You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what’s behind the appearance. -Luke 16:14-15 (The Message)
Transparent, authentic, genuine. Are those words you use to describe yourself or your friends? I hope so! Today, when we all seem to be in pursuit of perfection, using comparison as our guide, we could all use a little more transparency in our lives. We need others to be transparent with us, and more importantly, we need to do our best to be as authentic in our relationships as possible.
I think one of the tools Evil uses to try and beat us is the idea that we have to hide our faults and imperfections behind pretty masks. That if we appear to be perfect, we’ll eventually end up that way. Or at least people will think that we have.
But who wants to fake it? Wouldn’t you rather sacrifice a little bit of self-preservation in order to build genuine relationships with people who love you no matter what? Wouldn’t you love to be the friend who listens? Who others feel they can come to for wisdom or prayer, because they know they can count on you to be real with them?
This post is a list (I LOOOVE lists-but that’s another blog) of reasons why we should do our best to live genuine lives. Also—for the sake of transparency—I was having a hard time with transitions, so I left my outline in place and called it a “list.” Don’t judge me.
Transparency lets us know we aren’t alone.
Being real with someone when they confess to one of their “flaws” is telling them that you’re with them, and that you get it.
One of our chaplains’ wives spoke at a MOPS meeting a few months ago. She spoke of the difficulties of being a military spouse, and how we’re always expected to suck it up and move forward in order to support the mission. We aren’t supposed to show people that we’re crumbling. We’re supposed to bottle everything up and not talk about our struggles because our spouses need to focus on their mission.
This sweet woman blew the top off of all of that when she said “’The nicest thing you can say to someone is me too.’” “Me too” means you aren’t alone. You don’t have to suffer in silence. You have someone to share the burden.
I once told a friend that the meanest thing a “veteran spouse” can do is tell a new spouse that because they’ve experienced multiple deployments, they’ve got everything under control and are coasting. That completely invalidates the insecurities of the new spouse, and it just isn’t honest. There is no such thing as an easy deployment. The last one was our fourth, and it was exponentially harder than the previously three. How about instead of pretending we’re fine, we say “me too?” Share your yoke with someone else. Partner with them and support one another.
Feeling inadequate? Me too.
So over that deployment? Me too.
About ready to fall apart? Me too.
Afraid of failure? Me too.
Being real means that we’re able to admit our own imperfections and feelings in order to give relief to someone else. Transparent people are good friends to have, because you know they’ll share their hearts with you when you feel like you just don’t make the cut. They don’t leave you flapping in the wind, because they’ll admit they’ve been where you are. Or they’ll encourage and reassure you if they haven’t.
Being transparent allows you to share wisdom with other people.
Ever been through something really crappy? A failed marriage? A wayward child? An eating disorder? A lost friendship?
Chances are, someone you know is experiencing the same thing right now. Perhaps, instead of pretending you’ve got it all together, and that you’ve never been touched by anything bad, you could share your experience with that person. You could explain how you got through it—the good choices and the bad ones. Maybe, just maybe, God gave you that rotten experience so you could use it to help other people who are in the same crummy situation.
Transparency is an excellent way of showing kindness.
Have you ever met someone who seems to have it all together? Perfect, spotless home? Perfect children? Perfect spouse? How does that make you feel? Does that old hag, Comparison start to sneak in? Yeah, me too.
Ever think about the fact that you could be that person to someone else? Maybe, your friend sees you as the best mom on the planet, or the most fantastic employee where you work. Maybe a church friend thinks you’re a mature Bible scholar who doesn’t struggle in their faith walk.
Being transparent allows others to see us for who we really are: the mom who sometimes yells at her kids on the way out the door, the employee who is sacrificing precious time with family in order to excel, and the girl at church who can say all the right things and quote all the verses, but who still isn’t sure what God wants her to do.
When we get past the idea that we have to be perfect, and instead share our imperfections with those we love, we create closer relationships. We also find freedom. Freedom from the struggle and work it takes to pretend we’re something we’re not.
Perfection is the enemy, and transparency is one of the best weapons we have to destroy it.
Transparency takes less energy than being a faker.
I’m a self-admitted lazy person, so this just might be my favorite point.
As human beings, we have a limited amount of energy to expend each day. We can choose to use that energy to help people, raise our families, and do God’s work. Or we can impress others by being the best, doing the most, and making people believe that we’re perfect.
Trying to be someone you’re not is so. exhausting. Have you tried it? It will make you tired and worn down. You’ll run out of steam way faster by pretending than by simply owning the way God created you to be, and being honest about the circumstances He gave you.
Why in the world do we waste so much of that energy trying to convince people that we’re amazing, special snowflakes? Why can’t we just own who we truly are, and let others accept us for our real, authentic selves? Doesn’t that sound easier? It does to me.
You guys, I am so not perfect at this. I do my best to be transparent. I don’t want to create an illusion, or pretend I’m who I want to be instead of the girl I am at this moment. There are things about me that I haven’t shared. Maybe because of lack of opportunity, or because being real about a situation has been “too scary” for me. I have to wonder if by not being authentic I’ve missed an opportunity to love someone properly, or to be a good friend. Maybe I’ve forced myself to take a longer route on the path God has laid out for me.
By simply being who we are, we can empower others to lay down who they think they should be, and start being the people God created them to be. And we can do it for ourselves as well.
The image I project for everyone to see:
Yes, I'm in a bar. And I'm pretty sure my best friend used a filter, because my skin isn't this nice. I also weigh about 15 pounds less than my current weight.
The “real” me:
Okay, so the "real me" has only been skydiving once. But this is the most unattractive photo of me in existence.