Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.Brené Brown
In this world of social media, with its carefully-curated Insta feeds and perfectly-posed selfies a question keeps coming back to me. Who can you be messy with?
Who can you be your true self with? Yes, the mess is sometimes physical, (load of washing on the couch anyone?!) But there is also other relational or emotional mess.
We no longer know how to sit with people in the mess. In the middle of a messy conversation. Where there are no answers, and every word brings more questions to the surface.
There are few things I have learnt recently as I have tried to be better at sitting in messy conversations with people.
Sitting in the mess takes time
Difficult conversations cannot be rushed. Conversations about tricky issues or buried emotions need time. The surface issue is pretty much never the issue. It takes a while to dig down and get to the point, the real heart of the matter. These things are not fixed in one bible verse or encouraging quote. Often, they won’t even be resolved in one conversation, but will need to be revisited over a period of time.
Sitting in the mess means you have to listen
When someone we are close to comes to us with a mess, we often want to clean it up for them. But we have to let go of the desire to help, and instead sit in a posture of listening. Often, these issues do not have one easy solution. In fact, there may be a number of steps required over time for the solution to be apparent. Real listening, is listening to hear the heart of the matter. It is not easy, yet to genuinely sit with someone in their mess we need to be able to do this.
Sitting in the mess takes vulnerability
It takes both parties to be authentic, keep it real, and set aside their agenda and pre-conceived ideas. This is true as the listener, but also just as important if you are the one who is the middle of a mess yourself. You have to be vulnerable enough to be real, and not hide your mess from your friends. You need to be willing to stop showing others your highlight reel and let them see your real life. Yes, it is unwise to be this way with every person you meet. But you do need to have a close circle that you can share the messiest parts of your life with.
Sitting in the mess means that you genuinely connect
And this is the beauty of these uncomfortable conversations. Even when you have a difficult conversation that leads to no solutions or answers. For it is when you genuinely listen and enter into the conversation and when you wrestle with tricky issues instead of glossing over them with a filter and cute hashtag, then connection deepens.
So, I come back to the question I asked at the start, ‘Who can you be messy with?’
Find those people, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and genuinely connect.
Here’s to being messy,