Dear Reader, I must start with a confession: I’m lousy at being transparent with the most important people in my life. That said, the older I get the more important transparency becomes, and so is discovering how to control personal barriers to transparency.
The last few years before I retired from education, the word “authentic” emerged as a buzzword. Professional conversations about authenticity morphed into personal reflection about transparency, and discovering how it plays a role in many of our relationships.
That’s just great, but the more I learned about the importance of being transparent, the phonier I felt. It felt like I changed masks depending on who I was engaging with. Have you ever felt like that, Dear Reader? What were the barriers to transparency?
This is a new(ish) journey for me. I’m not yet comfortable enough to chat with others on their journeys. Nonetheless, I began to wonder if most of us carry different emotional baggage, doesn’t it stand to reason that our barriers to transparency are also different?
My personal bags are pretty full of emotional mess. These are barriers to transparency for me that I’ve begun to recognize and hopefully confront:
- pain from prior betrayal(s);
- lack of trust;
- time and emotional energy;
What a laundry list of personal baggage, right? Let’s see if I can brainstorm at least one way to begin confronting each of my barriers.
Pain from betrayal
This is so hard for me, but I know being able to forgive and forget is the most likely way to control this barrier to transparency (Colossians 3:13 TLB). Only then can I move forward into more trusting relationships.
Lack of trust
Trust can be a two-edged sword. It’s a give and take scenario. We have to give trust (or transparency) in order to get it, and that can be a challenge when meeting someone new.
For me, starting small, maybe meeting for lunch or coffee, is a good place to start. Low expectations, no committment, kind of like a first date.
Time & emotional energy
For me, these two barriers to transparency go hand in hand. Let’s get real, Dear Reader. For any relationship to thrive it demands two things from us priority and commitment. Those in turn mandate investments of time and emotional energy on our part.
Jesus was pretty clear on this point when He didn’t ask or suggest, but gave us a new commandment to love one another (John 13:34-35 TLB).
Oh my goodness, this may be the most challenging barrier of all for me, Dear Reader. I am definitely not known for being a risk taker.
Having struggled with all the barriers above, taking the risk of being transparent is rife with fears for me. The fear of being betrayed and hurt, of inadvertently offending someone, of damaging a relationship, or being misunderstood.
Oh yes, this gal can be easily mistaken for a Cowardly Lion when it comes to relationships. Thank goodness for the exhortation by the writer of Ecclesiastes who encourages us to step out in faith (Ecclesiastes 11:1-3 CEV), or as Joyce Meyer puts it, “Do it afraid.”
Here it is, Dear Reader, the bottom line to what I’ve been learning about how to control barriers to transparency. The goal of transparency is to build and strengthen important relationships in our lives. After all, isn’t that exactly what Jesus modeled for us during His earthly mission?