Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Healthy Transparency-WFMW- Best Of Edition

Foreword: When I learned that Kristen from We Are That Family, was taking over the hosting of Works For Me Wednesday, I wanted to join in on Becoming Me. And I mean no disrespect toward the previous host and WFMW founder, Shannon from Rocks In My Dryer. I think she is a lovely person. It's just that I started reading Kristen's blog a few weeks after it launched last year. We were both newbies in the blogosphere and she even once referred to me as precious...and she added me to her feeder...and then her blog roll...I felt honored. So knowing that her blog has grown from 50 subscribers to 1000+ (I'm guessing here) thrills me, because she truly makes a positive impact on others. Now on to my post.

Healthy Transparency

One of the best lessons I have learned as a human being, Christian, and blogger, is to engage in a healthy level of transparency. By this I mean to be open about who I am...imperfections and all, when the timing is appropriate. I do believe this fits into the “Best of” edition, because my life changed dramatically when I accepted my status as an imperfect person, and allowed Christ to use my weaknesses for His glory.

Many of you know that I am a recovering perfectionist. Many of you also know that in October of 2007, while in the throes of my second battle with Postpartum Mood Disorders, I experienced a clinical nervous breakdown. What many of you do not know is that the crux of that breakdown included a type of mind-out-of-body experience. I have never felt terror greater than realizing that I was so messed up, that I could not make rational healthy decisions.

Funny thing is that before I hit that rock at the bottom of a deep dark pit, not many people knew that I was suffering. And those who did know were not privy to the extent of my misery. They did not know that I loathed every fiber of my being. They did not know that I could barely breathe when I entered a grocery store. They did know that I stood in my laundry room for twenty-three minutes one night holding my baby boy and sobbing as I tried to plan how I could somehow run far, far away. They did not know that when I narrowly avoided a head-on collision with a tractor trailer, that I started crying, not in gratitude , but in sadness, because a hit like that probably would have ended my (in my mind at that time) pitiful life.

No one knew the whole truth, because I felt like a failure, and I was so deeply ashamed. You see, when I first became pregnant more than five years ago, I had dreams. And in those dreams I was the perfect mom. Trust me...June Cleaver....she had nothing on the type of mother I envisioned myself becoming. June was fine...but me...oh, I was going to be PERFECT. And when I discovered that I lived about 30 million miles from perfect, I decided to pretend, because I didn't want to let go of that dream.

Rough times. But after my breakdown, I had a breakthrough (thanks to a fabulous Christian counselor, the proper doses of medication, and a loving support system of family and friends). It was during this breakthrough when I discovered the depths of Christ's love for me. It was also when I truly accepted that the quest for excellence and the desire for perfection were two totally different items. Additionally, I gripped the truth that perfection was not going to be obtained on this side of Heaven, but that there are few things more beautiful than a flawed woman hanging, with all her strength, onto the robe of Jesus and allowing Him to heal her...reshape her...teach her...and refine her.

After I learned those lessons, I wanted to share them with others. But during times of prayer and Bible study, I knew that this message coming from me would seem hollow unless I was willing to let my guard down and become transparent. I couldn't still pretend I was a "miss-perfect-goody-too-shoes" and expect anyone to trust me.

Transparency comes with many risks. There are probably some reading this with judgment. Sometimes I'll share my PPD story or other every day struggles and people will thank me. Other times, I'll share and in return receive awkward glances and smirks. It is a risk. But whenever I read an e-mail from someone telling me that she read my PPD posts and decided that it was time to get help....I know the risk was worth taking.

Before I close, I do want to list a few tips about being transparent, because there is a chasm between letting it all hang out and healthy, Biblically-inspired transparency.

  • Pray before you share.

  • Never share intimate details about your life with a complete stranger unless you are either in a crisis situation (such as a victim of an assault) or clearly prompted by the Holy Spirit (no blogging is a bit complete stranger, I mean sharing extremely personally information with someone only minutes or hours after shaking her hand.

  • Do not feel pressured into sharing.

  • Do not share personal details about another person, or details about your life that could damage a relationship you have with another person.

  • Use caution. Transparency does not mean full disclosure. For example, Beth Moore has shared that has struggled with some serious sin issues...but she does not list all of those issues. Although I share openly about my battles with PPMD, there are some aspects that I still keep private...not because of pride, but because I think that sharing those details would cause more harm than good. If I disclose too many specifics it could lead someone to think, “Phew...I didn't do anything that bad, so I don't think I need help.” Or it could cause someone to think, “Well, that is pretty terrible, but that is not nearly as bad as what I have done, so I must be beyond help.”

  • Lastly, be prepared to listen to the feedback you receive when sharing...often times God calls us to transparency to reveal His glory to others so that they can place their hope in Him.

There is more than can be written about transparency, but the above works for me.

To read an example of a mildly transparent post from me, please visit 5 Minutes for Faith sometime today.

To read more WFMW, visit We Are That Family.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hewbrews 10:23-25 NLT


Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

Good post, especially on this topic. I was a bit pro-active when I was pregnanct with my first child. I have a *tendancy* towards wanting things done just so. You know what I mean. I talked to my careprovider and opened up about my concerns about the possability of PPD. I started taking medication about 1 week before I delivered. Had a healthy baby, great delivery and thankfully never went through what you and so many other women did.
As a L&D nurse (now home full time) I have talked to many, many women over the years, encouraging them to PLEASE go talk to their careprovider. It can make such a difference!!
Thanks for sharing.

