There are a lot of things about being human that are hard and scary. On the inestimably long list, being vulnerable with another person is most certainly near the top. It requires immense courage to share something of yourself with another, when their response isn’t sufficiently pre-determined to be positive. Whether it’s saying “I love you” or “I need help,” humans are terrified of what might meet their heartfelt confession.
The War and Treaty’s “If It’s in Your Heart” was sparked by an incident that involved both sides of that equation. A few years ago, Michael Trotter, who served in the Army prior to his career in music, was talking to a friend from the military who confided in him that she’d been raped while in the service. Naturally, he asked if she was okay. She said she was fine. He took her at her word and didn’t push or pry. Though she didn’t ask for help, his gut had a twinge of concern as they hung up the phone.
“Something in her voice, as we said goodbye, would suggest otherwise,” Trotter says. “Instead of investigating the feeling of uneasiness that I had, I chalked it up as me just being nervous. She was a strong gal, and I didn’t want to impose on that, so I left it alone.”
“Two weeks later, her sister contacted me and said that she had committed suicide,” he continues. “Everything inside of me wished that I had acted on that gut feeling I had that was saying, ‘Something is not right.’” He wrote “If It’s in Your Heart” while thinking and rethinking the moment wherein they both missed the opportunity to speak their truths. She needed help, but couldn’t ask for it. He sensed her need, but didn’t offer it. So faint is the line between recognizing someone’s burdens and respecting their boundaries.
Time and again, it has been proven that we regret the things we don’t do or say far more often than the things we do. But doing and saying the things in our hearts demands the courage to be vulnerable. Yes, in doing so, we risk the chance of being misunderstood or rejected, if things don’t go our way. If they do, though, we take a step toward embracing a love, realizing a dream, or saving a life. And all of those things are absolutely worth the risk.