Wearing my heart on my sleeve has been my most comfortable clothing accessory since age always. Doing so invited everyone to know “Mary.” As the years passed my vulnerability, animated expressions and straight-shooting mouth seasoned. Deep sensitivity counter-acted those traits. My heart was open to all to see and hear, but when people were revealed as untrustworthy to my sacred, sensitive soul, the repercussions were detrimental.
I got hurt, I was betrayed, walls came up.
When you share details of your heart it feels natural, at least for me, to think the listener leaves understanding how you feel. I mean, you shared the depths of your heart so, they should just “get it,” right?
In 10th grade I shared with a friend I hadn’t ever had a serious boyfriend. I thought we had this beautiful conversation where hearts were shared and understood. It was a choice I hadn’t entered into a relationship, and I left feeling my vulnerability was both safe and heard. Just days after the conversation, we were in a circle of friends and the topic was relationships. Each friend went around sharing awful heart-break stories (awesome topic). The flow of the conversation was smooth and comfortable, until my friend, who I had opened up to days prior boldly says, “OH. SKIP Mary. Sheeeee’s never been heart-broken.”
I imploded. If I was Taylor Swift, that would’ve been my “Bad Blood” inspirational moment.
Something special to me turned into material for pity, leaving me feel misunderstood. Rather than having a “screw you” attitude and shut out the world moment, unexpected wisdom appeared.
I realized this: if someone gives pity for a personal decision I made that is valuable to me, why should I allow their opinion to resonate?
I didn’t give those chumps a second thought. I moved forward. I gave the next friend the benefit of the doubt. Fortunately, she is one of my best friends today, and I am thankful to have chosen forgiveness over bitterness. I chose to not shut the world out because one person stung me.
Buuuuuut hearts are one of, if not the most sacred part of someone. I grew to have the belief we should show love to everyone, but we shouldn’t entrust our hearts to everyone. It took me high school and most of college to learn this lesson. Heck, even today I’m dealing with people being chumps with information.
Having discernment with who you open up to is wise. I believe choosing a select group of friends who you can be vulnerable with is wise, not selfish. Moreover, choosing people who tell you what you need to hear, not what you want is crucial. Hard to find, but vital for growth. If you’re lucky enough to have found trustworthy, harsh-in-love friends, treasure, don’t toss.
After many trial and error moments, I came up with this:
Share with many, listen to all, confide in few.
Share with many:
Be open-hearted. Humbly share experiences and stories with everyone because encouragement and inspiration can be planted as a result. I don’t see the harm in being open-hearted and being friendly with those you come in contact with.
Listen to all:
If I’ve learned anything about communication these past several years, it is that few truly know how to listen. Put yourself in their shoes and consciously listen to what the talker is saying. Rather than think about what you can add to the conversation, think about what you can give. What can you say to encourage, challenge, or affirm them in? Far too many listeners are quick to interrupt and provide commentary revolving around themselves.
Confide in few:
I’ve made the mistake of confiding in untrustworthy people and having my information exploited for their benefit. An easy tool to use before deciding if you should confide in a person is this: see if they talk poorly or gossip about others. If they do, have confidence knowing they’ll talk poorly or gossip about you, too. You’ll think you’re the exception, but in reality, you probably aren’t.
Three years years ago I told a handful of close friends I was having a hard time navigating a friendship. The situation resolved fairly quickly and I didn’t look back. Since I shared with so many people, I received many texts with questions about my friend situation and oh man, it was too much. No one was satisfied with, “all good sis!” They wanted to know what actually happened, detail by detail. Answering the same questions was exhausting and I finally decided, after years of being in the over-confiding cycle, no one is entitled to know all details of my life, and I need to be careful. Those sweet friends who followed up with me are precious and so loving, but I chose too many people to confide in.
This applies to other categories: trying to have kids, waiting for a promotion, working on a bad habit, etc. The more people you share with, the more updating and explaining you’re obligated to give. If you want to do that, fine! Great! Woo-hoo for you Talking Tom! As one who has overcome over-confiding (most days), all I can say is I have found more wisdom in confiding with few, not all.
When too many voices are involved, I personally tend to not fully rely on God’s truth. I fall in the pattern of embracing words of my best friends or my own thoughts. Going to people without sitting still before the Lord has only done one thing for me: create anxiety and an uneasy soul. This happened to me recently. I was running on 100 miles per minute and my emotions couldn’t keep up. I’d think I got over a wave, and right when I was coming to shore, a wave took me under again. My emotional tank was creeping down to empty, and I waved the white flag. I took action on cleansing my soul, putting my heart at rest. I also chose a select few to walk me through that time. I chose people who were walking alongside me in Los Angeles and who wouldn’t tell me what I wanted, but what I needed.
Countless stories and examples could be written, but I think we all get the point: when you overshare or confide you’re inviting the possibility of having information exposed. Choose your people carefully, show someone you are who they should be so lucky to confide in, and listen wholeheartedly, placing yourself in the shoes of others.
Share with many, listen to all, confide in few.