So many people are living with barriers to transparency in their lives because of past pain – and their pain is real. They build walls of protection around themselves. They are not going to let you know their real need. They say things like: “You are not going to get close too close. I am going to keep you at a safe distance, because I don’t feel safe when I am transparent or when I am close to people. I don’t want to get hurt again. I’ll never let anyone abandon me again. I’ll just make it on my own.”
Unfortunately, these barriers can harm us. When God created Adam and He said, “Hey, this is good, but he’s not doing too good on his own. I’ll give him a little help” and He gave him his best friend, woman, and said, “You guys, create and multiply and subdue the earth, and rule over it, and have lots of babies, and have fun. Just don’t eat from this one tree.” The serpent came up and said, “Did God really say, “Don’t eat from this tree?” And Eve sinned. They gave in, and at the point of sin, intimacy with God was broken, and the intimacy between them was destroyed, as well.
The barriers to transparency can do two things to us: First, they can make us distant: “I am going to keep you at arm’s length. I don’t want to get hurt.” Genesis 3:9-10 says: “The Lord God called out to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid. because I was naked.” The barriers to transparency can cause us to keep people at, what we would call, a safe distance away. We don’t want to get hurt again.
Secondly, they can also make us defensive: “I’m not going to take the blame for this. It’s everybody else’s fault.” Watch as the first blame game was played. In Genesis 3:12, Adam says: “Not my fault. It’s the woman’s fault. The woman that YOU put here with me, she gave some of the fruit from the tree and I ate it.” The Lord God said to Eve, “What is this you’ve done?” Eve responds, “Not my fault. The serpent deceived me, and I ate it.” In other words, “The devil made me do it”, right?
What do we see here? The barriers to transparency make us defensive. How often do you hear this: “It’s not my fault. It’s your fault. If you were different. You always do this. You never do that. It’s all your fault.” It all started in the Garden of Eden. Since the garden we have been covering up, lying, pretending and denying ever since! The barriers to transparency can cause us to be distant, or they can make us defensive.
So, how do we overcome the barriers to transparency?
First, we must take a prayerful relational risk ..asking God to help us to be real and open with others ..Yes, it’s risky and not always easy ..but you can make a prayerful risk with some people (not everyone of course), making yourself vulnerable. Yes, you could be hurt, but it is a risk that we cannot afford not to take.
It is scary to risk. It is incredible scary, and it puts us at a vulnerable point, to put our heart on the line so to speak, and to put ourselves in a position where we could get hurt. But I think it’s even scarier not to. It’s even scarier to go through life all alone. What do we have today in so many marriages? We have false transparency. It’s not real. It’s a game. You want to talk about loneliness? There are many people who are not married who say: “Oh, I am just so lonely, I’ve got to be married.” That loneliness is real, but there is an even more intense loneliness. And that is a bad marriage ..the husband doesn’t really share his life or feelings with his partner .. It’s sad but very true that in many marriages today husband and wives are more like roommates than life mates. It’s scary to risk. It’s even scarier not to risk, and that’s where many people live today. There must be a better way.
The amazing thing is this .. When we are transparent and vulnerable – it makes it safe for others to be transparent and vulnerable. Isn’t that what real friendship is all about? Do you have a close friend with whom you can be completely honest ?
Relationally speaking we need to remove the mask and let others see what is going on in our hearts and say: “This is who I am. This is my heart. These are my fears. These are my hesitations, and I trust you to love me as I am.” Without that, we don’t have anything that is real, do we?