Secrets


A Jewish publication ran an advertisement dominated by a drawing of a very stern-looking, bearded rabbi of the nineteenth century, the Chofetz Chaim, who wrote a book about gossip called Guard Your Tongue. At the bottom of the page was a “hot-line” number to call anonymously if you have information about someone’s potential marriage, business dealings, or whatever. A rabbi at the other end will tell you whether your gossip is important enough to pass along. If not, you are counseled to guard your tongue.


Jesus understood this when he said, “Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.”


We need to tell secrets our secrets. It helps us explore what’s troubling us and sometimes leads to helpful feedback. Sharing our secrets lets us test the reaction to what we’ve been holding in our heart. Not only that, it’s a relief not to be the only person who has experienced a certain temptation or tragedy. It makes us feel less alone when we unburden our soul and a friend says “me too” or “I understand.”

Sharing a secret can bring us closer together and deepen our relationship – but only if the relationship is healthy. Healthy people consider it a privilege to hear what’s on our mind, and they leave it at that. When it comes to keeping a confidence, healthy people are a human vault.


People deserve the respect of knowing the truth. They deserve to know if they are hurting someone’s feelings, being too aggressive, too lazy, too anything. And healthy people know they can’t live without this kind of feedback. For without it, they cannot achieve unswerving authenticity, or understand themselves well enough to be able to empathize with others and extend self-giving love freely, without conditions or restraints.


They follow Emerson’s advice: “Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo.” Translation: Speak the truth, because if you are afraid of making enemies, you’ll never have good friends.


Emotionally needy people don’t understand the meaning of space. They mother and smother us with their very presence. Their constant connecting becomes oppressive – if not possessive. This kind of person has no appreciation for what C.S. Lewis meant when he said: “"In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out."

In other words, Lewis recognized the need for space in a healthy relationship. He saw the need for multifaceted relationships that help us shine where another friend, even a close one, simply is not able. This is one of the marks of a space-free relationship: Each person relinquishes a possessive hold to enable the cultivation of other relationships.


Along this same line, a healthy relationship respects serenity. It recognizes the value of a thoughtful silence and a private retreat. Philosopher and author Henry David Thoreau once said, “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

Let’s face it: There are times in everyone’s life when we need to be alone – times when we need to gather our wits and allow our soul to catch up. Healthy people understand this. Part of self-giving love means we provide space, when needed, for the companion of solitude to enter a relationship. Of course, we also know when to return, when to break the silence and rejoin the other person’s journey.


All of us need space for the companion of solitude but, even more, we need to be in relationship. After all, it is this very space and separation provided by a healthy relationship that draws us back to a full appreciation of the relationship.


Fruit #4: Humor


Humor is always risky. What is appealing to some is appalling to others. In a survey of over 14,000 Psychology Today readers who rated 30 jokes, the findings were unequivocal. "Every single joke," it was reported, "had a substantial number of fans who rated it 'very funny,' while another group dismissed it as 'not at all funny.'"



Apparently, our funny bones are located in different places. Some laugh uproariously at the slapstick of Larry, Moe, and Curly, while others enjoy the more cerebral humor of Woody Allen.



Despite its risk, healthy