There is something both beautiful and terrifying about being real and vulnerable with others. It is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage. But while the thought of opening up to others may be scary and intimidating, it ends up being more freeing than you can imagine.
Growing up, the only people that really knew me were those who were related to me. I had friends, sure, but I didn’t bother to fully let my guard down when I was with them. Maybe I was scared of getting hurt by them, or maybe I was too self-centered to care about getting to know them. It never occurred to me that I was missing out on so much by closing myself off - at least not until I came to college and met the people that have become my closest friends.
It's easy to assume that you're safer by not letting others past your defensive walls. I remember telling myself that I was better off not letting anyone get to know me, and better off by not investing in other people. That way, I thought, I would never risk being let down or disappointed by anyone. I wasn't always lonely, but I was alone.
It was comfortable and safe, me being on my own. And I did nothing to try and change that.
But no man is an island. Humans are social creatures, not reclusive hermits. We need relationships with others! Also, God didn’t task us with leading comfortable, solitary lives. He commanded us to go out into the world and lead others to Him. Closing yourself off to others and going it alone is not only railing against the way you are wired, but it goes against what God has called you to do.
How can we point others to God if we do not speak to them and develop relationships with them? How can we be reflections of Christ to non-believers when we are not willing to go out to the lost and show them His kindness and love?
Probably the most compelling argument I've heard for opening up to others is this: every person, every individual, every stranger and friend -they are all eternal beings. Each is in possession of a soul – a soul that will exist for all of eternity.
I used to always say “Who cares? What does it matter whether or not I smile at this stranger or say hello to that Walmart clerk? It’s not like I’ll ever see these people again.”
But actually, I will. Everyone will spend eternity existing together, whether in heaven or hell.
So here is my challenge - and I’m giving it to myself as well as you! Do not close yourself off. Do not allow yourself to become so reserved that you miss opportunities to interact with your fellow, eternal souls.
Look outward. Go outside! How will you encounter outreach opportunities if you never leave your safe bubble and venture out into the world? Ask the Lord for guidance. I promise that He’ll use you to connect with others!
People are going to let you down and hurt you - nobody is perfect. But deciding to open up yourself to others also creates an opportunity for others to love and support you. Take it from someone who has been there, done that: the beauty and acceptance that comes with being known is so much greater than your fear of pain!