Authentic Sharing vs. Whining {The Grove – Power}

I am part of a small group of international coach trainers who affectionately, tongue-in-cheek, call ourselves the Super Heroes of the World. Our purpose is pursuing areas where God is pressing in and to respond by leaning into those places with a deep trust in our Father. We desire to live and lead from the heart, attune to God’s transformational presence in our walk, relationships, and work.

That sounds noble, right? Honestly, it’s mostly scary.

Intentional vulnerability involves continual choosing to open up places in my heart and life that I’d rather just keep circling back to again and again in my own journal. But there’s the rub. Keeping those places hidden in the recesses of private pondering rarely brings the power of breakthrough, healing, or transformation. It is in the authentic sharing with others that I gain perspective and insight.

I found this to be true in my Journey Group in a treasured season of being with soul friends committed to loving one another well. I have experienced this with my teams and with longtime friends, and oddly enough, sometimes with people I barely knew.

So, what’s all this have to do with POWER, our theme this week at Velvet Ashes?

I’m convinced the only power worth pursuing comes from God and He often chooses to express His power in and through community.

In moments of authenticity about our struggles, we experience the power of community infused with love and compassion.

In our need for redemption and rescue we receive the power of grace and mercy we long for among others.

In our weakness Christ’s power rests on us.

Here’s where I am not yet settled on how this works. What is the key to being authentic about challenges we experience and at the same time, be full of faith and hope in the hard places?

‘Cause, honestly, my “authentic sharing” can sound a lot like whining. And sometimes motivated with a tinge of self-serving manipulation, carefully selecting which aspects of my heart to expose, jockeying to look appropriately humble but not too untidy. That, my friends, is messed up!

How are vulnerability, authenticity, and power connected?

I would love to hear your insights on these thoughts I’ve been pondering.

True authenticity begins with first being honest with myself about the state of my heart and soul. Sometimes I am the last to see – and admit – a pattern of attitudes or behaviors reflecting a particular character weakness. Being in the midst of courageous souls who love me enough to help me see those places is a blessing infused with the power of love.

Being in a community of faith unafraid to embrace limitations and wrestle together with struggles is a powerful gift. I’m guessing it’s a reason you engage with Velvet Ashes.

When have you experienced this dynamic of the power of community?

I’m on a quest to learn how to delight in my weaknesses and limitations so Christ’s power can rest on me and work through me. I want to understand this – beyond theory and beyond platitudes – and live in true delight and gratitude for every single thing pushing me toward Him. Being irreversibly grateful for every weakness teaching me dependency on His grace and power.

I don’t mean the desperate back-against-the-wall dependency on God when you have no other choice. I mean purposed, relentless, persistent dependency on God moment by moment, compelled by a deep understanding of how good and powerful He is.

Dependency embedded in the truth it is not my effort, not my goodness, not my strength, wisdom, or power that will save the day. Dismissing the lingering lies that I am my own best hope for anything.

What does it mean for you, in this moment, to delight in weakness, in limitations and boundaries you didn’t choose? What does dependency look like for you these days?

Receiving power from God means a humble delight in the opportunity to lean into Him and depend on His powerful impartation of Himself in whatever I need in this moment. Not only in recognition of my need for Him, but knowing His motivation for meeting me in this need is His profound love and care for me. My struggles, weakness, limitations all invite me to be with Him and let Him be who He is in me. That is power!

What invitation is God extending to you? How are you responding?

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24 Comments

  1. Jodie October 20, 2016

    I love the way you’ve woven these thoughts together Patty! It made me think of an example where I was sharing/whining with close friends about how hard it was for me in the final stage of our adoption and I wanted to take any match (before we ran out of time) instead of waiting for the specific request we had been asking God for the past 6 1/2 years. Two different friends, in separate situations, shared that God put the story of Saul not waiting the appointed time for Samuel on their hearts to share with me. Through the authenticity of community, God gently rebuked me of my impatience. He gave me His power to keep waiting and He granted us our specific request of two from Gansu province.

    1. Patty Stallings October 20, 2016

      Jodie, thank you for sharing your story of empowerment through the authenticity of community and the wonderful outcome of your waiting! Such a perfect illustration of being empowered in order for the Lord to bring about His purposes for you and your family!

      1. Jodie October 21, 2016

        Thanks Patty. I just started reading Ruth Haley Barton’s Life Together in Christ and this passage really seemed to connect with your post: “The disciples on the Emmaus Road weren’t praying in any formal way. They were not having a Bible study or worshiping in the synagogue. They were not having a formal quiet time. They were discussing the stuff of their lives–all the things that had happened that were having such an impact on them spiritually and in every other way–and something about the nature and quality of their conversation opened up space for Jesus to draw near. And the encounter that took place among them was completely reorienting and life changing.

        That is the essence of Christian community. Before Jesus draws near, a group of people journeying together is merely a human community. Once Jesus joins us on the road, it becomes a Christian community. As we discover ways to open to Jesus’ transforming presence on the road between the now and the not yet, it becomes a transforming community.”

