A young mom I’d mentored a few years ago was back in town for a visit after moving away. Near the end of our time together, as she was gathering her three young kids to leave, she said in a hushed tone to me, “I remember one time you told me about a horrible year with your oldest daughter, back when she was 2. Didn’t you say you had to call your husband home from work to discipline her once because of a mega-tantrum? It’s been that kind of year for us.” I heard the need for hope in her voice as she surprised me by remembering something I’d shared years ago with her.
Yes, that was the year my husband had to chase my daughter around the church basement for her to receive her spanking after getting in trouble in Sunday school. And it was an example I’ve shared with many young moms. Why? Because that once rebellious 2-year old is now the most sweet-spirited, gentle, submissive 12-year old you can imagine. Most people who know her now wouldn’t believe me if I told them that story. But as I’ve talked with other young moms battling the years of “NO!” I’ve realized how sharing my own struggles gives hope.
There’s a temptation in our Facebook world to make our lives appear like the picture of perfection. We’re always smiling, our kids are wearing matching outfits, our amazing vacations with no hassles are posted for everyone to see, and the homemade bread we baked with wheat grown in our organic garden makes everyone with a bag of chips open feel like a loser. But does this portrayal communicate grace to those around us? Do others look at our lives and feel jealous of how they don’t measure up, or do they know our struggles and imperfections in life? The temptation to want to appear perfect before others is an example of pride on display. It feeds our ego as we subtly tear down others who seemingly have so many problems we never had. But Paul reminds us of a better way:
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Phil. 2:3–7)
The only example of picture-perfection is found in Jesus Christ. We should be emulating his example of death-embracing humility, not trying to prove ourselves better than others.
Here are a four brief reasons to be transparent with one another rather than hiding behind our shiny veneers of “perfection.”
1. Transparency demonstrates humility.
When I’m willing to share about the rebellion of my child, or that I’m struggling with self-control regarding food, I’m allowing others to see my imperfection. I’m opening the window of my heart for others to see sin and speak into my life. The perfect picture is erased, yes, but people can finally see and know us for who we really are.
2. Transparency serves others.
Just as the young mom wanted to be reminded of my discipline issues with my daughter, sharing our struggles can be a means of grace in another’s life. Someone suddenly identifies with us. And God might use such a moment to allow us to speak truth into a friend’s life. We’re given a platform to speak because we’ve struggled in a similar way.
3. Transparency reveals our need for others.
Letting down our guard and not pretending our lives are perfect demonstrates our need for the local church. We need our sisters and brothers to comfort us when we’re sad, encourage us to endure when we’re ready to quit, and point us to Jesus when we’re tempted to despair. We were never meant to be lone-ranger Christians.
4. Transparency reveals our need for the gospel.
There’s nothing like admitting I flipped out again at my son for hitting the wrong piano notes to show me I’m in desperate need of a Savior. Confessing our sin to others reminds us why the gospel is so precious. A picture-perfect Facebook life will send no one to heaven. Only being washed by Christ’s blood will provide the perfection necessary to enter God’s kingdom.
Take a moment to evaluate your life. What do your words, your actions, your status updates demonstrate? Are you still asking for prayer at small group for your uncle’s big toe, or are you confessing your own struggle with anger and resentment?
Friends, our own vulnerability allows us to be a means of grace to others—and to point to the only perfect one who can heal our wounded souls.