While there will always be people who reject the things that hold profound meaning to you, there will also be those who appreciate them for the thoughtful and deeply personal gifts they are.
Reading Between The Lines
During Halloween a few years back, a close associate of mine and I had a very interesting discussion about the nature of evil in our lives. Not just how to see it around us (at this point you simply can’t ignore the existence of kale, am I right?), or where to find it in others, but to acknowledge and find it in ourselves. It was a fantastic discussion that led me to telling him about the book The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I told him all about the book and why he should read it. Considering how close we are and the kinds of conversations we usually have, I was actually rather surprised he’d never heard of it.
A few days later I decided to buy him a copy and send it to him. I attached a note reminding him about our conversation (making sure to identify what I’d taken from it) and included some insight as to why this book was so important to me.
I had a similar conversation soon thereafter with another close friend of mine. This one, however, was less about the nature of evil and more about the various ways that she and I communicate with God – how we hear Him and see His work and how our analytical minds seem constantly at war with our more go-by-the-feels spiritual selves. I told her about Lewis’s Mere Christianity, but because our discussion was so much about God’s daily influence in our lives, I purchased a copy of A Year With C.S. Lewis – a daily reader that pulls excerpts from his various published works – and sent that to her, again including a note clarifying its meaning to me.
Despite how close I am with both of these people, I had no idea how they’d take these gifts. Would I seem pushy or forceful? Would they feel obligated to read books they didn’t really have any interest in? Would I just downright annoy them?
Or was I only asking these questions because I was afraid?
The Fear of Sharing Something Meaningful
Sharing, in and of itself, isn’t a particularly scary thing. I’m more than happy to offer a guest a beer, give a homeless person some food, share a post on Facebook or let someone borrow my Matrix DVDs (no one has, though). After all, we’ve been taught from a young age that sharing is caring.
I’ve also never had a problem talking about myself. In fact, when I once told my wife that I think I would have made a good psychiatrist, she responded with, “No you wouldn’t – you would have been the one laying on the couch doing all the talking.”
She’s not wrong.
But there’s a very big difference between offering a beer (providing a courtesy that has little to no personal value), talking about yourself (which isn’t so much sharing as it is making things about you), and sharing something of profound meaning to you.
That’s because if someone rejects the beer, big whoop. More beer for me! And if you’re making things about you and no one cares are you really going to notice?
But if someone – particularly someone you care about or otherwise hold in high regard – in some way rejects something that has a very deep and personal meaning to you, that means they are rejecting you.
That would be a lot harder to take. So it’s completely reasonable that it’s a lot more terrifying.
Not only that, but you’ve invested in this thing. Maybe not financially, but certainly emotionally and psychologically. Perhaps even spiritually. And of course you have – if something has profound meaning to you, you have no choice but to be deeply invested in it.
So if someone brushes it off, it’s completely reasonable that it would hurt you pretty deeply.
Why It’s Important To Share Something Meaningful
The thing is, if you let fear get the best of you to the point that you never share anything of profound meaning to anyone else, how is anyone supposed to know who you really are? How are people to know you’re someone they can trust?
Flip it around the other way. If someone you cared about – a friend or a family member – never offered any of their true self to you, wouldn’t you feel as though you’d been betrayed? Or, at the very least, feel hurt because they weren’t comfortable enough to be honest with you? To let you in?
At the end of the day, you are the experiences that made you. There is no shame in that. In fact, it’s rather beautiful. It’s different. It’s unique. It’s you.
And while there are definitely going to be people who reject these profound pieces of you, there are going to be others who receive and appreciate them for the wonderful, thoughtful, and deeply personal gifts that they really are. There are going to be plenty of people who know exactly the gift they are receiving, and appreciate it because of that.
When you share something like this, you’re not making it about you. You’re attempting to connect something deep and profound about you to something deep and profound about that other person. You’re trying to make your bond stronger.
Lewis’s works had profound meaning for me, as they filled in a large piece of the theological puzzle in my spiritual growth. Much of the way I think about and analyze my faith comes from people like Lewis, artists like U2, and activists like Martin Luther King, Jr. If it weren’t for them I never would have had the courage to do things like put out music, or write the kinds of things I do in God Jots.
A few months after I gifted my friend A Year With C.S. Lewis, she grabbed me just before leaving a party my wife and I were hosting and handed me a book called The Shack by William P. Young. She told me that because of the conversations we would often have when we got together and because I shared Lewis’s book with her, she wanted to share this one with me. She asked if I would read it so that we could talk about it sometime.
I was genuinely touched. No one had ever done that before.
And she had actually come to me in person, rather than sending the book through snail mail.
So, you see, it’s not just that someone understands you’re sharing something of profound meaning to you…
…By sharing of yourself in this way, that same someone knows that they have profound meaning to you, too!