        1. Patty Stallings October 21, 2016

          I love that, Jodie. Thanks for adding this excerpt to the conversation. Blessings!

  2. Hadassah October 20, 2016

    “I don’t mean the desperate back-against-the-wall dependency on God when you have no other choice. I mean purposed, relentless, persistent dependency on God moment by moment, compelled by a deep understanding of how good and powerful He is.

    Dependency embedded in the truth it is not my effort, not my goodness, not my strength, wisdom, or power that will save the day. Dismissing the lingering lies that I am my own best hope for anything.”

    Patty, I love this! Because this is what I want, too. I often don’t reach for God until I’m up against a wall, as you said, but I long to reach for Him daily and be satisfied by His satisfaction in me, not my own. I need to keep this in front of me, especially for those days when I’m thinking of myself as God’s gift to the world!

    Also, I love what you said about being authentic in community. It’s been a lesson that the Lord has been teaching me over the past eight years abroad. When I think of the hard times, I almost always remember them as bitter-sweet, because I remember the people I’ve shared with and how they loved me through them.
    I’ve found that every time I choose to be authentic about my reality (not just what I want others to see as my reality), God sends me someone who is struggling in the same way to partner with me. In my vulnerability, He blesses me with deepened relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime.

    I always love what you write, Coach! Thank you;)

    1. Patty Stallings October 21, 2016

      Hadassah, thank you for sharing your experience with community. Being loved well by others through our hard times helps weave those difficulties into our story of God’s faithful care for us. You’ve been a blessed woman to have those dear friends. And I suspect they feel the same way about you!

      And this, “I long to reach for Him daily and be satisfied by His satisfaction in me”, must bring delight to our Father’s heart!

  3. Elizabeth October 21, 2016

    Ok, so this is not exactly on topic, but that whole we know how to share things just right so we look messy but not too messy? That’s a thing. That’s a definite thing. And we all do it. Ok, maybe not all of us — some people don’t share the mess at all — but any of us sharing the mess probably still control how we share the mess. Yikes! That admission is probably just a little bit too honest for most of us to try to admit, ha! But it’s true. We definitely do this.

    1. Emily Smith October 21, 2016

      I’ve been thinking about this a good bit recently. I’ve been realizing how tricky that balance is. Sometimes it is necessary to hide some of my mess because to expose it would be exposing someone else’s mess. And that many times would be equally inappropriate. Sometimes I have to give the sanitized version because the full story is not mine to tell. BUT there are times where it is definitely a control thing. I want to expose the mess and still come out looking good. Definitely a real thing.
      I’ve been on a long recovery path. I know this has been a journey to healing that God wants me to share more publicly as it happens. His power and transformation in my life have been incredible. It doesn’t already have a happy ending or resolution, but even in the middle of the pain it is a story of hope. But writing while the wounds are still raw is tricky business. I’m trying to stay real and honest while also recognizing when real and honest would just sound bitter and ugly and should be better left unwritten.
      On topic or not, this paragraph was the part that stood out the most to me as well. There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer, but there is a good bit to think about.

      1. Elizabeth October 21, 2016

        Yes — knowing what to share and what not to share, because all the details are not ours, that is a thing too.

        And how to navigate what to share publicly, and when — also a thing.

        I’m glad I wasn’t the only one drawn to that particular section 🙂

        I love hearing that you already see hope emerging in the middle of pain. May the Light be with you as you continue to walk through your recovery process.

      2. Patty Stallings October 21, 2016

        Emily, I so agree that sharing in a public forum needs to be measured in order to not dishonor another person involved. And sometimes waiting for the wound to begin to look more like a scar before sharing more publicly gives space for perspective and grace to grow. That is wisdom.

        But often we get stuck in trying to get to that place of healing because we aren’t being authentic with ourselves and with the two or three or five who are committed to walk us through the pain and the healing process. Those friends who are committed to love you enough to see past all the ugly and to believe with you there is beauty being faithfully exchanged for the ashes – those friends can handle the unedited version of how the pain is impacting your heart. We all need those soul friends who can listen to lament and do the labor of opening up the roof to lower us down on our mat to the Healer.

        I would love to hear your thoughts on the differences in sharing with an audience vs those committed to your wholeness. Such a good thing to wrestle with!

      3. M'Lynn October 22, 2016

        Nodding along here. I think authenticity is a balance, and as Patty points out that sometimes being able to share with 3 people who know your heart is really all we need. God might ask you to share with more, but he may not. Sometimes, my urge to share all, tell all is more about me than Him. That’s a thing, too. “Deliver me from the need to be understood” Audrey Assad sings. I sometimes think my urge to share all, tell all publicly is coming from a deep desire to be understood by all, and that’s never going to be the case. So, first, know I’m understood completely by Jesus. He sees it all and understands it before I do! Then, in the process, he’ll give us the wisdom of what to share and who to share it with.

