In college the big thing was accountability groups. Or prayer groups.
And I always left feeling like absolute crap. Like I was doing something wrong. And was just not made right. That something in me was broken. Because I couldn’t pull it together like everyone else.
But the truth was. Most everyone else was just lying. Either outloud or to themselves.
Because they would ask for prayer for their sick grandmas. Or that they missed a quiet time. Or only spent 1 hour in prayer that day instead of 2.
And when I talked. I spoke about the party I had been to the night before. Or my boyfriend. Or the fact that I hadn’t had a quiet time all week. And why doesn’t the bible actually mention the word “quiet time” if it is so important anyways. And when I had questions I asked them. Even if they were ones I already knew the Sunday School answers to. I wanted to know how my friends went from knowing the right answer to actually feeling it.
And I was met with a lot of stares. And sometimes people would write down verses for me to read or memorize. And I’m sure they all remembered to pray for me. even though I always lost the little notecard that I wrote down everyone else’s requests on.
And eventually I learned that some of those same people were struggling with some of the same things I was. Or had. They just chose safer things to say out loud and pray for.
And in the grown up world. Only some of that has changed. I almost never sit around in accountability or prayer groups. But sometimes we go around in Sunday school and voice concerns. And rarely are they personal. But very occasionally, someones voice cracks. And tears slip out. And they get real. And the whole room changes.
Because, someone always has to go first.
And I read about it in a book that I love….Anne Jackson's , Permission to Speak Freely, but she really got it from here.
And it is called giving the gift of letting someone else go second. And I’ve hung on to that thought ever since I read the book.
A month or so ago. I wanted to tell a friend something that I thought they’d get. Something I was a little ashamed of. But thought maybe they needed to hear it too. Something that I thought might help the both of us to talk about. But it meant I had to divulge and I wasn’t totally sure it was safe.
But I did anyways. I sent a text and waited.
And called another friend and said I wanted to throw up. Because going first is scary. And of course it was ok. And my instincts were right on.
When I fight with my husband, one of us has to apologize before the other. When I make a new friend, someone has to be the first to ask or tell or hug or show another layer.
And I used to spend a lot of time waiting. Being second or third or fourth. Or sometimes never taking a turn at all. Because I didn’t want to look dumb or be vulnerable or get hurt. And sometimes going first backfires. Because no one goes second.
But there is a shift in thinking about it as a gift that makes it easier.
And so, I’ve done some things out of character for me ever since I read about it. I’ve written even more long crazy emails. I've hit send. Or publish. Or apologized. Told my story. Or stammered through some awkward conversations. I’ve hugged and said I love you and asked people for coffee. All when I didn’t know how they’d respond. And occasionally. I heard no. Or nothing. Or didn’t get a response. But more often than not. Someone went second.