So, once again I find myself on a plane, traveling across the country to some destination. This time it’s Seattle to visit my brother and his family. I’m traveling alone of course, so I’ve had a lot of time to myself to think, read, and reflect on some things. So far, I’ve kept myself busy. I started reading Wild At Heart and am enjoying it. I’m glad that I seem to be interested in the book. Lately, I haven’t been much of a reader, but hopefully I’m getting back into it. I’ve also read a few articles that I printed off, one written by Joel Salatin and one about coaching. I feel like I’m one of those interesting cultured types or something because I am traveling and reading books and articles and listening to music from a variety of perspectives and genres. Like I’m some sort of Renaissance Man or something. This is hardly the case; but it’s fun to pretend. I did listen to a great pod cast from Mars Hill though. Let me tell you about it…
The speaker was a man named Peter Rollins who talked about an array of things, but mostly about identity. He was an interesting guy to say the least, not to mention he has a thick Irish accent. It took me five minutes to figure out that he was saying the word “doubt”. It sounded like he was saying “dote.” I had no clue what he was talking about at first. Anyway, he made a great point about the way people view themselves. We all have this mental concept or idea of ourselves. We tend to think that our beliefs and values really define who we are. When in reality, we are defined by our actions. Instead, we tend to idealize our identity.
It’s funny, cause I’ve recently been struggling with this idea. I realized that my actions do not reflect my self proclaimed belief system. Basically, I don’t walk the walk, I just talk the talk, (or think the thought). My life does not line up with the values I try to project. To be honest, I’m kind of frustrated with this idea. In my head, I am one person, but in reality, my actions reflect a completely different person. I liked how Peter used Facebook as an example of how we try to convince others who we are. It’s so true. When you fill out the info section of your Facebook profile, you are choosing the information you want others to associate with your identity. You are manipulating your life in a way so that others only see what you want them to see. Sometimes I like to go through the Facebook feed and try to decipher what people are really saying when they update their status or comment on someone’s wall. The true message is usually not what was written. I’ve done it too. Many times I find myself questioning my motive before I post something. What message am I really trying to convey?
I’m probably over thinking this whole Facebook thing, but seriously, if you know me, you already know that this is what I do. I over think and over analyze things until my brain hurts. I can’t help it, that’s just how I am. I’m actually over thinking the statement I just wrote. What am I trying to convince people about my identity by declaring that I am an over thinker? When you start questioning your motives, everything becomes suspect. It’s a slippery slope. I ask questions not to receive an answer, but to coax others into asking me a certain question. I don’t care about what they have to say, I just need them to care about what I have to say. It’s actually a hard thing to admit. But I know that I do it and it bothers me that it doesn’t bother me more. I wish I was genuinely interested in what others have to say. But it’s hard.
One thing that I think I have going for me is that I don’t care that much to convince others that I do care. Now, this might sound absurd or unkind or something like that. Why would I not want others to think that I care about what they have to say? Doesn’t that come across as being mean, or rude, or self centered? I’m sure it does. But at least I’m not being fake. At least I’m not lying to others, or lying to myself for that matter. I know that some people prefer to be lied to. It makes things easier, less messy or awkward. But it is dishonest. I don’t want to be the type of person who tells people what they want to hear just to make everyone happy. Cause in reality, this makes no one happy. If this is sounding pessimistic or maybe even down right mean spirited, that is not my intent.
I decided some time ago that I’m going to do my best to be honest with the people I interact with, especially those whom I really care about. And to tell you the truth, it’s very difficult. I am nowhere near the level of honesty that I want to be at with anyone, not even myself. I don’t think I ever will be. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be more honest than I currently am in my relationships. Like anything in life, it’s a process. Success doesn’t happen over night. It takes work, and hard work at that. The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow, for everyone involved. But I don’t want my life to be full of dishonesty and deceit, no matter how well intentioned it may be.
When you think about it, how are we able to truly care for each other or relate to each other when no one is telling the truth? It’s hard for me to be interested in what others have to say if I don’t believe that they are truly interested in what they are saying. I know I’m talking in extremes here. There are people who actually care about what they are talking about. And I can usually recognize who these people are and find them to be interesting. This is why I have trouble relating to a lot of older men in the church. Many times it seems as if they are trying really hard to relate to me in the conversations we have. They think that if they act like they are interested in the things I’m interested in, then we will have more to talk about. This usually does not work with me. I can see right through this façade. Like I said before, their intentions are noble, but it all just seems fake to me. Talk to me about what you are really passionate about and you will better hold my attention. Be genuine, I am much more interested in genuine.
But who am I kidding? It’s difficult to be completely candid with someone you don’t really know. Most of us aren’t wired that way. We are too guarded about what we say when we meet someone new. I am the type of person who takes awhile to allow myself to warm up to someone, especially in a group setting. The more people involved, the more reserved I become. I guess this is how a lot of people are; and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. With that being said, I encourage you to think about the messages you are trying to convey through what you say. Are you really being honest, or are you trying to manipulate the situation? Many times we don’t even realize what we are saying or why we are saying it. If you take the time to think about the intent of the content of your words, it is much easier to say things that you actually believe. Try it and see how that works out for you. There is a reason why they say “honesty is always the best policy”.