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Why can't we just be honest?

Tuesday June 30th 2009

by Paul Armstrong
 

I still find pieces of your presence here

 

Honesty might be the "best policy" but it's one of those things that most us are horrible at practicing. Horrible. We tend to shirk the truth of how we are, or even who we are, for bland safety. In the end we only hurt ourselves by hiding the truth.

 

More often than not, whenever someone asks me how I'm doing I usually say "Pretty good", without much thought. A uncommitted, unengaging safe reply. I'm neither great, nor horrible.  Several years ago I began wondering what would happen if I answered honestly, fully, with how I was honestly doing? "I'm feeling pretty indifferent about life", "I'm depressed more days that not", "I think I might bullwhip my kids with a hose and toothpicks". But I held back, and kept to my safe reply.

 

If you truly want honesty, don't ask questions you don't really want the answer to

 

What is it that keeps me (or you) from being completely honest with one another? Is it fear? Is it that we don't know our own feelings? Is it that we don't want to "burden" someone with our troubles or problems? Is it shame? I'd venture to say it's most all of these at some point. But while we protect ourselves, we in turn rob ourselves and others from what life is all about. Community. It's through sharing honestly about life that we learn.

 

I wish someone had told me that raising kids — while tremendous blessing — is a very thankless and exhausting duty. That there is no reward, and sometimes your kids don't turn out at all liked you imagined or hoped. That there will be times when you could nearly kill your kids — and I don't mean that metaphorically, I mean that you really feel that you could harm your kids (you might even daydream, as they fight about the most ridicuously mundane topic; like which of them saw the red convertible first, about swerving the car into oncoming traffic, because yeah, that'll shut them up for good).

 

I wish someone had told me that there is no such thing as being prepared. I wish someone told me that having great friends is more rewarding than having great things.

 

I wish someone had told me that marriage is a battle. That there will be times when love is the furtherest thing from what you feel for your spouse. Its the endurance and committment that keep you togther, keep you fighting for what always tries to pull you apart; not the fleeting feelings and heart flutters of a movie love.

 

I wish someone had told me that the unexpected is all you can expect of the future.

 

I wish someone told me that what you know about what you believe isn't as important as acting out what you believe.

 

I wish someone had told me that we are all more alike than we could ever think, that most all of us have had trouble, have been hurt, have immense pain. That we feel inadequate and unprepared and lost most all of the time. That I could be more honest, without being a burden, without fearing the consequences, without thinking I'll alienate everyone I know because they'll reject me.

 

This is why honesty connects us, educates us, helps us grow and bond. Take that chance and answer the question honestly next time someone asks "How are you?"

 

 

 

Comments for "Why can't we just be honest?"

I love this Paul, great post.
Lots of thoughts that I've had before, especially around the "How are you" question. I've actually had a few people years ago stop me and say, "No really...how are you?" which really saved my life on some very dark days.
Also, thanks for letting me know the things you wished you'd known about marriage and kids...very important information!

Thanks Bethany Linn! I don't want make it sound like honesty can only be about the negative, but I find that people easily share about the joy and happiness in life. But what makes us unique, sadly, is our pain (as morbid as that sounds).

There are plenty of other things about kids and family and marriage, like : toys are almost entirely pointless, you'll find your kids play far more with your kitchen utensils or discarded boxes than the $85 Star Wars Fantasy Land Boat Cruiser Tank Ship that they leave in a closet. Or that even your beautiful bride can smell the bathroom up pretty good (what? it's true)

Thankfully I have a willful 4 year old nephew that is helping me learn the lessons about kids and their toy preferences. I have a box at my house specifically for when he comes over, it entertains him more than the backpack full of toys he just *had* to bring.
As for beautiful brides stinking up bathrooms...I'm not a bride, but I am a girl so I sort of already knew we could do that.

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