Keeping Someone’s Confidence . . .

28 Sep

Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.”

Another one of those “the older you get, the more you learn” things.  I have recently thought to write about what it means to keep someone’s confidence (something secret that they tell you, from their heart, that is meant for you alone).

This isn’t because I am admonishing anyone on here.  In fact, as Pastor often says, since I don’t have a specific incident with anyone to talk about, I can be pretty free in how I say this.

I just have noticed the cyclical nature of life that leads to people I love being hurt by people who probably also love them but who blab their business to others.

I am going to leave aside the fact that, if we are Christians, we are called to not gossip.  Many others have written very good pieces on that.  Let’s take a slightly different approach here.

Why do we do this?  Why do we spill people’s secrets?  First of all, it gives us something to say when we might not have something to add to a conversation.  But . . . let’s be honest.  Silence would be preferable to blabbing someone else’s confidences.  Wouldn’t it?

Or how about when we think there is some sort of inner circle going on among our friends, and we are really happy that we are part of it, so we spill confidences just to confirm that all the right people confide in us?  Hmmmm, does anything say “low self esteem” like this sort of action?  We don’t think people will like us enough for who we are, so we make sure they know that the “cool” people not only like us, but that they confide in us, too?  Wow!  Take a second to unpack that one, folks, and see whether it is an image any of us would really want to have!

Or . . . we don’t spill the confidence, but we smugly let someone know that we were told something in confidence by a certain person and wouldn’t think of sharing it for anything!!!  That is kind of the same thing as the last paragraph, right?  Name-dropping in order to inflate our importance in our circle of friends. If we think about any of these actions for more than three seconds, we can see how self-defeating they really are.

Be the friend you want to have.

Another thing that is often said is “I didn’t realize that was said in confidence because she didn’t tell me not to say anything to anyone.”  Yes, but why not tell your *own* story and your own personal business to your friends, instead of someone else’s?  No one tells your story better than you do.  If you are a Christian, that part of you is called a testimony and you are meant to share it.  Telling someone else’s “testimony,” no matter how well-meaning you might be, is just not as effective as telling your own.

How about assuming that anything someone tells you having to do with their thoughts or feelings or hopes or fears is probably a confidence intended for you alone?  How about that being our default setting?

I realize that we don’t live in a perfect world and all of us will offend at some time by saying something that crosses the line into somebody else’s personal business, but if we set our standards so that we aim to minimize that, we will do it far less than if we presume that anything shared with us can be passed along unless it is specifically labeled as a secret.

Just a thought (and you can share that one, ha ha!).

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