Being real isn’t easy. It isn’t commonly practiced. It isn’t valued.
Make no mistake, there is a battlefield over vulnerability.
“…but once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” – Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
So what are the real folks supposed to do? Hide themselves? Restrict how honest they are for the sake of those who don’t understand?
This is a real question. Especially with the new online frontier where everything seems to be free for all and no one seems to hold back in their critiques. It isn’t safe to be your true self anymore.
Jonathan Merritt at Religion News Source says, “Vulnerability has almost become a Christian virtue, and they often desire to create ‘viral’ content to get noticed and increase their platform.”
Certainly, people do this, even Christians. But is it following Christ? The commission was not, “Come, follow me, and I will get you noticed and make you well-respected.”
Not that that stops many Christians from believing it.
Some will be authentic within reason. They’ll only get personal up to a point, yet talk about Jesus very openly.
Others will set a looser boundary on personal honesty, but never even mention Jesus’ name. They’ll be blasted for not taking a stronger stand for Christ. But others will love them for being “so real.”
There are many points between these 2 extremes, but Christians seem to identify more with one or the other. So who is right? How honest should we be?
Sure some make a platform of their faith. And the Christian market loves it. Yet others merely strive to live by the principles Jesus did—humility, honesty and putting others first. Is one better than the other? Both are callings. Aren’t both equally valid? We all must decide our path and let others decide theirs.
One blogger recently shared about her experience telling a police officer about her grandfather molesting her when she was young. She says, “I called my sister, Aimee, and put her on speakerphone. We were all crying. Aimee, I said, He’s writing it down. He wrote it down. We said, This happened to us, and he listened. He WROTE IT DOWN. I cannot begin to tell you how powerful that was.”
When we express our truth and someone listens to it and affirms it, we are liberated. How honest is too honest? Maybe the question is, How much truth are you willing to live?
Will the haters kill you? Do you fear the scorn of the critics more than God? Sure, there are bad people out there who want to steal and hurt and take the love, joy and peace you’ve found. Will you let them by silencing you?
It’s always easier to walk away. When something’s difficult, it will always be easier to get up and go see what there is to eat in the kitchen. While waiting for inspiration or courage, we need grace for ourselves and our ordinary fears.
But eventually, it’s clear what we have to do, isn’t it? The process of honesty is the most important part. To practice patience and to wait for all that won’t come easily, this is the work. Especially when it causes pain. It will always be easier to bury it. Everyone knows this. It’s easier not to feel it but that’s what the world does. They numb it and stuff it down.
Well, maybe being a Christ-follower means being different. Maybe we had no choice to get wounded, but we have a choice now how to respond. And maybe we have no choice but to live through what he allows, but by his grace we have a choice now and this is it.
And I, for one, will respond.
So what if some people use their stories to try to get famous? Can we do what’s not easy and use our vulnerable truth to help others?
Practicing discernment is critical. But shouldn’t we always aim for complete honesty in what we share? Not that we disregard restraint and decorum. We must wait and take enough time to heal before publishing, or we’ll face more trouble.
Unresolved pain makes us think and do many bad things. Such unexpressed and unhealed pain created this dangerous world we live in. And our pain-shattered world will flame you in their unresolved pain. The words may hurt.
But will it make you live afraid to bare your true, honest soul?
Who will listen before they speak? Who will preserve dignity and yet risk vulnerability to share their intimate selves? Who will work through the initial blindness strong emotion always causes, to get free of the impulse to spew unconsidered exposure? Common emotion, anger and anxiety, leads to oversharing, but when the truth is finally expressed, it will be seen for what it is: immortal, eternal, indestructible.
There are but a handful of critics. But there are entire nations who need your raw, unfiltered honesty.
Why shouldn’t we accept that that naked truth must be fought for to be expressed?
It’s true: the most personal stories are the most universal. As writers we must realize, our silence means someone else may not fully live.
And what if that someone is first yourself?
Here’s the truth: writing for any reason other than to share who you really are is worthless. And who you are is a worthless mess except for love. I’m only able to see because of the love I’ve been shown. Life’s pains have prepared us to bear the burden of sharing our truth.
So share it. None of us is deserving of love, so embrace the rebukes and disrespect with humility. You have everything you need; you are completely provided for. Oh, you’re not deserving. But you’re worthy. Because He has said so.
Believe it. And choose to do the harder thing.
Derision or accolades change nothing. I am who God says I am: loved.
And that’s all the honest truth I need.