Today is "Worldwide Day of Giving" and I want to give you something.
On the occasion of my wedding, a very long time ago, my Dad gave me the greatest wisdom that still holds true. To add emphasis to the sincerity and sacredness of our last one-on-one meeting before my life transition, he drove 45 minutes to join me on my work lunch break one week before the big day. Even before he uttered a word I remember feeling so touched and I sensed something coming that I knew I’d cherish for a lifetime.
As was his style, he wanted to provide the most beautiful setting to deliver the message he wanted to get across to my still maturing spirit. He drove me to the town park and there on a park bench, surrounded by tall oak sentinels and the bright hues of annual and perennial plantings, he talked about the importance of communication and how to do it effectively. A light breeze whispered around us, enfolding us in a magical bubble, and Dad concluded with, “Always communicate. Good communication is the key to a good life. Good relationship.” We stood to face each other. He kissed me on the forehead, hugged me in such a way that I can still feel it. He stood back with his hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes, my soul. “See you next Saturday.”
The following week I sat wearing a long white dress clinging to a bouquet of silk flowers that quivered with my nervousness. My Dad walked into the room full to the brim with stoic emotion that might have spilled over into tears if he said too much. In silence, he sat down and removed the white ballet slipper from my foot, dropped a penny inside. “For good fortune,” he managed to push out between his trembling lips. In Cinderella-like fashion, he tucked my foot back into the slipper.
He stared into my eyes with such love I felt it rush through my body and travel to the farthest reaches of my being. He took my hands in his, cradling them and holding the gaze. A tear stood ready to fall in the corner of each of both his and my eyes and once more he urged “Communicate.”
Sixteen years later that marriage broke into irreparable pieces due to dysfunctional, often non-existent communication. A few shards still stick here and there in the scars that formed in my heart from that loss. I imagine that your heart bears similar scars. Scars that resulted from communication that missed its mark or silence that kept you or a loved one from fully expressing a hurt or a need or a question left simmering in your mind. Scars that formed as a result of being misunderstood with no door left open, no recourse for a conversation that might have healed the rift.
The only thing that stands between you and me and a healing is fear. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of emoting. Fear of being rejected. Fear of being in the wrong. Fear of further misunderstanding. Fear – a senseless wall and an illusion.
Here on the internet we try and sometimes manage to hit the bulls-eye. Other times we try and miss, try and fail every day via social media, email, and whatever other means keeps us from looking each other in the eyes and feeling the presence of each other. We want that communication with the desperation of a desert wanderer in search of water. We are parched, longing to be understood and loved and not quite getting there.
So, on this "Worldwide Day of Giving" I give you communication and my vulnerability. But I can only give it to you if you receive it and give it back. If you have ever or will ever feel misunderstood by me, please let me know. If you think I have hurt you in some way, tell me and let’s talk about it in person over a cup of something warm and soothing. Even in face to face conversation two people can misunderstand each other. We make up stories and judgments in our heads about others hundreds of times a week, much based on our own personal history.
The secret is in leaving fear behind and dropping down into your vulnerable heart and saying, “I didn’t quite get that. Could you explain further?” or “I really want to understand you. Please tell me more.” Realize that I may have misspoken because I’m a fumbling human and leave room for apology and forgiveness. Or you may have projected onto me the hurt you still unconsciously feel from an old childhood wound. I’ve been there and understand and will do my very best to listen.
Most of our misunderstandings are big huge ginormous mistakes that can be made right. Stick with me through the dark night and I’ll stick with you. May we come to a completion where we can give each other a hug in the light of day, having moved toward an even deeper, more intimate relationship.