This is continued from Nothing Sacred: Verbal Immodesty

Transparency. This was a hot topic in the church a few years ago. Everything was about being real, like an open book. Because of our tendency as humans to hide and cover up our shortcomings, this movement has served to bring release to many people and it has done a lot of good. It is a powerful concept, but closely related to something not so healthy that is becoming a norm in our society. Our emotional scales sometimes tip over transparency to emotional immodesty, and we are often the ones that pay the price for it.

Sometimes our need to feel known and loved can become harmful. Sharing yourself with someone requires wisdom and discretion. In an attempt to be “real,” we can cut ourselves open and fall apart so that others can pick up the pieces and carry our burdens. This is not real so much as it is sensational. It may feel better in the moment to allow yourself to go to the depths of your emotions and let go of your reason, and sometimes that is what we must do. But it can become a habit that not only exposes you to potential pain, but also drains and exhausts the people around you.

We all have feelings, and some of us feel things more strongly than others. But emotional immodesty does not make a person real. It is a form of self discipline to harness your thoughts and use wisdom in the midst of something challenging and private. There is no merit in sinking into emotional oblivion and pulling the people around you down with you so that you have company. It also serves to replace the one place that we actually need to go when we are falling apart. Instead of confronting our feelings with God, who is the one that can truly guide us, we use the people around us as sounding boards to echo our pain back to us over and over again. In these times, our need for human validation can tempt us to abandon our wisdom.

In the same way, it is a form of self respect to value your story and choose carefully who you share the deepest parts of yourself with. Telling every stranger the most private details of your life leaves you naked. It is unrealistic to expect others to cherish our hearts the way they need to be, when we do not treat our own stories and feelings as sacred. Both of these things are the fibers that knit us together, and deserve to be treated as such.

If this is something you have a pattern of doing, a good question to ask yourself is why you do it. Is there a void that is filled in its practice? Is there something you are finding in the experience that is fulfilling you? Motivations will range from person to person. The beautiful thing about this is that the deep parts of us are meant to be shared and are best enjoyed in healthy environments. Just as we explored with the physical and the verbal, treating these things has sacred makes them a cherished gift for the people in your life that mean the most to you. And on a practical level, these are also the people that you can trust to treat them with respect.

Our feelings and experiences are priceless and they are in our possession to do with what we please. We can be frivolous with that treasure or hoard it, but real growth, love, and perspective will grace those that share it the way it was meant to be shared.


Image via A Well Traveled Woman