Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Fear of Being Real

Each time he said, "My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness."  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) NLT

This last March, my wife Missy and I attended a conference for parents with children with special needs.  Our son, Devan, is on the autism spectrum.  One session during the conference really stuck out to both us and made a profound difference in our lives.

The room was full with standing room only.  About 75 parents sat in the audience.  In the front of the room was a stage with three sets of parents.  Each set were the parents of a child with special needs  but they were all at different points on the journey.  One by one, each person on the stage shared their personal journey through parenting a special needs child.  They shared the deep stuff such as grief, depression and the marital problems that they had went through in their journey.

Something amazing happened in that room that day.  As each person dropped their mask and shared their real self, a spirit of hope, compassion and empathy filled the room.  Everyone in that room could relate to what was being said and for a moment, we all felt connected.

Moments like this don't happen very often, but when they do, they have a profound effect on everyone involved.  Sharing your weaknesses with others can certainly be scary. We all have a natural tendancy to only show our best to other people. We want people to think that we have it all together. We do not want to be seen as weak, insecure or vulnerable.

The problem is that we really can't relate to each other very well, especially spiritually, if we are hiding our weaknesses.  God's spirit flows through vulnerability.  In other words, vulnerability is the fuel that moves God's spirit from one person to another. 

Being vulnerable and transparent can be a bad thing.  We certainly don't want to go around telling everybody everything about us.  What we tell others can be used against us so we want to be careful.  When the right time arrives, however, and you can connect with someone spiritually by being real,  take that chance.  You may just find a life-long friend in the process.

What about you

 Are you afraid to show your real self?  Do you cover up your weaknesses and try to only show your strong points?  Is there someone in life that you could really help by sharing your own struggles?


  1. Aaron, you've cited one of my favorite Scripture verses here, and I have an understanding of the autism spectrum as we have a grandson who has Aspberger's as well as ADHD. What you've talked about here, transparency with respect to our weaknesses, is difficult at best. However, as a mentor to young moms, I must be transparent at times. I can't mentor unless I can say to them, "It's true -- when I was a young mom, I also dealt with ________; or "I would do that same thing you mentioned when I was raising my kids;" or whatever needs to be said to build a trusting relationship. Thanks for a powerful post today!

    1. Sherrey, this verse is one of my two favorites in the entire bible. It says so much in just a couple of sentences about how we should display humility. Autism is tough and even more difficult in that we really don't know what causes it and there is a lot of disagreement about how to treat it. My son is making great progress though, so we are on a good path. With your mentoring, I'm sure that when you are willing to open up and share your own struggles when you went through what they are going through, it opens up a ton of doors to find healing and hope. Thank you for the comment.

  2. Aaron. This is a beautiful, heartfelt post.Thank you for sharing a powerful testimony to God's love and mercy and how His "spirit flows through vulnerability." I agree, we have to be selective about sharing our vulnerability. But, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable then sharing it with others whom we trust can be the glue that connects us all. In openly discussing their experiences and feelings honestly, these parents were connecting with others and sharing their hope. Knowing we're not alone in our trials can be so comforting.
    I appreciate your uplifting message about the importance of connecting with our "real self" and sharing it with others.

    1. Kathy, thank you for sharing on my blog. It is interesting that you pointed out 'spirit flows through vulnerability' because that was the exact phrase that came to my head when the blog idea came. I knew I wanted to write something about that and include that in the entry but did some sorting to find out a good example of how that works in real life. I look forward to following you on your journey get your memoir published.