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The Tool Of Unvarnished Honesty

On Sunday morning, I quoted an article by Ann Lamott entitled “Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be.” She wrote, in part:

We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. The only problem is that there is also so much other stuff, typically fixations with how people perceive us, how to get more of the things that we think will make us happy. So the real issue is how do we gently stop being who we aren’t? How do we relieve ourselves of the false fronts of people-pleasing and affectation, the obsessive need for power and security, the backpack of old pain, and the psychic Spanx that keeps us smaller and contained?

Here’s how I became myself: mess, failure, mistakes, disappointments, and extensive reading; limbo, indecision, setbacks, addiction, public embarrassment, and endless conversations with my best friends; the loss of people without whom I could not live, the loss of pets that left me reeling, dizzying betrayals but much greater loyalty, and overall, choosing as my motto William Blake’s line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love.

I hope you have gotten sufficiently tired of hitting the snooze button; I know that what you need or need to activate in yourself will appear; I pray that your awakening comes with ease and grace, and stamina when the going gets hard. To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to seek yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are.

My theory is that Ann Lamott’s popularity rests, at least in part, on her unvarnished honesty, even about her mistakes and failures. I’m glad she identifies those as tools in becoming who we really are meant to be. That certainly has been my experience.

Contrast Lamott with the complete inability of the White House’s current occupant to acknowledge his mistakes and shortcomings. More important, perhaps, is recognizing that one person’s humility is appealing while the other’s hubris is reprehensible. Let’s keep this in mind next time we are tempted to cover up our own weaknesses, or criticize others for theirs.




Rev. Michael Piazza

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