Sacred relationships rely on two currents of healing found within all relationships. The first is the current of love, support, generosity, and sympathy that manifests as the quality of gentleness. The second is the current of truth, justice, and righteousness that manifests as the quality of firmness. All relationships and all interactions are composed of these two intermingled currents.
The offering of truth to others must be done in a way that joins truth and love. This is only possible when the mind is not clouded by need or fear and the heart is filled with a spirit of generosity.
To love without truth means to not see others, and therefore to relate to them in a shallow way. It also means to not be seen oneself, and therefore to pay the price of reduced intimacy. When we love without being truthful, we relate to others from the surface of ourselves. As a result, we may have difficulty feeling loving or that we are being loved.
On the other hand, to have truth but not love, means to fall prey to judgment about the limitations of others. It is to create distance from others through the restriction of our gentleness and compassion, both of which are needed to develop intimacy and to help someone change and grow. In each of our relationships, love and truth, gentleness and firmness, must be tied to each other in such a way that each permeates the other. Only in this way can our life with others remain in balance.
Even though love comes from the heart, our culture also defines which actions will be perceived by us as loving, and which will not.
Sometimes, it tells us that being truthful is notloving. Sometimes, it confuses us about what love really is. This confusion takes many of us in the direction of limiting our truthfulness so that we will appear loving, even though we don’t really feel authentic in what we are expressing. It causes us to be afraid of being firm with others because we will be seen as ‘making waves’.
Within a sacred life, we are called to integrity before God. We are called to find ways of being honest with ourselves and with others in all forms of our expression. At the same time, we are called to become expressions of love. Because of this dual calling, we quickly come up against the cultural confusion we have lived with about what it is to be loving and what it is to be truthful. We need to find a way within ourselves to balance these two strands.
Sometimes being loving means to support someone in what they feel they need. This may include offers of sympathy, help, statements of affection, and affirmation of another’s positive qualities. Sometimes being loving means to support someone in who they are inside — who they are as a soul — not in what they feel. This may include confronting unconscious behavior, setting limits, requiring accountability for words and actions, and saying “no” to what is being asked for.
To make the distinction between these two currents of love and to decide which is needed in a given situation is not always easy. It requires a clear mind and heart to do so and the courage to speak the truth. Gestures that are typically loving and supportive are easier for us to offer to others than gestures that show love as truthfulness. This is not difficult to understand. To hear the positive truth about oneself feels like support and love to most people and is most often felt as nourishing. To hear the truth about limitations or blind spots does not commonly feel like love to others, first, because their sense of self may be uncertain and in need of bolstering, but more importantly, because they are not committed enough to seeing life as a learning process in which each limitation is revealed in order to be overcome.
The offering of truth to others must be done in a way that joins truth and love. This is only possible when the mind is not clouded by need or fear and the heart is filled with a spirit of generosity which seeks to help another in as pure a way as possible. When this is the case, our inner knowing of another can be offered to them as a mirror to the self so that they can see themselves through our eyes.
Inner knowing is built into each of us, and continues to be present even when we feel it to be missing. Our sense of truth is our inheritance; it is a function of our soul. It resides within our hearts as intuition and within our bodies as sensitivity and can be reached for at times of need, even though the way to it may seem dark.
If we do not invalidate our sense of truth but rather seek it deliberately, we will find it in the deepest place of our heart. What gives us this inner knowing is not primarily any studying we have done about the human psyche, or any experiences we have had with groups of people. It is the innate goodness of our soul, our spiritual core, that tells us when something feels right to us and when it feels wrong. Intuition can be cultivated and enhanced over time, but it is always there. The more we rely on it, the more clear are the messages it sends to our conscious minds and the more we can trust these messages.
Our sense of truth tells us when what we are saying or doing serves the best interests of another, and when we are speaking because we are angry, frustrated, or impatient. These are not good reasons for being truthful. In fact, in the presence of these reasons, a good deal of the time we will not be truthful and most of the time we will not be well-received. It is only when our hearts are clear and we stand in the place of love, that we weave together the two currents of relationship that are gentleness and firmness. Only in the presence of both can we try to do what is best for others and can we believe in our own reasons for doing so.
The fear of speaking truth often causes us to accomodate to situations that do not serve the best interests of anybody. Generally, this is because we are afraid of the disapproval we might incur by standing for a point of view that is different from anyone else’s. Many times this places us in false situations — situations where we do not express our true feelings for fear of being seen as not-loving — situations where we do not reveal what we think for fear of appearing different and unlikeable.
Ideed, we aredifferent; this is our gift and our destiny. We each have a unique perception to add to the world. But we are also the same. We are also human, struggling with the same learning process that others struggle with. It is our commitment to being human that makes us want to help others become more human as well. It is our commitment to being whole that makes us want to help others become whole as well. Fear limits our capacity to become more human and to become more whole. In the presence of fear, we walk around as half of ourselves rather than as a whole being.
In the end, our capacity to be loving and our capacity to be truthful rest upon the strength of our desire to live life with integrity — to be truly ourselves as God would have us be. Only when we wish for this in a deep way, can we find the courage that is needed to stand for what we believe in and to speak for what we stand. When this is the case, all of our interactions with others become a testimony to the values we hold. If we do not betray ourselves, we support others in becoming more truthful as well. To express our love through both gentleness and firmness is the goal of our wholeness. It is to bring into balance the two currents of healing that can help humanity grow.