Every now and then I interact with people who can’t seem to get honest about their fears or failures. This bothers me.
If all you ever do is show me your strengths, eventually my street smarts will tell me you’re not being honest with me.Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for someone to go on stage or social media and start listing out their shortcomings one at a time like some sort of reality show confessional booth. Confessing sensitive information without consideration for the audience is self-destructive. I understand that we need to reserve certain details of our lives for certain relationships.
However, if I can’t sit down with you over a cup of coffee and have occasional moments of mutual vulnerability, I am going to lose interest in the relationship.
The old adage “it’s too good to be true” applies to more than just classified ads and pyramid schemes. It’s true for people as well. If all you ever do is show me your strengths, eventually my street smarts will tell me you’re not being honest with me.
If you want my respect, you have to be honest with me. And that starts with being honest with yourself.
To protect ourselves, we treat the world like a card game and approach with a poker face and extreme skepticism about other people’s motives.
As a Christian, I believe that our sins are still active and present daily and God’s loving grace sustains us and accounts for those sins. When we act like we don’t have sin, fear, shortcomings and failures, we’re also acting like we don’t need a Savior. We’re acting like we’re different than all of the other human beings in the world.
I get it. I really do. It’s hard to trust other people with our flaws. We’re afraid they’ll exploit us or control us. To protect ourselves, we treat the world like a card game and approach with a poker face and extreme skepticism about other people’s motives. But in the end, we find ourselves feeling unknown and unloved. Relentless self-protection comes with a high price.
Want to know how the rest of us experience people who try to look strong when they’re actually weak? We experience their thin skin. When we point out any of their flaws, they attack us. When we inquire about their weaknesses, they make jokes or use vague language to avoid ownership. These are not signs of strength. They are aversion tactics, and we can all smell them from a mile away.
Your lack of weakness is what makes you weak.
If you want people to see you as strong and honest, you have to take ownership of your weaknesses. You have to be candid and sincere with a few people about your fears, struggles, sin and pain. The more you try to act like these things aren’t problems, the bigger of a problem they will become. Acting like your house isn’t on fire doesn’t actually put the real fire out.
If you want people to see you as strong and honest, you have to take ownership of your weaknesses.Here’s the thing: I don’t need you to be my strength. I have God as my strength. I don’t need you to have it all together. God holds all things together. I don’t need you to always be strong. I need you to be honest.
The prerequisite for experiencing God’s grace is being someone who has needs, sin, pain and shortcomings. Winners don’t need God’s grace. Losers do. Strong people don’t need grace. Weak people do. This is why scripture tells us, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.”
Do we want to be self-made people or God-made people?
If you’re up for an honest conversation, let’s go grab a cup of coffee. After talking about the latest blockbuster movie or our last vacation, maybe we could talk for a few minutes about how God’s grace speaks to our pain, fear and failures.
But don’t believe the ad in the shop for unlimited free coffee. It’s probably too good to be true.