      4. Emily Smith October 22, 2016

        Two, Three or Five people…that is all we really need isn’t it? And really having three people who you could truly trust with your heart, that is an incredible gift.
        M’Lynn, I think you hit on something big. Knowing Jesus sees and understands each one of us. And when everything goes through the filter of being fully known and fully loved by him…that is going to change how I communicate. It may mean sharing more. It may mean sharing less. But I think it has to remove a lot of the fear connected to showing the mess. You’ve definitely got me thinking.

        1. Patty Stallings October 22, 2016

          M’Lynn and Emily, I think you’ve uncovered a significant piece of this puzzle of when/how much/to whom we share. “When everything goes through the filter of being fully know and fully loved by Him…” those deep desires of being understood and known are filled up with Him. Beautiful!

          1. Jodie October 31, 2016

            I just listened to an interview with Glennon Doyle Melton about her book tour for Love Warrior and I found it really interesting. I wanted to share the link here. It’s an hour long, but especially the segment from 30 min to about 45 min she talks about public sharing and what she just shares with her people. When the pain or struggle is raw, it can be a cry for help or validation but after it’s been worked through, what you can offer publicly can be an act of service. https://m.soundcloud.com/goodlifeproject/glennon-doyle-melton

          2. Patty Stallings October 31, 2016

            Thanks for sharing this resource, Jodie. And for sharing the main gist of the section you highlighted. I am looking forward to listening to it when I finish traveling this week.
            By the way, we just had our Velvet Ashes Editors Planning Retreat, and it was so very good to be in person to hear one another’s hearts and draw hopes and truths from one another. I love this community!

    2. Patty Stallings October 21, 2016

      Yep, it is a thing.
      And I do think it’s on topic. I was once confronted with my inauthentic self as I carefully edited how a particular situation impacted me. I was angry, but wouldn’t admit it even to myself. But naming my anger in the company of friends empowered me to truly process how the residual effects of that experience continued to impact me and gave me the opportunity to grow from it by looking at the whole, not just the little piece I was willing to expose. It’s a powerful thing to be loved with truth and grace.

  4. MaDonna October 21, 2016

    “True authenticity begins with first being honest with myself about the state of my heart and soul. Sometimes I am the last to see – and admit – a pattern of attitudes or behaviors reflecting a particular character weakness. Being in the midst of courageous souls who love me enough to help me see those places is a blessing infused with the power of love.”

    I’m in a place where I am honestly seeking out “courageous souls”. I’ve had them in the past and really felt that the Lord kept my heart in check with their constant pointing to Jesus as they listened to me. We’ve lived in this city for a year now, but it’s time to find them…and as my mama always told me “to find a friend you have to be willing to be a friend.” And I’ve made friends, so now to be brave enough to ask for the accountability and permission to be a “courageous soul” in their life as well. Thanks Patti for your words of wisdom.

    1. Patty Stallings October 21, 2016

      I love your pursuit of courageous souls, MaDonna! In lives full of transition, how often we have to recreate that community of authentic friendship. It is a wise woman who knows that and seeks it out! May you find others who desire it as well.

      1. MaDonna October 21, 2016

        Thanks Patty. And sorry that I spelled your name incorrectly.

        1. Patty Stallings October 21, 2016

          I forgive you.:-)

          [That’s what my mama taught me. If someone has the courage to say they are sorry, even if it didn’t hurt you in any way, you owe them a grace-filled response. :-)]

  5. Ellie October 24, 2016

    I think our personality can affect how and who we share with. I can be a very “honest sharer” about a lot of things but can keep the things closest to my heart very deeply hidden and am just learning how to open those up to safe one or two friends is a blessing. And that sharing authentically with them can allow them to be honest about their deep desires and struggles too. (Actually, I’m just thinking now I write that how it’s often hardest to share the deepest *desires* because they are so special and so wanted that bringing them out into the light is scary because it has the most chance of “failure/not happening pain” whereas things that have happened already are easier. Sharing my hopes and wants is hard. And also how that starts with God and how often when I’m running away from prayer it’s because I have a want or a need I don’t want to get real with him about – hah! The helpful power of denial! )

    1. Patty Stallings October 31, 2016

      Ellie, I so appreciate your insights on this. I also find that desires and hopes can be harder to share than things that have happened. It takes so little to tap those back under the surface. But what a gift it is to have that trusted friend who draws them out, holds them gently, and nurtures them.Those are sacred moments!
      It helps me to remember every good desire is embedded in our souls by our Father, who longs to fill the desire with Himself in order to free us up to enjoy what He has given us!

  6. Joanna October 24, 2016

    Thank you for sharing on this topic! I copied this article to revisit when I’m in the village without internet, and I also sent it to a friend who is currently serving in her village. Both of us needed to read these words.

    1. Patty Stallings October 31, 2016

      I love, love this photo, Joanna. So much joy!
      And I feel honored that you saved this to revisit. Thanks for sharing!

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