Over and over I was eviscerated by the little girl across the street. I thought she was just precocious, quite intelligent and maybe lacking the social graces that tell you not to point out to your elders when they look foolish. I gave her many opportunities to practice this skill, she continued her ways nevertheless. She was never completely rude merely pointed out the obvious in the midst of some drama that was generally preventable, exactly what you want to hear when chasing a dog through the neighborhood in your nightgown, say. Finally though she grew older and busier and has left me alone. Then yesterday happened, a new little girl entered my orbit who pointed out that I was wearing the same clothes as the day before.
This girl lives in a home where food is not always certain, I feed her every time I feed Plum. Her clothes are often a bit raggedy and her hair is always tangled. Still she smiles and giggles unceasingly, she savors joy like the huge bubbles we create together on the front lawn. So why was she criticizing me? Or was she? Once my defensiveness settled and I gave her back her popsicle (the one I angrily snatched away in my mind) I knew first that she was right and also that even though she didn’t know my whole story of a short night and a struggle to get a shower and that she was holding up my day because Plum wanted to ride bikes with her and I couldn’t leave them out on the street alone… well, I knew she is a truth teller. Just like the other little girl, she is a truth teller.
At some point, girls stop telling the truth each other, they begin to hedge on the question, “Does this make me look fat?” What these two little girls lack maybe in finesse, they cannot be faulted in their honesty. I hope they hold on to the ability to share truths with other women as they age. I am blessed with a couple of friends who maybe were these little girls, friends who tell me with honesty when I have messed up or stepped outside the boundaries. I wish I could say I respond more appropriately than trying to snatch popsicles back, my defensiveness crosses ages and I don’t hear feedback well. In fact, it often takes me a good amount of time to let it soak in, to allow the truth of the message to reach the real part of me. The stronger my relationship with the teller though, the less time it generally takes. Some truths though are still rumbling around, searching for a home, I hear the words and work to separate my emotion in the hearing to get to the glorious nugget that is meant only for me. Owning those nuggets means getting truly comfortable shedding another layer of protection I thought I had, the part that kept folks at bay. Can others really see me that clearly? Like the proverbial ostrich, if I keep my hand buried, maybe we can both ignore just how naked and exposed I am.
One truth teller told me that writing about my political views was hurting people, that it had hurt her. Thousands of justifications rose up in me like the activist I am, I was prepared to battle and protest and yet the word hurt was slowing me down. This conversation has been bugging me for a while, a time spent trying to connect what I feel so strongly in my soul that goes in seemingly divergent directions. Attending the writing conference, I heard a seminar speaker tell me the same truth and I sank lower in my chair. It wasn’t that I needed another voice to say it for it to be true, more that my soul had been readied during a week of worship and gentle prodding to hear it again.
To this end, I am prepared to make a promise. I will no longer write on this blog about my political leanings, you needn’t fear that one day you will open it and find an angry rant about anything more divisive than our beasts or where the laundry goes. I know this blog is not the format for my activism or protests about anything other than sticky fingers on my keyboard. Will you give me another chance to seek the truth and share the truth as I see it and to share along the way when truth tellers find me? I promise not to break your trust.
Note of caution, do not read my twitter account, a girl has to have an outlet. I may have something in common with the little girls of my neighborhood after all. Shall we all seek some truth today, how ever small? Dare we listen to those who bravely tell us our clothes don’t match or we have a bit of spinach on our teeth or we are screwing up our marriage or we are not being kind to our children or our car is a mess? Listening to each other might just be the most radical activism of our day.
By the way, I love your smile and am so grateful you stopped by. That is the truth.