My narrative is mine. My story, my journey. I live my story and dedicate my journey to the service of others. But it is still mine.
I am a deeply private person who also happens to be a public figure. This is a tension I’ve navigated for over two decades. How to remain accessible to the public, but still be in charge of my story and its telling. It’s difficult.
The parts of my story I reveal to others in my life (or on social media) are less about my public image than about my personal privacy. It’s about still retaining my right to tell my story in my way and in my time.
Who I let in on the details of my journey has nothing to do with whether or not I love them, trust them, or that I’m being duplicitous. It’s about retaining control of my story. My narrative. And it’s about leaving myself space to continue to learn and not be inhibited by the expectations of others.
Case in point…I am a religious. A friar in a community dedicated to love and service. It means I have dedicated myself also to a spiritual path by following Christ.
It does not mean I’m perfect or harbor any illusions about myself. It does not mean that I don’t get angry, upset, occasionally rant. It does not mean I have to be a caricature of other people’s ideas about what religious are —always spiritual, or that I otherwise don’t or can’t engage with the normal realities of life that every one else has to deal with. Even if I do so in ways that are sometimes inelegant.
Because I am a religious brother, I constantly get backhanded by people online who assume, based on my public writings and my self-presentation, that I don’t have the right to have off days, be occasionally inarticulate or snarky, or have opinions what other people do that are sometimes less than charitable. It’s no one’s job to police me or my words.
I'm allowed to be tired. Anxious. Frustrated. Make occasional slips that demonstrate my humanity.
Likewise, when I’m in the midst of life changes, joys, fears, and get the occasion to learn about myself more deeply and grow as a result into the person God intends for me to be - because I am a public person doesn’t mean that everyone has the right to be let in on what’s up with me.
It has nothing to do with love or trust. I love many more people than I would trust to know the most intimate parts of my journey and my story. And it doesn’t even mean that I don’t trust those who don’t know the intimate details of my life.
It means that my story is mine. It means that my personal life is not public property in the ways that my ministry often is. It means that I alone have the right to balance the needs of my life, my privacy, and my public ministry in ways that don’t undermine my joy or the work I am about or my ability to serve others in needful communities.