The Truth of Who I Am

"Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free." -Eckhart Tolle

Muddle. Stumble. Stall. Love.

on March 28, 2013

I was up at 5:07 AM and could not fall back asleep for my remaining 53 minutes of dedicated and desired sleep time. When this happens I’ve learned that there’s something my mind needs to deal with consciously. So, grudgingly, I headed down to my computer to write. Writing has always been cathartic and enlightening for me. I’ll admit that considering the possibility of this becoming a blog post added much pressure to write something sacred that would be worthy of your time. So I had to retreat into myself a little deeper and write my truths as they showed up. Here’s what came up.

I was clear, well before my kids were born, that no topics would be off limits and no human rights issues would be hidden from them or “made nice” for them so they could think that they are not affected or somehow do not participate in the way things are. This would apply to topics such as sexism, child abuse, human trafficking, child labor, gay rights, death, birth, racism, poverty and whatever else came up. I don’t know if this is right or wrong, good or bad, amazing or inappropriate, but this was something that felt important to me and I knew I was going to muddle, stumble and stall through whatever difficult conversations came up and I was going to be courageous about it. So, I’ve been having conversations about human rights with my kids for as long as I can remember. However, when it came to LGBTQ rights, like many other straight people, I had to get past thinking about the sexuality of being gay (because the sexuality of heterosexual people was rarely the first thing I thought about when I met them). This is how it happened.

One beautiful sunny Sunday, a couple of years ago when my kids, David and Kaya, were 4 and 2 respectively and we were driving in midtown Atlanta past The Fox theater, we started to see beautifully colored balloons and ribbons and people dressed in all manner of interesting, colorful clothing making a lot of noise and merriment. David looked out the window excitedly and asked, “What are they doing, Mommy? What’s happening? Can we join them?” I paused at first while my mind raced to find the words to explain it all in kid language. In case you missed it, there was a Gay Pride parade going on and, in Atlanta, we go all out (pun intended) for Gay Pride. We will not be outdone. And Midtown is where it’s at (to use my Southern English). My mind, of course, was trying to find the words to explain the role of attraction and sex in this particular human rights issue. I started to talk about how people were out there in the parade to demand the right to be who they are. That some people are not accepted or allowed to be who they are in the world and this was a day to celebrate and be proud of yourself exactly the way you were created. That being free to be who you are is the best way to be in this world. Muddle. Stumble. Stall. As we drove along, I slowed down to let some people cross the road and then I saw a sight that gave me the answer and the words I needed. A little girl was crossing the road holding on to the hands of who appeared to be her two dads. My heart filled up. That was a beautiful sight. THAT was the epitome of what it was all about. That was the starting place for me with my kids. The people were in the streets to defend their right to love each other and be a family. It was about love. Love. Just love. I didn’t have to explain to my kids about attraction and sex at their ages (wasn’t ready for that with either opposite- or same-sex sex). All I had to clarify was that there was this silly notion that it was not okay to have two moms or two dads in a family. That some people believe  it  is not okay for girls to fall in love with girls and for boys to fall in love with boys and they were working as hard as they could to make sure our country had laws against it. There was much contemplation by my son and a few clarifying questions and he seemed to see the absurdity in the judgment and denial by some people for others to be who they were and create their loving families however they decided. Then, the conversation took on a whole different strange turn when he started wondering if he could marry his sister or his most favorite cousin… you can imagine that discussion. A lot more muddling and stumbling and stalling happened with this new discussion, but that’s for another day.

