Made for Transparency

Close your eyes and imagine a world where everyone is always honest, always has good intentions and always looks out for the good of others.  Ok, now open your eyes to the reality that exists in our world.  We live in a world where being sneaky is an art that is awarded, and where transparency is a lost virtue.  I wish we lived in an honest world where honest people said and did honest things.  Don’t you?  

When I fell in love with my, then, future wife and we began to pursue marriage plans, I knew that transparency was essential for our relationship to survive and thrive (I read that somewhere).  That was easier said than done, because before I could be honest with her, I had to be honest with myself and God, which was difficult.  I did it and I found that the real me, the one I had hidden away in fear, was still likable.  When I becamehonest with God, I found that I wasn’t only likable, I was lovable.  I was a son, His son, and He searched for me despite my faults.  

Once I got honest with God, I had to allow someone else into, not only my outward sphere, but also my inner world.  That meant letting “Her,” my future wife into the parts of me no one else could see.  The scariest part was taking a chance that she would not only fall in love with the person she knew, but that she would also fall in love with the person inside, the one she had not yet met.  I needed to become glass.  That’s what I did, and I found that my true self was worthy of being loved and of loving someone else.  More than twenty years later, our marriage continues to mirror transparency in all things; because this is where authentic freedom and love is found.  

I’m tired of trying to sift through people’s rhetoric, trying to pick out what is real and what isn’t, trying to figure out what to believe.  Aren’t you?  

What about me?  I sometimes wonder if my own motives are beyond reproach.  Do I live a transparent life?  Do people know the “real me”?  As quick as I am to judge the world, what does my life look like?  What would Wikileaks say about me?  I believe we are made for transparency.  This might not be a popular trend today, but I’m certain, as certain as the existence of gravity, that transparency is where we find true freedom.   

The word, “transparency,” comes from the Greek word “Hualos,” meaning “glass.”  When something or someone is transparent, we can see through them.  Transparency is the ability to be seen through, whichmeans, nothing is hidden, nothing is left in the dark or compartmentalized.  Herein lies the problem; who wants others to see through us?  

God created us to be transparent, where nothing is hidden from His sight or the sight of others.  The creation story in Genesis, Chapter 1, tells us that Adam and Eve were created in total nakedness; nothing was shameful, hidden, disgraceful, compartmentalized or sneaky. Their union with each other and with God was complete.  Nothing stood in the way of total transparency. Adam and Eve were like glass, God could see through them and they could see through each other.  Life was good.

Yet, in Genesis, Chapter 3, Adam and Eve (mankind) were tempted and hid from God.  They “bit the lure” and got hooked by lies and deception that separated them from God.  Their transparency was immediately gone.  Man and woman became hidden in the garden and were clothed in shame.  Transparency, that is, being known, became shameful.  Being in darkness seemed safe to them but it was all a lie to keep man from it’s original place of freedom; in relationship with God. 

Today this lie and deception still lingers in our world.  It is untrue that we are safer in the shadows, that we are better off when we are not fully known, that we are better off alone.  The belief that we can’t live transparent lives is false.  The compartmentalized approach to life is not what we are meant for, nor is living sneaky the place where we find freedom.  Most of us avoid transparency for many reasons, but the most crippling one is fear.  We are afraid to be seen and known for who we really are. We are all imperfect, but our imperfections make us hide from others, and, in turn, they hide their imperfections from us. Our past, our sins, our regrets, our shame, keep us closed and disengaged.  These things can also keep us in a posture of constantly pointing the finger of blame and shame at others.

I think if we were honest with ourselves, we’d all say we want to live authentic, real, honest, upfront, examined, and transparent lives.  None of us, at least deep down, really desires to live hidden away, fearful and in darkness.  We all desire true freedom; we long for authentic relationships and we crave transparency.  This is why we are turned off when we encounter someone who is not transparent.  We don’t like it because we know there’s more for them, and for us.  In a recent meeting someone asked, “If transparency is what we are made for, why does it seem so difficult?”  Living a transparent life is difficult because we’re often afraid that if we’re fully known, we won’t be fully loved.  As humans, we aren’t always where we need to be, but we are headed in the right direction if we are moving towards becoming more transparent.  So, let’s head that way.

