They were both dressed for business, their iPhones facedown on the table, their hands wrapped around venti coffees and their bodies leaning in. They caught my attention precisely because of this body language–it wasn’t your typical two-business-guys-concocting-a-deal sort of stance.
The coffee shop was crowded and the only spot I could find to light while I scarfed down a bagel and a latte between meetings was at a little corner table right next to them. Even as I sat down, I felt as if I was invading their privacy, and I tried to keep my head down, focused on my own table and buttering the bagel with exaggerated intention. Still, I could hear their words. “She knows I’m in the midst of a hard time and doesn’t know what to do with it…” “I don’t know how to talk to her about it…” “I’m so tired all the time I’m scheduling in afternoon naps…” “I just wish I could just get through this…” “I knew I was in trouble a month ago…”
I have no context for their conversation other than it was clearly personal and they clearly trusted each other. And I was blown away by such a display from two men in public. They were baring their souls, sharing their hearts. And y’all, we simply do not see/do/hear enough of just such conversations. We simply do not share life together enough.
And I’m just as much a part of this as anyone.
A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me, “So what’s your book about?” And for the hundredth time I felt heat rising in my face as I tried to find the right words. Finally, tongue-tied and frustrated and wanting very much to answer the question and also make a good impression on this person, I managed a pathetic, “Well, I guess you’ll have to read it.”
The dirty little secret of this writer (and I suspect most writers) is that I can write All. Day. Long. about the stories of my life, but I am flat-out awful at speaking those stories without the words printed on a page in front of me. For someone who just spent a year writing down some of the most vulnerable moments of her life for anyone and everyone to read, I’m terrible at telling people about myself.
And yet I believe, with all that I am, that our greatest hope for the human race lies in our ability to connect with one another by sharing our stories.
I believe this so much, that this book I’ve written, when it is finally in my hand, I have a list of people I want to take it to and say, “Here. Read this. Please. Then you’ll know. Then you’ll understand. I’m sorry I couldn’t just tell you this in person.”
We were created for relationship, people. Made to love and be loved and to enter into emotional and mental and physical intimacy (though maybe not all those at the same time with the same person!). We’re wired to care. Wired to want to be known.
And yet, even still, we spend an inordinate amount of time working against that wiring, pushing up well-constructed walls against hurt or pain or fear, letting our own insecurities and doubts define us, isolate us, cut us off from the very things we need and want most: Each Other.
Life sometimes makes us guarded. On edge. Constantly playing defense. But we were meant for so much more. And every time I’ve given in to the guardedness, I’ve lived to regret it. Every. Time.
I wrote a book because I believe our stories matter, and that telling them to each other, having them heard, is one of the most sacred things we can ever do. And for me, it was necessary to write them down. Because speaking them? Um…no, thank you. I’m not that brave. Not even a little.
Our hearts, y’all, they are so much alike. And we only discover this when we share them. When we offer a bit of ourselves to another and say, “This is what life has been like for me. How has it been for you?” Because almost always, there are moments of connection. Little dots of mercy and grace that point the way towards all that we have in common as human beings. And these little dots…they are everything. They lead us to wholeness.
Terrifying, isn’t it? The thought of walking around with our souls exposed, our hearts naked and unadorned. Yea. I know.
But even as I know, I keep trying. Even if some days I make a miserable and kerflummoxed mess of it. Bear with me. Hopefully, I’ll get there.