As another year comes to a content closure, I (Devin) dust off and re-visit an annual tradition of mine. That tradition is pondering all of the wisdom, lessons, and revelations I’ve acquired in the last year and designating one of them the most impactful and superior in application.
This last year has endured much more soul diving than any of my previous years so the selection of one primary nugget of wisdom has been a little more perplexing than normal. Not to mention the countless amount of big life changes that have happened simply with the periphery of a year. However, despite the variety of once unveiled personal and spiritual comprehension, there is a common theme that resonates very loudly amongst them all:
That is the paramount truth that there is no intimacy where there is no honesty.
There is no bona fide connection to another when there is withheld transparency. To attempt to experience an unconcealed interconnection with another person while only revealing half of your true identity would be like looking at one of the world’s most captivating monuments with foggy glasses. You would only ever see but a mere glimpse, at that, of a relational belvedere.
This truth is something I wrestled with for a good portion of the year because despite its alluring result, the risk of being so pellucid amplifies a very daunting reality for many. That reality is that in being vulnerable about one’s self, the recipient on the other end may not like the information received. At worst, they might reject, mock, abandon, or even slander you. For myself, these were more than possible outcomes, they were palpable fears of mine developed over time. So much so that I had become rather proficient at the art of obtaining friendships and relationships while maintaining them with as little vulnerability as possible, in fear of a negative response.
While this seemed to prevent me from an immense amount of heartache at the beginning of its application, I began to see its adverse effect the more time went on. Although another person wasn’t directly hurting me, I was experiencing the benign hurt that came of robbing myself of genuine connection with others. It’s a very lonely place to be when people constantly surround you and you still feel as though none of them truly know who you are.
Months of prayer, counseling, and character shaping later, I can honestly say that putting this discipline into practice in my family, my friendships, my marriage, and my work has brought me to a place of inner health and self-acceptance that I was not once at before. The unhealthy me thought that I could never fully be transparent about my thoughts, feelings, struggles, and temptations because they would not allow me to be loved, accepted, or respected. However, the healthy me knows that I don’t have to be perfect to be validated, nor do I have the ability to control how others perceive me.
Such a freedom that is, to be able to just be you and not bear the burden of someone else’s approval.
Coming to this place of self-acceptance and inner worth is one that requires daily and perpetual polishing.
Even after a year of honing in on this practice of vulnerability with others, I still feel as though I’m merely in the beginning steps of this lengthy journey.
My challenge to you is this: Regardless of who you are, what you’ve done, and/or where you’ve been, allow yourself to see a reflection of worth in the mirror. Examine and forgive any and all personal animosity you have for previously made decisions in life. In doing so, that doesn’t erase the existence of those decisions; it merely brings you to a place of release, self-acceptance, and renewal.
You need to see these choices as roadblocks in the grand spiritual journey of life rather than character defects. Then you are able to share the beautiful gift of who you are, how you feel, what you believe, and what you love with others, which will only allow others like your wife, husband, friends, family, and co-workers to deliver that same transparency into your life.