There is a sweet spot in new relationships that we all wish we could stay in forever. It’s that euphoric time when the romantic feelings and hope filled dreams engulf you at every waking moment. You haven't had an argument yet and things are still new and fun and unpredictable. It's the season of love and dating that we all pray for without the realization that things will eventually change.
But sooner or later, our true selves begin to show. We are no longer performing and on our best behavior. The glasses are left on our faces and we answer the door in our sweat pants and bunned up hair. We start to talk with our mouths full and yes, we even have the occasional attitude of sorts. You both have stepped out of the dainty phase of dating, as life situations and circumstances unfold your true identities to one another.
Relax. It's not a bad thing.
We live in a world that demands that we be ourselves, but the truth is that we are afraid to do so. That's why social media is so popular... we can alter our true selves to appear more pleasing, prettier and more popular than we truly are. It's great for entertainment, but a disaster for true and lasting relationships that desire to go the distance.
To be loved is to be known and I truly believe that the longer we hide ourselves, the further away we will honestly keep ourselves from the love that we seek and pray for, in both friendships and romantic relationships, as well. But being truly known requires us to expose the truth of who we are: wide open, unaltered and unashamed.
There is something wonderful and absolutely beautiful about loving a person without false perceptions. When you get to the place where each of you can see one another without the unrealistic expectation of perfection, well, that's when crushes end and love begins.
They can see the real you... see into you... know you and love you, regardless of tempers, bad habits, less than wonderful school loans, acne scars, canceled cable and the occasional little white lies. That's life. That's real and if we desire real love, then we have to be brave enough to seek what is real about the person we are attracted to and allow them to discover what is real about us. This is the stuff of happily ever after...not portraying who you pretend to be or even want to be, but for who you really are currently and in that moment: emotional, problematic, with messy hair and whatever else we'd never post to the public.
"And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Adam hid. He didn't want God to see him in his natural state, so he tried to cover himself up. He tried to hide from being truly seen and truly known. What this scripture has taught me is that, #1 God wants us to show Him all that we are- no hiding. #2 Hiding ourselves is a hindrance, not a protection. #3 Vulnerability is a scary thing, but it's the pivotal component of true relationship.
Connecting with others is one of our soul’s greatest needs and vulnerability is the key. It's the moment when you’re left naked and afraid, exposed with the possibility of the sting of rejection or being misunderstood or even worse, disappointing to the other person. It's such a terrifying place to be. But that's life. It isn't Vogue-Beautiful all the time. We cannot expect to have lasting love on temporary pretenses, because, to be honest, no one can keep up the prestine perceptions we try to create. Not over time, because life is unpredictable and sooner or later, situations will catch us off guard and our true selves will show.
My advice... skip the need to hide, because it only creates more fear. Be vulnerable, intentionally, that way, there are not secrets to avoid or lies to hide under. It's freedom... the truth really does set us free.
I remember a very difficult conversation Jarrett and I had our second year of dating. He was brave enough to share something with me that I truly admired. He was afraid to tell me, for all the right reasons: would I end our relationship once I knew? Would I hate him? Would I hold his college past against him and judge him? The truth is, his honesty compelled me to be honest with him about a secret I was hiding... a secret I had never told anyone else. It was terrifying to expose these realities, but the conversation resulted in so much grace and we were able to see each other, and ourselves, with eyes of forgiveness.
Life is hard and there are hard things to handle, but hiding that fact doesn't make us more attractive or valued. It cripples us into fear and hinders love from growing to it's fullest potential. Vulnerability, honesty and transparency are the virtues that will propel confidence... maybe not for the other person, but most definitely for us and a confident woman is better equipped for healthy relationships. I promise you that!
Not every person deserves to know our deepest, darkest secrets, so I'm not saying we should expose ourselves to the cute guy in the coffee shop. But ask yourself this: In my current relationship, am I hiding any truths because I am afraid to loose the person or because I don't trust the person? It's an important truth to consider and it spans far beyond romantic relationships, but also into our friendships and ultimately, God.
We cannot be fully loved if we are not fully known. We can either hide and protect ourselves to prevent our hearts from the sting of rejection or we can set ourselves free by choosing a different course of action —we can tear off the masks, fold up all the pretending and stand courageously naked and unafraid with the confidence of knowing that being and living loved is not about our looks, our accomplishments or our struggles, but that love first comes from God and His love is not based on our performance. Since this is true, then this must be the standard that we measure our earthly relationships by: if it requires our performance and best behavior, it's not love.
Ladies, I believe that we each have the power and the authority, in Jesus name, to live lives of truth by living in the abundance that authenticity creates—releasing the burden of portraying who we think we should be and allowing people to really see into us, even in areas where we'd rather hide. This is where soul satisfying love begins.
Vulnerability, honesty and transparency, of any kind, is opening the door to our hearts with the life changing hope that what we reveal will not turn the other person away. This is the love of Christ and this is the stuff that marriages and lasting friendships are made of.
Lived Loved Ladies! You deserve it!