On Grace, Transparency, and the Fear of Keeping it Too Real
For some time now, the Lord has really been convicting me about the need to be more transparent and honest with my story. I've been feeling the tug, and I've been shrugging it off, but one of my first steps to finally responding to God's request was creating this blog. As much as I love to write, and as much as I enjoy "keeping it real", as I've gotten older, I've become a lot more private (those who follow me on Facebook are probably like "girl, bye!" lol) . But in all seriousness, I reveal what I'm comfortable with revealing. My romantic life, and other very personal stuff, you will not find on social media, because......Nah. That's mine. All mine.
When I felt God compelling me to be more open and honest about my Christian walk, I wasn't really feeling it. To be quite frank, I know there are certain people who are itching to find out my business to use it against me, and my patience for the gossip and news carrying is at an all. time. low. I kept telling God, "This transparency stuff sounds good in theory, but chill, you're setting me up for drama, and I just don't have time for it." And you know God gathered me up real good. He made it abundantly clear that He did not give me the ability and passion to write just because He thought it'd be cute. This ability, this gift, if you will, isn't just for my own catharsis; it serves a purpose bigger than me. God basically said, "Ashlee, get over yourself."
Starting this blog revealed to me just how fearful I am of transparency. It's something I'm constantly saying the church needs more of, but here I am, in true hypocrite style, perpetuating the very thing I critique most about the church.
The other day my friend shared this post on Facebook. And it made me question and challenge my fear of transparency.
Questioning and being honest about the root of my fear of transparency has been extremely telling, and has also proven to be the first step to overcoming it. What am I so afraid of? Is it really the judgment of others? Is it really the fear of people gossiping and carrying news about me? Or... am I really just fearful of letting people see and know just how imperfect I am? Am I fearful that once my "stuff" is out there, that will instantly put me in a position to not be in any position to judge? Why do I want to be in the "position" to judge? Am I fearful that once I confirm that yes, I am spiritually fallible, I'll forever be forced to reckon with the real me, in private and in public ? Answering those questions honestly made me realize that I am also part of the problem I so badly want to see resolved in the church.
If I want my brothers and sisters in Christ to be transparent, I need to be transparent myself. And that means I need to work out whatever it is that's not freeing me to be as transparent as I want other Christians to be. God has been humbling me, and showing me that It's easy to offer critique (even when it feels hard because you feel the burden of holding folks accountable)...but it takes courage to be the one to say, "I needed this" or "I am in need of this, what can I do to address this lack?" "This is wrong, what can I do to help resolve this problem?" When I critique the church, when I am attempting to hold it accountable, I cannot forget that I am very much a part of it, so I must challenge, question and critique myself.
I am grateful that God has provided safe spaces for me to be transparent, honest and candid with other young Christians. But it is unfortunate that those spaces are few and far between, and it's even more unfortunate that I'm afraid to share those spaces with other Christians who may benefit from them, out of fear of the space no longer feeling safe with them there.
I am praying for the day when I, and other Christians can stop trying to out-Christian one another, so we can gain strength and grow from one another's experiences, mistakes, and victories. I am praying for the day when we stop criticizing and judging someone's struggle to make ourselves feel less guilty about our own. I am praying for the day that we realize we are not our mistakes, and once God delivers us from something, we don't have to carry the weight of it anymore. We all have struggled. We all have fallen short in some way, and we're all still struggling or working on something. All that really matters is that we are trying to overcome, and the truth is, we'd be more successful trying to overcome together than we'd be trying to overcome "safely". If sharing my story costs me my "good girl" image, but encourages another sister or brother, and helps them realize they're not alone in their struggles, then so be it. I'm not a girl anymore anyways (lol) so who cares about that label? I'm grown. I'm a woman. A grown woman who's still growing in her faith, and who's very imperfect, but loves the Lord with all her heart, with all her soul and with all her mind. I've counted the cost, and souls are much more valuable to me than maintaining an image of a person I already know I'm not.