Comforting Words: Speak Your Truth

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Speak Your Truth

“Speak the truth and speak it ever, cost it what it will.”

Those of you who know me personally might find it hard to imagine me as a skinny, long-legged child with ponytails but that I was, at least for awhile. The memories of those days came to me as I sat to speak my truth with you through the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart.

Growing up in a country, Jamaica, where dishonesty seems the best policy; where the ‘bad guys’ drive the best cars, have the biggest houses and wear designer clothing, one could forgive me if my relationships were marked by trickery and deceit.

“Speak the truth and speak it ever” is something we would say to each other on the school grounds when a friend was caught in a lie. Today, speaking the truth, speaking my truth, is such an integral part of who I am. However, sometimes I cannot help feeling that honesty is a dirty word and will therefore join my growing list of ‘difficult words,’ which include ‘responsibility’ and ‘surrender’.

Journey with me through the labyrinth called life as we attempt to unravel the mystery of honesty and search for reasons to “Speak Your Truth.”


These words are not from the Bible or any religious text. Rather, they are drawn from works of several persons who have provided me with sustenance.

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.”
Norman Cousins

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness . . . It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we [are] estranged. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us . . . when despair destroys all joy and courage.

Sometimes at that moment, a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice is saying: ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know…Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept that you are accepted!”

In that moment, grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance.”

Paul Tillich, “You Are Accepted”


We met between the pages of a book almost five years ago. I had never heard of her until a friend, who knew her and familiar with my journey introduced us.

Meeting this woman, albeit through her writings, was for me, using the phrase that Oprah has made famous – an “aha” moment. Actually, it was much more than that. I wept. Hardly surprising, you might say, since the title of the first one of her books that I read is “Yesterday, I Cried.” My tears, however, were more that of a mother grieving the loss of her only child. They rose from the pit of my belly, busted through my ribs and threatened to choke me.

Iyanla Vanzant, a not so famous motivational speaker, author and spiritual counsellor, wrote my story and she guided me onto the path of telling my truth. Every challenge, grief, feeling of defeat and hopelessness, every moment of joy and hope she described in her life, I recognized myself within them.

When the tears stopped flowing and my breathing settled to its normal pace, I literally started to write my story for myself. One day I will share with you the details, not today, because the journey continues.

Through Vanzant’s truth telling, however, I was able to start speaking my own truth. Yes, there were opportunities before and I did try to on occasions, but I was running scared as so many doors had slammed in my face when my truth was revealed.

Growing up in a culture where the primary folk hero was a trickster spider named Anancy, who used any means necessary to have his way, one can understand how easy my retreat to telling tales and hiding my truth became.

Bro’ Anansi, as young and old affectionately call him, came to Jamaica on the boat that brought the first slaves from West Africa. Soon after his arrival, he “went into business as the only therapy for three centuries of hideousness.”

Over the years, I witnessed firsthand how many others would do the same and eventually it became that honesty was not necessarily the best policy. The women with whom I grew up struggled hard to put food on the table, while the men “wild” their time away with numerous mistresses.

Politicians, both male and female, were not much different. They practiced the craft of trickery to such a degree that the country has been brought to the brink of financial disaster on several occasions.

As I looked to the church for inspiration, as deep inside me I felt that something was missing, a form of truth was being told, but not Truth that is unblemished by corruption and self-aggrandizement. With sinking heart, I walked away from the church.

However, grace is a strange thing. Reflecting on my journey thus far, it must have been grace that carried me through high school and later university in the Ukraine. It must have been grace that held me in her arms and brought me through the trauma of an abusive marriage. Surely, it must have been grace that eased the agony and despair I felt when I lost my son.

Most certainly, it was grace that gave me the opportunities to embark on a career in communications and develop the relationships and friendships that I did. Yet, despite these achievements and moments of pleasure, there remained the longing for something more.

I know some of you reading this will think that what I was missing was some good old religion in my life. Frankly, that was not my thought, even when I entered the hall of the Universal Centre of Truth for Better Living and heard that fiery minister “speak the word,” and was touched to the core of my being.

If you must know, the Divine was there all along – I just could not say Her name, and that is where Vanzant stepped in. You see God is Truth and unless you can “speak the truth and speak it ever,” something will always be missing. It goes beyond that – you have to live in the way of Truth, find the sacred in your life and that is even more difficult.

It has been almost five years since I met her, five wonderful yet tumultuous years of speaking and living my truth. Doors still close in my face; people still turn away from my honesty. Many a times there were when, like my friend Sonya, I have been very tempted to throw my compassion out the window.

There have been numerous opportunities to hide my truth, hide what enlivens my soul and play the game of trickery. Those were the times when the pain of truth telling was so great that it seemed safer to keep my mouth shut.

In those moments, I am reminded of these words from Deng Ming-Dao, in Everyday Tao: Living With Balance and Harmony:
Life hurts. Life is painful. Life is suffering.
There is nothing in life that does not involve trial.
There is nothing worthwhile that doesn’t have a cost.
Yet, we must go on.

So, this I know is true, that through the pain and as some doors close, we must all continue to speak our personal truths and remain honest to Truth – cost it what it will. That is how we care for our souls and according to Thomas Moore, if we do so “faithfully, every day, we step out of the way and let our full genius emerge.”


Yesterday, I Cried
By Iyanla Vanzant

Yesterday, I cried.
I came home, went straight to my room, sat on the edge of my bed,
Kicked off my shoes, unhooked my bra,
and I had myself a good cry.

I’m telling you,
I cried until my nose was running all over the silk blouse I got on sale.
I cried until my ears were hot.
I cried until my head was hurting so bad that
I could hardly see the pile of soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.

I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.

Yesterday, I cried,
for all the days that I was too busy, or too tired, or too mad to cry.
I cried for all the days, and all the ways,
and all the times I had dishonoured, disrespected, and disconnected my Self from myself,
only to have it reflected back to me in the ways others did to me,
the same things I had already done to myself.

I cried because there really does come a time when the only thing left
for you to do is cry.

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt. I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there, the hurt wakes you up.

I cried because it was too late. I cried because it was time.
I cried because my soul knew that I didn’t know
that my soul knew everything I needed to know.

I cried a soulful cry yesterday, and it felt so good.
It felt so very, very bad.

In the midst of my crying, I felt freedom coming,
Yesterday, I cried
with an agenda.

Blessings and take care of your Soul until next time.


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