My mom adventures in Fort Collins

21-Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 10

The prompt for today says, “Today, take a moment to recollect a piece of advice you received that helped you through a dark or challenging time.”

I’ve been given advice, and some I have taken. Most of all, I’ve been given patience and love, which is often better than advice. People in my life are very forgiving of the fact that I’m hard-headed and outspoken. There are two pieces of advice that I heard my entire childhood. They still remain, and they are still a challenge, but they are still very good advice.

  • Bite your tongue. (from my dad)
  • Be less critical. (from my mom)

Ironically, a strong-willed child with a highly legalistic definition of truth & honesty will interpret these as:

  • Bite your tongue unless a deep-seated sense of justice is threatened (Example: Confronting a colleague who has repeatedly failed to pitch in for a whole-office gift. )
  • Be less critical unless withholding criticism means you will deny “The Truth” (Example: Pointing out that your friend was late and kept you waiting.)

It has taken me a long time to figure out that my sense of security comes from feeling truthful and honest. I love equality, fairness, honor and integrity. I feel most in control when things are transparent. I have faith in The Truth–I feel like as long as I am honest, I can get through anything. If I have hurt someone’s feelings in the process of being honest, I do empathize with that person but I don’t belabor the issue because I take refuge in the the fact that it was The Truth. Even to this day, if I catch someone not being entirely truthful with me, it turns me inside out. Forget someone who outright lies to me–That’s the kinda heartbreak that I might write pathetic poems about. Should I sense even a slight injustice, I will often assert myself. Admittedly, I have a bit of a toddler’s perspective of justice.

This is all to say that I’ve struggled with The Truth. I’ve had to shelve my definition and accept that folks who lie, bend or distance themselves from the truth are not wrong per se, but they definitely have a different Truth than me. I’ve seen injustice and inequality, acknowledged them in my heart but due to circumstances I’ve not confronted the corruption.  The times in my life that have been the most challenging to The Truth are times where I’ve felt the most lonely and vulnerable.

When my sense of Truth is challenged, it is so hard to bite my tongue and be less critical. During the few times in my life when I have been able to follow this advice, I’ve felt at peace despite feeling as though I didn’t honor The Truth. In the end, The Truth (whether it be my version or another’s, or the REAL version which is somewhere in between) is bigger than all this right/wrong stuff. The Truth has big shoulders and I know that the Truth can handle a little confusion over what it is or is not.

For me, sometimes the right thing is to ignore my parents’ advice and speak up. At other times, I feel that keeping quiet doesn’t make me a silent observer, and it can mean that I choose to tell the Truth another way or another day. It can also mean that I humble myself to decide that I may not know the whole Truth, and I can suspend my sense of justice to pause and wait for the BIGGER Truth to be revealed.

Overall, I’m grateful for this advice, and I feel that this is the kind of advice that my mom & dad would still give me to this day: Bite your tongue & be less critical. I’ll keep trying.


2 Comments so far
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Excellent advice from your parents, but I, too, have to work on both a little bit more! Sometimes, I just have to say what I feel and get it off my chest. And then I feel better!

Comment by jeandayfriday

Certainly, the biting of the tongue is not for everyone–I think there’s plenty that have to “speak up” more. But sounds like you’re like me… free-to-be-you-and-me? Thanks for reading and commenting.

Comment by jaymers

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