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 different...by 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.