Please forgive the long pause I’ve taken in my writing during months of wedding planning and my busy day job. My brain was at max capacity. Our wedding was glorious, making it worth every spreadsheet created and to-do list tackled!
Since then, I’ve been wondering when the inspiration to write would return. However, three people told me yesterday they missed my blog (not counting my Mom!) That felt like a nudge from above to keep taking the risk.
This all relates, at least in mind, to the topic for today: naivety.
At my wedding reception, a college friend distributed a lighthearted and mildly embarrassing “Eleanor” quiz, and when I read the entries the next morning, I was surprised and a bit hurt to discover that one of my sisters had described me as “naive.”
According to the Free Dictionary “naive” means: 1.) Lacking worldly experience and understanding, 2.) Showing or characterized by a lack of sophistication and critical judgment.
Pretty sure that inflicting pain was not my sister’s intent, I asked her if she would explain what she meant by her choice of words. She said that I approach the world “leading with trust, rather than caution or fear” and that I am willing to learn my lessons as a result. I admit, indeed, I do and I am.
She also wrote “goofy” when the survey asked for three adjectives that describe me. Now, not many women in a wedding dress would take well to being labeled “goofy.” So again, I asked what she meant; she responded, “open, in touch with glee and humor.” Well, yes, I like to think this is true too! I love to laugh more than just about anything, and luckily I’ve married someone who makes me do so on a regular basis.
I haven’t always been this way. In my twenties, I approached life with fear instead of trust. Fear of the future. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of scarcity. Fear of others’ opinions of me. When I turned 26, I decided this was no way to live. I was wasting my precious time on Earth being sad and scared. Since then, with the help of innumerable influences, I’ve made conscious choices about how I want to live each day and how I hope my spirit will feel as a result.
This way of living is not for the faint of heart. I’ve been willing to experiment. I have royally screwed up things that have taken years to fix. I’ve embarrassed myself repeatedly and in ways that seem even more mortifying when I look back on them. Even now, when I share some of who I really am at staff meetings, public events or in my Bible study, I doubt the wisdom of doing so. Every time I send this blog to you, I wonder if I have said too much and risked some of my pride.
Many years ago when I lived in DC, I once rode my bike from Capitol Hill to a park in Alexandria. I stopped along the Potomac, stretched out on a grassy lawn and read Hugh Prather’s “Notes on Love and Courage.” In it, he writes, “People need people more than they need pride.” It struck me as truth then, and it still strikes me as truth now, though I have questioned it through the years.
That’s why I participate openly in life and love. I hope that if I do so, someone else might too. I treasure realness.
So, when I speak up, am I doing so for my own good? Or does it, could it, help someone else? Should I share my dreams out loud, risking embarrassment or pity if they don’t come true? What if I kept silent – would I be more powerful were I a private person?
When a question is posed to a group and I have an answer, should I contribute to the conversation or leave more space for others to step up? What if they don’t want to? What if their strategy is to play life closer to the chest?
I try to make conscious decisions about baring my soul, yet I don’t always think through what I might later feel about having done so. Is this naivety?
I share my thoughts, my heart and my experiences because I feel grateful and humbled when others do the same. I believe that if I give what I can of me, my experience of life will be richer. I like hearing your big questions, your hurts, your lessons learned and funny thoughts, your sweetest hopes, and your joys. I’m amazed when you invite me in to see who you really are. So that’s why I do it too.