The Road That Is Transparency

Somewhere between 2010 and 2012 I stumbled upon a new-to-me road.  It was named Transparency, and it seemed to be THE place to be.  Everyone began talking about it.  Bible study groups and Sunday school classes often provided a front row seat from which to gaze upon a traveler of this road, hanging on every exposing word.   And slowly, more and more people began to share their experiences through storytelling they safely called “being transparent”.  At lightning speed, actually, this thing became a modern-day buzz word in Christian roadway mapping.

This road seemed safe, as more and more people got on board.  Initially, I was envious of those who were brave enough to set foot on that pathway.  I wondered, “does it hurt to tread along a  trail made up of brokenness and discord?”  But then I imagined, “it must be awfully freeing to let it all hang out whilst cruising Transparency Road at a moderate speed with the windows down”.   Just years before this, it would have been unheard of to take a trip down Transparency Road.  It would have been a road avoided by all.

I jumped on the bandwagon at some point, believing that if I shared the raw details of my experiences from Transparency Road, somehow someone who heard may be encouraged, or helped.  I wondered if sharing out loud would somehow justify things that had happened and bring salve to wounds that had yet to completely heal, all while sparing someone else from going through a similar experience.

I realized soon, though, that the more and more people talked about themselves from a safe-to-them vehicle traveling down this road – the more I shared from my own Transparency Road car – the less satisfying and intriguing the position from this highway.  Stories from Transparency Road are initially captivating, leaving spectators hanging on the experiences, wanting more.  It’s almost like socially acceptable rubbernecking.  Who doesn’t love a good story that makes you go, “Wow, that happened” or “I can’t believe you did that” and so on?  We like the shock value of hearing raw details.  Why is that?

But here’s the thing:  Transparency Road is not a final destination.  It does not stand on its own.  It is not a cul-de-sac.  The Transparency Road is literally a self-serving route when the traveler never leaves its pathway.  That’s why stories that start and end on Transparency Road seem unfinished.  That’s why often a weird, haunting feeling of emptiness lingers.  Transparency is simply a road to journey on to get somewhere else.  It’s not a place to waller.  Is waller really a word even?

I can tell you all day long about things I did that I wish I didn’t do.
About things I said that I wish I didn’t.
Things I ate that I wish I didn’t.
People I hurt.
Scars I have.
Sins I’ve committed.
All day long, I can tell you this stuff that I wish I didn’t do.
I can share with you the dirty, ugly stuff that is who I have been – who I am – as I speak to you from a rolled-down window in my car as I travel Transparency Road.
But until I turn the corner onto Transformation Way, I am doing you a disservice in sharing my unfinished tales.

Transformation Way.

You know, if I ever for some reason go into development of neighborhoods, I will definitely have some good name ideas for streets.  Who wouldn’t love to live on Transformation Way?!  Or how about Transformed Place.

Transparency is great – WONDERFUL – if it leads you to be a TRANSFORMED PERSON who can share the story of His wonderful work of transformation through our journeys.  Our trials.  Our dirty, self-promoting, sinful missteps and off-road ventures.

Transparency is talk and transformation is action.

Transparency can make us feel “okay” and “excused”, or that our sins are less than tawdry, if we shove our weak, sinful moments into the light of inner and outer circles for all to gaze upon.  It puts the focus on the hands of the stone-throwers, and somehow makes our sins more palatable.  If care is not taken, being transparent can become a safe deflection.

At some point, Transparency Road needs to be abandoned for a smoother route along Transformation Way.

Think of Paul.  Lord knows, he traveled Transparency Road boldly.  In the face of those whom he had persecuted, Paul didn’t linger on Transparency Road long, but instead, shared of making that turn onto Transformation Way.  That is what makes sharing travels along these two pathways a Kingdom Builder.

There was this paramour.
And I hated her.
Loathed her.
Didn’t know her, only the act that gave her the paramour title.
Everything in me said, “Stone her”.
And Jesus said, “You who is without sin cast the first stone.”
And I knew instantly that I was guilty.
Dead in the dust.
The stones fell from my hands.

Now, in telling you this, I’m being transparent.  I hated.  I wanted to cause pain.  I did cause pain.  Name-calling.  Finger-pointing.  Ugly, ugly, ugly.

If my story ends there, I’ve shared nothing good, and made myself feel better for telling you how awful I am.  If I stop there, my story-telling ends with selfish motive.  I’m helping no one.  There may be other people who can relate, or may feel a connection to me and say “I did that, too!”, but if I don’t follow through by sharing with you how this very instant transformed me, I am not doing you any favors and worse, I’m not giving glory to the Father for His great transformation in me.

The rest of the story is this:

Though it took me years, I finally dropped the stones.
In doing so, I allowed the Holy Spirit to direct me.
I reached out to the woman, whom I previously identified with an accusatory name.
Gracefully, she reached back.
And ONLY because of My Savior’s great forgiveness, mercy and grace, I am filled with genuine love for this woman I now call my friend.  Family, even.

Only God can do that.  That is transformation.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Because of this experience, I am slower to judge.  And I’m more quickly to notice when my backpack becomes heavy with a stone or two.  I’m not saying I don’t judge.  And I’m not saying I don’t pick up stones.  Both things I am not proud of.  But they are things that I notice and rid myself of much quicker than I did years ago.

Transparency to Transformation.

The road that is Transparency leads to the way that is Transformation.

Thank you, Jesus, for being The Light and The Way.



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