A few years ago James and I were facing a dilemma while working on a project. We started to see things we didn’t agree with and knew we needed to talk to our friends about it if we were going to stay involved. We asked to meet so we could discuss the concerns and every day leading up to the meeting James and I prayed. We prayed for our voices to be heard, our hearts to be seen, and for transparency to be welcomed. We went into that meeting covered in prayer. We knew it was a big step on our end and we would have the non-favorable opinion but we couldn’t be apart of something that had changed into something we didn’t agree with.
While we calmly and with love shared from our hearts the concerns we were seeing and how we didn’t ethically agree, we were, unfortunately, met with great opposition.
We watched as our friends spoke to us in a hurtful manner with raised voices and pointed fingers. It was heartbreaking as we sat and saw everything we worked so hard for crumble right in front of us. It was even more painful to have entered into a conversation with love and transparency to then leave with your expectations shattered. To make matters worse, a few days later, the transparency James and I showed was used against us.
Our hearts were full of love and we thought our transparency would be welcomed with open arms.
Has this ever happened to you?
You were transparent with someone you thought you could trust but ended up having it used against you?
Or the way they responded to your transparency hurt so much that you fear being transparent again.
Maybe you want to be transparent but it’s hard and you’re not sure who you can trust.
I want to encourage you to prayerfully consider opening up by sharing more and shed the desire for self-preservation.
The truth is, it hurts when you open up and people laugh at you. It stings when you share about your current situation and people think less of you. It’s heartbreaking when you express your thoughts or feelings and have it used against you.
But, you still need to do it anyways. Why? Because the one thing God has shown me is through my open heart, no matter how hard it is to share, God can use my transparency to encourage others.
There will be friends, family members, and even strangers who will not laugh at you, think less of you, or use it against you. They will value your words and respect your transparency. They will remember your words as words of encouragement and lean on it when their road gets rough.
There will always be a risk when it comes to being open. Sometimes you will have to ask yourself if the risk is worth it, but most of all, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.
4 Tips On How To Be More Transparent:
1. Time: When you’re building a new friendship get to know them and see how they talk about others. Are they sharing everyone else’s personal information with you or do they only speak highly of others? It’s safe to assume if they talk about everyone to you- they talk about you to everyone.
2. Gentle Start: Start slowly by sharing a little at a time. Watch how they respond, are they encouraging or critical? Do they tend to turn the conversation from you back to them? When you see how someone treats small information it will give you an idea of how they handle big information.
3. Discernment: Knowing who you can share what with is key. Some people are wonderful at listening to struggles you may be having at work and be encouraging. But they may not be the same way when it comes to family issues. You may not have one individual you can talk to about everything and that’s ok. Allow that to happen, if not, you’re going to be hurt over and over again. People are on all different walks of life and naturally only relate to certain things.
4. Forgiveness: Understand people will be people. You can take all the precautions in the world and people will still mess up. People will still fail, make mistakes, and hurt you in the process. Extending forgiveness, learning from the experience, and moving forward healed will prevent you from closing up. Learning along the way who you can and can’t be open with is key. This takes time, trial and error, and maturity. And always remember, when people break your trust- it shows more about them than it does you.
Proverbs 16:24 says, “Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Be the friend who others can be transparent with. Be the one who always encourages and uplifts FIRST. You may not personally understand what your friend is going through, but offering compassion is everything.
More often than not, your friend doesn’t need to be told how to fix their problem. They simply need a listening ear and confirmed on how hard what they’re dealing with really is. When the time comes for advice or correction- in a healthy relationship- it will come naturally. It doesn’t need to be forced or sought after.
This post originally HeatherMargiotta.com and was republished with permission.
Heather Margiotta is a Christian Writer and Speaker from northeast Ohio. She is a wife to a loving husband and a mother to two handsome sons. She received a bachelors degree in Theology and writes about her faith, adoption, relationships, and grief on her blog, HeatherMargiotta.com. Besides loving Jesus and her family, Heather is obsessed with coffee, local pizza joints, and nail polish. Find her on Instagram and Facebook.