Why do we always
pour out our fear onto other people’s journeys
like sticky syrup
and call it sweet intervention,
that they can feel it dripping off their fingers
and sense our judgment
masked as love
Because last I checked
a journey can differ from mine
and still be valid
So let us all breathe
and feel peace in knowing
that we aren’t burdened with trying to fix
what doesn’t need fixing
Words Can Be A Lifeline
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how words can be a lifeline. They hold more power than we can sometimes fathom. And we all know it costs nothing to utter a kind word to someone.
So what are the four little words that have been a lifeline for me recently?
I honor your journey.
I Honor Your Journey
One day last year, I called my best friend who I grew up with up to talk to her about hard stuff; in our case, faith and the dissonance I had been feeling surrounding our beliefs. It can be really scary and destabilizing to be swept up onto a new path that you never asked to be on. I think these inevitable points in our life journey are when we have to channel Dorothy and trust that we are exactly where we’re supposed to be.
But damn, that yellow brick road really left me feeling disoriented and lonely.
My amazing, courageous, wonderful friend (shout out to Emily, ILYSM) listened to me and offered me much-needed validation during our conversation. I had been craving empathy and support, for someone to tell me I wasn’t confused, overly-critical or crazy. I needed to feel that someone understood me and wasn’t afraid for me or concerned about me. Several times she reminded me: I honor your journey.
Her words were not only a lifeline in that moment, but also a lesson. After we hung up, I pondered for a long time about what it means to be a friend to someone in need.
I think many of us are walking around with a sort of hovering fear that seems ready to pounce onto the next person who agitates it. I know this fear well, and I have unknowingly projected it onto others throughout my life. As humans we are so often scared of change, nuance, growth that we see taking place in others and ourselves, and viewpoints that don’t match our own. We frequently cast our judgment onto our loved ones whose journeys are foreign to us, or whose beliefs or choices give us pause. With our armor on, it’s easier to hold people’s questions and pain at arms length and feel an obligation to fix, shame, scold, judge, undermine or question.
But what if we walked around just trusting and giving our fellow humans more credit?
What if we learned how to let go of our fear and judgment and just sit with someone in their pain and their questions with no transaction in mind?
What if we learned to respect rather than project?
How about letting go of the heavy burden of feeling like we need to fix someone or offer advice we aren’t qualified to give?
How much more could both parties benefit if we just learned to listen and then say: I honor your journey.
There are a lot of people going through some really hard, lonely things right now. People who are craving empathy and validation but don’t know where to turn. People who are praying for healing words to soften the negative or confused views they hold for themselves and the world, reaching for a lifeline. People who have been conditioned to distrust their own stories and are therefore seeking permission from others to live in accordance with their conscience.
What if we could change someone’s life by simply being there for them, by sitting back and trusting that they are exactly where they’re supposed to be? Our listening ears and freedom from judgment can be a soft landing for others. What a gift.
Listen & Love
I feel blessed to have a few good friends who have enough courage, love and trust in me to bolster me up when I need support. These are the people we need in our tribes: the ones who, when we’re feeling lost, remind us that we’re not lost at all. The ones who say: I honor your journey.
If you ever find yourself concerned about a journey that doesn’t resonate with yours, try to be a soft place to land and resist the urge to be a fixer or advice-giver. Trust the person’s ability to navigate her path on her terms.
And you can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that your only job is to listen and love.
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