Dating is an weird concept. You are sharing meals, talking a lot, going to movies and events, and all in the name of getting to know each other. When a relationship gets serious, you begin to share more about yourself, and out comes the baggage. This is usually a good test of a relationship. If it goes well, the relationship can move forward. If not, there may be an issue. For most couples, they have established a solid foundation before this happens, in order to ensure trust and/or to not scare the other person off.
For Carissa and I, this was a little different. We skipped some steps before unloading the baggage. For us, this happened on the first date. We had done some texting and knew each other fairly well, but hadn't spent any time together alone. When the first date came, I was naturally nervous. Do you know what is not good for first date nerves? Unloading your baggage to someone you don't know all that well. Having said that, this was the relationship we wanted; one that was centered around a really scary word: transparency.
Transparency seems like a completely crazy concept for some people. They think of laying everything out there as terrifying. That's because it is. Being transparent and sharing your struggles is a really vulnerable place to be. You're essentially saying, "Here is all my garbage, do you still like me?" I believe that Jesus made us for transparent relationships. I've said before that we were made for Community, and part of that is letting your guard down and being the real you. How do I know? Because life is hard. Life can beat us down and leave us broken, and that's why God did not design us to do life alone. Because its impossible to do life in isolation.
The concept of transparency seems so backwards in our culture. Our goal too often is to get through a day without people finding out what we are dealing with and how we struggle. We want people to say that we have it all together, and we want people to envy the life we have. The problem is that doesn't stop at work or school, but moves right into church and home. We go around telling everyone we are fine and everything is good, all while we refuse to be honest.
Please understand this: I'm not saying you should pour your heart out to everyone that asks, but you and I do need to pour it out to someone. We were not made to do life alone, and keeping everything inside and trying to play the part of perfect is against who we were created to be. Jesus created us for more than a miserable life of faking perfection. Jesus said he came to give us an abundant and full life, but pretending everything is great, and trying to deal with life's struggles alone will leave us empty and miserable.
This is why a passage I love is 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. In this passage, we hear about the struggles of the apostle Paul. Paul is essentially a superhero Christian (if that is a thing). Like, if anyone had it together, it was Paul. He was essentially a terrorist who meets Jesus in a spectacular way, then goes on to be the greatest evangelist and missionary ever. But the guy had some struggles. for example, he had people trying to beat him and kill him constantly (read this passage to check out his struggles). In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, Paul tells us how he approaches his struggles:
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
If we could get this, it would change our thinking about transparency and struggles. When we have brokenness or hurt in our lives, we naturally become ashamed and want to hide it. We want to cover it up, and spend our energy convincing everyone around us that it isn't there. Notice that Paul didn't say he loves that he has weaknesses. He pleaded with God to take them away. He hated these things. However, Paul doesn't try to pretend everything is good. He says that instead of trying to cover it up (culture's solution), he will boast in his weakness, so that people see God through it.
So where does that leave us? This passage tells us that we can stop pretending! What a relief. This life is hard. We all struggle with things. We all have our own weaknesses that we wish were not there. We don't have to pretend to be okay with our weakness, but we need to stop pretending that it isn't there. This week, my challenge to you is simple: open up about these and be honest. Find someone, or a couple of people you can be transparent with. Share your struggles with them, and unload some of the burden you're carrying. You can't do life alone, and the beautiful thing is that you are not alone.God has placed you around people who can support and encourage you.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." There is no rest in pretending life is perfect. That type of acting is exhausting. There is freedom in transparency, and that is freedom from pretending everything is alright. Stop pretending, and start being transparent. It isn't always easy, but it is such a beautiful thing.
Trust the process. Take your next step. Now is your moment.