Letting down our guard and allowing someone to know our deepest thoughts and feelings is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people and can feel downright troubling to many others.
A recent study showed that nearly one in four Americans say they have no one to talk to about matters important to them. We are a nation battling a loneliness epidemic, in need not only of social connection but friendships that allow for honest conversation.
Becoming a transparent person—someone willing to share their inner life with others—is one of the best weapons we have against the loneliness the world around us is experiencing. By going on the offense and initiating vulnerable discussions, we have an opportunity to pull people in and help them experience the intimacy they’re sorely lacking.
Our hope is that this study will inspire you to embrace transparency with God and others so you can grow to be confident, secure, and comfortable with who you are. This should in turn translate into closer and more fulfilling friendships with God and people.
Dishonesty steals strength
3 Before I confessed my sins, I kept it all inside; my dishonesty devastated my inner life,causing my life to be filled with frustration, irrepressible anguish, and misery. 4 The pain never let up, for your hand of conviction was heavy on my heart. My strength was sapped, my inner life dried up like a spiritual drought within my soul.
Psalm 32:3-4 TPT
When we hold in all of our sin, emotions, and thoughts, they tear away at us from the inside. This inner turmoil leads to increased anxiety, frustration, apathy, and fatigue.
I can relate to living a hidden life with all of the symptoms above. Growing up, the older I got, the more I hid. By the end of college, I had been living a double life.
My life on the outside looked good, but on the inside, I was full of guilt, selfishness, impurity, insecurity, fear, and bitterness.
I was lying to my family and friends about all that was going on, and I was using everyone around me but acting like I wasn’t. I vacillated between apathy and fear of what people thought or could find out.
Though I was surrounded by friends and people who cared for me, I felt all alone. I remember being afraid that if others really knew what was going on, they wouldn’t love me, so I hid everything that didn’t make me look good. It was exhausting.
Whether we are hiding just a little or a lot, deceit saps our strength and steals away who we are meant to be. Transparency is the boost we need to regain our strength and live the full lives we are meant to.
Pause and reflect
What are the things that burden your heart? (anxieties, sins, burdens, etc)
Transparency is freeing
5 Then I finally admitted to you all my sins, refusing to hide them any longer. I said, “My life-giving God, I will openly acknowledge my evil actions.” And you forgave me! All at once the guilt of my sin washed away and all my pain disappeared! Pause in his presence
6 This is what I’ve learned through it all: All believers should confess their sins to God; do it every time God has uncovered you in the time of exposing. For if you do this, when sudden storms of life overwhelm, you’ll be kept safe.
7 Lord, you are my secret hiding place, protecting me from these troubles, surrounding me with songs of gladness! Your joyous shouts of rescue release my breakthrough.
Psalm 32:5-7 TPT
Transparency is a decision to refuse to hide any longer. It is freeing! Look at what this scripture says about what happens when we are transparent: “sin washed away,” “pain disappeared,” and “kept safe.” Instead of hiding what’s going on, we can turn to God to be honest as a safe hiding place.
The most freeing moments in life are when we decide to be completely honest about everything going on inside – sin, emotions, pain, everything. And the first place to be honest is in prayer with God.
He won’t reject us or run away. He promises to protect us, bring gladness and help us breakthrough when we are stuck.
I used to think that if I controlled and hid what was going on inside, I’d be safe, but the opposite is actually true. Transparency is still difficult for me. I get afraid of seeing my sin and feeling my emotions and pain, but scriptures like this one give me the confidence to be honest.
Pause and reflect
What areas of your heart are you most afraid to pray about? Why?
Transparency gives confidence
19-20 There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things.
21 My loved ones, if our hearts cannot condemn us, then we can stand with confidence before God.
1 John 3:19-21 Voice
Though we sin, fail, and mess up, God knows and forgives us. God doesn’t expect us to be free of sinful thoughts or actions or to be free of failure. He just expects us to be honest with him and others about it.
Transparency gives none of those inner negative thoughts, feelings, or sins any power to accuse us. By bringing them into the light, we can be confident that we are connected with God, because there is nothing we are hiding from him or others.
I remember the first time I felt that confidence of being completely in the light. There was nothing I hadn’t told God and my friends. I was happy, and there was no wondering if I was going to get caught or paranoia of what people thought. It was all in the open, and I knew God had my back.
When was the last time you were that confident? Confidence doesn’t come from being sinless or failure free, but from being transparent.
Pause and reflect
How do you handle storms of guilt or failure?
Transparency initiates closeness
Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you.
2 Corinthians 6:11 NLT
When we are honest about our lives, it opens us up to friendships. If you don’t feel close in your relationships, look at the level of honesty you bring to those friendships.
You can’t control how someone else responds, but you can control the transparency you bring to all of the relationships in your life. One of the simplest acts of love we can bring to our friendships is being honest about how we are doing.
It takes courage for me to be transparent. It’s specifically hard for me to be honest about my emotions (when I’m mad, sad, embarrassed, afraid, hurt) or to humbly admit my sin (selfishness, impurity, bitterness, deceit, pride). I’m afraid that if I’m honest, people won’t love or accept me.
I also get afraid that my transparency will lead to conflict, followed by rejection and being alone. The truth is, the more transparent I am, the closer I become to others. Transparency opens our hearts to actually allow for deeper connection and closeness, but this requires courage.
Pause and reflect
Are there parts of your heart you hold back from people? What parts? Why?
Transparency inspires courage
5 For our gospel came to you not merely in the form of words but in mighty power infused with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. Surely you remember how we lived our lives transparently before you to encourage you.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 TPT
To encourage means to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope. When we have the courage to honestly share our lives, it inspires others to have the courage to share their lives as well.
I have seen this happen throughout my life. The tougher and more vulnerable the life experiences and sins I share, the more it has inspired others around me to be transparent.
I remember after church one day, I shared my life story with a young married man who I had just met. I shared about cheating on my girlfriend in college, using people, living in impurity, and thinking I’m better than others as well as the destruction it all caused.
I also shared about how studying the bible changed my life and how I still battle those sins in different ways now but with help from friends. This gave him the courage to tell me, a relative stranger, that he had been cheating on his wife and wanted help.
Your transparency will inspire others. Learning how to be transparent will ultimately lead to lives being changed around you.
Pause and reflect
Who could benefit from your transparency?
The following are some questions and actions you can use to help you apply what we covered in this study.
What areas in your life are hardest for you to talk about?
What benefit of transparent are you most inspired by? Why?
Who is someone in your life who could benefit from you initiating a vulnerable conversation?
Spend time with a friend discussing what you have learned. Have a great conversation about what areas are hardest to talk about, and what you can do to help each other change
Study the books of Ephesians and 1 Thessalonians during your morning quiet time with God. These books are examples of what it looks like to live with loving and transparent relationships.