Tomorrow I'm leaving town for our annual summer vacation with extended family. Should be fun! Before then, I've got one more post in me.
All of us understand the concept that we don't always say what we think, all the time to all the people around us. There's a sense of responsbility there, that perhaps our thoughts and words might be rude, offensive, misinterpreted or just plain irrelevant.
The lady in front of you at the grocery store who's on the cell phone and ignoring a question from the cashier? Annoying, but I probably wouldn't say anything. The young boy who's being kind of mean, but not dangerously mean, to another kid at the park? Sad, but if he's not my kid, I probably wouldn't say anything. The sweet lady who plainly tells me her political opinion, which happens to be the polar opposite of mine? I'd probably just nod my head, smile and thank her for sharing.
These are times we might just stay quiet and choose not to cause a ruckus. But how far does that go, exactly, before our silence is causing us to be disingeuous? If that silence extends to never telling anyone what we think or how we feel, does anybody really know us at all?
I've been wrestling with this one for a while in regards to my faith. I've shared plenty of things here over the past few years, but that's really just the tip of the iceberg. Most of my journey I'm still holding back, and at times I can't tell if that reluctance is driven by responsibility or fear.
Let's be clear -- we don't need to share everything with everybody. Heck, nobody is closer to me than Jamie, but we have an understanding that on some issues and some ideas we're just not gonna agree. So we don't go there. That's responsible, I think. I guess what I'm saying is that lately it's been hard for me to discern where the line is between responsible avoidance of hot topics, and dishonest keeping of secrets. Does anybody else struggle with this?
It's all coming to a head now because a men's reading group has been formed at our church, and I was asked to be in it. It's a small group, just 10 guys, and half of them are a formal church leader or employee. It's a great group of guys, and our first book assignment was "The Shack", which strangely enough does not really fit into some of our church doctrines. But it fit with me.
Our group isn't able to meet in person so I set up an online group for us, and introduced myself and mentioned that I've never really shared my faith journey of the past few years. The response was strong and immediate -- several of them felt the same way. They said it's very sad that we can't be "real" at church and admit that the answers to life aren't simple. They said it's tragic that we haven't been able to foster a safe environment where people felt like they could really be themselves. They said that all discussion details would stay private within the group, and that we should never feel that we have to stick with what have historically been the church's positions on any topic.
It was partially a breath of fresh air, and partially terrifying. Are they seriously asking for me to share who I really am? Is it that safe? I haven't decided yet. But I'm hopeful.
My dad recently wrote a poem that included this verse:
Will we ever get rid of our preconceived notions,
And our quick answers we think are fast magic potions?
Will we ever see what could have been really be,
Where I take you for you and you take me for me?
Not till we get there.
He's probably right, that we'll never totally accept each other in this life. Perhaps all I can hope for is that soon I can start to test out some of my ideas by sharing them instead of holding them in. And if somebody doesn't like them, perhaps they'll keep it to themselves instead of rocking my boat. :)
Speaking of silence and secrets, have you ever seen the postsecret blog? It's incredible. A mailing address was setup for people to send postcards to, with no return address. On the postcard the sender is supposed to put a secret they've been keeping. It's fascinating to see the types of things people haven't been able to share. Obviously some of them are heartbreaking, but I've been collecting the lighter-hearted or soul-sparking ones.
Here are a few of my favorites. See you in a week!