What If They Already Know? : Admitting the Flaws Others Already See
For the last couple of years, I’ve been discipling a young woman named Katie, who is working on being more honest in her friendships.
One day Katie asked me this very honest question: “I struggle with being judgmental. If I tell my friends about this struggle, won’t they just judge me every time they notice me judging others? Won’t I just make them really aware of it?”
“Well,” I responded, “What if your friends are already aware of it? And what if you admitting it makes them like you more, because now they know you are aware of it?”
Katie made a sound indicating that her brain might have just bubbled inside her head. It had honestly not occurred to her that others already saw this in her.
I remember the first time the same idea occurred to me many years ago: that my concealed character defects weren’t so concealed after all. I had been doing some soul searching, and realized I was kind of a glory hound. I’m a quilter, and I love to show love for friends and family by sewing them special things. But I also like to give the quilts away in front of an audience. I’m attached to the “oohs” and “aahs” of recognition. It hurt me to admit this to myself; I was ashamed of it.
But believing that bringing it into the light would help me grow, I went to two friends and admitted it. Both friends said, “You know, I already knew that about you.”
I just had to laugh. I’d been walking around with a plank in my eye – I mean, these women had seen me show up to baby showers and birthday parties and revel in the attention of giving these gifts – and believing that no one else saw it.
I learned a three-part lesson from this experience:
1. My issues are more likely to be hidden from myself than from my friends.
2. Despite having issues, I was deeply loved.
3. Admitting my issues did not make my friends respect me less, but more; humility is so much more attractive than pride.
Today, I’m proud of my friend Katie. I’ve watched her courageously pursue self-awareness, and then share her issues with safe people: her husband, her sister, her closest friends. She is learning that what the Bible says is true: that if we confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, we may be healed (James 5:16).
This is such a profound truth! When we admit our issues to one another, God heals us on many levels. He heals perfectionism and shame as our confessions are met with grace. He heals the disease of isolation and loneliness, as we learn that we can show people our real selves and most do not run screaming from the room. And He also works on those character defects we were so afraid to reveal; bringing them into the light takes away their power, and also allows us to get loving accountability from the friends who really know us.
So, if God reveals one of your issues to you, tell a friend. The odds are, she already knows. And you will be set free from shame by learning that you are already loved, issues and all.
Amanda is a Bible teacher, retreat and conference speaker, blogger and freelance journalist in Orange County, CA. Her speaking ministry, Heart in Training, reaches young mothers, women’s ministries and 12-step recovery groups around the country.