“Make Peace with Reality and Move On”… is some of the best advice I received from my mentor Chuck Singletary 35 years ago. As I reflect on my life, I have learned to process things in my journal and then come to be at peace with it and move on. I think my journaling sometimes has served as a trusted confidant instead of another person. As I express my critical thoughts/observations/judgments in my journal, I can see them for what they are. Often the narrative in my head then changes, and I can truly be at peace with the situation.
Last week in my TT, I wrote about speaking the truth to others, but I think too often, as Christians, we feel we have the right, obligation, or need to correct others with whom we disagree. For me, this is dangerous for at least three reasons: 1) we may be wrong in our observation and 2) our motive may be impure, and 3) they may not be able to hear it.
Concerning the first danger, I find that so often, what I initially think changes over time as I learn more or reflect more upon the situation. If I am too quick to speak out or express my opinion, I would be dead wrong, or at least not well prepared. This is obviously the danger of social media; we can dump our criticism into the internet with little thought or in-depth insight. I have learned that my words sweeten with time. If I process my thoughts and feelings in my journal, the harshness is often softened. Then, if I end up having to eat my own words, they actually go down much easier at that point. If I have lived with them before speaking them, they seem better.
I am not talking about ruminating on my own thoughts and feelings here. In other words, by “processing,” I mean I am looking for reasons that my thoughts or feelings are wrong. I seriously challenge myself. Too many people just “ruminate,” which means they get caught in a vicious cycle of thoughts that reaffirm they are right, and they become even more hardened in their position, or they continually beat themselves up. This is why my words are sweetened as I process them. Because they always are softened through questioning my content and motives, not hardened.
I would estimate that 75% of the issues that I journal about never reach the point of my actually addressing them with others. This is partially because as I journal and process the issue, I realize I am wrong. I have learned to write things down from the other person’s perspective, which often causes me to see things very differently. I write down what and why they would feel or act as I perceived them. This is what gives me a different perspective, and often I make peace with reality and move on.
I also process why I am feeling or thinking a certain way which brings me to the second danger. So often in this thinking, writing, and processing my thoughts and feelings, I realize that my perspectives are so influenced by my own narratives, which are not pure. I see my insecurities for what they are and how they are manifesting themselves in my thoughts or feelings. As I attempt to write these things down, it is obvious the problem lies in my own issues, not as much in the other person’s thoughts, attitudes, or behaviors. So I make peace with reality and move on.
The third danger in criticizing another is that often I don’t have the platform to make a judgment in another’s life. I believe we are called to love everyone. And I mean everyone! If I love someone and am really committed to walking with them through life transformation, then in an appropriate time and manner, I do think I can speak the truth with love. However, if I am not in a relationship to love someone by seeking their benefit through our relationship, then I don’t have the platform to speak the truth with love. In other words, if I don’t have the relationship to walk with that person and encourage that person and stand with that person in love, then I best not speak the truth to that person. It is best that I make peace with reality and move on.
After this questioning and clarifying my thoughts and feelings, I am ready to talk with an individual. Without exception, what I say or do is so different than what I would have said or done at the outset of this process. This whole way of approaching my own thoughts, words, behaviors, and feelings, as well as others, has become almost second nature to me over my years of journaling. Obviously, this can be done with a friend as well. But I am not sure one is able to do all of this in their “head” because things get too jumbled and influenced by our own narratives.
For me, the significance of this is that I get it out of my head and onto the screen (or journal book). I can read it much more objectively than I can think it. There may be some who can do so, but somehow, I doubt it…but I could be wrong 😑.