“The one who goes about slandering others reveals secrets, but the one who is trustworthy conceals a matter.”

-Proverbs 11:13

I remember a very embarrassing incident as a young girl. I can’t even believe I’m about to share it with you here, because it’s embarrassing to recall even as an adult today. But I still feel such empathy for my younger self, and I vividly remember how covered I felt in a moment that could have been socially ostracizing and exposing.

I was in kindergarten, and I must have been oblivious when my teacher instructed the students to take advantage of the restroom break following our recess time. We made our way back into the classroom and she began the afternoon lesson, when all of the sudden, I remember being shocked and horrified at the realization I was about to have an accident right there in the middle of class while sitting in my chair. I meekly raised my hand and asked the teacher to come over, and unable to speak a word of explanation, my eyes must have conveyed my sheer horror and humiliation.

What she did next, was the kindness of heaven itself. She immediately recognized my plight, and with great grace and tact, invited the other children to form a line for a surprise afternoon adventure. She quickly led them out of the room and down the hallway to a water fountain to have a sip of water (anything can be an adventure for a five-year-old!), far from view of me, while she peeked her head in a neighboring classroom for another teacher’s backup assistance. She then returned to our classroom where she tended to me and my (quite literal) puddle of embarrassment. 

I remember she explained how she was going to walk with me to the restroom to get cleaned up, but not to worry, that she would cover me as we walked so no one would see or know what was going on. As we walked out from the classroom and down the hallway in the opposite direction of my classmates, I remember hiding behind her as I heard little voices ask, “What’s going on with her?” As honest and direct as children that age can be, it would no doubt have become a major talking point among my classmates had they learned about my mishap, and could have made me the target of jokes for years to come. 

Instead, my teacher understood the value of being able to conceal a matter that would have brought harm instead of good. She recognized that my pain could have been the target of hurtful whispers among others and she went out of her way to ensure that brief moment didn’t become a label that followed me in days to come. She literally and figuratively had my back when I needed it most.

Maybe you know what it’s like to be in a situation where the pain, embarrassment, mistakes, loss, or hardships of a private matter has become a public conversation topic for others. It’s so easy for one person’s private life to be exposed for the world to read all about on social media or to become casual gossip over dinner with the girls. 

You may be able to empathize with my five-year-old self as you think of situations that maybe you’ve lived out that have given people plenty to talk about. You may then understand what a gift it is to have a trustworthy friend who protects and shields and covers you with grace, rather than using it as a moment to broadcast your pain as a talking point to others.

That teacher showed, in both word and action, that she was a friend who had my back. What could have been one of my most embarrassing childhood memories has been met with the grateful reminder of how someone cared enough to go the extra mile to protect and extend dignity in a vulnerable moment.

I wish I could say I’ve always followed the example of that kind, wise teacher and have been quick to bring an end to quiet whispers and wonderings along the lines of, “What’s going on with her?” and turn those conversations into an opportunity to bring a covering of grace and empathy for another human being. Sometimes I have, sometimes I haven’t. But my hope and prayer is that we will always aim to be like that teacher—understanding we have a choice of being one who adds to the pain or shame when others hurt or fall, or we can be like the person Proverbs 11:13 describes, “…one who is trustworthy conceals a matter,” to be a trustworthy person who finds a way to cover others in grace and kindness. I know which person I’d rather have in my life, and I know the kind of friend I want to be known as—to be the kind of trustworthy person who says, “Hey friend, I’ve got your back.”

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Andrea Howey

Andrea Howey

Andrea Howey is a hand lettering artist in Dallas, Texas. She started hand lettering Scripture and encouraging words during a season of loss and God began to use it as a means to minister encouragement to people around the world through social media. Today, she continues to create hand lettered words and goods for her business, as well as freelance work for ministries, authors, and other projects, all with the aim of encouraging people in heart, strengthening people in faith, and above all, pointing people to Jesus. You can check out her beautiful designs at andreahowey.com and connect with her on Instagram.

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