Mother Theresa said, "We can not all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."
For Darren, telling his story was no small thing. It takes courage to reveal your darkness. Strength to open yourself up and show your pain. In Darren's story-telling he was opening people's eyes to the absolute horror and hopelessness of addiction. He was taking a risk and revealing the darkness of his past so that he could build a lighter future. He was giving people a look into a world they didn't believe could actually be true in the belief that if he could show them how someone fell into the darkness of addiction he might be able to touch their hearts and open their minds to the truth -- we are all connected.
Truth is, we are all connected through love. Not lies. Truth is, Darren forgot that to love, we must be true.
Darren is a client at the homeless shelter where I work. (I wrote about him in July. Two Different Worlds. One Spirit.) Over the past several months, he has been speaking to visitors about his past. Sharing his story because he said he wanted to make a difference. "I've always been a taker," he told me one day. "It's time I started giving back."
Darren is a powerful speaker. His low gravelly voice holds the notes just right, draws people into his tale, where they wait with bated breath for each word to unravel the secrets of Darren's world as a drug addicted dealer who began his journey into darkness at the age of 9. Darren does what he sets out to do. Moves you to tears. Touches your heart and opens your mind to the possibility of redemption.
I don't know how much of Darren's story is truth or fiction. I do know he has lied about something very important. Something that tilts the prism of his story, just so, to reveal the flaw within. In that new perspective, he has put in question everything he has said about his past and his motivation for doing what he does. In knowing the truth about that one lie, I know the truth about Darren.
I knew a man once who lied about everything. Even the little things. It was the little things that tripped him up. Like Darren, he told a good story. Could cry at will. Could pull heartstrings and purse strings in his quest to draw his audience into the web of his deceit.
I am sad. I wanted better for Darren. I wanted more. I wanted this part of his life to be true. To turn around. To change. To move beyond the confines of living at a homeless shelter into that special place where he was living on purpose, making a difference in his own life and the lives of those around him.
I wanted Darren's journey to be a love story of one man's dreams of being all he's meant to be coming true.
Truth is, what I wanted had nothing, and everything, to do with what Darren shared. He's smart. Not just street smart, life smart. Like the con artist from the past, he is very adept at reading people. His facile nature makes it easy for him to tap into the sweet spots in their hearts and weave a tale that will pluck the chords of empathy, and blind them to the truth of what he's doing -- Spinning a mighty tale, a powerful story, an empty lie.
I am sad. But I'm okay. Darren made his choices. Told the lies he told because that's what he does.
Me. I believed long enough to accept the truth. I have no regrets. Sure there's a fissure of anger that this guy took me and my co-workers for a ride. That he 'pulled one over'. But, I work in a homeless shelter. People tell stories on themselves every day to ease the pain and fear of what is really happening in their lives.
Darren's lies are different. I know this. I have past experience to measure this experience against. While Darren is not the man from the past, his lies have a certain lilt, a cadence that is very familiar. It is not behaviour I can accept. In my acceptance of the truth, I have to clean up the mess and rearrange Darren's speaking engagements. No matter how little or how much of Darren's story is true, he was caught in a series of lies. I know he is capable of lying about more than just this. In that truth I know the loving thing to do for those who trust me is to give them the truth, not someone else's lies.
Once upon a time I loved a man who lied. He taught me people lie, not because of me, but rather because they need to. It's their choice. Their drive. Their need.
I cannot change someone else's lies. I can only stay true to me.
It is a small thing to let go of the lies. They are not mine. To do that small thing with great love, I must forgive Darren. It isn't about me, or any of the people to whom he told his story. He lies because that is what he does. I know the truth he is unwilling to embrace. My responsibility is to be accountable for the truth.
The question is: Where have you been lied to and clung to the belief the lie was all your fault? Where have you refused to do a small thing with great love because you held onto anger in your belief you were worth the lie?