I have been called out to be more transparent, more real, more true. It’s not only my own eyes that ache with the hunger for true interaction, I can see it in the eyes around me. I know how badly I want to be known, how fascinated I am with others… and yet.
And yet the real has costs. To be real, one must allow transparency. One must allow oneself to be known in truth. Not to simply tell out the things that we like best about ourselves, not to simply write our own narrative and be done, but to allow others to know the good days and the bad. To see us not as the stars of our own show, but as the fools and failures. To see where we are not only weak, but where we are in dire need of improvement. To be real, to be transparent, is to invite questioning. Questions not just about one’s past, but about one’s present. About motivations, about goals and abilities. To be real, to be transparent – it is to invite correction. If I am transparent, does that not allow you to see the blot in my life and call me out? To poke your fingers where it hurts most?
It is obvious that we cannot be without defense to everyone we come across. The man I encounter while I buy my eggs and milk – he does not need to know how well I slept the night before. We keep our eyes and our hearts separate, with the “How do you do?” “Fine, and yourself?” interactions. These are the lubricants of society. I do not live in a small town. I’m unlikely to interact with people twice in a month – there are limits.
But those limits, if I allow myself to become used to them, wander over into my other interactions. The “I’m fine” wall comes between me and those who do have a call on my transparency. It is all too easy to make oneself into someone who only offers solace, never needs it. The woman I see at church who has known me – if only somewhat – for years… when she asks after my well being in the hallway… what answer shall I give *her*? On the one hand, we are both on our way to somewhere else, it’s not tea and tears we’re sitting down for. On the other, she deserves better than “just fine, thank you for asking”. I deserve better.
Transparency has a cost. Not only must one allow oneself to be known, and thus lower a substantial portion of one’s defenses, one must also invest time. You *cannot* get to know every person on the planet, certainly not in passing. And so, you must make time to be with people for extended periods of time. Not fluttering by in the hallways, not dropping messages on social media, not exchanging social hugs when you meet at church. You must spend hours. It’s not like you can have interactive counseling appointments in order to get to know one another – oh sure, a life review will save you a good bit of time, but to get to *know* one another, you have to cry and laugh and work shoulder to shoulder. You must invest a part of your life in that other person.
There is no better investment than other people – people are forever, stuff is transitory. But let us not forget, an investment is exactly what being real is! The word “investment” implies that it has a cost, and not all investments repay themselves, at least not to our eyes. If I’m real with someone who chooses to stab me in the back, use what I’ve revealed to harm me – what then?
We must have discernment. There are people in my life who I know perfectly well are not trustworthy with the precious jewels of my heart. There are a multitude of others who most certainly are worthy, and I only wish we all had time enough to share everything. (I look forward to many a long conversation in Heaven – and dear blogging friends, you have no idea how much I’d like to get to know you better. C’est la vie…. we are blessed to have eternity ahead of us).
But for the rest, for those I’m not warned off of by common sense? What then? Shall I wall up my heart lest the time I take with them be too costly, lest I risk pain or conflict?
That may be the Worldly thing to do – to constantly, constantly test those around us before revealing the least truths of our hearts, but I do not believe that it is the Christian thing to do. We are commanded to love our neighbors. If I don’t know my neighbor, how am I supposed to love them? If they don’t know *me*, how are they supposed to love me back? If I don’t open myself up – at least a little bit – to those around me, how can I glorify God in my life and in my actions? If you don’t have any interest or insight in my life, how can you see God in it?
This is terrifying – and convicting. I am called out of the land of plastic people… called to start being real.