When is the last time you really put yourself out there? Completely open and real, vulnerability in its true form? Baring our soul, talent, mistakes, affection, needs,and dreams can be terrifying, but when we bring our true self into the light, we give permission to those watching and listening to then dare to do the same.
My husband tells the story of the first time he told a girl, “I love you.” Even though he had not known her long, he knew. So, he worked up the courage and put his frail, young heart in her hands, and her only response was “Awww.” I was that girl. I broke his heart that day. It happens. (He became more cautious but obviously gave me another chance later.)
Twice in recent months, I have felt like I was on an episode of “Naked and Afraid.” The first was when I spoke to a group of women, sharing my story. I love speaking and teaching, but I was sharing my mess and what God had been teaching me, and I didn’t know how it would be received.
The other time was only last week when I gave some of my writing to a man I respect, both as a believer and a writer, to ask for his feedback. As soon as it was in his hands, panic set in. I began to question myself, my abilities, the message I thought Jesus had given me. I was a wreck.
Allowing someone into the space where your true self lives, bringing all of you into the light, sharing your gift, admitting your mess, asking for help- it’s risky. You know and I know that voice of fear that whispers, “What if…”
- What if they think this idea is stupid?
- What if they realize I don’t have it all together?
- What if they choose to walk away and not forgive me?
- What if I’m laughed at because of this?
- What if they reject my work?
- What if I don’t get the job?
- What if she says “no”?
- What if I really don’t have talent?
- What if he doesn’t feel the same way?
- What if they think I’m a failure?
Let’s talk about the other alternative. Hiding. That’s the only alternative. Either we walk in openness and live freely as we embrace our story, ask for what we need, share our dreams, own our mistakes, express our love, or we hide it all.
If you think back to the Garden of Eden, hiding wasn’t very effective. Will it get you what you really want or desire? We all want to be known, loved, and accepted. Hiding is a defense mechanism handed down to us by the enemy, convincing us that we must protect ourselves. Lie! God is both our creator and defender. I am safe inside his grace and love.
Here’s the thing. If we truly believe that right now in this moment,and in every moment from now through eternity, that God has made us new and declared us to be loved, accepted, worthy, and secure, then we stand firm knowing that whatever we are tempted to hide cannot possibly change the mind of God and who he has declared us to be!
Our status is not determined by anyone’s reaction to our reality. Our joy is not destroyed if someone walks away from us. Our success is not determined by the will of any man. The gift inside us was not put there by man and it cannot be judged by man.
I am a mess. I’m also God’s girl, beautiful and talented, strong and smart. He did that, not me. I will not hide the light of God in me. I won’t try to put his handiwork in the dark, but I will be transparent in hopes that someone sees the reflection of him in me. I might feel naked for a moment, but God will wrap me in his grace. He will do the same for you.
Hiding is a lot of work.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:1-18