We spend our whole lives learning, exploring, uncovering, unlearning and tweaking our self image, our identity. We get the chance to represent all of the things we continually discover about ourselves by who we are--the good the bad, and yes, even the ugly. Yet, "so many people live inconsequential lives because of their fear of exposure. Allowing people to get close to you means permitting them to see your faults, your failures and your fears--and that is most people's worst nightmare." (Kay Warren)
Remember the woman who risked exposure and humiliation to anoint the feet of Jesus? (Luke 7:36-50)
She entered a room, took off her mask, and revealed who she really was. A sinner. A woman with failures and faults. And a woman who was humbly transparent.
She took a giant risk.
I had the opportunity to be transparent last week, to open up and to share part of my story and my struggles, but unlike the woman we read about in Luke, I failed miserably to come out from behind the walls of fear, judgment and rejection.
[And in failure . . . there’s always room for self reflection and a blog to help process.]
I firmly believe that we all desire "to know" and "be known." And I love that part, "to know." I enjoy getting to know people, what makes them smile, tick, cry, and laugh. I am enthralled by stories of where people came from and what life events have shaped them into the unique individuals they are. It never gets old hearing how God moves through a person's trials, hopelessness, and strife and creates a renewed being, full of joy and love and grace. It is simply beautiful.
And I too, love the "to be known" part. I love when somebody wants to know my stories, my memories, and my experiences. But the stories and memories I want to tell, that I am willing to share, are the good ones, the ones that make me smile and laugh, the ones that bring to life moments of excitement and joy. But deep down, I want to be known in the dark places too. The places that turn my stomach with nausea, the ones that make me cry or angry or bring forth doubt and questions. But too often I let fear rule my actions when given that chance. In those moments, I want to play safe, and I have taught myself that "safe" means staying being those walls, hiding the parts of me that I am not sure how people will react if they knew them, allowing my questions to be silent for fear of judgment, and keeping certain pains and struggles off of the table.
Jesus knew the woman in Luke, her flaws, her sins, her hurts, it all. And for her to offer such an act of gratitude, devotion and surrender, she knew Jesus too.
And Jesus knows this woman. The parts I share openly, the parts few know about, the parts nobody knows, the parts that make me happy, the parts that break my heart, the parts that make me laugh, the parts that make me cry, the parts that I wish He didn't know, the parts I struggle with, and on and on and on. And I know Him. I know His comfort, His love, His grace, His guidance, His whisper, His nudging, His mercy, His hope, His faithfulness . . . .
And as I explore more into this call to make a difference for His kingdom with my life, I am realizing His nudges aren't always safe. Sometimes He nudges me to scratch off the surface from a podium in a room full of women, sometimes He is poking me to trust Him with the outcome of taking down my mask and sharing my life with a friend, sometimes He encourages me to share my struggles with a prayer partner, and sometimes He encourages me to open the doors to my heart and share deep pains of my life with the ones I dearly love.
To make a difference, you have to give yourself, and in giving yourself, you run the risk of being known and with being known there is always the risk of getting hurt. But I believe it's in the mess of being known and in the grace found in those times of hurt, that we are able to see more clearly the hand of Jesus Christ, offering an unimaginable love and an indescribable hope and an offer like no other to provide healing, restoration and new life.
So, may we all (especially, you Mel) allow people to get close, to let them really know you, permit them to see your flaws and failures, hopes and dreams and trust Jesus with the outcome.