Thursday, June 21, 2012

The story behind the story

Have you ever been hesitant to share something about yourself, afraid it will reveal an unflattering portrait of your true self?

Now think to a time when you appreciated someone or something more than you would have had you not know the history, the struggles, the full story. Maybe it's your favorite work of art and the knowledge you have of the artist's intention behind the design. Or the compassion you feel for your neighbor with an ill family member. Or the constancy of love for your best friend despite what presents itself because you've seen the ups and downs.

Then why are we so hesitant to share our full self and present the real story? I've written about the case for vulnerability before, and I've seen in my own marriage how vulnerability and honesty allow us to love each other more fully. Like the new house that John and I are renovating, we're being stripped down to the studs and seeing each other to the core. And it's a beautiful process.

New house in progress! 

If we had bought our house newly renovated with freshly painted walls, shiny granite, and brand new siding, I would have thought it was charming and perfect. I would have thought the house's history was interesting. But I would not have fully appreciated its transformation. I would not look at the original wood floors and actually see where it came from and its history.

Instead, by watching dry wall be installed and colorful tile put up in the bathrooms, I recognize that to value the beauty in renewal, you must know the ugly parts too.

In marriage, I am able to love John so much more because I know the depths of his heart, because I know his story. In Atlanta, we have made close friends because we've shared our stories with one another - trials, heartbreak, triumphs, hope.

So often society tells us to first get our act together, present ourselves in the best light, and only then can we step out and be liked and accepted. But think about your closest relationships. My guess is that they are the ones that know your full story - and you know theirs - and you love each other because of it.

My hope is that by letting others see the story behind the story that we can enter into more meaningful friendships and relationships. And in doing so, we will appreciate the beautiful transformation that is taking place in each other's hearts every day.

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