all this. The message is forming. When I am ready, I plan to step up and without the heavy armor of my past and say what I think. Sure my voice may crack and likely I will have some moist eyes (that you might just think are tight) but I will be strong – not tough – strong.
I do hope the message will be the one my life has been crafting since the beginning. Because I think I came into this world wanting to bridge differences, not knock them down. I think bridges are for crossing over and seeing what life is like from someone else’s perspective. Sure I have an opinion and it is quite likely a good one for me – but it isn’t the only one. That much I do know for sure.