Friday, April 29, 2011


I tend to be a mostly private person.  I used to think of myself as “intensely” private, but I’m not quite as dramatic as I used to be (don’t tell the hubs I said that, though… I’m sure he’d disagree!) so I can’t really classify myself that way any longer.  I know there are others out there who are vastly more private than I.

I used to guard my privacy with closed-fisted intensity.  There were parts of my life -hopes and dreams and thoughts and fears- to which no one else was privy.  This was mostly due to a fear of being laughed at or judged.  Which essentially means: mostly due to my insecurity.  As I’ve grown (matured?), I’ve come to realize that privacy can be overrated.

Side Note: I’m not talking about blathering every thought that comes to mind, or telling complete strangers (or even people I don’t know well) my life story.  Obviously, there are social situations where keeping your mouth shut is preferable.  We have to have balance, though!

Sometimes, privacy can lead to loneliness.  We were created as relational beings, which means that it is in our nature to relate to others and share life and life experiences with them.  We were made to connect with our Creator as well as other people.  Of course, this is two-fold.  First, we connect with others for our benefit.  Secondly, we connect with others for their benefit! If we withhold ourselves from others, they don’t have the advantage of all that we have to offer, and that’s a shame. 

Other times, privacy can lead to a sense of superiority.  It is very easy to pretend that life is “perfect” if we aren’t being transparent.  While we all know that no one has the perfect life, it is very easy to look at someone who seems to have it “all together” and be a little bit jealous.  At one particularly difficult time in my life, I was harboring the hurt deep inside.  A friend who came over to my house saw that I was doing a Bible study called “Freedom From Stress and Worry.”  My friend exclaimed, “Do you stress and worry?! You always seem so calm!”  I assured her that I had all of the same faults as anyone else, but on the inside I was dying.  She had no idea just how deeply engrained the stress and worry were in my heart… because it was a secret.

Two years ago, all my private pain was spilled out for all the world to see, and honestly, there have been few things more freeing.  First of all, the judgment I feared never surfaced.  The things that happened were all positive.  People came out of the woodwork to love and support me--- I was sustained by my God, but also by many of those who knew my circumstances.  All barriers were erased; my life was an open book for anyone to read if they cared to know.  That being said, I didn’t go around telling everyone every detail of my circumtances to every person I know (and certainly not on the internet!).  I’m just saying that if you had asked me how I was doing, I wasn’t going to say, “fine.”  I was going to be honest.  And as things in life have improved, I can still be honest when I say that “I’m doing really well today!”

My experiences during that time emphasized to me the need for us as human beings to relate to each other.  My painful experience has given me a huge appreciation for those people in my life who are transparent.  It is encouraging to know that other people have hurt like I have!  Also, my ability to be transparent about my hurt has let other people know that I know how it feels and I can sympathize--- and relate.  This kind of connecting has led to some moments of testimony for me, and I start to think that maybe, just maybe, my pain will be worth it if I can help other people because of it. 

Sometimes, pride gets in the way of relating to others.  For example, if I am a private person and I don't want anyone to know what's going on in my life, I'll hide it.  That's pride, because insecurity is pride at its root.  But sometimes, we don't tell people what's going on in our lives because we don't want to burden them... and this is a mistake!  We need the help and support of others--- those who will help us to bear our burdens as we travel the straight and narrow! 

On the other hand, sometimes I don't ask a person if something is wrong because I'm afraid that it might come across as "prying."  From my experiences, though, I've learned that most of the time when people are going through something, they want to talk about it with a sympathetic ear, and a lot of times they are just wishing someone would ask how they're doing.  They don't volunteer the information because they don't want to burden anyone, and you can see how this creates the colloquial "vicious cycle."  Well, people, ASK.  What's the worst someone can say to you?  "I don't want to talk about it" is pretty much the worst, and that's not a rejection of you.  Besides, like I said, MOST people do want to talk about it... they're just waiting for someone to care enough to ask.  Proof positive--- no one has ever told me to buzz off when I ask them how they're doing.

I would much rather be told "that's none of your business" than to find out down the road that someone needed me and I wasn't there for them.  So, if I ask you nosy questions, please know that it isn't because I want to pry... it's because I really care!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Amy...I could relate so much to this post. I struggle with being shy. I love people and I love to pray for other people...but I have such a hard time coming up with conversation when I am in a crowd. (Like church) I do better in a one on one situation. Someone once said that a good conversation is like a tennis serve...I serve! etc. Ha!

    I have said that I often feel "self conscious"...but then it dawns on me that that sounds like I am thinking only of myself. And I pray that God will help me overcome those feelings. My husband John is so outgoing...I guess what they say is true..."opposites attract".

    Like you I want to be there when people need me...but so much of the time people just don't open up and share their burdens like they should.. (Myself included)


    Linda Hogeland
    My Blog is Truthful Tidbits


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