So, somehow while the powers that be were handing out instructional manuals on adulthood, I missed it. I acknowledge that I was probably in a corner somewhere making a snarky comment concerning the absurdity of actually requiring an instruction manual, but here I am without one. I’ve been a legal adult for almost 20 years. The entire time not owning a copy of the instruction manual. Occasionally I ask those around me questions, hoping that they will pull theirs out and look up the topic of the moment to help me figure out the right thing to do. I’ll be honest though, at this point, if you pull that instruction manual out, there’s a really good shot that I will tackle you to get it. I need that guide. I need to know what the next step is. No, it’s too late for the step by step “How To Build A Successful Life” part, I need the troubleshooting section.
Things aren’t easy by any stretch. I struggle to keep up with school and work, to be the best mom I’m capable of, to make sure the laundry is clean or at least doesn’t have noticeable stains and the dishes are done, to work hard on my mind, spirit, and body, and to dig quarters out of the couch occasionally to buy milk. I struggle to juggle the day-to-day tasks that make life work, but for the first time in my life, I’ve peaked at the trouble shooting section of the adulthood manual and I’m finally for the first time in my adult years being honest about who I am. Hold your applause for half a second. Let’s be clear…honesty can be painful. Sometimes, it cuts like a dagger. You never know with honesty. Honesty requires us to knock down emotional barriers that we have so soundly built for protection. Honesty makes us vulnerable. Really, really vulnerable. We find ourselves in our own space with just the truth. The truth about who we are, what we do, what we want and how we feel.
Do you remember the scene in the movie “A Few Good Men”, where Jack Nicholson says “You want the truth, YOU CAN”T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”? Sometimes the truth is hard to say, and sometimes it’s even harder to hear. With honesty, there’s nothing to hide behind, it’s just raw. You can’t change the truth. Sometimes you just have to throw it out there and say, this is who I am…this is what I want…this is how I feel. I’m really not very practiced at this. I’ve spent decades training myself to believe that the things happening in my heart, my soul, and my mind were unworthy. I spent decades avoiding the truth. The truth about me. Sometimes I want to build the walls a little higher and hide behind the safety of incomplete information, or half-truths, but I know where that road leads. That road will bring me straight back to the troubleshooting guide.
I admit that sometimes the truth is easier to say under the haze of Chardonnay or Patron, but at least I’m speaking it. I’m finally getting it out there. I’m on the never-ending, ever-changing road to discovering who God wants me to be. Really honestly wants me to be. Discovering how my actions fit into that plan, and how I feel about the tangible and intangible things in my life. Actually telling people what I want, and getting up the guts to tell them how I feel.
What I’m beginning to discover is that honesty is vital to self fulfillment. It’s vital in relationships. It’s vital in falling in love. It provides the roadmap for emotional intimacy. Real true intimacy, and emotional intimacy is necessary for love. Best I can tell, because I still don’t have a copy of the instruction manual, this is how emotional security is achieved.
So when the powers that be are handing out instruction manuals for my next phase of life, I’ll probably miss it again because I’m making a snarky comment in the corner somewhere. I just hope the person I’m talking to is someone who I’m honest with and is honest with me, someone who sees the real me and hasn’t run away, someone who I know and trust, someone who I love. The instructional manual would probably make it easier, but honestly, sometimes the complications are worth it.