It’s true, we can’t nor should we tell others they need to be transparent…but that doesn’t mean we can’t hope they will be when it’s appropriate and they are ready. There’s a reason why transparency can lead to greater healing…to be known and loved is the love story of the ages, ultimately understanding God knows every detail of our lives past, present and future and He says, “I want to be with you forever.”
When others are invited in to a deeper degree of seeing us, knowing us and loving us, we start to possibly believe…
I AM LOVED.
We often grow up hearing, “God loves you” and by faith we believe it, but then someone steps into our personal space and puts skin on that reality. It’s the heart of the 1st and 2nd commandment.
God chooses us, demonstrates His love for us, convinces us it’s all true and then tells us to love Him and others. In that order. I tried to do the reserve and it doesn’t work for long. Think trying to start a car with no gas…won’t happen.
Transparency is risky…not everyone can see us, know us and love us…many will run the other way. Our transparency is provoking…which is why we need discretion in who and when…and most importantly, why. (Hang on and I will share my why of living an uncomfortably transparent life.)
Not everyone’s story is filled with the same degree of pain, trauma or dysfunction, but even those who grew up in healthy homes, have stories to tell. It may not have been abuse, neglect, or painful memories but often times it’s subtle lies that crept in over an incident where assumptions were made and never challenged.
I hate it actually. Not only do we have to sort through the garbage of overt woundings but the jabs of unseen but very real assaults to our souls. A lady recently shared with me an incident where her mother showed perceived favoritism towards her sister and because she started to believe that lie, she looked for it. In this case, it was a lie. If the enemy can’t use real and overt traumas, he sneaks in with lies that until truth comes in, can mess us up.
I was recently asked, “How do you meet with people that don’t even know you and expect them to be transparent?”
The first assumption would be about our expectations. Though we hope those we meet with will be honest and transparent, Nathan and I have already spent time in prayer placing all of our expectations in God. It takes the pressure off of us and them.
Before Nathan and I ask others to share their stories, we have already shared ours. More often than not, we can visibly see defenses drop and minds come to rest. Not always, but most of the time…there are no guarantees. It’s in this place we’ve invited God’s spirit to come and do what Nathan and I would never be able to do just by sharing our story and throwing in some wit and wisdom.
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what the is immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of His great might…” Ephesians 1:17-19
This verse beautifully conveys who opens eyes, who imparts hope, who provides all we need, and who contains power for those who believe…
Not everyone believes…and when we share our story, our desire goes way beyond wanting a marriage to stay together but to boast in the God who is no less interested in them than He has been us…and to pray for His spirit to awaken hearts to believe…by grace, through faith…an absolute gift.
God uses stories but our stories are not the main point, Jesus is. If our transparency is for the sake of transparency, it will bore us. Apart from God renewing our hearts and minds on why we share our stories, we would weary ourselves. As cool as our stories can be, nothing compares to the story of God...who invites us in as stage hands but never taking center stage.
More than what I share about my story and with who is my why.
Initially when my story was being told by everyone but me, I went into hiding. This was a good thing. The vulnerability I was thrust into with my sin being announced from the platform of a large church was too much. I could not process what was really happening. It was messy and I knew too much, which was both good and bad. I had enough faith to believe God would never leave me but the thought of always feeling naked and ashamed as I walked back into church Sunday after Sunday was a war zone mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
I had a few close friends who could see what was going on and their words often came when I was on my face before the Lord, many times kicking and screaming. The times Nathan literally picked me up from the floor and made me look him in the eyes while he said, “Kandace, I forgive you and I delight to offer you mercy…” were the words of Jesus in him and were used to replace years and years of lies about God and myself.
As I walked back into counseling week after week, it was becoming worse than walking into church. I should have never gone to counseling in the church where my sin was exposed. It was an oversight but one that delayed my healing process. God is always at work and He has redeemed even this but there are things we learn though messes that can be used to help others in similar situations. God’s grace and mercy is for all and I have found that those words are quite easy to say and much harder to flesh out when the situation requires it in mass doses.
Truth be known, Nathan and I are at a time in our lives where we could make life more about us. We could never tell our story again but instead plan vacations, buy new toys and drink more wine. (Not saying those things are wrong in and of themselves…well, the wine would be a problem!) I would be lying if I said I don’t feel the pull at times to live a “normal,” private life. There are days it feels too much, too draining and too transparent. But then, we get a call, an email, a text…we feel irresistibly drawn into the story of another….we feel real emotions rise up as we remember what it was like to have your world crash in around you…we remember our why…
And then we hear God whisper,
“Will you go with Me into this story?”
Before we know it, our why explodes, our hearts expand and the joy of saying yes to God causes the world, the worries and sometimes the criticisms to fade away. Nathan and I lock shields, grab hands, walk over to the retreat and say, “Do it again, God.”
Telling our story publicly has invited others who never will, find a safe place to share theirs. God doesn’t ask everyone to share their story publicly in the same way…but if He does ask, the reason isn’t to hear the sound of our own voice but to see His glory and power swallow up shame, pride and whatever else has to go so His goodness shines through. This is our why.