Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote in their song “Strawberry Fields” that “living is easy with eyes closed.” I heard this lyric while driving from Oxford, MS to Starkville, MS. My husband lives in Oxford, and I live in Starkville. There is a lot of driving between the two small Mississippi towns, which breeds wonderful moments for reflection. McCartney and Lennon's simple lyric speaks a lot of truth. How many times have we heard the cliché, “Ignorance is bliss”? It is bliss because it is easy. It is easy because we close our eyes to the harsher reality and truth that is around us. A truth that according to John 8:32 “will set you free.” Free from what, exactly? Facades. Perfectionism. Judgment of self and others. Defensiveness. Anger. Hurt. Need to please authorities, family, significant others, friends. Harsh words. Opening your eyes to your personal truth is not easy. It is really hard. But, it is freeing. It frees you to be real. Carl Rogers described how facing your harsh truths leads to realness and genuineness in the following quote: “When I can accept the fact that I have many deficiencies, many faults, make a lot of mistakes, am often ignorant where I should be knowledgeable, often prejudiced when I should be open-minded, often have feelings which are not justified by the circumstances, then I can be much more real.” As counselors we must be real with ourselves before we can be real with our clients. Living apart from my husband has been extremely difficult. I have felt lonely, anxious, angry, depressed, frustrated, and unfocused – all emotions to which my eyes had previously remained closed. I was ignorant to these feelings and never imagined that I could experience them. What a blessing it has been to experience them and become familiar with their manifestations in my mind and my body. It has been hard work – and continues to be hard work – opening my eyes to them. But, I am more real and genuine as a result and am being set free from the expectation that these emotions are not “right” or “normal.” I encourage you to examine those things to which your eyes have remained closed and to open your eyes to the possibilities that lay within those things.
Courtnay Veazey is a counselor in training at Mississippi State University pursuing a Master of Science in clinical mental health counseling and working as a graduate assistant at MSU's Career Center