I hit the power button on the remote control, turning off the evening news as I lowered myself slowly onto the living room couch. Our white, locked, front door was in plain view, standing strong and sturdy. Its surrounding glass panels were covered by closed shades, with only tiny bits of light seeping through their cracks from the porch lights outside.
Were my surroundings “airtight”? Not only the shades? Not only the locked front door? But my life?
The news had carried on and on about destruction that night. A convict breaking free. A convenience store having been burglarized. Dogs being abused. I shuddered. I couldn’t take a second more. Now I sat in silence, unable to take my eyes off that front door. I was safe. But did I want to be? Did I want to be “airtight”?
Do You Want to be “Airtight”?
In general, yes. We want to feel safe. We want to feel secure. We want our heads to hit the pillow each night not having to worry about who’s lurking outside our doors. To this I respond with an overwhelming, “YES.” I would like myself and my family to be airtight.
But here’s where I don’t want to be “cut-off.” I still want to know what’s happening in other’s lives. Not just my family; not just my friends; not just my coworkers. I want to share in the lives of my neighbors, of the kind woman I bump into at the store, of the man I work alongside at a volunteering event. I don’t want to let myself build a transparent wall, keeping out friendly discussion and introspection shared with those I meet on a daily basis because they don’t fit into my day. If an introduction and conversation presents itself, I should feel honored that I somehow fit into theirs.
Please don’t ever stop wanting to hear and share in each other’s stories—in each other’s lives. Please remember to lock your front doors, but not your heads … not your hearts. That’s when we can get into trouble; we tend to let the physical walls of our home extend beyond our front porch. If we stop connecting with others, we stop making progress.
I recently released a non-fiction book, Common Stones, with the purpose of sharing our stories of survival. “The intention was to provide a setting of intimate discussion—a fortunate encounter with a stranger over coffee to which s/he decides to bless you with a story near and dear to the heart. These stories are real. They are raw. They are vulnerable. Each one is beyond humbling, offering an unparalleled gratitude for the blessings that we have, and a reminder of how miniscule our daily troubles tend to be. …Additionally, what progress are we making if we are not sharing and appreciating each other’s moments? And not just the joyous ones where the pieces fall together, but the arduous moments as well—those where we feel powerless toward the pieces themselves.”
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”
From the bottom of my heart, I encourage you to share your story with someone else this week. In turn, engulf yourself in someone else’s. By all means, shut your front door tonight. Secure that lock. Set that alarm. But don’t do the same for your head as you wrap your mind around what your neighbor has experienced; for your heart as you empathetically walk in their shoes; for your arms when a handshake or hug is warranted.
“Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other.”
Romans 15:32 (NLT)
The growth and strength that comes from these moments is beyond empowering. Who knows … by “unlocking our doors,” we may just find the safety we are looking for—in each other.