It was a birthday to remember.
Celebrating all seven of my years on this earth, we drove to Fargo, ND to be on the Captain Jim show on KXJB TV. My sisters and I and a few girlfriends giggled and fussed and tried not to wrinkle our dresses as we drove the 52 miles to meet the man who was captain of the plywood ship, the Sink Knot.
A regular part of the show was for Captain Jim to interview birthday boys and girls from the “ship.” I remember how excited it was to be on TV. When it was my turn as the birthday girl, he asked me about my birthday and my friends, and I tried to remember to look at the camera. Then he jokingly asked me, “Do you have any secrets?” He didn’t really want an answer; it was just something to make the audience laugh, I think. He immediately chuckled after asking, said he was teasing, and went on to another question. But it was like my brain had frozen in time. All I could think about was secrets.
We’ve all got them, right?
Even at a young age, though, we worry about secrets. I remember wondering back then if I had any secrets. Or if I knew things that were supposed to be a secret. And I wondered if I was supposed to tell Captain Jim about any secrets because he was on TV and that’s what you do on TV. And if I didn’t have any secrets, should I make some up? Thinking about all this while still trying to look at the camera.
As we get older, we are more aware of the secrets we keep, and the secrets we tell. Keeping secrets is often a good thing. Not everyone needs to know everything.
And sometimes, our secrets are kept tucked away and we pray that no one will ever know about them. They are painful. Hurtful. Or we believe people will judge, criticize, or think less of us if they know the secret. We fear the day that someone would peek through the windows of our home or our work cubicle or our hearts and see things that we want to keep … secret.
We do not always know what goes on behind curtained windows or closed doors. We don’t know what life and work experiences our friends are going through as they walk their daily routines. We don’t know what we don’t know.
That’s a good reason to always show up with Grace, isn’t it? And Mercy?
How about this … Because we don’t know what the other person is dealing with, let’s offer the benefit of the doubt. Let’s return kindness when words or actions come out sideways. Let’s be quicker to encourage and take longer to criticize.
Let’s remember that everybody’s got something.
Everyone’s heart carries a secret and a fear of being fully known.
Let’s link arms and share the journey, giving each other a safe place to land.
Our colleagues and friends will bring their secrets.
We’ll bring the Grace and Mercy.