I have always prided myself in being a very transparent and vulnerable person in my life, but I have most recently started to adopt a new perspective. I no longer believe the type of transparency and vulnerability I was taught in church to be correct, but in fact harmful.
I wanted to write a blog today that might help a lot of people out there that feel the need to share their stories with others because this is what you have been taught. But in the process have experienced great pain.
I understand the need to connect with others on a deeper level by being vulnerable, however, those individuals should be few.
I remember in particular a movie a church I attended used to show us about how people wear masks around others and that this was somehow a horrible thing. If you wore a mask you weren’t authentic and if you were not authentic well you might as well kiss being a good person goodbye.
If it wasn’t that movie being shown there was some sort of altar call, which in my opinion now, was inappropriate. Some leader would get up and call out some sort of shameful thing someone could possibly go through and then ask if that fits you to come forward for prayer. The idea was they would go forward for prayer and be healed but rarely did you see someone actually be healed, instead they were looked upon as “someone with that issue” and publicly humiliated having to explain themselves to be ok with those that couldn't handle it.
I have seen countless individuals experience hurt through this process because those that were present were not mature enough to handle their shame. Nor had they earned the right to know of that persons reality and carry their pain.
I no longer believe that calling out the shame people have experienced in a public setting is an effective way to bring them healing or change. I think that sometimes when people do this sort of thing, they are trying to be God. I think in fact, that some things should be worked out with people who have the capacity to help and have earned the right to do so. There are even those considered “leaders” that do not have this capacity and therefore should not take that role upon themselves.
In my own attempt at living vulnerably, time and time again I would find myself slammed and hurt by others who never earned that level of vulnerability in my life and who did not have the maturity in their own life to handle my realities.
I believe now that authenticity without boundaries is not healthy. I believe that when we address others shortcomings out of “love” if it is done without respecting others boundaries, without earning the right first and taking the time to first identify what those boundaries are it is not love. I believe that compassion without boundaries is not compassion.
We can only choose to believe others are doing the best they can in this life and love them with compassion if we first make our standards or boundaries known and protect our own integrity and keep our own self respect in tact. When we have strong boundaries in place in our relationships then we are able to love in a greater capacity.
We are told to tell our stories to connect with others and to share our “testimonies” but I believe now that some of those things we walk through in life should only be shared with those who earn the right to hear them. Not everyone deserves to hear your stories and not everyone deserves to know all of you. Not everyone can benefit from hearing.
At what point do you share your stories for the benefit of others? I believe we should only do this if we believe the receivers can receive them, are ready to hear them and have earned that right. They are those that are on your team and there for you, not against you. I believe now that great discernment and wisdom is important because even if we desire to connect with others, honestly, we aren't supposed to connect with everyone on the same level.
Looking back I have probably shared too many of my own stories. I have probably been too vulnerable with too many people because I believed this was the "right" thing to do. But I believe that it has only been walking through that process to realize that not everyone was meant to hear, not everyone has earned that right and not everyone gets to know me on those deeper levels. But when I have been vulnerable with the right people, those relationships are as rare as they are precious.
So in conclusion, I want to say that you are sacred as an individual and not everyone deserves to know all of you. When something is valuable it is placed in a special place, protected and given limited access. We cherish what is valued and I believe many of us need to value our stories much more than we do.
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