Photo by Cole Hutson on Unsplash
John’s wife and two children stared blankly at the living room walls after expending all the tears and angry words they could muster at the moment. Together they sat wondering, “What happened?”
John left his family the day before without warning and moved in with the woman he’d been seeing for a year. His behavior fell completely out of character for the man who’d lived an exemplary life as a caring husband, father, Sunday School teacher and Little League coach.
Vicki’s friends queried one another in confusion and wondered why Vicki stopped providing her usual doting care to family and everyone around her and started spending most of her time alone. They didn’t understand the depression that made it hard for Vicki to get out of bed.
People didn’t understand the behavior shifts in John and Vicki because the changes appeared to occur out of the blue without precipitating events that could easily explain what happened. Each lost their grip because they allowed strain and frustration to build within themselves for a period of years.
John and Vicki strove to meet the high expectations imposed on them by self and others. They liked helping people and enjoyed the accolades they received because of their service. They lost touch with their deepest needs and feelings.
John needed more time to rest, re-center and even pursue a personal hobby. He needed someone safe to talk to about his hidden fears and struggle with sexual temptation.
Vicki needed people to recognize her own need for care. She longed for someone to affirm her personal worth beyond what she could do for them. Vicki needed someone to talk to about her disappointment and fatigue.
Talking with a safe and trusted friend could have helped John and Vicki avoid life breakdowns. A confidant might have encouraged John to carve out needed rest time and cope successfully with temptation. A trusted friend may have helped Vicki deal constructively with negative feelings and set healthy boundaries.
John and Vicki hid their truth. That’s “what happened.”
The Truth Will Set You Free
Bad things happen when we hide the truth from God, others and ourselves. Bad habits and choices go unchecked, negative feelings fester and loneliness brings pain (we can be lonely in a crowd!).
God tells us the truth will set us free from these bad things (John 8:32). He wants us to bring our truth to Him (Phil 4:6 ; 1 Pet 5:7) and promises to provide consolation (Ps 94:19; Phil 4:9) and strength (Eph. 6:18). He also wants us to confide our truth in others (Gal 6:2; Eph 4:15)
Superficial connections built around activities and even learning do not provide the kind of personal support we need to grow and thrive. Each of us needs a confidant.
If you don’t already have a confidant, look for a trustworthy person who might fill that role. Ask that person if they’d consider meeting with you once a week for no purpose other than to check in with the condition of one another’s heart and soul.
I’ve been doing that for 14 years. The friend I first invited hesitated but said “Yes.” We grew to love our Thursday morning meetings so much that we continued them by phone after I moved 400 miles. When she prematurely died I found a new Thursday-morning confidant. She and I both acknowledge our need for our truth-sharing time.
If you regard your spouse or a romantic partner as your confidant that’s great but I recommend having a same-sex person to talk to as well. An outside person can not only help you navigate marriage or romance wisely but can offer same-sex perspective on other matters.
Choose a spiritually and emotionally safe confidant. Psychologists Cloud and Townsend define safe people as those who:
- pursue God
- seek personal growth
- empathize with others
- accept honest feedback
- desire closeness
- exhibit humility
- earn trust by keeping secrets
- speak truthfully in love
- treat you as an equal
- have a “we” mentality
- can help you become your best
- act consistently and reliably
- leave the past behind
I hope you have or will pursue a truth-telling connection with God and a trusted other who cares about your soul and wants to help you live well. Let me know what you think of this idea or if you try it please let me know how it works for you. But don’t look for a response from me on Thursday mornings – I’ll be occupied!