Originally posted January 31st 2013
There is a wonderful movement of people who share their stories. Stories of second chances, deep inward battles and triumph over difficult circumstances. The idea is that by going first, it will encourage others to be able to say ‘Me too‘.
So often we think that we are the only one with a particular thought, experiencing a certain emotion or in a circumstance none of our close-knit friends or relatives could really understand what it is like to go through.
There is such power in sharing our stories honestly.
And even more encouragement when someone responds with ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one‘
In 2009, I went to South Africa for two weeks. The battle to get there was so exhausting that I didn’t really have time to think too much about what it would be like, and to be honest I had very little idea of what to expect. On arrival though, one thing made me very uncomfortable and that was the idea that somehow all us ‘privileged’ folks from the UK (and other countries) were there to help the ‘poor black people’. I kept my mouth shut about it, and was sincerely glad for the wisdom of our hosts at the Seed of Hope who made sure that was not going to be the case as young people from the township and our two teams mixed up to make 3 super teams doing the DIY in the two local schools and running a holiday club in the township. We were just extra hands so the workload could be achieved in a short space of time and there were much more of us to give hugs, carry little ones and be climbed all over! 🙂 I knew though that it wasn’t the same for all the other teams…
One day my roommate came back from her project in a bad mood. I think I was probably lying on my bed feeling like death warmed up when she arrived back. And after about 10 minutes she began to express her anger about the attitudes of white British folks feeling sorry for the ‘poor black people’ that apparently needed their help. And with that came her frustration of people brandishing the continent of Africa with mass generalisations, all the charities that think they help but actually perpetuate a culture of helplessness and so on. I was relieved I wasn’t the only one feeling the way – ‘Me too’!
After that we had daily conversations after our project, we prayed together and were very thankful to be in a room with each other. Our conversations carried on long after we left the country that we felt great affection for.
And then there is blogging. I have established several friendships when I first shared my story of unplanned pregnancy and abortion. Quietly woman after woman (and a few guys) e-mailed or tweeted me privately to say ‘Me too’. Other fellow aliens on Planet Christian have come out to say ‘me too’. We’ve bonded over cupcake baking, being women, loving American TV Dramas, musicals, Australian soap characters, anger at the messed up world we live in, uniting in the face of bullies in whatever form they take…
Many people blog to share sage wisdom and knowledge. Perhaps to promote the work they do. I started blogging to try and make sense of everything I was feeling and experiencing in that moment of writing. It was only when strangers starting coming alongside me and leaving comments of encouragement or understanding that it began to grow into other things and though the comments aren’t so many these days, I would just miss my online friends if I stopped! In some ways they are more authentic that the ‘in real life’ friendships I hold with others.
Do you agree? When do you think friendship is born?