The teacher’s comments section on my report card recorded the same words year after year, “Kristen is a nice girl, but she talks too much.” Those who know me probably won’t find that hard to believe because I’ve never been the quiet girl in the corner. However, your greatest strength can be your biggest weakness and, in my case, talking too much can get me into trouble if I’m not careful. The potential danger is spilling secrets that aren’t meant to be shared. My self-awareness has grown over time and overtalking is something I’ve worked hard to control. I want to be regarded as trustworthy, so I keep a close watch on myself in conversations with others.
I believe there are certain things that should never be shared, and you’ll probably agree with my list that includes obvious things like: passwords, your family’s dirty laundry, the favors you do for friends and sensitive matters others say in confidence. But on the flip side, I think there are things people tend to keep secret (whether intentionally or not) that should be shared especially when it comes to secrets about life and love that have been learned the hard way or through years of experience. We all have insight we’ve kept hidden, like a box of treasured memorabilia tucked away in the closet of our heart, but when we make the effort to drag it out into the light of conversation, we find these secrets could really help a lot of people.
This year my husband and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. It’s nearly impossible to live with someone that long and not learn and thing or two about life and love so here are three secrets I’ve discovered and believe are worth spilling:
The Secret of Contentment
We’ve all heard the proverbial “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” saying but like silly sheep we’ve peered longingly over the fence, ducked under it or wandered over to see why our neighbor’s grass looks better than our grass. My experience has proven it’s greener because it’s over a septic tank or their water bill is higher – two things I honestly don’t want to deal with. The problem is we stop liking our grass when we start comparing our grass to theirs. Wanting what is across the fence keeps us from being grateful for what’s in our yard. Living with a humble, grateful heart focused on God’s goodness to me personally keeps me happy and content. When those feelings are lacking, I know I’ve wandered too far.
The Secret to Commitment
When we stood at the altar and recited our wedding vows to each other, my husband and I promised we’d be together ‘til death do us part’. A lifetime is a long time. What’s kept us going through all the “better and worse” situations? Somewhere along the way we had the fear of God put in us. I’m not here to get preachy but time and again we’ve seen proof that God is who He says He is (not who other people say He is, but how he describes himself in his own words: gracious, merciful, slow to get angry and full of unfailing love) and he can and will do what he says he will do. We’ve stayed committed because we understand the sacred value of marriage as he declared it and have experienced the closer we are to his design, the more love, happiness and peace is found. There is a deep sense of fulfillment and reward when we keep doing things his way even if that means falling and failing forward (which we have many times!)
The Secret to Communication
The first five, ten, even fifteen years of our marriage were filled with frustration and failed connection. Our problem wasn’t that we didn’t talk or communicate, but that my heart had affected my hearing. The deepest part of me was filled with negative thoughts which acted as a filter and stopped anything healthy, positive or true from getting through! My fear of never being good enough would cause minor things to become major.
After a busy day of chasing four kids, throwing in umpteen loads of laundry, wiping the counter for the fifteenth time, Chad would walk in the door from work and simply ask, “Did you make dinner?” And I’d go off! “I’m sorry I’m not a perfect wife! I’m sorry I can’t keep up with everything! Maybe you should have married someone else because clearly I can’t do it all!” Most of the time, he’d dodge my verbal shrapnel, assure me that none of that was true and then help me in the kitchen. (God bless him!) I had to learn to clean and care for my filter so I could interpret the real meaning of what he was saying (which resembled nothing remotely close to what I spewed!) Our communication became clearer and calmer once I took responsibility for my negative filter.
I warned you that I like to talk! Perhaps I’m sharing too much so before I go too far, I shall conclude. Everyone has something valuable to offer. Your story is unlike anyone else’s. Tucked within your life experience is unique insight and treasured wisdom that could change someone’s life for the better! Yes, there are certain things we should keep hidden but if we can help others by disclosing a few secrets about life and love we’ve learned along the way then, I believe, those secrets are worth spilling!
“He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets. But he who is trustworthy and faithful keeps a matter hidden.” ~Proverbs 11:13