Last week was a tough week, just like I knew that it would be after reentering the real world after a few weeks of meetings and conferences. As much as I had been bracing myself for the unexpected, can you ever fully do that? I mean, it’s called “unexpected” because you’re not expecting it, so you can only plan for so much. Life came flooding in with such ferociousness that I was about ready to turn around and head back down the road from whence I had come.
In the midst of hearing about various needs in people’s lives, I had a bittersweet meeting with a realtor as we had finally gotten my parents’ townhouse ready to put on the market. Walking into a place that had already begun to feel like a crypt, now completely devoid of furniture or any recognizable remnants of who had once lived there, it almost like I’d been injected with novocain, I just kind of felt numb. I’m hoping and praying for a speedy sale so that I can close another chapter in my life.
Among the stories that I heard from people last week regarding the difficulties that they were facing, I was reminded of my mom’s cancer diagnosis. When we first found out, I was reticent to share too much of what was going on. I am not sure that I ever actually wrote the “C” word down in social media. I’ve not read through old blog posts to see whether or not I really did, but I remember feeling something deep down inside when we first heard the initial diagnosis.
After the shock that struck me like a sucker punch, I remember secretly thinking to myself that if I didn’t ever say the word, maybe it would all turn out to be a bad dream. Maybe if I never said the word it would stay nameless and a nightmare. Somehow or another, in my mind, by not naming it, I was denying the truth and I felt that I could avoid it.
There’s something that happens when you name the truth, when you give it words, it becomes real. When someone you love is diagnosed with something terrible and awful, it’s hard to find the words. It’s hard to name the truth. It’s hard to admit that truth and when you use words to describe it, it somehow becomes real. It’s like speaking and your words go out there and once they’re out there, you just can’t get them back.
There is power in words and when you speak them, not only can you not get them back, but those words begin to describe reality and describing a reality that you aren’t ready or willing to receive is difficult.
So, if you meet someone who has a hard time naming a truth, especially a hard and difficult truth, be gracious to them. Perhaps your graciousness might help them to come to grips with the reality with which they’ve been wrestling. Naming a truth can be difficult but it eventually becomes inevitable, but everyone needs to come to the naming of that truth in their own time.