In true late-bloomer fashion, I successfully avoided being honest and vulnerable until my junior year of college. Then, after reading Frederick Buechner’s Telling Secrets, it hit me: how can I expect my friends and family to love me if they don’t even know who I am? I had created a version of myself that I deemed to be acceptable of love: a girl who rarely had bad days, never got angry, and had only once snuck into a rated-R movie (Sweeney Todd, age 16).
Getting older, I grew frustrated with people around me for failing to understanding who I was. But how could they know if I didn’t tell them, right? I set them up for failure, but grew angry with them for failing. It’s twisted, but a lot of us do it. Much of my anti-vulnerability stemmed from believing that if people really knew who I was and what I had done, they wouldn’t love me any more. Or, even if they continued to love me, they would certainly look at me in a different way.
Last year, I got honest and vulnerable
and super emotional about my life. At first, I told my two best friends a bunch of stuff I kept inside for years and years. And guess what? They didn’t throw me onto Nolensville Pike to stone me. We ate the rest of our burritos, laughed, cried, and moved along. Then, this year, I told my family a bunch of stuff I kept inside for years and years. And guess what? They didn’t excommunicate me. We laughed, cried, and moved along.
Being vulnerable is being free. It’s to open up your life to others and say, ‘Here I am at my best and worst and everything between.’ There’s no better feeling I’ve experienced than to know my friends & family* know the absolute worst about me. It’s strange to think there’s so much freedom in recognizing and confessing your own sinfulness. In fact, we think the key to freedom is hiding our sin from everyone else (except God, maybe) and to act like everything’s okay all the time. But when you’re fully exposed, you’re fully at the mercy of Jesus Christ… you’re fully dependent on the saving power of the cross rather than your own goodness.
And listen.. I’m not sure who I’m writing this for. Your closet might be skeleton-free because sneaking into Sweeney Todd is actually the worst thing you’ve ever done. But I have a strange feeling that someone needs to hear this: everyone has a track record, and yours isn’t beyond forgiveness.
It’s like we’ve limited God’s grace to lying and cheating and occasional idolatry. Or even worse, we’ve limited his grace to past sins, not things we’re struggling with today. But the truth is, Jesus’ death and resurrection paid for it all: past, present, and future sins. It’s all covered by the blood of Christ.
It’s time to take off the mask and and turn on the lights.
Bank on the mercies of Jesus, not on your your ability to successfully hide sin.
*and a number of other people I’ve felt compelled to share my story with, ranging from teenagers in England to strangers in Starbucks.