Sit down next to your friend and tell them your story. What happens? Do you cry? Do you laugh? Do you tense up? Do you freeze in fear? Transparency is something that throughout time has been vital in storytelling. To see the whole picture and feel emotion we need the whole story. So often in our culture it is frowned on to speak of the tough times or the low times in our lives. It is not pretty to talk about the despair we experienced when what we thought to be a safe world, goes asunder, when the marriage we vowed to commit to for our lives gets torn in two, or when the child we expected to be healthy and thriving looses a battle to depression or cancer. To speak our truth it demands for transparency and this one thing keeps us from connecting with those around us.
During the Christmas season I keep a picture of the nativity scene in my mind. It is simple and ordinary and doesn’t involve the large cast of the nativity scene, but the smaller one with only the main characters. I go to it when I see splashes of Santa across the internet and throughout the stores begging for my attention. I want to remind myself of this story and it takes an intention to sit and reflect on a story that has been told to me hundreds of times since childhood.
I was sitting last evening reflecting on the complexities of Mary’s situation in life when she was carrying Jesus in her womb. I think about all of the things that Mary could have hid from society to make her birth appear more flowery. Appearances are what many people go by in our culture. It is easy to hide the complexities of our lives from people behind closed doors. The story of Jesus’ birth is courageous simply because of the transparency in the details of the real struggles Mary and Joseph faced along their journey. Pull a few of those details in the story and if they were your reality you may choose to hide and not tell those painful parts of your story. What does hiding parts of yourself from others do? It creates a tunnel of isolation. Sure, for a time you may become to believe that the painful parts of your life are not your reality, but the fact is that they are, and they will continue to follow you throughout your life until you become transparent and connect with humanity.
I often ask myself, why are you talking about your junk Joanna? Why are you putting so much of yourself out there for people to read and even judge? The reality is that my life is made up of many complexities. I do not want them to hinder me from being connected with humanity. I want my story to be told with transparency so that others may find courage to come out of isolation and join a community of people who love and care for them.
It would have been very simple for the writers to keep out the part of the story where Mary wasn’t married and about to give birth. They could have kept the part out where Joseph didn’t plan properly for his family and was left having his child born in a dirty atmosphere. The shame that these two may have felt for not having things exactly together and their lives not being completely perfect could have caused them to hide their story of hope from humanity. The realities of our life and the things that we have walked through give hope to those who may be experiencing that storm today. Masking parts of our story is pushing hope out of our world. Tell your story to others. It may feel and even sound ordinary but every complexity spoken with transparency will bring hope to humanity.