If I didn’t love my wife, I wouldn’t be sitting here at 10:09 on Monday night scrambling to rewrite this post. But I do love her – a lot – which brings me to this desk, in front of this laptop, at a time when I would normally be flossing my teeth.
Allow me to explain.
I wanted to write a post about a difficult situation my wife recently experienced, so this morning, I gave her a call as I drove to work and asked for permission to share her story. Unfortunately, she was having a little trouble focusing on what I was saying because the kids were hanging from the light fixture or something. But after I repeated myself a couple of times, she said it would be okay.
Apparently, there was a misunderstanding.
This evening, I was almost finished with my post, and I asked her to take a look at it and make sure I got her story right. She was not pleased.
“Joshua, I didn’t know you were going to say all that,” she said.
“Wait – what?” I said. “You told me you were okay with it this morning.”
“I didn’t realize how much detail you were going to share,” she said. “I mean, I’m sorry, but this experience is still raw, and I thought you were just going to share a little tidbit of the story. Besides, I’m not even sure I’ve fully worked through this experience.”
I was initially frustrated and resisted a little, but there was nothing I could do – she wasn’t comfortable with it, and I generally don’t tell other people’s stories without their permission.
Suddenly, it dawned on me that in conversation, I’ve told plenty of other people’s stories without getting their permission first. Not that I was gossiping or anything – at least I didn’t see it that way. I didn’t say their names or talk to anyone who might know who they are. I just shared my interpretation of their story without getting the okay from them first.
The truth is, if I cared – if I really cared for the person I was talking about – I would be just as careful about broadcasting their story in a conversation as I was about broadcasting my wife’s story to everyone on the internet. I would ask for permission first; I would confirm I understood the complexities of their story correctly; and I would respect their wishes if they said they were uncomfortable with me sharing it.
But that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? That would require me to actually go to them and announce that I’m going to be sharing their business (which they might not appreciate) – not to mention the fact that I would lose the instant gratification of airing other people’s dirty laundry under the charitable pretense of “processing” or “asking for prayer.”
What I’m saying is, whether we like it or not, you and I are blogging with our mouths all the time. And for the sake of those we claim to love, let’s start doing some internal editing before we give ourselves permission to put their stories out there.