Do you ever feel like there is a disconnect between what you are feeling on the inside, but what you are showing on the outside?

As a woman in the workplace, I can easily hide my emotions.  I am constantly trying to find the balance between showing stress and portraying strength.  My goal is to keep my life in separate boxes in order to remain professional.  I leave my personal problems at home or in the car before I open the door at work.  Other people don’t need to know about my personal struggles.
In friendships and relationships it’s also easy to hide emotions.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but sometimes when I tell friends stories I leave out the tough stuff.  Fear of rejection makes me hide my true thoughts, opinions, or feelings about things that are deeper or more controversial.  What if I open myself up, share my true heart, and someone hurts me.  They may not like me if I show my true self.
It gets worse on social media.  I would NEVER air my dirty laundry on social media.  My goal is to build a brand that shows other people all of the most awesome parts of my life.  I post the successes, the awesome vacations, and the happiest moments of my relationship.

All of this means that I am holding everyone in my life at arm’s length.

If I never show what is truly in my heart, I am living life like a closed book.  People can only see the (amazing) artwork that makes up the front cover, and they can only read the short synopsis on the back.  The problem with this is that it makes me unreachable.  If I am always holding people at arms length, I am never truly connecting with anyone.
I think about the people who I feel most connected to.  I feel most connected to them because they haven’t only shared life’s blessings with me.  They have also shared their struggles.  I can relate to these people because they have been through tough times and lived to tell the tale.  If they only told me all of the good things I would feel like I could never reach their level of success or happiness.

When we speak only of our success but fail to share what we went through to achieve it, we leave people feeling like they’ll never be able to rise as high as we have.

I can’t relate to people who have only lived a life of lollipops, rainbows, and butterflies.  When people tell stories of how awesome their lives are it seems unrealistic.  It doesn’t just seem unrealistic, it is unrealistic. Without having the ability to show an appropriate level of empathy and transparency, our lives have no credibility.  Without empathy, transparency, and honesty we can come off as cold to the people around us.

“There is a time to laugh and a time to cry,  a time to grieve and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4

How do we apply this?
At work I can admit to others that I’m having a rough time with a task, client, or situation.  By doing this I may be able to gain wisdom and insight from coworkers.  I can also use past struggles to help relate to and train people who may be lower in the work ranks than I am, showing them that they have the potential to grow and succeed.
In my friendships I can open up and share my true feelings.  Opening my heart could allow my friends to feel more comfortable to share their true feelings as well.  This could lead to sharing similar stories of struggles or hurt, as well as successes.  My friendships could be made stronger.  Yes, hurt and rejection may come, too.  But all negative experiences eventually lead to growth and light.
Most importantly, being honest leads to being able to truly minister through the truth of the Lord.  When I become more relatable and more understood, more people will be drawn to my heart.  If my heart is placed in the Lord, they will see that and my life will radiate His light.  I don’t want to hoard His truth and wonder for myself, I want my life to be an open book and a testimony to how wonderful it is to live with Him.  And the only way to do that is to make sure that who I truly am on the inside is portrayed every day on the outside.  Even if it means sharing the tough emotions.

Prayer for today:

Dear God, Thank you for giving me the ability to minister your truth to other every day.  Help me to be more open and honest in my interactions, whether they are work relationships or friendships.  I want people to know how my struggles have led to my successes.  I want to be someone that people can turn to and find strength in.  Help me to continuously be someone who’s life honors you.  Amen.