Sunday, March 20, 2011

Transparency vs Vulnerability

Transparency and vulnerability. I used to think they were one and the same. In the last few years, though, I've learned that's not true. Here's how a friend of mine described it to me:

Transparency is like a window display. You put all your junk out there for people to see - all your struggles, your sins. It's good in that you aren't trying to hide it or pretend it doesn't exist, but there's a problem - people can't touch it. No one can come into your store and say, "Hey, what about this? Why haven't you brought this into the open?" It's a great first step in growth - in fact, it took a long time for me to get to a point in my life where I could do even that. But now I'd say I'm in a place where I can usually own my stuff. I know that seeing it, and others seeing it, doesn't diminish my worth. In fact it makes me more real, more authentic.

But it can't stop there. If it does, transparency could become, in my opinion, a defense mechanism. If I put all my stuff out there, then maybe you will think I'm really open, and you won't dig any deeper.

Vulnerability, on the other hand, is giving others permission to step into the display, rearrange it, even bring some new things into the open. Of course you want to be wise in who has permission to do this, because it's your heart they're dealing with, and you want someone who will do it in love and gentleness. But I'm finding there's a great leap between being transparent and vulnerable. Vulnerable takes it to a whole new level! I'm learning though that this is the key to growth.

So who's been messing with your display lately?

1 comment:

Amy :) said...

Wow, I don't think I've ever thought much about the difference between the two. Lately, I've gotten fairly good at transparency, but you're right... it's not the same as being vulnerable.

It seems that not too many people (other than my husband) try to "mess with my display", though... it almost would be refreshing in a way, if that makes any sense. It kind of feels like friendships aren't really "real" without some vulnerability there.