I had a mentor once. She observed that I often share what I am learning before I allow myself to be changed by it, and that I should own a concept before I share it with others. But then she basically abandoned me, and it has been difficult to value her input, which seems to have been applicable for a different life, a different time. Perhaps a time when I could only see in black and white, and had not known enough grace to live by anything but absolutes. Or a time when it was harder to keep my mouth closed than it was to proclaim my latest theological revelation or insight into what God was doing in my life.
I used to resent “thinking things through” with other people. I was frustrated that it was virtually impossible to make a decision “on your own,” since there is not one who can escape the influence of culture and society in their pursuit of individualism, and I was determined to “think for myself,” avoiding as much external input as possible, as best I could. (All these phrases are in quotes because I kind of despise them.) In the beginning, I never wanted to talk with Noah about what I was thinking, in the midst of figuring it out. “You mean, invite you into my thought process?” It seemed absurd. If I was not sure of something, why would I say it? If I could not make my own decisions, why did I deserve to have those choices in the first place?
It turns out recognizing my weakness as a social creature makes it easier for others to fulfill my need for them.
Sometimes it is important to process things solo, to quiet the periphery voices in order to hear the ones that actually speak love and truth. Sometimes it is important to process thoroughly first, because speaking on a subject without understanding it can give a false sense of authority on a matter of ignorance. I definitely see value in being shaped by something before I attempt to see others shaped by it, but measuring growth and change is never cut and dry.
In this season, I want to share in the interim. To remember the steps, value the journey. I want to be open and honest with others because I want to believe I have no reason not to be.
It is so difficult for me to share the things that matter most to me with people who do not understand. In the natural, I want others to understand more than I want them to care. It is a rare case indeed to find someone who both understands AND cares. It is the issues closest to my heart that I trust least in the oblivious possession of those who can do little more than listen, but I am learning to view others as worthy to hear what is worth most to me, at the risk of being misunderstood or not being understood fully. I am learning to trust my community to steward the thoughts and stories I make known, though they may be received lightly and without regard. I am choosing to present to them shards of my life as a reflection of my desire for vulnerable authenticity and wanting to know them truly in return. I am being reminded that community is not synonymous with friendship.
I am not pretending to have answers, I am not protecting a reputation, I have no need to prove myself. I am living in gray, and if you want to listen, I am not afraid to tell you about it.