Fear of Exposure
Some people naturally feel more comfortable around others--we generally call these people "extroverts." We believe that it's a personality thing, something we either have or don't have. But what if feeling comfortable around people has less to do with our outward personality and more to do with our inward beliefs? There are several common beliefs that a woman may have that prevent her from feeling comfortable around other people, like:
- not being good enough
- not being pretty enough
- not being smart enough
And there are other beliefs she may have, like:
- if people really knew me, they wouldn't love me
- if people knew what I've done, they'd never respect me
I can tell you that all of those beliefs are lies. But they are powerful. They prevent us from living full lives and having meaningful relationships.
It's those last two beliefs (or lies) that I want to focus on today, because it's this fear of exposure that keeps us from living authentically. When we are afraid to show who we really are--the good and the bad--we will always be uncomfortable and anxious. There will always be an underlying worry that we'll be "found out."
There are two important steps to rid yourself of that fear of exposure...
Let go of the shame
If you're feeling shame, it's because you have guilt that you have not dealt with. Whereas guilt should call us to action, shame will always hold us in bondage. God wants us to feel guilt for the wrongs we have done, but guilt is uncomfortable, so instead of bringing our guilt to God and making things right, we bury it.
We allow our guilt to be used by the enemy to grow our shame and keep us shackled. That shame separates us from God and it separates us from other people.
If you feel shame for things you have done, come clean with God. Feel the depth of your guilt, open up your heart and pain to God, and allow Him to forgive you and shine His light into those dark places.
There are things in my past that I'm not proud of, but I've been forgiven, confessed, and made things right. Sure, I would rather those things not be how people know me, but if any of my past mistakes came to light again, I wouldn't be ruined. I can feel regret without feeling shame. And I can live in the freedom of authenticity instead of the fear of exposure.
Live above reproach
After you've dealt with the shame of your past, you'll want to keep living in the light. By experiencing God's forgiveness, it helps us to appreciate God's love and grace. You won't want to go back to living a life that brings guilt, shame, darkness and separation.
That doesn't mean we won't ever make mistakes, but it does mean that when we mess up, we deal with it right away. We don't have to allow our stumbles to turn into falls.
When you deal with your sins and shortcomings right away, you build integrity with others and closeness with God.
In my own life, I feel pretty comfortable being open and honest with people, even on a raw and intimate level. The only way I am able to do that is by living my present life above reproach. There is nothing in my life right now, or in the recent past, that would destroy my integrity or reputation if it came to light.
What that means is that I'm not worried about being exposed or found out. My life is mostly an open book. I still lose my patience with my kids more than I would like. And I wouldn't like the world to know the details of my and my husband's sex life.
But, I choose to make decisions for my life that would not bring me or my family shame or disgrace. I choose to make decisions with the consequences (not the immediate gratification) in mind. And when (not if) I mess up, I come clean to God and those whom I have hurt.
If you've ever wondered why you feel far from God and closed off from important people in your life, take some time to pray. Ask God if there are things in your life that you need to "come clean" about so that you can get rid of that fear of exposure and starting living in freedom.