A couple of years ago, Mary and I decided to take a long walk together, because there were some unspoken conversations hovering around us that just needed to land. I think we walked for six miles. We walked because coffee shops are too loud, and frankly, I’m better when I’m moving. Maybe Mary’s penetrating gaze threatens me, or maybe the right things move around inside of me when my outsides are also moving. Either way, I’m better when I’m moving.
By mile five, we both said and heard some very difficult things, but I was feeling OK. I was open and soft. I was ready to listen. I was even a little upbeat. But then she said it. I think I stopped walking. Or maybe I walked faster. I honestly can’t remember.
She looked at me and said, “Honey, now I have to say the really hard thing.”
“You are treating me as if I’m what’s wrong with this relationship.”
She said that I was acting as if what our relationship needed most was for her to change. She asked me to be honest, and to tell her if that was true. Immediately, all of my familiar defenses became fog that threatened the landing that we so desperately needed.
But in the moment, I knew she was right. I knew that what she said was true, and it had hurt her. The fog cleared.
I looked at her and said, “You’re right. I believed that it was about you, and that isn’t fair. I’m so sorry.” I really was sorry. I actually felt sick.
That conversation was hard, but what followed was maybe harder. I began to see that living with me felt like being under pressure. I set up elaborate but unspoken rules about when it was OK to talk about certain things, and when it wasn’t. Even though I’m good at problem solving, sometimes my solutions were bandaids that didn’t help, and I offered them just so we could be done talking about whatever it was that I wanted to be done talking about. And I wasn’t listening well. I hurried Mary and sometimes even ignored her.
Change is only possible when you see reality for what it actually is. And I began to see the things in me that really needed to change.
The Lent season is an invitation to admit. To confess. To stop covering it up and finally say, “I did it.” And then to begin the slow process of change.
What needs uncovering in your life? What would it look like to be raw and real about it, instead of hiding it away? What would it mean to really face it, invite God into it, and see what happens?
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5 (TNIV)