Vulnerable vs. Transparent

I have joined a book study for the summer. We are reading Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen and tonight we read chapter 6, No Longer Lonely. She talked about a lot but one thing she did was define the difference between being vulnerable and transparent. 

I never really thought there was much difference but after reading and thinking about the definitions it really hit me. To be vulnerable you share an edited truth and only allow others to see what you want them to. To be transparent you share everything with them, there is no edited truth, the person looks into your eyes and sees the depths of your soul, flaws and all.

I have been both on this blog. I have had posts that I just allow you to see the edits of what I want you to see. Fearing if I put it all out there, my soul will be out there, I will have people who can use things against me and whatever else happens if you are transparent. Then there are times where I am transparent, admitting so much of who I was, what I did, things I wouldn’t want to admit to people I see face to face. 

There are some things I haven’t even admitted to my husband. Why is that? I am scared of what he would think of me. I am scared he would no longer want to be with me. What if I admit who I was, the things I have done and he no longer looks at me \the same? Not only that, but I am bipolar and if I admit what I had done when not properly medicated, it is as if the reality of it happening again exists. 

You see, I know how he feels about certain things. I know what has happened to me in the past. I know what I am capable of if I am going manic and out of control. It scares me, because if I go there again, I most certainly will lose my husband. If I don’t speak the words, it is as if I am preventing it from happening, because it isn’t real as long I never speak the words. 

There are certain things I haven’t been fully honest about with anyone. What would anyone think of me? 

Here is the thing that was talked about in the book: Jennie talks about the woman at the well (and let me just say that if you have not had the opportunity to read this book – get it! The way she places herself in these stories and brings you into it is amazing). Jesus came and He let her know that she was forgiven, she was loved, she was cared for and most of all she was free. Free from her past, free from her sin, free from the judgment of others and free to be who God created her to be. 

It didn’t matter if others knew her sins. It didn’t matter what others thought about her sins. Jesus spoke to her. Jesus cared about her. Jesus freed her. Nothing anyone could do, nothing anyone could say would ever take away her identity she had in Jesus. Nothing! She went from being ashamed, hiding from others, and feeling less than the dirt she walked on to get to the well to exclaiming her sins to prove He had come for her, He knew her and loved her, He was there to save everyone and that included her and He cared for her. 

She embraced who she had been so that she could be free!  

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

~John 4:4-42 (NIV)

You don’t have to be transparent with the world. There is a lot to be said about being wise with whom you share your past, your sins, your hurts, and your life. There is also no guarantee that those you share with won’t hurt you and break your trust. We are all people, we all sin, we all make mistakes but that doesn’t mean you should not share with anyone at all.

I do believe God has placed people in my life whom I can trust and yet it is still hard to do. It is hard to be transparent because it is letting go of a fear. It is knowing that even if I am transparent with certain people and they walk away, I am still loved because Jesus came here to earth, to save sinners like me. My identity is with Him, in Him and no matter what anyone thinks of me or the sins I have done or will do. He came, He suffered, He died, He gave me grace, He gave me forgiveness, He gave me salvation and He showed me the ultimate sacrifice and love. 

So have I been transparent in the past? No, not really. When I had been it backfired on me. So I have shyed away from being open, transparent about certain things. I do feel that He is pushing me along, trying to get me to see being transparent will free me, to be able to say, “Yes I am this person but it doesn’t define me! Christ is my identity!” 

It is not a free pass to do wrong. It does not take away my past from what I did. It will just change how I see me. I will see me through His eyes. I will be able to look into the mirror and see His child and not the “failure” and the “sinner”. My salvation isn’t based upon what I do, I want to strive to be a better person because He loves me and I love Him and people love doing things for their loved ones. 

Being transparent with Jesus and with myself and with those He places in my life just frees me. It frees me to accept who I am, who I was and who I am in Him. It frees me to accept and own it all. It allows me to see myself through His eyes. 

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