Archive for July 9th, 2013

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Not the high mountain monastery

I had hoped for, the real

face of my spiritual practice

is this:

the sweat that pearls on my cheek

when I tell you the truth
–Kim Rosen

Candor (from Merriam-Webster)

  • whiteness, brilliance
    obsolete : unstained purity
    freedom from prejudice or malice : fairness
    unreserved, honest, or sincere expression : forthrightness

During the first few weeks of summer, I started writing about Ed Bacon’s 8 Habits of Love.  I wrote responses to the first three chapters, Generosity, Stillness, and Truth.  Then came Candor. I got squirmy, uncomfortable, and avoided responding to the chapter.  I am really not in a better place for responding to this today as I was, but a fellow blogger prodded me on in a comment last week.  From Deborah at Show, not Tell, “When will we see more of the 8 Habits of Love?”

I love that the first part of the definition of Candor is “whiteness, brilliance”  as if the habit of honesty may blind us with its brilliance.  Is this why Candor is so hard?  While I like to think of myself as someone who lives in love and not in fear, I get butterflies, the sweat on my brow, when faced with a situation that calls on me to be candid.  In fact, these times make me feel completely vulnerable.

Many potentially life-giving experiences of Candor are self-sabotaged by the fear that the person you are addressing will leave, …and you will be left alone in the world.

When we engage the Habit of Candor, our open, loving hearts help alleviate our fear and give us the courage to speak our minds.

–Ed Bacon, 8 Habits of Love

Candor requires us to have a sense of security and courage in our relationship, that it is strong enough to withstand the brilliance of honesty.  I am blessed to have a husband who will not let us sleep with anger or an unsettled matter.  We talk a lot.  Communication is key to our long lasting relationship. (30+ years!)  I believe this strongly.  Even as an introvert having to battle with my own insecurities, I have come to respect Candor as necessary, no matter how hard or painful.  Our honest conversations have helped me improve myself as a wife, mother, and teacher.

Candor is also instrumental in sustaining my relationships with my children.  My daughters are now in their twenties.  I can remember many candid conversations with them as teenagers.  I once said to my daughter, “Do we have a kid problem here or a teacher problem?”  Once we had the honest conversation about whose responsibility her grades were, we were able to move forward to address the issue.  The teen years are the hardest, in my opinion, and there were many times when I wanted to bury my head in the sand.  By being open to conversations, honest conversations, I feel my daughters are stronger and more goal oriented.  They have a support system backing them up at all times.

While I am an avid fan of honesty, sometimes it can cause painful resentment.  Ed Bacon talks about this.  “Even when the intention of Candor is positive, people often react to it with ferocious defensiveness.”  We want to protect ourselves from criticism.  I find in my most trusted relationships, I can ask for Candor and receive it much better than from someone I do not know well.

I have grown to love and care about my writing partners in my writing group.  While I still try to temper criticism with praise, I sometimes say things that I think a total stranger would take offense to; however, we have built a level of safety that allows us to be candid.  And we know that the spirit is a giving one; we support each other in all our writing endeavors.  Ed Bacon says that Candor is a compliment, an act of trusting the relationship. 

Candor takes courage.  Courage means opening your heart.  But if all is done in love, then Love will temper Candor with Kindness.  You may need to be patient and persistent.  The world may not be ready for what you have to say.

In what ways are you using Candor?  Have you found it difficult to be honest?  What is the risk?

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