In many ways, it’s human nature to want to keep our failures, guilt, shame, insecurities, and struggles away from others. To some extent we do that with every single person in our lives, at least I do. I hide some facet of who I am (or at least I think I hide it), so that someone isn’t as likely to judge or reject me, like I assume they would if only they knew some of my deepest darkest secrets.In a sense there’s truth to the statement that you’re only as sick as your secrets. Those things which we are too ashamed, horrified, embarrassed, humiliated, afraid, or traumatized to talk about with others or even be honest with ourselves about, are most likely the areas in our lives where there are deep-seated lies and a measure of stronghold over us because of the fear of being exposed.
There have certainly been times after I have shared something incredibly personal that I have worried that person betray my trust. Most often I have feared that the more people find out about me and the better they get to know me, the more likely they will be
to reject me.
I know this is a lie for many reasons. One of the huge clues that it’s a lie is that the opposite always happens the better I get to know people, the more time I spend with them; I always end up loving them even more.
Often it is when someone shares their deepest struggles that I am most able to see how precious, fragile, and delicate they are while simultaneously getting a glimpse of how deeply the Lord loves them.
We’re much more likely to open up to someone we can see has faults, flaws, weaknesses, and imperfections, than we are someone who seems to have it all together, everything neat and tidy in their personal and social lives, all things as they should be in their spiritual lives.
Recognizing that feeling of wanting to keep things concealed can help us have greater compassion, empathy, and love for others when they come to us with troubles, questions, conflicts, and crises. It may also help us become someone who so genuinely and obviously cares about others and wants to be there for them in their suffering that people feel safe coming to him or her for conversation, spiritual direction, prayers, questions, basic necessities, and empathy.
Part of what helps people let their guard down is that we’re willing to be really open and honest about our own struggles and failures. We don’t come across as someone who is without problems, temptations, sin, or weakness. When we’re aware of our weaknesses and have accepted them as part of who we are it emphasizes our understanding that we need God’s grace just as desperately as the next person.
Lord, give us the courage to be honest with others, especially when doing so will help them grow closer to You, and experience Your love, peace, compassion, and joy on a deeper level. Amen.