Three years ago I was caught in the complexity of my own web of lies. For years I had sported the “perfect Christian” image for the viewing of the world while failing miserably beneath the cover. I thought I was expected to be perfect. So, I hid every mistake and buried every sin until I couldn’t remember where I had put them all.
The fallout from the discovery scarred my heart permanently; I can still feel the ghostly pain from that period of my life. It was because of the unauthentic lifestyle that I venomously lived in for so long that I vowed to live transparently inside-out. My deepest secrets, my former irreligious habits, my every shortcoming as a man was to be put into conversations with everyday people, weaved into my writing, and unraveled on stage in my speaking.
It’s been a scary journey.
The first handful of times I shared my dark truths I splattered words in a thick mess and my heart raced violently. I feared what others would think of me. I wailed into my father’s shoulder after I told my parents, I hung my head in shame when I explained it to friends, and I shuddered with guilt among ministry peers. As time went on, I improved how I unrolled my messiness, the anxiousness subsided, even beauty started to fall on the ugliness of the past.
I thought life was about looking good to the public eye and finding value in accomplishments, but the more I acknowledged and told my flawed-story, I found deep heartstrings that promoted a better way to live. It was there, among the mess of life, that people connected best—because we’re all broken and worn, and in those moments we have been battle-tested and emotions depressed. It’s there, our common landing spot at the bottom of some pit, that we are the realest, we are stripped to the core truths of our being, and we find hope in others who have been there, too.
Transparency is scary for others who hear it and attempt it. I can now tell my flaws to anyone and have peace reside in my depths. But some who hear my openness stare in dazed confusion. They don’t know why I would be willing to tell them my “secrets”–all they can return is a baffled thank you.
It’s interesting as well to ask others for their story and observe how unready they are to open the depths of their soul. Vulnerability is a craft, it takes time and tenderness to even muster and takes peace with the past to master.
Being real with the secrets of our life is scary because we don’t want to be judged or ruin someone’s expectations of us or we haven’t taken the time to process what we’ve been through. It’s scary because the world places value in cover-ups and facades and worthlessness in the dirty, messy edges of our heart. It’s scary because we can’t fathom the bad possessing any hint of good.
There’s more value in living if you are who you are and not who you think the world wants you to be. There’s more life in being vulnerable than living a made-up story void of conflict.
What would it look like if we all lived with transparency, if people weren’t a riddle to figure out but an enlightening book to read? What if we offered the messy origins of ourselves rather than the pristine version? I think we’d find more life and more peace—more ability to work through the ugly, more strength to press on, more understanding of the people that surround us. I think we’d find life is better because our journey would be messy together.