“I have come to believe that by and large the human family all has the same secrets, which are both very telling and very important to tell. They are telling in the sense that they tell what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition—that what we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are—even if we tell it only to ourselves—because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier that way to see where we have been in our lives and where we are going. It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about.”― Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets
Over the years I have been privileged to be in community with some amazing people in various venues. I have also learned that to find a group of people I feel completely safe with to share the depths of my heart is a rare and sometimes sacred privilege.
Last night my husband and I sat in our living room with a group of dear friends. We all recently decided we wanted some support in our marriages, parenting, and life in general, so we’re getting together once every couple of weeks. Our topic of discussion last night was lack of forgiveness. At the end of the evening I arrived at some general conclusions related to the vast benefits of this kind of experience.
1. Sharing our struggles can make us feel less alone. Sometimes we think we are the only ones having a hard time with something. When you take a risk to share a part of your “darker side” you begin to realize you are a lot more normal than you might have previously thought.
2. We can learn from other people’s stories. We are all at different points in our journeys of healing in different areas. By hearing from someone who is a little bit further down the road we can gain insight and maybe just a small dose of hope. And maybe we can discover additional areas of our hearts we need to work on when we hear others say how similar tendencies have adversely affected them.
3. Speaking a struggle out loud can give us instant accountability. By identifying our weaknesses not only to ourselves, but to others, those issues can lose a some of the power they hold over us.
4. A group of people, or even just one other confidant, can help us see things in a different light. They can give us ideas on how to more productively deal with a situation. They can help us get our own insecurities out of the way.
5. Finally, sharing at this level bonds you to the individual(s) you share with. All human beings desire love and acceptance. When we expose what goes on in the inner recesses of our being and don’t face rejection something in our spirit quiets.
I hope it goes without saying that risk is involved in this type of interaction. We can’t just reveal our deepest needs and fears to anyone, and we have to test the waters first. But I believe the benefits can outweigh the risks.
Do you have a person or a group that you can reveal your heart to? If not, start looking around for even one person you can confide in and start yourself on a better road today.
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