The Ugly Truth

A friend persists in telling me that I’m heroic, brave, selfless, giving…all things that are nice to hear, except they aren’t true which makes me feel misunderstood, unknown, or worse, a fraud. I am none of those things. I give reluctantly, am horribly selfish, cowardly…I could go on, but this is the point. I have moments where I feel brave, until the price has to be paid. I WANT to be selfless, but I’m not.

It’s painful hearing those praises, knowing how horribly untrue they are. Only I know how very much I want to just sit and read or crochet or lie on the beach and how I resent giving up even a few minutes of these things. It’s shamefully true. And as for brave, is it brave when you have no choice? I’m not running into a burning building to save someone, I’m running through a burning building because I was in it when it was set on fire and I can’t find a way out. That’s not brave, that’s just circumstances. If you want to think I ran into this fire on purpose to save someone…well…you don’t know me very well.

Doing the right thing because you know you should do it is not the same thing as wanting to do the right thing. I absolutely want to do anything but the right thing, but I don’t want to face myself knowing that I gave in to that. The resentment that goes along with doing the right thing is not pretty. I’m warning you, this person is not pretty on the inside. I’m no Mother Theresa, wandering the slums of a third world country for the love of the poor and the sick, I’m the person who has the poor and the sick thrust upon them and deals with it because, let’s be real here, I don’t want to be the person who wouldn’t, I don’t want to be seen as the person who would walk away from that, and I don’t want God to walk away from me because I have not done it “for the least of these”. But really, to my shame, I want the sick to clean themselves up a bit, to smell better, not to ooze, and to (dammit) get well faster! It’s not fair of me, and it’s not right, but there you have it. I much prefer an upper middle class person ill or dying in a genteel way, cared for by discreet nurses and caregivers, with no smells, no inconvenient oozing, no horrors but the ultimate horror of illness and death. I much prefer that. I like to visit the genteel infirm, to have a conversation that doesn’t require bandage changes or calls to the paramedics, where blood and spittle are discreetly removed.

And maybe, just maybe, that is why this is thrust upon me, because my heart is so in need of a resurrection, a healing, a change. I need the kind of change that turns water into wine. I need a heart of stone turned to a heart of flesh, of love, of kindness, of gentleness, of mercy, and of selflessness. I need to be recreated. I need to be made HUMAN.

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