In a Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-driven world, being real and honest about our lives doesn’t seem very appealing.
Without transparency and openness, however, mom friendships remain shallow. True community can never be achieved.
Sure, it’s risky. But there is so much to be gained when we share our souls, our burdens, and our struggles. Not only do we finally feel truly “known,” we make it safe for others to do the same.
For years, I shuddered at the thought of sharing my private struggles. After all, I was a Bible study leader. By all appearances, I was a “good” Christian woman and mother. I had an image to maintain. Wouldn’t people think less of me if I told them my struggles? Surely it would damage my credibility as a Bible study teacher.
I couldn’t risk it. And, honestly, I didn’t really want to. I liked my image.
I was able to pull it off — until my daughter hit the middle school years. I hit an incredibly painful, humbling, and difficult patch of parenting. I continued to do ministry, but I increasingly felt like a fraud. I never did have it all together, but now I was having a terrible time even pretending. I was dying inside. I felt so alone.
During this time, another mom of a preteen was in my Bible study. Over the course of the first few weeks, she began to open up about her fears, insecurities, and difficulties.
After class one day, we began to talk. Her openness gave me the courage to share some of the struggles I was going through.
She asked me to see a movie with her. Afterwards, we sat at her kitchen table. Slowly, we let our guards down. I finally revealed one of my darkest fears. She looked at me in disbelief.
Oh, no! I said too much, I thought. But this is what she said to me: “All this time, I’d been thinking, ‘If only I had it figured out like Melinda does … and you’re just as messed up as I am!”
Whew. We couldn’t stop laughing.
That conversation made me braver. I shared the “real” me and I wasn’t rejected. Quite the opposite. I was accepted and understood. And I felt free.
Now, I am no longer afraid to be real. In fact, it is one of the driving forces in my in-person and online ministries — and in my day-to-day life.
(Kathy) I have some difficult stories to tell. Struggles that only those who were the very closest to me knew about. And I liked it that way.
Gradually, though, I began to sense that God wanted me to share those stories with others. I needed to use what He had taught me to “comfort others as I had been comforted.” Every time I did, I felt a deeper level of healing in my own life — and others found encouragement and healing as well.
That’s what the Body of Christ is supposed to look like — true, transparent community and building one another up.
We love these verses from Ecclesiastes:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecc. 4:10-12)
As moms, we have times when we feel the need to “vent.” However, building true community is about more than just unloading your burdens and walking away.
It’s about being humbly vulnerable, making it safe for another to do the same. It is in that place that the Holy Spirit can provide healing and empower us to offer support to one another.
When that happens, it’s the real deal.
What holds you back from being real with others?
What is one small step you can take toward building real community?