Tell The Truth; Be Ready To Listen
Posted by infinitygoods on October 9, 2007
If something is really troubling us do we have a safe shoulder to cry on, or do we have to put on a smiling facade and hide our true feelings behind a mask?
When our glass truly is half empty because life has spilled it carelessly, do we always have to pretend that it is half full, or do we have a safe place to tell truth?
Of course, we can’t be negative in perpetuity, but for those who see life with rose-colored glasses on most days, is it ever acceptable to answer a “how are you” with any other answer than “fine”?
I came across a church poster today which claimed that you could tell the truth there.
It said, “You know, if you want a church where you can pretend for an hour or two that everything is just fine with you, with your family and with the world, then we’re probably not for you. But if you want a church where you can tell the truth about how it is and know that it’s OK, maybe you’ll find a home here.”
I do not belong to the United Church of Christ. I have never even attended a service there, so I could not tell you if overall they live up to their ad campaign, but I think their poster is right on the mark.
Being able to tell the truth is one of the many reasons why I loved working for my church.
Our parishioners — sometimes even people of other faiths, often of the same faith but of a different neighborhood in search of anonymity — would come to our office just to share their lives. They would come in just to talk, just to be listened to without judgment, without gossip. They would share everything from the happiness over a new grandchild to the tragedy of a mother and her two single daughters being diagnosed the same week with terminal cancer.
Or a mother seeing her son stabbing himself to commit suicide; even a young woman seeking sanctuary because she is afraid her boyfriend will beat her.
We have to have a strong, sturdy shoulder to cry on whether it’s a church or a specific person. Our lives are complicated and trying. Oftentimes all it takes is to say it out loud to a real human being.
At least every once in a while we need to remove our theatrical mask and tell the truth for the sake of our sanity, and all of the time we need to be ready to listen because someone out there needs our shoulder today.