Love Warrior calls my attention to the fact that I haven't been speaking the truth. Which isn't to say I'm a liar. I'm not. But I haven't been speaking MY TRUTH. Not often enough anyway. I'm good at writing it but terrible at voicing it in the moment. Especially in the moments when it's most needed. Especially if I can't write it down first. I struggle to find the right words. To figure out how to get them out of my brain and into my mouth. But more to the point, I struggle to voice my truths when they might create discomfort or discord; when I might be judged for them; rejected for them; when I don't feel that I have the authority or the intellect or the permission to share them; Or when they might feel like "too much" or "too soon" or "too real" or "too emotional" or "too honest" or "too vulnerable". Or whatever.
But I've been contemplating vulnerability these days, and something called "rejection therapy" (I'm sure you can google it) and this book, "Love Warrior" fit's right in. And as I'm listening and contemplating and being challenged, I'm also listening to my inner-rabbi and searching for the texts that line up with what I'm learning and thinking about. Because that's my world-view. Because everything comes back to Torah and prayer and God (for me, anyway), and because I like when old texts become new texts. So it's no surprise that two of my favourite prayers are, of course, the ones the come into my mind; the ones I need on this particular journey. Somehow I've been saying them and praying them all my life but I have not been LIVING them.
Here they are:
When I lived in Israel, in my first year of HUC, I had a bracelet made with the words of the first prayer on the outside and the words on the second prayer on the inside. They are the two prayers that bracket the Amidah. We say the first out load and the second silently. They set the intention of how we are meant to use our words, not only during this period of prayer, as I once thought, but ALWAYS (as I now realize). I have bee asking God, with these prayers, to help me find the right words in prayer, but I also need help finding the right words IN LIFE! And if the words of my mouth reflect the meditations of my heart during prayer, shouldn't they also do so the rest of the time? Don't the people I speak to IRL (in real life, as they say) deserve the same amount of effort, intention and honesty as I put forth when I direct my words to God?
Yes. Of course.
Except that I believe that God loves me unconditionally, so I don't have to fear being judged for my words; for my truths. And I believe that God is listening and that God cares. I don't always believe the same of people. And to be fair, there's good reason for that. Not everyone is listening. Not everyone cares. Most people WILL judge. But what "Love Warrior" is calling to me to understand - and what I now realize our Jewish liturgy has been calling me to understand as well - is that it doesn't matter. We can't control how our truths will be received. We can't control wether they will be heard or judged or whether or not we will be hurt or laughed at or rejected as a result of sharing them. But we will know that we didn't hold back. We will know we are being honest with ourselves and with those around us. We will know that we did our part.
I will know.
And really, when I think about the times I am most truthful with my words, most honest about myself and my life and my thinking and learning and feeling - they are the times that bring me closer to others, that bring me closer to myself, that bring me and others closer to God.
So, I will try.
And I will share this prayer:
Eternal my God, open up my lips so that the words of my mouth may reflect the meditations of my heart; And may they be acceptable to myself. And may they simply be.
Kein Yehi Ratzon. Be it God's Will.