It’s Yours to Share or NOT

There is a time for depth and intimate sharing, just as there is a time for superficiality and distance.

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One of the privileges of my life is when a person opens up and trusts me with their story, their truth, their existential experience, their solemn account of things. It’s an honor to be trusted in the silent, quiet, even secret spaces of another person’s life.

Conversations as these are, many going deeper than we plan or could have imagined, there are also times when it’s not the right time, or there’s not the space, or that I’m not the right person. If and as the other person discerns it.

Each of us has the solemn right to share or not share, and to dispute, this concept is an abuse of the soul of the person—verily, that’s a kind of spiritual abuse.

Yet, we’ve all had times when someone has tried to force us to share, and especially times we wanted to share but either had nobody to listen to or nobody was interested.

This article is more about feeling free to NOT share.

There are many reasons why you mightn’t share your heart or your real thoughts on a matter. The person, the energy, the space, the opportunity; all these need to be right for the occasion—far too often we’ll perhaps commit to sharing when there’s some level of inner reluctance, and then we feel we’re betraying ourselves (and possibly others) as we speak forth our truth.

Very often we withhold our thoughts and feelings because we know they won’t be appreciated, or worse, we know we’ll be punished for holding these views.

Sometimes we hold back because we’ve shared with a person or in a particular situation before, and we’ve felt betrayed or let down in some way. It can take courage to commit to sharing again, or wisdom to show continued restraint.

Indeed, a lot of the time when our words are stopped it’s because of wisdom, where the inner voice says, “Not now… not with this person… not in this situation… hold your peace.”And it’s always good to ask ourselves why, so we can the awareness of insight. Even if we don’t know why we should still give ourselves permission to withhold from sharing if it doesn’t feel right.

A lot of the time it can be because we don’t want to be vulnerable—or can’t be. It is, however, a great blessing to be vulnerable, but only in those places that are safe and with people we can genuinely trust. It’s appropriate to protect ourselves when we feel unsafe.

Just as it takes great faith to share when we feel we can trust the moment, equally it takes great faith to let it go when you’ve invited someone to share, and they’ve declined.

It’s a temptation to become offended that they won’t trust you, but we must dignify the person’s experience—they should never be expected or forced to share, just invited.

To invite someone to share, and to be declined, is still a precious offer and a blessed opportunity to show graciousness.

The opposite to this scenario is when someone opens space for a person to share into. They remain silent enough to hear what a person wants to say. This space held open is for the person sharing to share into. They feel safe to share because they own the space—because it’s given to them by the person holding that space open.

But the trustworthy person doesn’t compel anyone to share—on the contrary, a person shares because they’re free to share or to not share.

There is also no judgment attributed to what a person shares, which really means that the one sharing doesn’t feel judged. This is sometimes hard for the person listening because they won’t always agree with everything shared. Theirs is trust that direct intervention may not be required. They listen, they wait, they trust, they simply hold space.

The one listening and holding space serves the person sharing.

The person sharing needs the space to share into, but the person who doesn’t want to share needs the space closed. They need to be allowed to remain in superficiality. They need that protection. It isn’t yet safe enough for them to share.

There is a time for depth and intimate sharing, just as there is a time for superficiality and distance.

Although everyone needs safe spaces and places to share, equally everyone needs the freedom to refrain from sharing. One of the best ways of building trust is to allow a person’s “no” to be “no”.



This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Tribework

Featured Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The views and opinions expressed by Kingdom Winds Collective Members, authors, and contributors are their own and do not represent the views of Kingdom Winds LLC.

About the Author

Steve Wickham is a Kingdom Winds Contributor. He holds several roles, including husband, father, peacemaker championing peacemaking for children and adults, conflict coach and mediator, church pastor, counselor, funeral celebrant, chaplain, mentor, and Board Secretary. He holds degrees in Science, Divinity (2), and Counselling. Steve is also a Christian minister serving CyberSpace i.e. here.