Lessons Learned in Music City: Part Three

Transparency.

“Say something…who me? Yes, you. Ha…no way.”  

We’ve all had this exchange between our minds and our hearts…sitting in a small group Bible study, or casually hanging out with friends. All of a sudden, the conversation hits a little too close to home. Vulnerability…I cringe even just thinking about it. How about you?

We all admire transparency. When someone allows us to see the deepest, most vulnerable parts of his or her life, we are moved and inspired. Yet, we are so hesitant to let our own walls down and give others the opportunity to see our struggles and victories. If we gain so much from a person’s honesty and truth about Christ’s redemption, why are we not willing to allow others to benefit from what Christ has done in our lives?

I wish I had the answer….

Maybe, it stems from a level of trust. We don’t just bare our deepest, darkest secrets to anyone. If we are going to lay everything on the table, we need to know how the people across from us will receive it. We won’t risk rejection, because that will cause more pain than the current struggles we are already experiencing. If we even sense judgment or condemnation, we will wrap up the conversation faster than it started.

Typically, when we are struggling, we want to talk to people who understand, who have been through what we are currently experiencing. We need them to identify with us. That provides the opportunity for vulnerability. If we are wise, we choose people who are on the other side of our battles, who have been victorious because of Christ. We need to see that redemption is possible.

Furthermore, our unwillingness to be transparent might stem from the root of our identity. Where do we find our approval and worth? If it is not found in Christ, then we will have a very hard time sharing about our struggles because that will jeopardize our affirmation from humans and relationships. When we know who we are in Christ, that we are beloved children of God, His inheritance, we do not fear the rejection of man. We know that our Heavenly Father adores us and that is more than enough affirmation and acceptance.

It is easy to know this information in our heads, but so difficult to believe it in our hearts and live it out everyday. We long to be transparent and allow God’s redemptive story in our lives to speak to the lost and dying world. However, there is a level of fear in this kind of vulnerability. We don’t want to expose our struggles until we have defeated them. We admire transparency in others, but not in ourselves.

Wise teachers always say, “Don’t be afraid to ask a question because someone else in the room probably has that same question.”  Doesn’t this same concept apply to the church body? If we find ourselves in the middle of a war, chances are that many others are trying to fight the same battles.

How much healing, reconciliation, and victory could take place if we let down our walls?  Now, I’m not saying that we spill the beans to everyone we meet, but there is purpose and healing in revealing our struggles and allowing others to walk alongside us through the process. They can pray for us, be there for us, cry with us, and pick us up when we fall.

If the body of Christ truly looked like this, how many more lost and hurting people would darken the doors of the church? We would not be able to keep them away! We need the world to know that the church is a place of restoration, not of condemnation, a place of new life and acceptance in Jesus Christ, not a place of shame. 

This kind of transformation will not happen overnight. It only comes through prayer and baby steps of faith toward the goal of being a vessel in God’s hands. None of this will be easy, but like so many things in this life, the difficult things reward us with the most hope, joy, and strength.

Let’s take a step towards transparency. The first move is not telling our story to everyone, but to someone. And that someone is God. 

Open a journal, take a walk, or sit in silence and tell Him about everything happening in your current season of life. He is close, He is listening, and He can’t wait to walk with you through this journey. Because of His son Jesus, He will never reject you. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  Let the love of Christ flow through your life and influence the world around you.

Take a look at how the Lord handles our vulnerability if we take it directly to Him.

Psalm 34:4-19: 

 I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to Him are radiant with joy;
their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him from all his troubles.
The Angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear Him, and rescues them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!
You who are His holy ones, fear Yahweh,
for those who fear Him lack nothing.
10 Young lions lack food and go hungry,
but those who seek the Lord
will not lack any good thing.

11 Come, children, listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is the man who delights in life,
loving a long life to enjoy what is good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from deceitful speech.
14 Turn away from evil and do what is good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

and His ears are open to their cry for help.
16 The face of the Lord is set
against those who do what is evil,
to erase all memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
and delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
He saves those crushed in spirit.

19 Many adversities come to the one who is righteous,
but the Lord delivers him from them all.

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