He is absolutely stuck—and scared he won’t ever see his kid—not to mention the heartache of losing a marriage.
What I learned in a coffee shop last Monday.
I spent three hours in a coffee shop on Monday afternoon—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I can tell you what you already know: there is a massive amount of pain going on in the hearts of the average person you meet.
As my business meeting ended, I couldn’t help but overhear a couple of men behind me talking about a divorce in progress. You may know what I mean. Wife has left him, she’s using the kid to make him crazy, he’s pouring out his anguish to his friend and then his lawyer (that he can’t afford to hire yet) calls. He’s asking legal advice about how he can have the police pick up his kid from his in-laws.
I move my stuff so that I am out of ear-shot of these two friends and I find a quiet place to get back to my work. A few minutes later and the man next to me starts talking to the barista about another marriage that is falling apart—not his but he has all the sordid details of his friend’s disaster in the making.
This guy also has his own story. He’s gay and fully out of the closet but so many of his good friends aren't. So we all get talking about what it means to really truly be ourselves. To let what’s inside of us show up on the outside.
All of this on MLK day. A day in celebration of a man who preached radical inclusion in a culture where we judge and exclude and frankly control each other. I had the realization in that moment that we all need to come out of the closet.
We all are hiding in some ways. Some closets are harder to come out of than others—to be sure—but I think we all want to experience the freedom that my new friend felt many years ago when he let everyone know what had been going on in secret. We need to stop hiding and come out of our self-limiting closets.
I want to come out of my self-limiting closet. The one that says that I have to be smarter than anyone else. The one that says that people don’t really want to hear what I have to say. The one that says that although I’m with people—I really am alone.
My hiding place shows the world what it wants to see. Everything is just fine here. No need to call for help. The truth is much more complex. I am in need of others. I am certainly not alone. I’m vulnerable and capable of being hurt by words. That’s truth. And there is much more where that came from.
My challenge for myself and for you is to take a step into the truth. Crack the door open a little on that closet. The pain is worth the freedom that will come.