There are things I don’t talk about.
Some of these things are trivial. I enjoy watching a television show about magical rainbow ponies, for example. I sometimes make faces at myself in the bathroom mirror. I also think Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” is pretty darn catchy.
I’m not ashamed of these things, but they’re a little embarrassing, and so I keep them to myself.
Then there are the other things I don’t talk about—things that are anything but trivial.
I’ve suffered for years from serious depression. It comes and goes more or less at random, and robs me of the ability to do much of anything except breathe. When I’m depressed, all I can do is pray, retreat to my bedroom with a cup of tea and wait until my depression goes away.
I struggle with insecurity. Although I try not to let it show, I often wrestle with doubts and worries about my future, my faith, my writing and pretty much everything else.
I worry too much about my reputation, and show too little care or concern for the needs of other people.
I don’t feel particularly at home anywhere in the world. Even though I grew up in Ecuador, my Spanish is pretty weak. The culture of the United States is still strange to me. Every country feels like a foreign one.
Why don’t I ever talk about these things?
Well, it’s embarrassing and awkward. These things tear apart the bookish, cheerful, slightly eccentric impression I wish to make on people. Being vulnerable is hard. Sharing my insecurities feels too much like complaining or making excuses. It’s easier to reminisce about crazy high school teachers or grumble about how modern worship music is badly written.
I think other people would be more patient with me if they understood my struggles.
Do you know what else?
I would be a dashed lot more patient with other people if I understood their struggles.
My closest relationships are those in which the things we don’t talk about have been talked about. Some of the best discussions I’ve ever had were the ones in which the masks came off. These discussions were uncomfortable, but they built up stronger friendships.
There are times when revelations of a personal nature aren’t appropriate. There is a very, very fine line between being vulnerable and complaining about personal problems. It takes discernment to know when to speak and when to remain silent.
The problem is when I simply remain silent, hiding my struggles, refusing to acknowledge I’m not perfectly self-sufficient.
Uncle Iroh and the Apostle Paul—a fictional tea-drinker and a famous missionary, respectively—seem to agree on certain issues, and this is one of them.
Uncle Iroh once said, “There is nothing wrong with letting people who love you help you.”
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Maybe we should talk about the things we don’t talk about.
Thanks for another great blog, a beautiful reminder that being human involves vulnerability. As a leader I often feel pressured to be strong all the time. Some of that comes from basic instincts of self preservation. But some of it comes from a culture, both inside and outside the church, where leaders model only showing their strengths. Thank you for being an example of sharing your own vulnerabilities in a way that strengths who you are as a human and as a leader.
Thanks Adam, you and I share the same insecurities, depression, tea drinking habits ( can’t live without my earl grey in the day!) and feeling at home issues…they must run in the family.
I agree with what you said it takes God’s strength in me to share. thank you for being open, there is no shame in it!