A couple of weeks ago I was in a meeting regarding my professional and personal development. A lot came up in the meeting. Some things were easy to handle and some things were not so easy to handle. But, one of the things that was brought to my attention by the group was that I was hiding how I was truly feeling.
Anybody out there understand where I’m coming from?
The reality is that I do sometimes hide how I’m feeling, and I’m aware there are certain situations where I’m more prone to hide than others.
Last month Single Roots posted a link to Richard Rohr’s blog. In the post, Rohr, addressing the fear of self-disclosure, wrote:
“But I am going to make a rather absolute statement: people who risk intimacy are invariably happier and much more real people. They feel like they have lots of ‘handles’ that allow others to hold on to them, and that allow them to hold onto themselves! People who avoid intimacy are always, and I mean always, imprisoned in a small and circular world.”
By intimacy he means “the ability to mutually share one’s needs, one’s wounds, or one’s weaknesses with another person.” In other words, as I risk self-disclosure I will experience a life that I and others can connect with, can “hold onto.” Granted, I need wisdom in what and with whom I self-disclose because I think good self-disclosure goes hand-in-hand with good self-awareness.
It’s not without affect then, that those in the meeting also commented on how, at times, I came across as “slick.” Slick indeed, for without the risk of self-disclosure I gave nothing to “hold onto.”
I’m reminded of a buddy I went to school with. He can be a hot head, but he’s real. He’s the kind of guy that you feel comfortable around, not because he’s “safe” in the sense that dangerous things don’t happen when he’s around (because they do), but because he’s safe in the sense that you feel like you can be real with him. He has lots of “handles” for others to hold onto. It’s not surprising then that it was around him that our group of friends typically gathered.
So then, as a pastor, if I am to experience, build, and develop community–if I am to live a life that others feel as though they can “hold on to,” connect with, understand, and relate to–I must learn the art of self-disclosure. Indeed, according to Rohr, it’s through building intimacy that one builds community. And the converse is true, too. As I hide from intimacy, thinking all along I’m keeping safe, I’m really imprisoning myself from knowing both others and myself.
Perhaps then it’s no coincidence that we call that extra stuff around our waists that others can see “love handles.”
*Photo credit: SMBCollege