Gretchen said...

I think God uses posts like these to bring so much good truth to light. Shame be damned.


Denise said...

Such a fantastic post.

Sit A Spell said...

Great post...being authentic is a good thing. Leaning on God through everything is a great thing. Thanks for sharing.

everydayMOM said...

Hey Mrs. Naz, Thanks for you sweet comment. You really made my day! And, believe me... I've been called every E name in the book. There's a post brewin' on that topic!

We had a great discussion yesterday in my Bible study about perfectionism versus excellence. It's such an important distinction.

You gave some great points about transparency. It's so important to allow God to use what He has brought us through to help others. Otherwise, what was it for?

sara said...

great post! I have always been a fairly transparent person.....and I agree with everything you shared. One way satan traps us is in making us think that we are all alone in our problems. We need others, especially those who have made it through the fire, to help us and encourage us.

But on the other side of that coin, I wanted to point out that sometimes we (maybe subconsciously) don't want "certain" people to be transparent.

You see, I am a pastor's wife and there are many times when I realize that some in my congregation don't want to know that I struggle. for some reason, they "need" to feel that their pastor/wife/family doesn't deal with the same issues......yet it is comforting to most that we do.

It is a real tightrope that most in ministry walk. It is something that I commit to prayer so that I can have the wisdom to know who I need to be transparent with and how much.

Sheryl said...

Great post! I did not know what you had battled. Transparency and being real are vital! I believe we help others and ourselves so much more when we are willing to be transparent. I appreciate your willingness to share your heart and your struggles.

Love to you,

Tara said...

Well-said. I'm a fairly transparent person, especially and definitely about what I went through with my PPD, but in other areas I am not transparent. For example, I keep my marriage pretty private... Your advice about when and how is great. Love it! Thank you!

Elizabeth said...

thank you for sharing this. I struggle with this and your info is very helpful in gauging appropriate and inappropriate tranparancy. Elizabeth

mommy4life said...

I too am a recovering perfectionist. I so want to be Mary, but fall into my Martha persona too often.

I have been striving for healthy transparency and trying to reach out to mentors who do the same!

Thanks for your openness in sharing! I think it is a great WFMW post!

Joanne@ Blessed... said...

Thank you for your sweet comment over at LWG Angela. Your post here spoke loud and clear. I am sometimes too transparent. Probably have scared away a few people in my day. But, if the Lord is going to use another sister to speak to my heart, they had better be see-thru, like a wedding night-nighty!

Blessings friend.

Such The Spot said...

I am probably transparent to a fault. These are all great reminders of how and when to share.

Mrs. Sidney said...

What a great post!!

Falling Around said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. I believe many women struggle with the issue of expecting perfection from themselves, and hatred for themselves when they fall short. I KNOW I do.

I've had many days where I seriously thought my family would be better off if I just left them. On many occasions, I've even gotten into my car, drove to a secluded spot, and just cried and cried over feeling like such a failure. Life can be so overwhelming... even just the mundane things.

Transparency is something I am still struggling with because I came from a church family where everyone wore a mask to cover who they really are. Nobody dared to show weakness there for fear of judgement. This should not be so with fellow believers.

Thank you for the wisdom, transparency, humility, and love found here. Thank you for reminding us that it's okay to be imperfect because everyone is. Thank you for reminding us that God loves us regardless of our imperfections and that He is strong where we are weak.

I cannot tell you how much I need to hear this everyday. And it's comforting to know that I'm not alone - that someone out there has similar struggles.

Thank you for making yourself vulnerable to us by sharing this post. I deeply appreciate it.

Christy Klein

...The Obnoxious SAHM.... said...

What a great post. Wow.

Jenn said...

Your transparency is one of the things that drew me to your blog. I love your posts and I always come away blessed by reading them. Thanks for being who you are and sharing so openly of your struggles. I love you for it!

Jennifer Perkins said...

Oh, how do I understand that drive for perfectionism. (Let me count the ways...)

Your post today has encouraged me.

Transparency is hard, isn't it... but you are right when you say that it is in our failures that the Lord becomes so evident.

For when I am weak, then I am strong because HIS grace is sufficient for me because His power is made perfect in weakness. (II Cor. 12:9,10)

May we always remember to allow our weaknesses to glorify Him.

Darlene said...

authenticity is so important in our Christian walk, is it not. I appreciate your list on transparency... some great points.

His Girl said...

phenomenal points... been chattering much about that topic these days over at my blog, and I just can't get enough of all the cool thinks people have on the topic... well said!

Anonymous said...

Great post, but then you know this topic is near and dear to my heart!

I struggle sometimes with finding that appropriate level of transparency, now that I am determined to be transparent, so I appreciate the tips.

Wifey said...

Great post. You're always so inspiring. I'm so glad that you learned to be transparent and share so much of you and your wisdom with all of us!

Great advice for people who want to share, too. Thanks for all you do!

Winks & Smiles,

Mel said...

When I read others transparancy it helps me to know that I do not struggle alone in my faith walk.

Great list of how to's

KC Mom said...

Wow...this truly is a great post. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience so that someone else might benefit from what you've learned.
I know it's helped me.
Thanks for visiting my blog today..:)

Anonymous said...

This was an awesome post. I have a friend who is going through PPD right now. It has been a long road for her. She has gotten help and is doing much better now.

Muthering Heights said...

This is an excellent post...I too have struggled with post-partum issues, and sometimes it's hard to know just how transparent to be. You gave some great perspective!

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