I love going back into old posts to find ones I forgot I had written. Especially when they remind me of lessons I need to keep relearning. It seems that every time I have a setback… every time the pain gets worse or my body gets slower… I’d rather pretend it isn’t happening. I go through a time when I think it will be temporary, so there’s no use talking about it or dwelling in it.
Even though everything in me is screaming that I should talk about it and dwell in it for a bit. You have to acknowledge something as truth in order to accept it. I prefer to try to accept without acknowledging. I add layers on top of the pain and insulate myself, thinking everything will fade back to normal if I wait long enough.
Funny how that never works, but I keep trying anyway. :) But today I went back into old posts and found this one… the one that reminded me I don’t have to insulate myself from reality. It reminded me that it’s ok if I dwell in it or write about it and admit that sometimes life hands us changes that are hard.
And that’s ok.
[originally posted September 3, 2008]
I subscribe to an email that provides daily inspirational quotes. In all honesty, most of them aren't that inspirational, or they are so abstract it takes half a day to figure out what in the world they mean. It reminds me of when I took a course in college about Chaucer where my professor didn't teach us about Chaucer's works as much as he stood up in front of the room and read to us aloud in Old English.
I got a lot of napping done in that class. And it was one of those times when having the ability to write abstractly about nothing and make it sound convincing came in handy.
Today, though, my email quote was one that made me stop before I hit the delete button. I liked it. It's this quote by Tolstoy:
"Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold."
I've spent a lot of time in my life looking at ways to grow, be that in my relationships with other people, in my faith, in my career or in my every day life. There are so many books out there that talk about pursuing dreams, enriching your marriage and growing in your spirituality. There are ways to educate your mind and increase your value both financially and personally. And none of those are bad things.
But sometimes I think the more I read about how to work toward things, the further away I get from the truth of who I already am. It's like the walls in my Grandpa Joe and Grandma Florence's old farm house. When we went back to see it before it was going to be torn down, Mom and I stood in the dining room and she talked about all of the different wallpapers she remembered being in that house. We took a corner and peeled back a bit of the paper to reveal another underneath.
I can't imagine how many layers must have been there because instead of taking down the old paper when it got worn, Grandma just added a layer. And I think a lot of us do that with who we are.
Sometimes it's life that adds the layers on us. We have grief that we don't know what to do with so we put it on and wear it until it becomes comfortable. We have jobs that have to be done with work that we can't seem to leave at the office, so we add a layer. We have to make sure our families are fed and happy and cared for, that our kids have every opportunity and make it to every activity. We worry and rush and worry some more. And we add a layer for each.
Sometimes, like those strips of wallpaper on the drafty walls of an old farm house, the layers add a little insulation. There have been many times in my life when I've been scared or overwhelmed or unsure of myself, and the layers came in handy. A new wallpaper over my worn self-esteem kept everyone thinking that I had it all together. I remember starting college and thinking that people would only want to be around me if I was confident and self-assured.
But when I insulated myself from appearing scared or unsure I also could have insulated myself from people who, as it turns out, love me at my weakest as well as my strongest. I'm just lucky that at some point my layers peeled away enough for me to make that discovery.
And that's why I like this quote. Truth is like gold. It is unchanging. The truth is that we are born into this world and we are loved by God before we've done a single thing to earn it. In a lot of our growing and searching, what we are often searching for is a way to be good enough for people to love and accept us. Sometimes I think we'd accomplish that easier if we'd stop searching for ways to be better and peel away the layers first. If we would just stop and wipe away all that isn't gold, we'd see the truth that who we are is already loved. And always has been loved since before we were born. We just have to stop long enough to make the discovery.