twodadsand daughterwinningcovers

We seem to be having lots of debates about this issue and very little dialogue. The difference between a dialogue and a debate is that a dialogue is about gaining a deeper understanding while a debate is about winning. The truth is that either we all win or we all lose. There is no in-between for this matter. So we need to have dialogue. This can’t be a debate. We cannot afford to turn it into a debate. We are in this together and the right to love and to be able to show up and commit and care for and be recognized in the world as the lover and loved one must be for everyone. If not, then nobody can really be free. We are all connected. Our selves are part of a whole. I believe this to my core. This little video clip about the self says it all in a more scientific way (and a cute accent) if that’s what you need. Consider what that might mean if the little pieces in this world that we each call “self” are not so separate from each other. What if it really is all energy and we are actually one big ball of energy. Maybe the ideas and beliefs we have that separate us could be stronger if we realized that they are all connected by the same thing. Energy. God. Spirit. Love. Each one of us is driven by a deep desire to belong. To a family, a partner, a religion, a country, a gang, a book club, a team, etc. Could it be that this desire for belonging doesn’t have to be limited to the small groups we create? Perhaps we seek connection and belonging because it is in our nature to belong to something bigger. Perhaps we seek connection and belonging because we do belong to a collective whole. Our debates about whether or not some people should be allowed to have the same rights as some other people do, are just about us trying to separate into smaller groups to belong. But perhaps the small groups we create and cling to are too small and diminish the truth and power of who we are as a whole.

The answers and direction are not always known by us, but we get to decide how we get there. We need to have dialogue for that. We need to let go of winning for our small group and think about winning for our collective whole. Our laws must change for legal rights for everyone, but our hearts must change for us to win. We need to take those courageous steps into dialogues that go to the heart of the matter. And when we don’t understand, we need to ask questions instead of judging and assuming we are so different and so we must be separate. The answers are there. We each carry the answer in our innermost self. When I delve into my innermost self, my soul, to find the answer, I believe it is really as simple and uncomplicated as this quote I recently came across by Ray Bradbury.

“Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything.”

Which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense. Love. It is all we are and the answer to everything. I could have chosen to write about the fact that unequal rights cannot be constitutional and to list all the rights which are not available to people when they are not legally married should be enough said regarding the decisions we make as a country. Really should be enough said. Period. End of story. Let’s agree that every American human should have the same rights because that’s a no-brainer. I could have been very political about all this. Believe me, I’ve read all the clever writings and analyses and arguments and contentions backed by research and history and religion and votes. But I believe the truth is not as easy to uncover in all that. Not to say that it’s not necessary for people to write those articles and for us all to be informed. We absolutely must be informed. I live and teach the idea that we must be informed and we must participate in our society. There is no neutral ground. We are all participants whether we like it or not. I also believe there is a simple and uncomplicated truth about this issue and it is love.

Truthfully yours,


P.S. I would love to hear your truths and I ask, with love, that you please comment from a position of love, too.


8 responses to “Muddle. Stumble. Stall. Love.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love you too and my Southern English!

  2. Rhina I am always inspired by you in all the ways that you express your love, your life, your living, and your soul. I feel so incredibly blessed to have you in my circle of family-friends…What a gift you are to your children, your beloved, your family, friends, and the world. Continue to write and share your truths…your words are so prolific and prophetic…a true inspirations to this stagnant writer…thank you, thank you for your courage and willingness to share!

  3. Alyssa says:

    Rhina, you are such a beautiful writer. I now look forward to your new posts! I feel like I am a better person for knowing you and then get a little better after I read each entry. If I am lucky enough to be a parent someday, I know that I will remember these things especially. Also, you helped me find Brene Brown. You posted something by her months ago, and I read it and loved it. Now I’m using her “ordinary courage” idea in a new journal article. (But, more importantly, in life.) Thank you for sharing your truth and love with us. xoxo

    • justrhina says:

      Thanks for reading and for your kind comments, Alyssa. I wanted to have a Daring Greatly book chat with a group because there were so many things I wanted to talk through. Can’t wait to read your journal article. And I can’t wait to hear your mama stories someday.

  4. Mari Roberts says:

    This was beautifully said. I would say more, but you, said it all. MLK has a quote that I believe underlies all you have shared with us here.
    “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.
    Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

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