Why are we afraid to be real? Or am I the only one to have this fear? Vulnerability in my life shapes itself in two divergent areas: fear of not being perfect and fear of being real. Perhaps the two are intertwined, but I'll probably figure that out by the end of the post since I think best when writing.
Lets approach the first fear of not being perfect. The disadvantage of being told your intelligent, or being an A student in high school and college is that you suddenly are afraid to be wrong on anything. To maintain your air of intellectual superiority you have to stick to your guns at every turn and defend rather than explore possibilities. I realize that this fear has been one that has grown tremendously in my life after graduating college with a good GPA. I am now afraid to speak my mind or heart in fear of being looked down upon for not knowing the truth, not knowing the real issue, or perhaps even being narrow-minded (for those of you shocked by this statement, just know that I often hold back!).
This fear is not near as pervasive as the fear of being real. I have long struggled with the idea that we must continually be infallible within the church. When you go to worship you hardly ever see someone suffering, and if someone is failing to be "joyful" they are avoided like the plague. Why is this? My theory is that this superficial surface-level image that is brought to church is a reaction to the legalism we experienced in the church growing up. The modern church (correct me if I'm wrong oh wise Reformation scholar) taught Christians that the one true way to heaven was to be morally and spiritually perfect, a standard which was impossible to uphold. So instead of admitting that we are fallen we tried to portray that we are perfect and free from sin.
The interesting thing is that vulnerability is extremely healthy! My good friend Ann and I used to discuss this principle and how it often brought people closer together even though it seems antithetical to conventional wisdom. I have secretly hated James 5:16 for much of my life. To quote the New King James (boy I'm old school!): "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed." What a thought!
Ok, so I didn't figure it out whether these fears are intertwined, but then again, maybe I'm not supposed to...