Is my life healthily transparent?
This question popped into my mind this week. I had listened to a leadership teaching on finding the balance in being healthily vulnerable and transparent, and it brought to mind how much I have changed.
If you had met me 13 years ago, by the end of our first few months of friendship (and possibly the first few minutes), I would have likely shared what a challenging life I had, all of my current struggles and all the things I thought I had overcome. This would have included intimate details of trials, abuses against me, the many therapists I saw, and tons of “woe is me” moments.
Within a few months of becoming a Christian, I became much more guarded, to the point of hiding. I lived in terror that people in the church would think I wasn’t a real believer based on the things I thought and struggled with.
Recalling all this made me ask the question: how do we go about finding a healthy balance of transparency and privacy?
1. Know Your Own Worth.
As believers, our worth is defined by the cross. It’s not defined by anything we’ve accomplished, but rather, by what Jesus accomplished.
Sometimes we hold things too tightly to ourselves because we are afraid. Afraid of being “found out” as a fraud (as in my story about my resurfacing struggle with same-sex attraction in 2005). Afraid of being rejected. Afraid…..of the unknown, as I discuss in this blog post.
Some of these fears are certainly warranted. The world is full of imperfect people who may respond imperfectly to whatever you share. But when your worth is defined by the cross and who God says you are as His adopted child, it allows us to respond in a healthy and godly way to any real or perceived rejection or “brush-off”.
Other times, we hold things too loosely. When I became a Christian, I visited the Christian group at the college I was attending and was invited to Bible study. The Bible study leader invited me to lunch beforehand, to get to know me better. Oh, boy, was she in for a surprise! I told her all my business and then some! In fact, I shared so much that she asked one of the other group leaders who knew me better, “Is Brenna always that open?”
I did this because I was so sure she would reject me for my sordid past that I figured I might as well get it over with first thing. Her response? “OK! Bible study is at 5 PM on Tuesdays. Can’t wait to see you there!”
As you can see, oversharing and undersharing can be two sides of the same coin and are often rooted in the same fears. Knowing our worth needs to be the foundation of who we are and how we live. It helps us to have wisdom and discernment in the choices we make about sharing life with others.
2. Know the Worth of Others
Often times, we talk about “normal people” and put those people on a pedestal. We think that “normal people” wouldn’t understand our struggles, or will judge us.
No one is normal; “normal people” only exist in our imagination. As I heard someone once say, normal is a setting on the dryer. Everyone has something that they’d rather others not know. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. The same blood that was spilled for you was spilled for all those “normal people”.
Another thing to consider is how you react to others sharing. If you are asking people to accept you “as is” without judgment, are you willing to do the same?
3. Strive for Balance
We will make mistakes as we try to find the middle ground in healthy transparency. There are some questions we can ask ourselves as we try to be balanced.
If you tend toward sharing too much of yourself too soon, ask yourself: has this person earned the right to this information? If you just met them, the answer is likely no. Trust is built with time, and the more intimate details of your life should be shared with those who have proved themselves to be trustworthy.
If you tend toward sharing too little, ask: am I holding this information back due to fear? Is what I’m feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but I’m not responding due to my own insecurities?
I now try to live with healthy transparency. This is my life, and these are my stories. I can choose to share them, or choose not to. I try to live with a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and an openness to sharing parts of my life and journey if that might be helpful to someone.
Are you living your life with healthy transparency today?
Some really good thoughts to ponder!
I can relate to wanting to immediately tell new contacts the things that might shock them.
For me it was kind of a weeding out right off the bat, to prevent rejection later after a new friendship seemed to be growing, so many friends had I lost in the church when I left the abusive ex.
(The long story, in case anyone else reading this comment does want to hear about it: http://holy-sheepdip.blogspot.com/2011/08/why-i-escaped-and-from-what-did-i.html )
I, for one, appreciate it when people are transparent. It helps with getting to know them. Then again, there are boundaries, and that is something about which I am in the process of learning.