"Life in Lubbock, Texas taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
-- Butch Hancock
I read this quote yesterday. Butch Hancock writes songs. Lots of songs. I don't know many of them, but I did a little research on Butch and found out he staged one of the longest running concerts of original music ever held. I want to check out some of his music. Because, from the sound of this quote, Butch understands.
I laughed when I read this quote the first time. And I've chuckled when I think about it as I go about my day. But the words have also made me think. Deeply. I'm thinking about the many mixed messages we send to those around us - to our children, our spouse, our boss, our friends, our enemies. And I'm thinking about the results of those mixed messages.
Sometimes the messages overtly contradict one another. Sometimes the meanings are much more subtle, a difference in word and action. Sometimes, they are so subtle, we even fool ourselves.
I'm a master at mixed messages. I say a lot of stuff. True stuff. But if you look at my life, you might get the completely opposite idea from the message you hear coming from my mouth. The disparity, when I see it, either gives me whiplash or makes me feel like a fraud.
Some of the messages appear simple. "I don't care what we do for dinner." And when I say something so innocuous, I may even believe it. But if what we DO for dinner doesn't suit me, then pretty quickly I'm proved guilty of mixed messages. My irritation belies the fact that yes, indeed, I did care.
Some of the messages carry much more weight in many facets of my life. I want my daughters to be able to explore their limitless possibilities, but I restrict their participation in some event because of my own fear.
The confusion transcends the personal realm. I send mixed messages. My family sends mixed messages, my community sends mixed messages, my church sends mixed messages, my government sends mixed messages. It's easy for me to parse apart the mixed messages coming from those powerful groups. Often I point an accusatory finger. I rail about the mixed messages I see and hear and notice from somewhere else. But how often do I take a hard look at myself and the mixed messages I send?
When I hear mixed messages coming from somewhere, especially repeatedly, the effect those words have on me causes me to be cynical. I stop believing anything that person or entity says. If I'm being offered such mixed messages, obviously the message giver either doesn't have a clue or practices intentional deception. And that gives me pause. Because, if I turn off the message giver when I receive those mixed messages, I have to wonder what reaction I create in someone who hears a mixed message from me.
Ronna is talking about Revealing What Is today over at Renegade Conversations. Sometimes (always?) that's hard. It's especially hard for me when I'm playing a tape of mixed messages about myself in my head. I play mixed messages about who I am, what I want, where I stand, why I do the things I do, how I live my life, and when I'm going to make a change. And just like when I hear mixed messages out there in the world, those disconnects in the messages I'm feeding myself make me distrustful. I don't know what to believe.
I want to stop the mixed messages. I want to be clear with myself. Admit where and who I am, whether I like that place or person or not. Because it's much easier to change something when I see what needs changing clearly instead of muddying the water with contradictory noise. I want to be clear with my husband. I want to be clear with (and for) my daughters. I want them to be able to trust the messages they receive from me. To believe me when I tell them I believe in them with all my heart.
The mixed messages fly all around us in the world. I SAY I want to effect change, but I am often too afraid to look myself in the eye and change what needs to be changed. Until I stop sending mixed messages, how can I expect clarity from anywhere or anyone else?
What are the mixed messages you send? What would be different without those messages?