Transparency. That which is open, frank, and candid. I think nowadays it's so easy to see it as a private act. Like something you only bring out when it's time to journal or use in a heart to heart with a good friend. But anywhere else? It's no room. You can't sit it next to our highlight reels on social media or place it by our good reputations. It's no room because the display is in the way. It causes me to think that if we uncover the very things we leave out, how much breakthrough we could see in ourselves and those who relate.
…but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. - 2 Corinthians 12:6
I believe Paul’s letters are great examples of the fullness of what we go through. He shares some of the most honest and relatable depictions, both of the reality of the flesh and overcoming through the blood of Jesus. His candid letters to the Gentiles about his afflictions and the war within him helps me over 2,000 years later. That’s why we need transparency. We need it or the story will be what the testimony was never meant to be, a false image. An image of success without a process and triumphs with no struggle. So where does that leave us? Pursuits of perfection.
Where there’s no culture of transparency, there is, by default, aim for perfection.
What’s the story before we were saved or what does it look like during our setbacks? Or the brim emotions of constantly trying, right before it all works out? That is where transparency lies. And it’s essential. We need it or else we’ll miss the pivotal parts, which is God’s hand in all of it.
…Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ sake, I delight in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:9-10
There is a measure of prudence in sharing things with others. However, if you’re going to testify, teach or disciple, don’t leave out the reality of it. It helps us know that some of what we go through is normal, and that we’re not the only ones dealing with it. There are times I get into conversations with people that have known me in my before and after Christ days. They think I’ve changed for the better, as if I changed on my own. However, the reality is change comes from the Lord and so does sustainment (John 15:4). He does strengthen and enable us to do things we never thought we could do but ultimately, it’s Him at work, for without Him we can do nothing (John 15).
There used to be toxic things and people in my life I couldn’t live without. But God changed my desires, that’s how I know He’s a deliverer. At one point I was so low I thought I would live at rock bottom because I was there so long. But He lifted me with hope so that I could face tomorrow, that’s how I know He restores. He delivered me from myself time and time again, that’s how I know Him to be a keeper. He makes all things new.
That’s why we tell the full story. We tell it because He is its entirety; and His power is found in all parts, not just the ending.