Being Real, Telling the Truth and Facing the Consequences
Bailed. Copped out.
Well, I also melted down. That came first. Then I turned into a flakey-flake.
We made plans weeks ago to share Halloween with friends who live close by. They were going to come to our house, have dinner, and hand out candy with us. They have a bunch of party-poopers for neighbors, and we have a pretty festive street, so we invited them to share the fun in our driveway. We were going to eat, carve pumpkins, roast pumpkin seeds…the whole nine yards.
It was going to be SO MUCH FUN!
But as the day approached, I started trying to work out the logistics. Feeding 10 people. Carving pumpkins with six kids. Getting that all done before dark. On a weeknight. With homework. My friend doesn’t get off work till six – her husband even later. It was a push for them to join us in the first place, but I insisted – it’ll be GREAT!
Last night as Hurricane Sandy was coming ashore, my own tempest started to swirl. The five year old screaming at me in the bathtub when I tried to wash his hair. The nine year old howling in his bedroom over the injustice of bathing, EVER, and homework. And, quite by accident and with Gabe’s best of intentions, the freezer meal I had planned to serve on Wednesday was already in the oven.
I lost it. Without raising my voice, without shouting or screaming I just threw up my hands, literally, and said: “I’m done.”
I walked out – much to the astonishment of kids and husband. “Go ahead and eat without me.” I told them as the door shut behind me, and I started pounding my way around the block.
For two blocks I railed at God, and for two more I tried to listen. I tried to hear something, anything, of comfort or encouragement, and quite honestly, I didn’t hear much. But I did hear reason.
Don’t push a rope. Don’t force something to be fun when it really isn’t going to be fun for anyone. Don’t stick to a plan that will take more than it gives in return.
So I told the truth. I told my friend that this wasn’t going to work, I couldn’t pull this off. I was honest.
Five years ago, I would have bit my tongue, plowed through, and collapsed in misery at the end of a stressful night, reaping consequences in the days to come.
I tried something different. I decided to be real. I can’t do this. It’s too much for me.
I decided to tell the truth and face the consequences.
Anger. Rejection. Accusations?
Compassion, commiseration and support.
She got it. She understood. She didn’t mind, she probably breathed a sigh of relief.
There will be other times we can get together when it’s not in the middle of the week.
Of course there will be.
Halloween isn’t going to be what I originally imagined, but it’ll be OK. It’ll be a quieter affair, and we’ll have to take turns at the door and it won’t be a house full of goblins and ghoulies and Iron Mans like I originally envisioned. It won’t be perfect, but who needs perfect anyway?
I’m thankful for friends who allow me to be real and be honest, and love me anyway. I’m thankful they don’t expect me to be perfect, and when I fall apart, they are there to pick me up.
Shiny, perfect surfaces will never adhere. If you really want two surfaces to stick together, you have to rough them up a bit. Sand the shiny off, and give the glue something to stick to.
I think honesty is like that – it needs the rough, imperfect surface of authenticity if it’s really going to bind us together in friendship and in love.
Perfect is boring.
Life? Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.