I typed the last word of my text and hit send. Then my heart raced, my palms began to sweat, and a knot grew in my stomach. Why did I just tell her all of that? I thought to myself.
The text message was to a good friend. A friend I respect. A friend I trust. A friend who gets me. But in that moment I felt vulnerable, like my closet had been opened a little too far.
I didn’t share anything scandalous with my friend. But I shared with her the real in my life. The real that most people keep in the closet behind a door bolted shut.
We talk a lot nowadays about being “authentic” and “transparent” with the people around us. You’ve probably heard those buzz words. With social media and blogs we invite people into our lives, sometimes complete strangers, telling them details that would have been saved for only close friends once upon a time. But one-on-one with our friends whom we trust is much harder.
Why is it so hard to be real with our friends?
We want our friends to see us as better than we are.
Pride. For me this is the root of most of my problems. I want others to look at me and see how great I am – not how broken. When I open up to my friends about my brokenness I invite them into a place I try hard to protect.
If I share my brokenness with others, then I have to admit my brokenness to myself. I have to admit it to God, too. This is foreign territory for me because my default is to do this life in my own strength.
But do I really want my life to reflect me? Or do I want it to reflect Christ in me?
I’ve come to realize that if I don’t share my brokenness, then I can’t share my Jesus.
People don’t want to hear stories from the Bible, initially. They want to hear stories of a God alive and working today. They want to see evidence of a God who isn’t silent, who still hears, and who is in the business of redeeming lives.
Those stories come through us.
We’re afraid they won’t like us anymore.
Doesn’t this sound like a second-grade girl? But even as an adult woman I struggle with the insecurity of not being liked.
When I reveal my brokenness to my friends, there is the risk that they will not like or respect me anymore. They may think less of me. They may even think I’m a hypocrite.
However, I’ve found that the more I open up about my brokenness the more my friends open up about theirs. Together we come to the realization that we’re human, and this brings us together, not apart.
The Bible talks a lot about bringing sin into the light. Ephesians 5:11-14 says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'”
When our brokenness is revealed freedom comes. Freedom from the bondage to sin, but also freedom from the mask we wear to cover it up.
So should I be real with all my friends?
I’m a person who’s typical pretty honest about myself and my past. I hate small talk and try to avoid it at all costs, so I can get deep with a lot of people fast.
This has come back to bite me, there’s no doubt.
I’ve opened up to friends and they’ve gossiped to others about what I told them or even back away from me so that we’re no longer close friends.
Not all friends can handle the truth. Not all friends are emotionally or spiritually mature enough to take on friends’ burdens like the Bible tells us to. And not all friends want to.
But let’s remember. Jesus had twelve close friends, but He only had three really close friends. Even Jesus used discernment in friendship.
I like to think of the visual of a circle with another, larger circle around it. The people in that middle, smallest circle are your three. They’re the ones you trust with the most vulnerable parts of your story, and they’re the ones mature enough to handle it.
The next circle is your other nine. You’re still be real with these friends, as opposed to fake, but you don’t share as much as you do with that inner three.
How does this help me be a better girl mom?
Our daughters are watching how we do friendships, and they’re learning. We need to model for them how to be authentic with everyone but only transparent with a small few whom we can trust. This takes a lot of discernment, and they’re will be mistakes. But learning this will make all of us better friends.
Is it hard for you to be “real” with your friends? Share in the comments!