Like many others, I work hard at maintaining a strong, hopefully impenetrable façade. I am want others to know who I am, what I stand for, but only those parts which tell the story that I want them to hear. Full transparency is a great idea but not something I willingly give into when I am honest with myself. I know being open is a good idea, however there are limits! I want others to see what I aspire to be.
“Are you ok? You do not look and seem like yourself.”
“I am fine. Thank-you for asking.”
“Are you sure? I apologize if I am being forward. You do not seem well or like your normal self.”
“Yes, I am sure I am ok.”
Even as I said this I knew I was lying to myself and to a friend. I was not ok. I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I had no idea what was going to happen next. On top of everything, I did not feel well. As I pushed on I wondered if my answer had landed. Did he believe me? More importantly, did he accept my answer?
Later that day, “Bill, are you sure you are ok? You are pale. Do you want to see a doctor?” As a friend and colleague, he was not going to let go.
I knew I was caught. I could deny, but I knew that he knew I knew the truth. I could avoid answering which in itself was an answer. As I paused, wondering how I would answer, I realized that I was willing to answer however I was not sure how willing I was for him to dig deeper. Friendship, even God trusting kind of friendship, has edges. In the moment, a silent prayer rested within. “Be kind to me, God – I’m in deep, deep trouble again. I’ve cried my eyes out; I feel hollow inside.” (Psalm 31.9)
I had tried to avoid the issue. I had run. Sometimes it is good to be caught. In a different moment, Hope offered a hand.