When my book first came out and my friends and family members read it, a frequent observation was, “Wow, you really put a lot of personal stuff in there. Has Chief read it?”
Are you kidding?! Of course Chief read it! He went through it with a fine-tooth comb. And he gave me feedback – some of which was hard to hear but essential for its excellence. When co-workers questioned him as well, he replied, “If it helps others with their marriages, I’m completely willing to talk about our difficulties.”
My aunt was the first one to really nail my reason for this. She wrote, “I was a bit surprised that you were so open and personal about your experiences, but that’s what makes it so compelling. It should be required reading for a lot of young couples, not just law enforcement pairs. It even speaks deeply to old long-time married folks like us, forcing one to really examine our relationships with our spouses…”
If you read last week’s blog, you know that I continue to share the good, the bad, and the ugly for the sake of sharing the lessons I learn in life with you. Knowing that we are more alike than different in our thoughts and actions connects us. I know I’m not all that – and you know you’re not all that. Authenticity brings relief.
And what does this have to do with how we love our cops? Everything.
Somewhere in the course of our culture’s “evolving” relational intelligence, we’ve downplayed the idea that our actions (both good and bad) have significant impact on those we are close to. There are no real consequences, it’s my business. These are MY choices – they have nothing to do with you. But really – do your choices affect your spouse? Your kids? The neighbor? The taxpayer? If I choose to eat a donut, who’s business is it but mine? Well, let’s see. Donuts pad on weight, which I want to lose. A choice to screw it all and devour empty carbs will inadvertently tack on guilt (right there on the thighs – where it’s virtually impossible to lose!). And that guilt manifests itself, eventually, into irritation. Irritability leads to sensitivity. Sensitivity leads to insecurity. Insecurity leads to misunderstanding. And misunderstanding results in conflict. With the others who are close to you. Every choice – negative and positive has its effect on others whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
We also think that admitting our shortcomings will have a negative effect on our self-esteems and the respect others have for us. I’ve got news for you – those you live with already know that you aren’t perfect. It’s like the idea that we can’t tell God we’re angry – He already KNOWS! And understanding and acknowledging the stupid things we do not only help with the authenticity of our relationships, but those who are willing to apologize and/or change, are very much respected.
When we admit our shortcomings, we take away their power over us. Rather than expend the energy to hide, deflect, and lie about the things we don’t do well, or the wrong things we say, the mistakes we make, or whatever the case may be, we can use the energy to come clean. It’s much less exhausting to be authentic than to put up a front.
And here’s an added bonus. When we give ourselves freedom to make peace with our weaknesses, we’re much more willing to forgive others their shortcomings. Suddenly there is a willingness to come closer and connect because there is permission to fail – I can be who I am – good, bad, ugly – if there is mercy, forgiveness and restoration.
(Disclaimer – This doesn’t extend to abuse, and it doesn’t give license to chronic bad behaviors. Although, admitting a problem is the first step to restoration in such cases.)
So what am I saying? I’m sayin’ let’s keep it real with each other, people. We’re all in this together.