Honesty is not the best policy…it’s the only one:

Honesty is the most crucial aspect of living transparent lives.  We must first be honest with ourselves.  I remember when I finally realized I needed to become transparent.  I had to look in the mirror and be brutally honest with myself, admit that I had flaws and decide to make some serious changes.   This type of self-honesty is not one of self-condemnation but one of self-examination.  It’s a willingness to acknowledge our faultswith the hope of moving forward.  

The second step is to be honest with God.  If Jesus can handle the weight of the sin of the world, he can certainly handle whatever you and I have to say to him.  Are you hurt, angry, fearful?  Speak it!  Tell God about it!  His mercy, forgiveness and love is there for us.  I’m constantly surprised at how many people hold back their feelings with God; like He doesn’t know what’s going on inside us.  God doesn’t love us any less when we are honest.  In fact, when we are honest with God, we open our hearts for him to enter into our inner world.  When we acknowledge our true heart before Him, we allow His Grace to move and His Spirit to release us from the shackles that bind us.  in ways we cannot generate on our own.  

The third and final step is to become honest with those who are closest to us; those that we trust with our hearts.  Without total transparency, their are no authentic relationships.  This was transformative for me with my spouse and with my friends.  I’ve seen first hand how marriages take a turn for the better when spouses become totally transparent with each other.  I’ve also seen marriages struggle because one or both people are not honest and transparent.  Transparency with others is essential to our freedom.  I’m not saying that we have to share everything with the people in the cubical next to us; we must use prudence when we allow people into our lives. God asks nothing of us but that we be who we are and live as His sons and daughters, unafraid to step out of the shadows and onto the path that leads to freedom.

Access is a gain:

Have you ever been afraid to be caught doing something you knew was wrong?  Maybe a lie kept you going on and on.  When I was a teenager I was part of a ring of kids who egged houses in our neighborhood.  This went on for months.  Eventually my conscience bothered me so much I couldn’t sleep at night.  I was constantly worried about being caught.  When my mom finally caught me, I was relieved.  Once my fault was revealed I had a way out.  Don’’t get me wrong, getting caught was hard.  I had to apologize to the people whose paint peeled and whose houses smelled rotten.  I spent my Saturdays cleaning dried, baked-on eggs off houses, and I wasgrounded, which stunk.  Yet, I was relieved.  I was no longer hiding, in darkness, alone.

Jesus is clear that transparency will eventually come to the forefront in our lives.  He said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops (LK 12:2-3).”  Since you know that, eventually, you will have to becometransparent, why not start now?  Why not head to the place where you will find authentic freedom?  Many people operate under the notion that hiding from the truth is the best way to live; however, I’ve yet to meet a person who lives in that kind of fear and darkness who is happy.  The adverse is true.  When we live with nothing to hide, we live in freedom.  

When a guy I knew finally confessed to his wife about his struggle with pornography, he was relieved.  The aftermath was hard.  She was heartbroken and healing took time; but he finally stepped out of the darkness and began to walk in freedom. 

Giving others, especially God, access into our lives is not bondage; it’s freedom.  We gain freedom when we allow ourselves to be like glass, “Hualos.”  Do people you trust have total access to the real you?  Do they have access to your calendar, bank statements, computer, emails, phone, texts, social media and vehicle?  I once struggled with keeping all things private, but this only gave me permission to hide things…even if it was little things.  However, once I allowed my life to be an open book, I stopped worrying.  My wife, kids and friends can read my phone, texts, emails, bank statements, calendar entries anytime they want.  I’m relieved about this.  When there’s nothing to hide, there’s total freedom.

It is encouraging and refreshing to meet honest, authentic and transparent people.  It’s life-giving to have a transparent spouse and transparent friends.  Most important is my own transparency, the freedom I have in my everyday life; because transparency begins and ends with me.  You and I are made to be glass and to live in freedom.  

Be who God created you to be!

-Paul