I like to say I'm an open book. What you see is what you get, and all that jazz. But . . .
The truth is, I have a wall - I know I do. My husband has told me I'm the queen of walls, surrounded by many shallow friendships and very few deep, meaningful ones. Walls are meant to protect us, right? Keep our hearts and feelings safe from anyone who could do us harm, not allowing us to care what others think because we've build a fortress around ourselves. It's just us against the world, baby!
But. There's always a but.
For two years, I taught high school at a private Christian school in my city. There's something about high school students - they don't hold back, and they call everything as they see it. So it's no surprise that recurring topic of discussion was the idea of authenticity and how Christians portray a life of utmost Christian perfection on the outside, and to my students (and many others) it comes across as condescending, hypocritical, and utterly fake.
In that moment it hit me - I have to be okay with my wall coming down, to share the truth that God loves us in our brokenness, and to show that I am so broken but so loved. That Jesus, the Perfect One, our Messiah, covers all our sin and all our shame. That when we build walls, we do nothing for the cause of Christ. In fact, we turn people away from faith because they are so afraid of falling short of perfection they simply cannot get on board if they know they're going to fall off. Grace isn't about perfection.
The Japanese art of Kintsugi is the practice of repairing broken pieces of pottery with lacquer mixed with some type of precious metal, like silver, gold, or platinum. What a perfect metaphor; God accepts our brokenness and fills in our cracks with something way more beautiful and strong. You can see where the brokenness has been repaired, much like our own body carries scars after healing. Sometimes our scars are all we have left.
But. Again with that but.
It's not enough to let God in to heal us. In fact, it's not about us at all - it's about God. When put up walls, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to share God's goodness with others. We miss the chance to meet someone in their dark space and whisper, "me too - I've been there, and here's my scar. I've found healing, and you can too." We should hold our scars up to the light and proudly say, "This happened - or this is where I was broken - or this is where I fell - BUT GOD. But God came in and picked me up, dusted me off, filled in my broken and hurt places with precious gold, and look! Look at God's faithfulness. Look at His promises fulfilled. This is evidence of all that God can do when you let Him into your darkest, most painful places. He can make it beautiful."
We hide our battle wounds because we're ashamed or afraid or we want people to think we're strong and we've just got it all together. But when we do that, we lose the chance to truly, deeply connect with someone. We must be brave enough to be REAL. AUTHENTIC. VULNERABLE. It's scary and uncomfortable, but these are the spaces God calls us to go- the ones that take us right out of our comfort zone and right into where He calls us.
I want to encourage you - take a moment to stand in the mirror of your life and be proud of your scars and your gold God-filled cracks. You've come a long way, and you've got quite a story. Share it.
Brene Brown wrote a beautiful book on vulnerability and authenticity called Daring Greatly (if you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend you do). She ends it this way:
"And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen."