Radical Honesty

I just got back from a weekend conference that was full of encouragement and love.

Of course, the words that keep running through my mind are from a casual conversation that happened after the closing session, after the doxology and the revealing of the group art project, after more than a few hard good-byes.

In the standing around that happens as people are leaving, one person said to me, “I didn’t get a chance to really speak to you all weekend.”

Yeah, that happens when there are over 200 people present and none of them like shallow conversation. Everyone wants the deep. And deep takes time.

He continued, “Every time I saw you, you looked grumpy, and I wondered if you were mad at me about something.”

Oh, golly.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I stammered some ridiculous reassurance that I was NOT mad at him and I was sorry that I looked grumpy.

He had no idea that the weight of cares I was carrying was far beyond my strength.

To be honest, I wouldn’t have gone to the conference if I hadn’t promised to bring my daughter to it. To be radically honest, I didn’t enjoy the weekend.

Yes, that’s correct. A weekend full of encouragement and love that I didn’t enjoy.

I couldn’t enjoy.

My father had had a syncopal episode exactly one week before we were scheduled to fly out. I felt all panicky that day, running to get a chair for him because he couldn’t even make it into the kitchen. He slumped in it, staring blankly. His blood pressure dropped to 62/48 — and that was the first pressure I was able to get on him.

The next day, his doctor checked him and we talked about… um, honestly, I don’t even remember. I can’t remember a single word she said. But I remember her smiling and that I felt reassured. She gave me the business card of someone who can help me navigate the Long Term Care morass. I saved it so I could call her after I got back from my time away. It felt like a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

My husband stayed with my father so I could go be encouraged. He used his vacation time  not for a getaway, not for something he wanted to do, but for a chance for me to get away. Self-sacrifice that I wasn’t fully appreciating.

My husband worked so hard to have everything perfect when I got home.

He even did the laundry.

I hate it when he does the laundry.

I opened the dryer this morning and found it FULL — and I mean how-did-air-even-circulate-through-this full. Sheets and towels, pants, sweatshirts, underwear, socks. Everything was jammed into one big load of laundry — because that’s how he does it.

I found myself grumbling as I took everything out. Irked. I have talked to him about this. I would have been happy to do the laundry. I AM happy to do the laundry.

It hit me as I was tugging apart pants tangled with sheets, that I am a grumpy person these days. The guy at the conference wasn’t wrong.

Yesterday I had to call a man about an order I had placed several weeks ago. He was grumpy. I could hear it in his voice, in the curtness of his words.

Finally he said, “I’m not aware of everything about this order. I just had major surgery.”

I knew his major surgery was six months ago. I wanted to tell him so, but I stopped myself.

We were like two heavy grit sandpapers rubbing against each other — each with our own hurts and burdens, each feeling we had the greater right to our irritability.

And isn’t that the way of the world?

If I was grumpy this weekend to any of you, I apologize.

Somewhere there is a balance between wet blanket and radical authenticity, between grumpy and happy, being encouraged and simply being.

Even though I didn’t enjoy everything, I was present.

My dry ground was watered — and that water will eventually seep to my roots.


One thought on “Radical Honesty

  1. What a well-written post. There is a difference between radical authenticity and wet blanket, agreed. However, if I had to pick I’d prefer authenticity -not sure the opposite is wet blanket though is it? You were trying to meet everyones needs, while being somewhere where you were supposed to be enjoying yourself, too much pressure, you got grumpy, it happens :). One of the biggest lessons though is one I focus on every time I meet someone who seems grumpy: example is in your phone call and the guy who asked if he had annoyed you. I belive that most of the time people seem grumpy because of what is going on in their lives and usually it has nothing to do with me – I have had great results in asking them if they are ok, it usually makes them less grumpy and I get what I need, and they feel that someone was interested enough to ask…Wish you all the best with your dad. Poli


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