It happened twice in one week. Twice I heard the words -- the exact same words both times -- that have left me thinking, wondering, how to best relate to others with transparent love. Both conversations centered on revealing personal shortcomings and frustrations, sharing openly my daily struggles. And in both conversations the dear friends with whom I spoke sighed deeply and with relief said, "I'm so glad to hear you say that . . . ."
For don't we all need to know that we're not the only one? Not the only one who has trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Not the only one who reads books and blogs and feels inadequate? Not the only one who habitually runs late? Not the only one who isn't organic enough? Not the only one who wants to wring necks when kids argue while reciting memory verses about love?
When I know I'm not the only one, I feel a camaraderie that erases guilt and strengthens friendships. When I'm transparent, pretense fades and hearts are opened.
It's easy to slip into the habit of discussing successes. And success stories can definitely be inspiring and helpful. But when it's only the triumphs that are revealed, our friends see only a partial truth. Constant -- and yes, even well-meaning -- success stories can be very discouraging when we come home at the end of the day and find ourselves alone with the kids feeling tired, frustrated, frumpy and anything but successful.
But there's something fascinating about revealing shortcomings. It shouldn't surprise me, because I know that it is in our weaknesses that His power is made perfect (2 Cor. 12:9) -- but when we lay ourselves bare before one another, healing and strength take root, and friendships deepen. We see each other as real human beings who love and hurt and rise and fall, as human beings who desperately need the success of Jesus in order to survive each day.
In so doing, we embrace each other more deeply, because we know that we're journeying together. We learn from each other, and if we listen carefully and speak truthfully, we'll see that real strength comes from exalting the work of the Holy Spirit in our otherwise humanly weak lives. And as that truth is revealed, we can honestly say to one another, "I'm so glad to hear you say that."