I’m the odd one. I am the one who has to keep the tape on her mouth. Inside I want to burst. I can’t hold it in. At least, that is how I feel.

I was with a group of people today where we were talking about how life isn’t fair. God might be just in the end, but His justice just might be different than mine. Or yours. And we were talking about that if life was fair, all of us Americans would totally be taking an economic step backwards to balance out those in extreme poverty. No thank you!

One of my friends was saying she was pretty content, not really envious of other people’s stuff or lives. Really?! Dare I believe her? Regardless, she went on to say that when it comes to “fairness” she couldn’t get over the fact that other people don’t live as well as we do; that they can’t even survive. First of all, internally I sighed because it was nice to know that I was not the only one who feels that way. For some reason in our discussion today that rare moment occurred. Its that once-a-month occasion in which there is an actual reason to share an annoying truth like “If we only gave x amount, extreme poverty would totally disappear” and “Did you know that a ridiculous amount of children die every year because of diarrhea! Diarrhea!”

When these rare occasions happen, I can’t help it! My mouth-tape just must get too moist because its stickiness loosens and something slips out behind it. A factoid about the injustices and suffering in the world (one that I am probably saying wrong anyway). I begin to burst. I want to go off. Not on them. But just start yelling “These people around the world are dying! Like freakin’ dying! They have nothing! We have everything! Did you know that __________ and __________ is happening!? Did you know about ________ and ___________?! We have got to do something! Could you imagine this happening to your own kid!”

Yet I know that probably won’t really make those I am talking to aware. They don’t feel the issue like I do. I am going crazy because I am too aware. To me, it seems I am the only person who actually is aware. And I know that everyone else doesn’t usually want to become aware. So I gotta be sly. Chilled. Subtle. I can’t hit everyone with the sledge hammer of awareness, can I?

So, instead I just try to reel myself back in. Reeling in that hook that was thrown out too quickly, trying to catch someone, anyone. Instead of verbally dumping, typically I can manage a “Quick, lets change the subject because I am warning you- I can talk about this for hours.” Really I am trying to acknowledge that I am on the verge of making them uncomfortable and noting their assumed lack of disinterest. But internally I am wishing they would ask me more.

So, my question is this: How do we share our passions while not freaking out people with whom we have relationships with?

Generally, I don’t know. But these are the things which seem to be helpful so far in my experience:

  1. First of all, always be humble and respectful. Maybe I should just stop here.
  2. Live out your passions. At least people then know they can ask you about your passions if they do become interested.
  3. Honestly share with your friends what you feel- how becoming aware of a specific issue is really affecting you on a personal level.
  4. Then, after they see its personal to you, tell your friends that you don’t know what to do about it and ask them for their ideas. This assumes it is true that friends like to solve each others problems.
  5. If you have something you want to do about it, then ask them to come along and help you with your project. Sometimes, through that, they become aware of the issue.

I am notably bad at #3. I am not honest with the people around me how much the awareness I have of suffering affects me deeply. Those I know tend to know I care about stuff. But they don’t know that I more than just care. I am affected. I get depressed for days at a time. I feel emotions about the issues I care about. If they knew that, they would at least help me deal with what I feel. If nothing else I might not feel so alone.

Do you have any similar experiences not knowing how much to say? As we become more concerned with things larger than our little circle, sometimes horrible things which are hurting people far away, its hard to know how to be an advocate among those whom we live our every day lives with. As we try to figure this out, continue holding on to the hope that even if you don’t know how tell others around you about your passions, you are still making a difference because people around you are watching you. Sometimes you influence just by being.