Everyone Needs Someone To Tell It To

A Special Guest Blog on the Inspiration and Heart Behind "Someone To Tell It To"—
A Non-Profit Work of Heart Dedicated to Listening

By Michael Gingerich and Tom Kaden


When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. Henri Nouwen


We remember the night clearly. It’s easy to recall the details of such a significant, defining moment. Here we were, both of us without a job. Michael’s had just ended that day. Tom’s a few months before. Neither of us knew what we were going to do.

Well, at least we’ll be able to spend more time together, one of us said. Neither of us knew how prophetic those words would be.

During the next few hours, we ate fish and chips, drank two Irish stouts and – as we had so many times before – shared openly and honestly about how we felt about our circumstances. We had no idea where this conversation would ultimately lead.

It was a dark season for both of us.

We committed to take advantage of this involuntary free time. We made a covenant. The first part of that covenant was that we would not hide anything from one another. We also agreed to remind one another that this was only a season; it would not last forever. We would find ways to enjoy the time we had; we would try to have some fun. We would help each other to discern where we would go next; we’d remind each other that there would be a next. We would really be present for one another. We knew there would be days of stress and anxiety and moments of confusion and uncertainty. We also knew our friendship would go on.

Early the next morning we met at a long walking path in a favorite park. We traveled it a dozen times that day. It was partially ringed by a beautiful, flowing creek, a soothing sight to walk beside. As we strode round and round the path, we admitted to each other that we were scared. Scared that our lives wouldn’t be significant. Scared that financially we couldn’t make it. Scared that we couldn’t find jobs that would be enjoyable and fulfilling.

Week after week, we met at that park. We walked, talked, and prayed. In the meantime, we also looked for jobs. We crafted resumes. We sent letters. We scheduled interviews. Neither of us received a job offer. Weeks and months passed. Still, nothing was offered. And nothing felt right.

One day at the park, we were sitting at a picnic table eating lunch. Fearful and frustrated, one of us said, “I just don’t know what to do.”

It was a very vulnerable moment. And, it opened a door. “Neither do I.”

We both felt intense relief. It felt good to say it aloud, and share the terror and pain. It felt good knowing that we both understood. A weight was lifted.

At that moment something changed.

Our walk that afternoon took on a decidedly different tone. There was something more hopeful in the air. And it was then that one of us said, “What would it look like if we worked together?”

It was another vulnerable moment. What if the answer was: “No way”?

Over the course of the next several weeks we started to contemplate what “working together” might mean. We were friends and we had in incredible amount in common. All those weeks and months of walking and talking at the park moved our sharing from open and honest to more vulnerable. We learned more and more about ourselves – our passions, our gifts, our dreams, our calling – and one another. Ultimately, we learned we could implicitly and utterly depend on each other, that we could be truly open and vulnerable with each other, and, as a result, working together would be a joy.

An idea emerged. A plan. A mission.

We would establish a non-profit together. We would create the same kind of safe place for others that we had created for ourselves. We had both been doing this already, throughout our lives. We listen to others’ stories, enter into their minds and hearts and lives, and provide opportunities for them to share their brokenness, burdens, joys and hopes. We cherished those moments of emotional and spiritual intimacy in which we could help others. As Henri Nouwen describes, we yearn to be the kind of person and friend who “instead of offering advice or solutions, chooses instead to share in the darkness and pain.” We both desire to make the journey with them.

It was exactly what we did for each other. And, we decided we could do it with many others.

Our non-profit, Someone To Tell It To, is who we are and who we want to be. We know what the need to unburden ourselves and express our vulnerability with someone who will not judge feels like. We know the freedom it brings and want others to know it too.

Every day we hear stories from people living with cancer, stories about what it’s like to live with addictions, stories of loss and fear, stories of shame, stories about the struggle to find meaning, stories of those wrestling with their faith, stories of loneliness, rejection and fear, stories of emptiness and longing for purpose, and stories of those who want to belong, but don’t know how.

We understand that telling our stories to one another and providing a safe place is necessary in our world, which often feels disconnected and individualistic, a world in which we wear masks to hide and disguise our true selves. When we take off our masks, let others in, and share our stories, we help one another.

Michael and Tom have cumulatively spent thousands of hours counseling and listening compassionately to people locally, nationally, and internationally and are both accomplished authors and community leaders. They have encouraged and supported countless people whose lives have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer, autism, intellectual disabilities, health concerns, spiritual crises, or other life challenges.

Together, they authored Someone To Tell It To: Sharing Life's Journey, "life stories that bring readers a greater understanding about grace, compassion and unconditional love.

Visit their Website at www.someonetotellitto.org.