“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23
The Privacy Paradox
Is This My Story?
I’m a pretty open person. I’m not hesitant to tell my story, even if it paints me in a bad light. I figure that it’s so obvious that I’m a flawed human that there’s no need to attempt to hide it. I don’t mind poking fun at myself, and if I feel I can encourage another person with my candor, then I’m all for it.
So I’m ready, willing, and able to show you all the skeletons in my closet and air the dirty laundry, if I think it serves a purpose. Talking about the dark, scary, ugly, confusing, frightening parts of life often gives permission for others to share their burdens and find support and guidance, and this appeals to me. But here’s the thing…
We don’t live in a vacuum.
I’ve discovered through the years that our darkest valleys and most crushing heartbreaks almost always intersect with someone else’s pain, choices, and decisions. I caused them pain; they caused me pain. It’s not just my story; it’s also someone else’s story. Where does my “right” to openness in telling my story intrude upon someone else’s right to privacy? This is a classic dilemma amongst writers; I have often seen and heard it discussed.
Before I proceed with “getting real” here on my blog, I want to make something perfectly clear. I will tell my story, but I’ll do any gymnastics necessary to never, ever intrude on anyone else’s privacy. I love some people who are extremely private in their personal lives. When there’s a potential conflict between my openness and someone else’s desire for privacy, I’m going to choose to honor the people I love. What this means to you–my reader–is that you’re not always going to get the details. In fact, sometimes I will purposely obscure the details, change the setting of the story or the gender or age of someone or even significant facts. What this means to you if you’re someone close to me–if you’ve given birth to me or I’ve given birth to you, if we grew up together, if you’ve cried with me over a disappointment, pain, or struggle, if our stories intersect–I will never dishonor you or invade your privacy. If any of my loved ones feel violated in any way by my stories, please let me know immediately, and I will edit.
My relationships are the most important part of my life. In choosing between writing a riveting story and maintaing a meaningful relationship, the relationship wins every time. Every time.
Now you know. Prepare to get real.
There are many situations where this philosophy applies. Where would it apply in your life? Sharing prayer requests? Talking about friends or family members who have hurt you? Have you ever struggled with where to draw the line in sharing? I’d love to hear your story. Please share in the comments.