When I was a kid, I admit. I was afraid of the dark. I remember having 3 nightmares on the same night about one Fred Kruger. I would wake up petrified, only to return to my slumber to find him again. Every time I'd wake up to a room full of darkness, though, I'd go to my one hiding place where I knew that neither Mr. Kruger or anyone else could harm me....underneath my cover.
As much as we like to complicate life, it's really quite simple. When someone gives you his or her trust, they expect you to be their covering; to protect them from other forms of Freddie Krugers (i.e. personal attacks, spiritual attacks, public shame, etc.).
There's a passage in the 9th chapter of Genesis that is often overlooked concerning this very issue. Long story short, after the storm had come, Noah, for whatever reason, went into his tent to elevate his mind by means of a strong drink. During his stupor, he ended up naked. And as most of you who have ever been wasted to that point can attest to, Noah somehow wound up naked. Ham, his youngest son, saw him drunk and naked. He, then went to tell his two older brothers what he'd seen. The two older brothers then, without ever looking at their father this way, draped a garment over their sholders, backed toward their father and covered him. Of course, when Noah came down from this elevated state, he was furious to find out that anyone had seen him this way. When he found out that Ham was the one that found him that way and put him on blast, he cursed Ham's entire lineage and declared that they would forever more be the servants of the lineages of Ham's two older brothers.
Okay..that's the meat of it. Several points to make that ties in to what I'm getting at with this entry. First.. yes, Noah was drunk & naked. But the caveat is that he was drunk and naked IN HIS OWN TENT. What kind of world do we live in where and man can't be drunk & naked in his own tent?!?! :-) In all seriousness, though, being drunk & naked is one of the most vulnerable physical states that one can be in. Often times, many of the problems that we deal with (depression, unwillingness to forgive, past hurt, desires in which we indulge in the dark but wouldn't dare do in the light, etc.) are often dealt with when we are alone. These are parts of us that we don't want anyone to see, which leads me to my next point.
Ham was the one person that did see his father in such a vulnerable state. Instead of pretending to be Larry King or Wolf Blitzer, he could have easily covered him or covered the opening to his tent, to ensure that no one else saw him that way. This is often times how we lose the trust of those who we have been so privileged to have had the trust of. In relationships, (business, marriage, intimate, platonic, or otherwise) you're trusted to cover your partner. When you don't cover your partner, nothing good ever comes out of it.
In business, if you have a partner who's not that good with the finances, and you broadcast that to the world, not only does it hurt your partner, but it hurts you too. The very person that you shared this information with could be your next client, and end up robbing your business blind because of that inside information that you shared with them.
In a marriage, if your husband is not living up to your expectations, and you share this information with a male or female companion, you've just opened the doors of your marriage to temptation & chaos. Whoever you shared this information with can use it to their advantage. If you told a male friend about it, he'll go out of his way to be everything that your husband's not, and when the opportunity presents itself, you're in a compromising situation. Same thing will happen with your husband if you shared that information with a female friend. For example, if you say that all your husband is good for is sex. Your friend may be dying inside to have a healthy sexual relationship, and just might all of a sudden have a budding attraction to your husband. Again, when the opportunity presents itself, a compromising situation ensues. And not to mention that the most important person in all of this is the husband. If these words get back to him, he's left feeling that he's an inadequate provider, confidant, help-mate, and friend. He's reduced to being only good for sex. And all this comes from not covering who you are supposed to cover. This leads me to my next point which deals with the results.
In Ham's case, not only was he scolded, but his son's entire lineage was cursed to be servants of his brothers' lineage. That's some pretty strong stuff. In our cases, however, a wide range of results can be expected, from minor to major and from short term to long term.
For example, take the guy who was dating his dream girl only to hear a rumor that she had AIDS, and without asking her about the validity of these statements, his distances himself from her until their relationship eventually dissolves. She tried and tried to see what the problem was, but he swore her off. 20 years later, she's as healthy as can be and happily married, and he's on his 3rd marriage because he struggles with his decision to not cover her when personal attacks came. Because of these struggles, he searches for her traits in every woman that he's been with since her only to come up with empty hopes and frustrations. And in reality, she was the one that God had ordained for him. He squandered this away by not covering her.
Example #2 shows us the guy who was working for a very profitable small business and had hopes of one day moving up the corporate ladder. The CEO of the company had taken him under his wing as soon as he began working there because he saw a lot of himself in him. After only being with the company for 4 years, the guy started hearing rumors that the CEO was about to step down because he had been caught up in a sex scandal with one of his secretaries. The guy quits the company because he doesn't want to be part of a sinking ship. He runs into his former CEO about 6 months later and in an awkward exchange, he learns that there was no sex scandal. The CEO was indeed going to retire, but it was to turn the reigns of the company over to him.
These two examples are situations where allegations turned out to be false, and the people who failed to cover ended up regretting it in the long haul. But what about if the allegations were true? The true test of someone who's supposed to be a covering comes when the situations are not rumor or thought, but indeed facts. When Ham told his older brothers that he had seen his father drunk & naked, they probably thought to themselves, "Yes, that may be so. But he's still our father. And I'd much rather never see him this way." So instead of viewing their father as a weak man, they honored him by covering him so that no one could know their father that way. We have to be the same way in our dealings with those that we are close to. If I know that a good friend of mine who's a public figure is battling a gambling addiction, it is my place to cover him until I can encourage him to face those demons head on. It's the same situation if I have a friend that's battling depression, drug addiction, domestic violence, closet homosexuality, suicidal thoughts, financial hardships, marital problems, etc.
In closing, let us be mindful of how our words and conversations can be harmful, not only to others, but to ourselves in some instances. If someone thinks enough of you to allow you into their inner place of insecurities, shortcomings, and flat out mistakes, know that you are charged with the responsibility of keeping them covered.