The Trouble With Transparency
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you.” ... “Does it hurt?” asked the rabbit. ... “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse... “When you are real you don’t mind being hurt.” ... “Does it happen all at once...or bit by bit?” “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That is why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or have to be carefully kept...Once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to those people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
A number of years ago I was introduced to a guy who I had previously heard described as “transparent.” I really had no idea what people meant when they said that – whether it was a compliment or a word of warning to stay away from him. But it didn’t take me long to realize that the term fit him like a glove.
He wasn’t overly social, but in small gatherings he seemed to really come alive in a way that made many people uncomfortable. His “problem” was that when he discovered a person was a Christian he would immediately begin to describe some area of his life where he was struggling to let God have total control and then ask that person to pray with him about it. And he meant then. Or on other occasions he would describe how God had been dealing with him about a certain situation and would want a prayer of thanks offered – yes, right then. He was the type of person that you could not help liking, no matter how uncomfortable you might feel around him.
Many times I have looked back and wondered why so many of us felt out of place with him. I used to think it was simply because he was “odd.” I have since come to believe that it was not him who was “odd” – but the rest of us.
You see, he took the term Family of God literally. He believed it was his privilege to share every struggle, every need and every victory with his “family” – even if he had just met them. His entire life revolved around his relationship with Christ and Christ’s people. I can’t help wondering what life would be like if we all were as open and transparent as he was. I also can’t help wondering why we aren’t.
While I can’t speak for you, I do know what hinders my life from that kind of open display of transparency.
¨ I am afraid of what people will think.
¨ I am ashamed of the shallowness of my own spiritual life.
¨ I am afraid of what God might want to do to me or through me.
¨ I am afraid to give up total control.
The trouble with transparency is that it requires us to take off our masks and let people see the real person underneath. Many of us are like comic book super-heroes – few people know the real person under the mask. Even more, we have worn them so long we have begun to believe that is who we truly are. To be transparent is to be real. Just ask the Skin Horse.