by Emily Conrad
Two little words have packed a lot of power to encourage me this week: Me, too.
I called a dog trainer for help after my dog was attacked for a second time inside of six months last week. The employee who answered (not the trainer herself) asked me to describe the problem.
I explained that we’ve put a lot of effort into training Sadie to walk nicely, even when she sees other dogs. And I explained how frustrating it was that despite our work, she’s now being attacked and I don’t know how to protect her.
I had the same thing happen with one of my dogs, the employee said. The trainer helped me through it, so I’ll have her give you a call when she gets in.
And just like that, I had so much more hope, all because of one little sentiment: me, too.
The dog situation is important to me, but it’s not as vital to my soul-level well-being as other things, like my writing or my faith or my identity. Whatever power there is in a dog-related me, too statement there’s even more punch in a me, too when it comes to those other areas of life.
That’s why I appreciated this post by Patricia Beal over on Jerusha Agen’s Fear Warrior Blog. She wrote about a fear I share, so the post was like hearing someone say, “Me, too, and here’s what God’s showing me.”
The impact of posts like this and the impact of that employee’s response to me shows me just how much I want to know I’m not alone. I want to see the hope in the situation that has me stymied. I want to know not the cool here’s-what-you-do textbook answer, but the warmth of an I’ve-been-there testimonial.
Maybe it’s easier to get a me, too from strangers over the phone or from writing friends in blogs, but it is much more powerful to get it in real life friendships.
A few months ago, a friend and I were talking and found we were both wondering about some of the same things: Am I doing what I should be doing? Am I pursuing the right career? Am I spending my time the way I ought?
In that case, we didn’t actually answer any of the questions, but just asking them and finding they were shared brought relief.
When I look at my own choices in conversations with my closer friends, I recognize that I’m sometimes not brave enough to voice the hurts and questions. These friends love me, and certainly our relationships could handle the weight, but telling my friends in person is more vulnerable than sitting at my computer and typing about it.
I have to think of how to word things as I go. I can’t go back and rephrase words I’ve spoken to make them (read: myself) sound better. And I certainly can’t guarantee how my friend will respond.
And on the other end of the conversation, me, too is an admission of imperfection. It’s peeling back that pulled-together facade and admitting to the struggle behind the curtain.
Despite all this, staying quiet isn’t the safer option.
If we hide those struggles, what good have we done ourselves? If we fail to speak up about the doubts and struggles and shortcomings, they’ll grow unchecked. We isolate ourselves, pulling back from the very friendships that could help. If we fail to say “me, too, and here’s what I’m learning,” we waste so much of the beauty that could come from our ashes.
So, let’s be the brave hearts that risk the vulnerability of a candid me, too in our friendships. Let’s search for answers together and share what we’ve learned so far, not as a one-size-fits-all solution, but as a dialogue toward hope and truth. And the first truth we’ll cross along the way? The assurance that we are not alone.