Sometimes the question for me isn’t ‘can I say what I need to say?’ But what is it I need to or want to say if I had the opportunity?
I imagine scenarios if I saw this or that person again… that colleague from long ago with whom a mutual and active dislike developed and then circumstances meant that this was the way it was left… ugly, uncomfortable, unkind. There is that friend with whom I meant to stay in touch but never did… sometimes my heart aches with missing her. There is that guy with whom trust and words were left broken and hanging and whom I didn’t want to see again but yet somehow it remains incomplete. There is that family member who rejected me and whom I turned away from, never planning to speak to again, but I wonder if it could be different…
Sometimes I act on these things that feel ‘incomplete’ and sometimes I know that they need to remain unforced by me. At times I realize that the other person needs to demonstrate that they are interested in a conversation. Other times I am clear that I need to first let go of hurt or a sense of disrespect or disdain or other ugliness that I know that I harbor when I look at myself honestly.
When I force a conversation out of a need for some kind of closure, it usually stems from an agenda that I’ve not slowed down enough to realize that I have. And that agenda will drive my emotions, my words… and often will further drive a wedge between me and the other person. Saying what I need to say isn’t always best, if it isn’t what I really need to say. This is the time for feeling and thinking through a situation and taking more time rather than acting when the anger or hurt is still intense.
Sometimes nothing is the best thing I can say. Leave it alone. Let it be. Let time due its job. And live responsible to a hope that has space to emerge when the anger and hurt subside; hope that opportunities will come or be made to connect in a way that brings kindness and some measure of peace to both. This has happened to me many times. I have run into someone who is on my mind after much time has passed and then I was able to say with greater honesty what my heart needed to say, not what I had imagined saying many years before when I was angry.
I still spout off now and then in anger, self protection, hurt, pride… you name it. I am learning a bit more temperance as I have grown weary of the frustration and regret that come when I later realize that what I said or emailed wasn’t really my authentic self and what my heart really had to say… it was what my ego needed to say.
Most of the time the wounding I do to myself hurts far worse and lasts much longer than the wounding ever done to me by the other person. It is so hard because I see the choice points, my choice points—one path or the other. Kindness or harshness. Forgiveness or blame. Spite or goodwill. Power or vulnerability. My feelings or yours.
Long walks on misty mountains, bike rides on single tracks alongside green meadows… these are some of the things that seem to clear the ego away long enough for me to see the truth and be able to choose to be still, trust God more than myself and let time and space do their work. Moving my body along a solitary path somehow leaves my mind face to face with the pain of my actions and inactions. But it leaves me trusting God to guide me to speak up or remain still. It leaves me inspired to pray, hope, trust, persevere, let go without giving up, be strengthened in my courage to do what truly needs to be done. And much is often done when I am still and feel as if I’m doing nothing.
I find that there is much worth in the stillness… in the solitary prayers, the simple talking it out with God, I find that I am better able to put my ego in the backseat and let things work out in a way that is different than my ego would have orchestrated. And let’s face it… my ego just isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.