There is a struggle to be real and open from which none of us are exempt. There is also a struggle for many to hear what is honest and vulnerable. This battle is an internal wrestling match. Humility wars against fear, denial, pride and self preservation. Don’t get me wrong, in some places and spaces (relationships and environments) we need boundaries. But sometimes they hinder us from the ability to mourn. To ‘mourn’ is to be entreat-able; to experience humility and sorrow over wrongful behavior as we engage life and relationships.
Not too long ago, a dear friend approached me. I had hurt her, not intentionally, nor out of ignorance; for I was aware of my behavior, but more as a matter of circumstance. I was broken and in my brokenness I drew away. That warm, sultry afternoon, as I listened to her experience and perceptions of me, my mind went into overdrive as I weighed up my many options. I could explain myself with all the ‘whys.’ I could wiggle my way out by making her points seem immature and childish. Perhaps, by revisiting the situation, I could logically exonerate myself of any culpability by generating excuses that justified my actions. I could even blame shift, take the spotlight off myself and put it on her. Or I could listen, intently and without being defensive. To open oneself up in this manner is a place of risk. It takes courage and practice to allow this threshold to be crossed; for it is not natural to the human psyche.
The truth is, many of us are fearful when it comes to laying bare the wounds we have received from one another. We run, we hide, we ignore. We attempt to forgive from a distance. From experience, I have found that it takes more courage for the wounded to open up and trust, especially the melancholic soul. To engage the person that caused the emotional wound is to risk one’s soul again. It is not an easy choice. But if we remain unwilling, we may find that in the process of guarding our hearts we have imprisoned our bruised souls. In the effort to be honest in relationships, there is a yielding of our will; a willful dismantling of our self- protective mechanisms.
That afternoon as I sat listening to the voice inside me, I chose to bite my tongue and open the door of my spirit. I believe, in a situation like this, we are faced with a personal choice. Will we allow ourselves to be drawn in to hear what is essential, or will we choose to stay emotionally distant? I knew the right thing to do was apologize, so I did. And while it touched the wound of rejection and feelings of abandonment, I knew it did not go deep enough. I could see that it only scratched the surface of her pain and loss. The truth is, we both knew it, but ignored it. We played the game many people play when they don’t know what else to do. Maybe it is not a game, but a dance. In essence, we maneuver ourselves away from the situation. I guess we could call it the ‘too close for comfort’ dance. And through carefully crafted steps we create an emotional distance so that we do not penetrate the space where the pain lives. It is what we say and do when we have gone as far as our limited humility and tender souls can take us.
Deep inside, I was well aware of my guardedness. Hidden within my heart was a knowing that I was still justifying my behavior, she sensed my hardness, my protective shell, and I still sensed her pain.
Fast forward several months, and you see me and my friend in a quaint red brick café. But before I take you to the main event come with me into the morning’s back story. I awoke that Sunday morning to a grey sky and drizzle. The kind of morning that makes you feel like staying in bed with coffee and a book. Pushing away the desire to vegetate, I started to dress. It was in that brief moment that a dialogue opened up within me. I clearly heard a familiar inner voice say,”Apologize again.” “Acknowledge the pain, apologize for how you behavior affected the relationship.” This time, I knew I could enter our inner worlds with sincerity.
While she enjoyed a sinfully, rich piece of homemade chocolate cheesecake, and I spoiled myself with a cup of my favorite tortilla soup, I stammered my way back to the summer of my brokenness and the rejection I caused. This time, with raw humility, a deeper understanding, and heartfelt emotion, I stepped onto the bridge of relationship. The tears welled in her eyes, the pain surfaced again and I washed it away with my heartfelt words. Waiting in that moment, in that experience, was something more beautiful than I could have ever hoped for. It was there that the weight of sorrow and loss fell away. Poet and author, Mark Nepo wrote, “To journey without being changed is to be a nomad, to change without journeying is to be a chameleon.” That day me and my friend journeyed to a new and better place. Our bonds of love strengthened and the wounds were washed away. We were both willing to be changed through the journey of what we experienced. We were true pilgrims.
My point is simply this: sometimes it takes more than one visit across the bridge of hope, trust, repentance and forgiveness to heal our wounded souls. It is a wise lesson learned that the wounds we create in ignorance, callousness, selfish ambition, or a variety of other reasons, may need more attention than we are often willing to give. In all our relationships, let us embrace the moments of vulnerability and sincerity that heal.
All Sons and Daughters song, Dawn to Dusk, has a line in it which calls us into sacred moments. When we hear the soft voice calling us to humility let us enter the place of sweet surrender. Tomorrow's Freedom is Today's Surrender!
The song Dawn to Dusk