This current series on the traits of a God Buddy relationship is describing the characteristics that help us develop deeper friendships to become better men. In prior posts, we learned that Finding Commonality leads to Developing Trust in emerging friendships. You then request complete Confidentiality to get to the next phase in your God Buddy relationship.
The next trait is Demonstrating Vulnerability, Authenticity, and Transparency, which means exposing your weaknesses and sins to someone in order to begin the process of emotional and spiritual healing.
First, let’s separate the three words: Vulnerability, Authenticity, and Transparency to define what each actually means.
The Same but Different
According to this post (written from a perspective for creative people but very applicable to maturing friendships), being vulnerable, authentic, and transparent helps you cultivate meaningful connections with other human beings. But what is the difference between each of these three traits?
The word “Vulnerable” is derived from the Latin noun vulnus (“wound”) and Latin verb vulnerare, meaning “to wound”, which later became the Latin adjective vulnerabilis, or “vulnerable” in English during the early 1600s. Vulnerable originally meant “capable of being physically wounded” or “having the power to wound.”
In other words, someone or something can be vulnerable to criticism or failure as well as to a literal wounding.
However, there is another aspect of vulnerability, which means courageously opening yourself up to inspection.
Research professor Dr. Brené Brown has studied vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame for over 15 years. In her groundbreaking, TED Talk on the “The Power of Vulnerability”, Brown says “We need to let ourselves be seen. Deeply seen. To love with our whole hearts. To practice gratitude and joy. To believe that we are enough.”
Brown also suggests that being truly vulnerable and authentic is the only way we can deeply connect with others but it requires courage to let yourselves be seen for who you really are.
Authenticity is letting go of who you “should be” in order to be who you really are. Elle Luna, artist and writer, illustrates the concept in her essay titled, “At The Crossroads of Should and Must“:
“Should is how others want us to show up in the world — how we’re supposed to think, what we ought to say, what we should or shouldn’t do. It’s the vast array of expectations that others layer upon us. When we choose Should the journey is smooth, the risk is small.“— Elle Luna
Authenticity is not living according to what you should be in other people’s eyes. It’s removing the proverbial mask to reveal your true self instead of the false self so many guys show.
By definition, transparency is the condition of being transparent with clarity, openness, accountability, straightforwardness, and candor. Transparency is living a more honest and fulfilling life. It requires moving past fear to truly connect with others.
Penney Peirce, an expert on personal transformation and intuition, recently wrote a book about transparency. She writes: “Transparency helps you learn that when you’re transparent, there is great power in being seen for all of who you are.”
She means that a person who is transparent is secure in themselves and honest enough to not fear being judged. It also means letting people know you’re not perfect and have made mistakes, but have worked to improve or eliminate them.
As you learn to become more transparent, you no longer feel the need to hide behind your mask and have eliminated your fear of being known by others.
Transparency is being seen for all of who you are.
Vulnerability+Authenticity+Transparency= God Buddy Honesty
In total, vulnerability, authenticity, and transparency are about letting yourself be seen for who you are and not portraying yourself as someone else. It’s removing the fear of being known deeply by a trusted friend. It’s reaching a deeper level of God Buddy honesty with each other.
Being vulnerable, authentic, and transparent is something people tend to avoid. Displaying even the slightest appearance of any of these characteristics is often viewed as showing weakness; another fallacy for men. However, practicing these also leads us closer to intimacy with our God Buddy and ultimately deeper healing from God.
The author of the book of James encourages us to open up to one another so we can get released from our sins.
Therefore, confess your sins [faults] to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.—James 5:16
The writer of Proverbs also encourages us to be transparent and not hide your sins and weaknesses.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”— Proverbs 28:13
Why Is It So Hard to Be Open?
In my experience, there are many personal and cultural reasons why we shy away from vulnerability, authenticity, and transparency. There’s no doubt it is scary but it only forms deeper wounds that worsen when left unattended.
Concealment of our failures and hiding weaknesses prevents shame or discomfort. But it also sabotages our ability to make close friendships since it pushes away the opportunities for real connection and healing.
As we practice vulnerability, authenticity, and transparency, you no longer pretend to be someone you’re not in order to get people to like you. Once you allow ourselves to be open, you remove your masks and expose yourself to one another. It also helps keep us accountable to the ways of God to begin to experience healing and restoration. Yes, it does take courage but it is worth every bit of risk to connect more deeply with others.
My encouragement is to get around God Buddies who embrace these traits of vulnerability, authenticity, and transparency. They will model it for you and help you practice it.
The next practice is good listening skills and showing empathy, which are the topics of the next post.
As always, feel free to comment on this topic or the entire series below.