A week ago I posted on Facebook that I was pondering this question:
"How can we expect to feel fulfilled if we do not tell each other the truth about who we are and what we feel?"
Little did I know what I was opening up for myself by taking on this question.
During my recent One Spirit Intensive in New York, I was in a small group with Dean Robin and some of my classmates pondering many questions, as we prepared to take our vows and be ordained as Interfaith Ministers. One of the questions was, what is your highest spiritual aspiration? I listened as my classmates shared and as I kept hearing the word vulnerability in my head. When I did share with the others that perhaps the highest spiritual aspiration I could personally achieve was vulnerability, there were a few moments of vulnerable silence as everyone took that in. I don't think I really knew what I meant by vulnerability as highest spiritual aspiration at the moment. I do know there were tears and fears that came along with it.
When the question of how do we feel fulfilled if we do not tell each other the truth about who we are and what we feel came up in my morning practice, that word vulnerability, was there again in my mind for examination. I realized that the fear of vulnerability sometimes keeps me from telling the whole truth to others and certainly from sharing how I really feel. When I tell the truth, I risk. There is always the possibility that the relationship with the person will change. They may not like what I have to say or they may judge me. And worst of all, conflict or an argument may arise. As a peacemaker, conflict and argument are my least favorite places to be.
However, I sometimes forget that as I tell the truth, if it is truly my authentic truth, my heart opens in a way that only the truth can allow, and no matter the response of another, I am free. A great spiritual master once said that the truth will set you free, and it does. It also allows for more intimacy and meaningful conversation and greater depth in relationships. The alternative may be emptiness.
Life has certainly provided me with enough hurts to know this is risky business, and most of us, self preserving creatures that we are, if we get hurt, we want to avoid what hurts. We learn as children that if the stove is hot, we don't touch it. If that person is mean, we don't go near them.
Speaking what is true about who we are and what we feel is essential for intimacy, fulfillment and freedom. It does require a certain amount of vulnerability and risk. We might displease another to honor ourselves. We learn that our own thoughts and feelings are the only ones we have choice about. We learn not to take things so personally. We learn how to deliver potentially difficult words to hear with kindness and respect.
The questions then become- At what level are you willing to communicate? To what degree are you willing to be seen? The greatest fulfillment and freedom lies in being true to who we are and what we feel. It is what we are divinely created for and what is truly nourishing to our soul. There is always more to ponder.....