“Hey, how are you doing?”
“Good, how are you?”
“Good. Busy, but good”
I can’t tell you how many times that conversation and ones similar to it happen daily. It’s a rote response that’s nearly programmed into how we interact with one another in our lives. Because who wants to actually respond with truthful statements?
“I’m not doing well at all, actually.”
“I’m struggling with anxiety.”
“I feel like I could fall apart at any moment.”
And, to be fair… we aren’t even honest in our positive responses, either!
“I’m doing really well, actually!”
“I made healthy choices this week.”
“I feel settled.”
“I’m excited about this new opportunity!”
No, rather we just respond in our robotic ways, and don’t give much thought to being authentic. Now, understand me, here. I’m not saying we all have to walk around all the time vomiting our feelings and declarations all over each other. What I am saying is that maybe it’s time to assess whether we are being transparent in our life… or, to take it a step further… vulnerably transparent.
We are made for relationship. We crave it in the depths of our innermost being. And I’m not just saying that out of my 8w7 heart. Sure, I understand that there are different personality types. Those of us who love people and gain energy from interactions and those who have to give themselves a pep talk before interacting with a cashier at the grocery store. Both equally important and necessary to this thing called life.
Most days, though, we operate in our “social media” style life. Buttoned-up emotions, filtered responses and presentations, and comparison-ridden perceptions ruling our interactions. I don’t want people to know the junk I’m dealing with, so I plaster a smile on my face and tell people I’m “good.” What if we started to break that mold and focus on living in a vulnerable transparency?
In order to do this, we have to define these two words. If you’re like me, maybe you’ve assumed they are synonymous for each other. Rest assured, they are complementary, but not directly interchangeable. I was formulating the idea for this blog last week when I heard one of my pastors share a talk on this very topic. Jeremy defined these two words in one of the best ways I’ve ever heard.
Transparency is living in a room with windows so other people can see in.
Vulnerability is opening the door to that room and inviting people in.-Jeremy Wilkinson
Read that again. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
You see, it’s not enough to merely be transparent in our relationships if we want to build true, healthy depth and healing. We have to be vulnerable in the transparency and let people in. We were made for authentic relationship. Healing happens in relationship and connection. With God, with each other, and within ourselves. Authentic living isn’t presenting the front we want others to believe. It’s inviting people into the room with windows so they can participate in the good and the bad, the exciting and the traumatic, and ultimately — help us heal through the broken moments and press toward the hope of the future.
Who can we invite in to sit in the current mess with us? To examine and confront the past, and wait, expectantly rejoicing, for the future?
Let’s find those people.
Let’s do the hard work of inviting them in.
And let’s settle into the joy that comes from living a vulnerably transparent life.