At the beach with her family, a friend of mine grew weary of hearing her kids bicker with one another. She’d had quite enough and announced to the family that she was going for a walk on the beach for a mommy “time out” before she lost her cool.
As she walked along the beach she observed other families, happily building castles or splashing in the water, and silently wished her family could do the same. Hello, discontentment. She was particularly drawn to a family playing at the water’s edge. As she got closer, she noted they were having family portraits taken. Everyone was dressed in matching colors and the kids…my, perfect little angels, it seemed. Hello, discouragement.
But as she grew closer still, she overheard the mom say, as she leaned near one of her little boys, “If you don’t smile right now and act happy for this picture, I’m going to…” Hello, reality.
From the outside, it may appear that others have it all together and that only we have the problems. Reality, though, paints a different picture. None of us (even Martha Stewart herself) has it all together and we give others such a gift if we are transparent about it.
What Being Transparent is NOT
Before I get too far, I want to place some boundaries around this idea of transparency. Being transparent does not mean that we tell every stranger that comes along all the nitty-gritty details of our situation. Just a simple acknowledgement that life is not so great right now, but that we know a God who is, will do. I love the simple and “un-nitty-gritty-ness” explanation of a friend’s Christmas card this year…don’t be deceived.
To be honest, details may not be appropriate even with a friend. Why do I say this? When we rehash and focus upon our situation, we tend to give more credit to our feelings of discontentment and discouragement than we should. Only close friends who are ready to listen, discern, pray, and encourage should be privy to this information.
The 3 Gifts of Transparency
Gift #1: The Gift of WEAKNESS
“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
I was approached not too long ago in the grocery store with my four children and called a “supermom” by another mom. She asked me point blank, “How do you do it?” It was the perfect opportunity to let her see my weakness. “I pray…a lot. And I’m not joking. I can’t do it without God’s power within me.” Sometimes, the only reason for a weakness is to help us see our need for a great God, in whom we can always boast. Letting others see that we are weak, yet He is strong, gives Him the glory He so rightly deserves.
Gift #2: The Gift of FREEDOM
When we are transparent with others, allowing them to see our weaknesses, we free others to be themselves. No one has to pretend they are perfect. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very likely to share my weakness with someone who seems to have no faults or weakness.
I share quite frequently the ways that God uses motherhood to grow me…and sometimes the lessons I have to learn aren’t so pretty. One day, in a class at church, I shared that I was in a tough spot with one of my kids because, even though I loved him (would even die for him), I didn’t particularly like him in this stage. I was blown away at the number of moms who came up to me afterwards and said they’ve felt the exact same way. Several moms said, “Thank you for sharing honestly. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who ever felt that way because no one ever talks about that.”
I’m not talking about glorifying sin or self. I’m talking about keeping it real: helping others see that they are not alone and they are not inferior. This leads me to the third gift.
Gift #3: The Gift of CONTENTMENT
If we pretend that we don’t have any weaknesses, not only do we prevent others from living in freedom to share their weaknesses, we can potentially do something even more dangerous. We can unknowingly encourage others to compare themselves to us and become discontent with their present situation.
One morning, while getting ready for church, God brought a Scripture passage to mind:
“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 (NLT)
Granted, this passage refers to causing others to stumble based on food, but God gave me a different take. Thinking about how fake we can all act in the halls at church, He clearly said, “When you act like you have it all together, only letting others see your strengths, you could very well be causing a sister in Christ to stumble.”
How? Because if others only see “supermom” or “Super Christian”, they begin to look at themselves, wondering why they can’t get it together. This is an open invitation for discouragement and discontentment. And we aren’t called to be discouraged or discontent.
My friend’s beach story has served as a reminder that despite the sometimes picture-perfect exterior, everyone is a work in progress. It has also helped me understand that by being transparent, I am allowing others to have weaknesses, experience freedom, and walk in His contentment. Hello, gift. And what a gift it is!
Author Credit: This article is by past contributor Becky @ This Reading Mama