Last weekend I sat in an airport not so patiently waiting to catch a flight home. Across from me sat a young couple, and they were having a relatively quiet but heated argument about something very personal. Everyone within ten feet knew everything about the reason they were fighting.
I was uncomfortable and a bit embarrassed, so I moved.
Though I applaud transparency, there is a time and place for everything, and that couple’s intense conversation should have taken place behind closed doors and probably with a counselor present. Transparency is good, but public fighting is not.
Last week, I introduced the value of living without secrets and in transparency with others. The main idea was to stop hiding behind a veil of perfection.
I suggested that transparency is good for us because it liberates us and enhances our relationships. I also submitted that the pathway to transparency is a humble and contrite heart.
Typically, we hide because of pride or fear. We’re too egotistical to admit that we don’t always have our act together. Or we’re too afraid of rejection or the wrath of others if we’re ever to be found out.
But once we get beyond the barriers, how do you and I go about being transparent? What are the mechanics of living without secrets?
Let’s unpack some essentials that will help you practice the art of authenticity and transparency.
To begin with, being transparent doesn’t mean you tell everybody everything. But living without secrets means there is nothing you can’t tell somebody. Being an open book doesn’t mean you walk around in public with a naked soul. However, there must be at least a small circle of friends or family with whom you are completely honest at all times.
For that to happen there must be trust. Putting trust in a person or two means you have developed a relationship in which you can count on someone to guard your heart as if it were theirs. In fact, the nature of your relationship is such that you know they’ve got your back and will value your bond no matter what.
Furthermore, practicing the art of authenticity also means you don’t wait for your trusted friend to ask, “How are you doing?” Instead, you initiate full disclosure when you’re struggling. Once you get past the lie that you’re the only one with sin and the only one who fails, this reality frees you to go quickly to a confidant and get support and encouragement.
Delaying disclosure is simply another form of denial. “Maybe if I wait to come clean about this thing, it will go away,” or “Maybe I’ll get better all by myself.”
Nope; hardly ever.
Another thing that is important when it comes to revealing your secrets is to exercise wisdom. If revealing your brokenness is going to break someone else, then don’t go there with that individual.
For example, if you’re battling discouragement, it may not be wise to talk with a depressed or suicidal friend.
If you’re struggling with lust or pornography, and it will crush your spouse to tell him or her, it might be best to tell a friend (of the same gender).
Sometimes, depending on the nature of the sin or struggle, your friend or spouse may internalize and personalize your battle and think, “What’s wrong with me?” The truth is, it’s not his or her problem, it’s yours, so use discretion. This careful choice regarding who you will share with is not hiding (assuming you are telling somebody); it’s wisdom and an act of love.
One more piece of practical advice. Confession to a human is good, but confession to God is still crucial.
I encourage involvement in support groups. I admire those who have transparency with others. However, our ultimate freedom comes from a clean heart before the Father. Confession to God brings healing because His forgiveness is what matters most.
So this is the pathway to practicing the art of authenticity:
Develop a small circle of trust.
Don’t wait to confess your wrongdoing or live in denial.
Be wise regarding to whom you choose to reveal your struggle.
Own it if you’ve blown it, and start by telling God.
Living a transparent life leads to renewal, and renewal always leads to godly transformation of our hearts and lives.
May I pray for you?
Jesus, thank you that we are safe with You and need never to fear Your rejection. Thank You for understanding us and always being merciful and kind. Help us to know the joy of confession and openness with You and trusted friends. Help us to walk in the light and in wisdom. Help us to consistently live out the freedom we have in You. In Your name we pray. Amen
Whoever tries to hide his sins will not succeed,
but the one who confesses his sins
and leaves them behind will find mercy.
Proverbs 28:13 (VOICE)
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