Last night our Book Club delved into our experiences of suffering, amazing timing and dealing with loss. When it came to lived experience, I had some relevant ones which I shared with the group. After the group dispersed, I felt uneasy, unmasked. Had I exposed too much of myself? Compared to the people in our current book, ‘Any Ordinary Day’ by Leigh Sales, the answer would be a definite ‘No!’ My experiences were shared with a small, known group of people – unlike Leigh’s cases whose stories were recorded for an unknown audience of potentially millions. Yet, these were my stories, told from my perspective and I felt vulnerable.
There is a potential risk of telling your story or sharing your honest opinion – as the next move is out of your control. It’s your audience’s call how they will respond. I feel honoured when people share their stories, or their perspective with me, because their implicit trust is conveyed in this action. It usually draws us closer as a result. It’s important we honour the storyteller. We need to keep confidences and respond with appreciation to the valuable insight into their lives we have been given.
In these strange times, while we are forced to become more localised than we were before, cultivating depth in relationships is more important than ever. To do that, we need to take the plunge and share something of ourselves, with trusted others, who are interested to know us better. The depth of that sharing depends on how much we trust them. It should be gradually deepened, to gauge the reality of that trust and minimise the risk incurred. Leaders tend to take that risk more readily, as they anticipate the benefits of a reciprocal response.
Living with uncomfortable feelings, such as I experienced last night, are essentially growing pains. Our innate ‘radar’ detects threats to our safety and should be heeded. However, if it is very highly tuned, we need to weigh the consequences of taking a risk to build a relationship, against being unknown at a deeper level. The consequence of being too protective could be loneliness, now or in the future. Go gently, gently at first, with someone who seems kind and is not a threat to you.
Wear your mask to hide from Coronavirus – not from each other!
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (from The Bible, Peter 4:8)
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.