Motherhood can be incredibly lonely. But I don’t think it’s meant to be that way.
I’m preaching to myself when I say that transparency in parenthood is vital. I err on the side of saying “Everything’s okay!” when the truth is, parenting has its share of challenges. The good news is that when we open up and allow ourselves to be vulnerable — when we share what’s really going on — we invest in the health of our friendships, our families, and ourselves.
But here’s the million dollar question: How do we do it? How do we find time to cultivate relationships to the point that we are willing — and able — to share the good, bad, and the ugly? How do we take a deep breath and step into the kind of vulnerability that leads to health and healing?
5 Ways We Can Cultivate Transparency
- Share our struggles. It is so easy to safeguard myself to the point of isolation. And I worry that if I do share what I’m struggling with or what challenges my kids are working through, it’s admitting defeat. Because strong, independent women don’t ask for help. OHMYWORD…it’s so easy to believe that lie. But the truth is that it takes a heaping amount of strength to let go of the “I got this” mentality. Sharing our weakness makes us stronger. It is scary. It is risky. It is worth it.
- Stop striving for perfection. If we really want to start getting real, we need to stop adding sheen. We all know that nobody’s perfect — but that doesn’t stop us from trying to be perfect, anyway. We all have cracks in our pavement, and trying to cover them up is a cheap fix. But when we’re willing to be transparent, others see that. And it’s encouraging. It’s refreshing. It’s contagious. Let’s put away our masks and stop the charade of perfection. Let’s be women who acknowledge that we don’t have it all together — and that’s more than okay.
- Seek wisdom. Open yourself up to the right person. Who is in your life right now whom you can trust? Who can you confide in without opening yourself up to unnecessary judgement? Who is there to listen and to guide — to offer wisdom, not just advice? Who will open her arms when you need it and cry with you when words just don’t seem to be enough? When I am struggling with something related to adoption, I seek counsel with a few women I know who have been in (or are in) the trenches themselves. When I was at my wit’s end with nursing, I turned to a few ladies I know who have been there, done that. It is so comforting to fall back into the arms of someone who has gone what you’ve gone through. We all just want to know that we are not alone.
- Stand by others. We need to remember catch our sisters when they’re falling, too. And to have grace and compassion when someone makes herself vulnerable. That means listening without interruptions. Keeping things confidential. Committing to come alongside her and enter into what she’s going through. Just being there. And sometimes it’s awkward. And sometimes it’s exhausting to share others’ burdens. It’s easier to grab coffee and discuss the finer points of French press vs. pour-over, but when you dig deeper, you’re planting a relationship that really will bloom into something beautiful.
- Spend time in prayer. Scripture says that when two believers come together, God is right there among us. God knows our burdens, our anxieties, our worries, our stresses, our fears. All of it. And He asks us to cast it on him. The creator of the universe, the curator of the world sees our pain and just as we enter in one another’s pain, he enters into it with us. How amazing that He sees us for the beautiful new creations that we are in Christ, not the frazzled failures that we sometimes feel like. There is rest for the weary, and when we spend time with others and with God, we begin to feel that renewal.
All of this has been on my heart after a really tough morning, a culmination of, honestly, a really tough couple of months. I admit, I have a lot of fears regarding my sweet boys. I worry about them. I hurt for them. I wake up with anxieties and go to bed with them, too. I want to fix things and I can’t. I want to erase Joseph’s hurts and I can’t. I struggle with what is OK to share and what is over-sharing. What do I keep private? And if I utter things aloud, does that make them real?
I’m sometimes embarrassed to admit that I have doubts. It’s murky. It’s hazy. I have to remember that we’re all wrestling here. And I have to stand firm on the truth that there is light in the darkness of this motherhood journey. I have to remember that it is a journey I don’t have to embark on alone. There are some pretty amazing women that God has put in my path who will enter into some of that suffering with me. Now I just need to stretch out my hand and step forward.
Let’s all remember that we are not alone. We are in this together. And when we share our burdens with each other, we’re better for it.
In 2 Thessalonians, Pauls ends his letter to the church with this: So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.