I went to my first "Soul Sisters" event for the church we are attending on Friday night. I had a great time, made a couple of new friends, and felt truly blessed to be a part of not only the fellowship that was going on, but the growth as well. Something that was briefly discussed near the end of the meeting was transparency. There's that word again. If you've known me for any length of time, you've heard it in abundance! But, I haven't really touched on it here. So, guess what today's post is about? Yep. Listen up, ladies ;)
Transparency. What is it? Merriam-Webster defines the adjective form, transparent, as "free from pretense or deceit", "easily detected or seen through", "readily understood", and "characterized by visibility or accessibility of information".
So, how does that apply to us, as Christians? Should we be transparent? Should we allow the world access to US? We should certainly be free from pretense or deceit, no? Should we be readily understood?
I live by the motto that we should ALWAYS be transparent. No matter who we are, what walk of life we are in, or where we are in our walk with Christ. In real life, on Facebook/Twitter, in our blogs, face to face, in our homes in view of our children, EVERYWHERE. Why do I believe this? Let me paint you a picture.
A year ago, I was not a very compliant person. I certainly didn't keep my thoughts to myself. In the past year, my family has undergone serious trauma in one of my siblings walking away from God after having a very real and personal relationship with his Savior. Somehow, he came to believe the lies of the enemy and has done things that hurt not only those around him, but himself as well. I never stopped loving him through all of this (we're still somewhat estranged-but God's working on my heart in reaching out to him even now as I type this out), but he chose to withdraw from communications with me because I refused to "accept" his actions. Was I Christian in my attitude towards him? Not all the time. I even made some posts on Facebook that hurt him. Am I proud of that? Of course not. Did I delete them? Not right away. Why? Because the same people who saw the old Brooke, the one who was critical and condemning and judgmental, has also come to see that through God's chiseling, has seen the changes that have come over me since. All along the way, they've seen God at work in my life. They've seen how God has taken the anger resentment, hurt, and condemnation away and replaced it with love and compassion and forgiveness. Are you following along? Through my weaknesses (anger, resentment, condemnation), both those who know God and those who do not have seem God replace those qualities with more Christlike qualities. They have seen the power of God at work in my life. Had I chosen to keep my angry thoughts and pain to myself, then they would have never known what was really going on in my heart, and would have never noticed the difference that fully seeking God makes. Am I perfect? Of course not! None of us are, but I am a whole lot closer to that goal than I was a year ago. And, with God's grace, I hope to be even closer in another year.
Another example of where transparency is important. Both my husband and myself are divorcees. I have been married twice and I am my husband's 3rd marriage. None of this we are proud of, but we also don't hide it. There are other things in our lives we don't hide. Because God has changed them. But for now, we'll concentrate on marital issues. My husband began seeing a counselor last year in an attempt to regain a relationship with his daughter (another post for another day). Through this series of counseling sessions, he came to realize that while his parents have a strong marriage, 40 years and growing, he never saw them fight. Ever. He cannot remember a single time in his life that he saw his parents disagree. Does that mean that they NEVER disagreed? I highly doubt it. They simply chose not to do it in front of their children. I know that's a popular philosophy among child-rearing "experts", but one I completely disagree with. What did my husband learn from it? That healthy couples don't fight. Ever. That if you're arguing or disagreeing, your marriage is doomed. It's a failure. He never learned how to RESOLVE issues with his spouse. Am I calling my in-loves bad parents? NO! They just didn't recognize what their decision to not allow the children to witness their arguments cost their eldest son. Like us, they're not perfect. They've done well in life. They still love each other very much, and it's very evident in the way they treat one another. But in the process, my husband got the impression that if his relationship didn't look like what his parents allowed him to see, he was a failure. He gave up on his first marriage, and then dove straight into a marriage of lust on the 2nd one. I saw my parents fight plenty. Was my childhood riddled with pain and sorrow because my parents hated one another? Nope. At the time of my mother's death, they were about to celebrate their 37th anniversary, and this past July would have celebrated their 40th. The early years of their marriage was rough. Neither of them really knew God then, and my father was rebellious and selfish. But, through years of working at it, they had a happy and healthy marriage. The difference between my parents' marriage and my husband's parents' marriage is that my parents taught us, by example, how to resolve conflict. All of me and my siblings are divorcees now, but it wasn't through any fault of my parents as examples. It was simply poor, selfish choices on ours and our spouses' parts. And I'm not saying that my hubby's divorces are my in-loves fault. I'm just saying that if my husband had been able to learn from the first and most important married couple in his life how to handle and resolve conflict effectively, his first marriage might have ended very differently, or not at all.
So you see? What I'm trying to say is that when we, as Christians, are transparent, we allow others to see what God is capable of. When they see just how sorry, selfish, and ignorant we really are, they see how compassionate, loyal, and AMAZING He really is! Don't hide what God is doing in your life. Don't be ashamed of your weaknesses, rather celebrate His strengths!