Sometimes telling the truth is scary. Honestly answering someone when they ask how you’re doing can be intimidating, like leaping off a cliff and not knowing if you’ll plummet to the ground or be caught by a safety net.
Vulnerability is frightening. We often shy away from being vulnerable, showing our true colors. Instead, we put on masks and hope that others see only what we want them to see. Most of us prefer the security of life spent behind our masks we’ve so carefully created and maintained over the years. We spend a great deal of time agonizing over what words to use, clothes to wear, facial expressions to employ, body language to convey, and pieces of our lives to share with others. We are very intentional about curating our images.
We equate vulnerability with weakness, thinking that if we show others our struggles, our sore spots, our brokenness, that they will view us as less than. We care so much about what others think, as if parts of us have never grown out of our junior-high insecurities. We work incredibly hard to try to impress people who are too busy worrying about how we perceive them to care about our self-presentation.
But don’t we long for deep connection? Don’t we long for honesty in others? Do we not try to teach our children that “honesty is the best policy?”
What if there was a way for the cycle of shame to be broken in our lives? What if there was a way to divorce ourselves from the pressures that culture puts on us to be rich or beautiful or well-respected? What if there was a way for the pressure to be relieved to perform and achieve and measure up in order to be a person of value? What if we no longer felt a need to prove ourselves, to validate our own existence in the world’s eyes and also in our own eyes? What if our secret battle with shame was neutered, freeing us to turn our attention away from ourselves and toward neighbors who are near to us, and also toward neighbors who are on the other side of the world and need our partnership and support? What if there was a way that we, having had our shame undone, could also contribute to the undoing of shame in others?
My greatest joy as a Christian pastor is that I get to tell people that such a remedy exists. When Jesus allowed Himself to be stripped naked, spit upon, taunted, rejected and made nothing on the cross—when He, the one who had nothing to be ashamed of, surrendered to the ruthless, relentless shaming that led to our redemption and healing—He accomplished our liberation from shame.
Because Jesus took on Himself the full freight of our shame, we no longer have to exhaust ourselves with endless and futile efforts to make something of ourselves. We now have an inner resource that can liberate us from preoccupation with self. We now have an inner resource that frees us to treat all people as our equals. We now have an inner resource that endearingly and compellingly invites us to join God in His mission to love. – Scott Sauls, Relevant Magazine
If honesty is what we value in others, why do we make exceptions for our own behavior? Why don’t we take the leap and set the standard for those around us by engaging in vulnerability?
Good leaders lead by example. If we open up the door for honesty, we are giving others permission to be real and share their truest selves with us. We then can have the privilege of enjoying deeper friendships and more rewarding relationships as we develop greater trust after having seen one another’s flaws and bearing one another’s burdens. When you share the nitty-gritty details of life with others, you are inextricably linked to them in a way that you never could be when all you allow others to see is the polished veneer of your Instagram account. Let us today endeavor to be real with one another.