As one of my daily rituals, I try and find something inspirational or ‘wise’ to add on my Instagram page. It might be a few words about things that inspire me, things I have observed, learnt, experienced or something that has simply been placed on my heart to share.
Recently I really toiled over sharing the following ‘quote’ that I had ruminated on for some time. And then I thought … be brave, say it anyway! The very essence of the words was a challenge, a revelation. Despite my reservations and the fact that the words were almost a contradiction of all that had learnt over a lifetime of always being mindful and considerate of the feelings and beliefs of others, a much stronger voice within me said “say it anyway”!
And so I did!
Let the repercussions be what they may be. I needed to share something that was on my heart despite the battle within me to stay silent … to be ‘neutral’, to not want to upset or cause friction with anyone else in my world. But what I needed to put into a simple Instagram posting was and is perhaps a reaction to a lifetime of conditioning, a lifetime of rationalising, and much pain as a consequence. Maybe, I reasoned, there will be many who will not like the simple statement I needed to make. And yet, stronger than the potential outfall was the ultimate knowledge deep within me that I needed to speak.
I went back and forth. No … I should remain silent and submit to the conditioning that all of us experience as we travel through life. Yes … I should speak a simple truth that I felt within me and be done with it once and for all. The battle from both sides raged. And yet I knew a line in the sand had to be drawn and I should ‘speak’. And I did!
With hashtags which referenced #lifelessons, #ruminations, #truefriends, #beliefs, #faith, #compassion, I wrote on my daily Instagram update the following words … “If our beliefs define us, why should we be so frightened to discuss the issues of faith and politics with our friends? What are we afraid of? That what we believe might not be acceptable to another? If so, then what sort of friendships do we have in the first place? Surely honest discussion, expressed with understanding and love, is better than silence?”
When I am really distressed, disturbed, unsettled and rattled there is always one place that I go … to the garden. For me there has never been a truer observation of human existence and finding peace and sanctuary in this world than the words of Dorothy Frances Gurney who wrote “One is nearer God’s heart in the garden than anywhere else on earth”. Indeed, when I’m truly troubled I always head outdoors and it’s here, on my knees laying down mulch or on the end of the mower I seem to always find an inner voice ‘speaking’ and helping me understand the things that are making me feel disconcerted, apprehensive and anxious.
And so, the other day, warring within myself and trying to rationalise that it would be easier to remain at my desk and work or do a hundred and one other chores and distractions that vied for my attention, I was fed up of the battle and headed outdoors. Why was I unsettled I wondered? What really was the conflict within me that had troubled me to the core? The answer was simple, and I had to face it head on.
The night before I had a new acquaintance visit and I wondered if there was the foundation here for an ongoing friendship. Anyway, after a few hours of sharing and communication, of revelation and disclosure, they noticed a vintage Bible that I have always displayed on a side table, with another resin-crafted antique-style version of the Good Book alongside.
“What the hell?” they said … “a Bible”!!! I explained that it was vintage – nearly a hundred years old, and something that I had found many years earlier in an antique store. And in the context of not wanting to offend them or cause dissention I said no more. One should never discuss religion or politics with a friend!. That’s what I had long been taught … what I had long been conditioned to believe. But it wasn’t until later that I realised that I was angry! Angry with myself, angry with that very conditioning, angry with all the people who, over the years, have said to me that one should NEVER discuss religion and politics within a social scenario. They are taboo. Off limits.
“But why” I reasoned? By the next day I realised just how angry I was with myself as I mowed the lawns, whipper snipped everything to within an inch of its life, mulched and dug and weeded and ruminated on my failings and my very great disappointment in myself. And this was when the words formulated within me … “If our beliefs define us, why should we be so frightened to discuss the issues of faith and politics with our friends? What are we afraid of? That what we believe might not be acceptable to another? If so, then what sort of friendships and relationships do we have in the first place?”
Yes I am truly disappointed and angry with myself that I didn’t seize the opportunity to declare right then and there with this new friend that I have a faith … that I believe what I believe, no apologies and no excuses. That I have walked a journey where I have been condemned and redeemed; where I have been tortured and loved; where I can now say that I am tired of submitting to a ‘general consensus’ of being ‘grey’ when it’s all a matter of black and white.
I don’t want to be angry anymore. I don’t want to be submissive in the hope that my beliefs might not offend or upset another. I don’t want to be frightened of the prospect that someone else might not ‘like’ or ‘accept’ me as a consequence of the stories of my life, my journey, my accomplishments and failings, and the culmination of all these things which have brought me to a place where I believe what I believe!
If one’s beliefs and political persuasions are the cause of another person rejecting them; if they incite a need in another to want to ‘convert’ or preach how wrong they are … then so be it! It’s a human condition that has spanned the generations and been the cause of global wars right down to family division.
What I can say I have learnt from this experience is that, if one is to be connected to another human in whatever way and whatever context, one should always be bold and brave enough to declare their hand from the very start … to say what they believe and what motivates them and not to be intimated or motivated by a desire to ‘not offend’ or ‘fit in’ to subvert or apologise for the very things that one holds in one’s heart to be true … the things that give each one of us our unique character, integrity, motivations and compassions.
#Lifelesson learnt … I won’t shy away from or miss the opportunity ever again to say what I need to say, to state my beliefs, my politics, the essential elements that make me who I am, that direct my actions and who I embrace … and those who are led to embrace me … without judgement and with unconditional love.
Till next time