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Since I can remember I was afraid. Afraid of what people thought. Afraid of friends not liking me. Afraid of parents not approving of me. So I hid. Hid what I really thought, felt, and did. And I’m not the only one. Almost everyone hides at least some of their life. Most people only show their facebook lives, showing the good times and sharing the superficial. It takes courage to share it all.

One thing I have learned over the years is just because you feel fear doesn’t mean you have to live by it. Quite the contrary. If you identify the fear, you can choose to be courageous.  It’s when we lie to ourselves and pretend we aren’t afraid or just listen to our fear and blindly trust it that the fear owns us. And the most courageous thing we can do to beat the fear is to be honest.

Why aren’t we honest?

Here is the judgment. Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light. They loved darkness because what they did was evil. 20 Everyone who does evil deeds hates the light. They will not come into the light. They are afraid that what they do will be seen. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes into the light. They live by the truth with God’s help. They come into the light so that it will be easy to see their good deeds.

John 3:19-21 (NIRV)

Most people are afraid to come out into the open (into the light), so we hide. But why?

We all want to be liked, valued, respected, and believed in. However, we often fear that if we become truly known, then people will see all of us (the good, the bad and the ugly). We become fearful that if people knew our flaws, weaknesses, sins, inner thought life, the ugly part of us, they will not want to be our friend. Because the darkness allows us to be in control of the image we portray, we learn to love the darkness.

I know what it is to live in darkness. In college I lived one way around my girlfriend, another way around my friends and still another around my family. I hid sins that made me feel guilty. I did not want to hurt the people I cared about.  This created distance in all my relationships. Although I was around people all of the time, no one really knew me.  I learned from the scriptures that with God’s help I could be completely honest. This taught me to obey the bible instead of my fear. And for the first in my life I was 100% myself and it was extremely freeing.

When we are honest about our sin and weakness we can change.  When we change it becomes clear to everyone. There are some things we can change on our own however, there are many things we will not be able to change without God.

Why is honesty important?

Here is the message we have heard from him and announce to you. God is light. There is no darkness in him at all. 6 Suppose we say that we share life with God but still walk in the darkness. Then we are lying. We are not living out the truth. 7 But suppose we walk in the light, just as he is in the light. Then we share life with one another. And the blood of Jesus, his Son, makes us pure from all sin.

1 John 1:5-7 (NIRV)

God is light. Which means he is truth, living in the light, not deceiving or hiding anything from us. If you want to be close to God, you have to live in the light as well.  Living in the light requires complete honesty.  If you want to be close to people and have real friends you have to practice complete honesty. Honesty builds trust and creates intimacy.  We learn this at a young age.  I remember at 10 years old spending the night at a friends house and after getting in my sleeping bag and the lights were out us telling each other the girls we liked at school. It felt vulnerable, it was honest and we felt closer after sharing some simple truths.

On a larger scale, the more honest we are the more close we will be to our friends and with God. Without honesty we build acquaintances and buddies, but not the depth of friendships that God desires. Many people identify friendships with longevity which create memories that have been shared throughout the years. Honesty, however, builds genuine closeness that will stand the test of time.

Honesty is Courageous

The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off
even when no one’s after them;
Honest people are relaxed and confident,
bold as lions.

Proverbs 28:1 (MSG)

When we are hiding sin, we worry about what people are thinking about us and want to run from them. Have you ever been “edgy with guilt,” you know…anxious, nervous, impatient, critical, suspicious, irritable or defensive?  This often is what we happens when we believe someone is getting close to the truth.  The truth is people are rarely thinking about our sin.

There are 5 ways we hide…

  1. Superficial conversations – Talking about sports, circumstances or work for example and never about our personal life.
  2. Silence – Remain quiet when a relationship or conversation might reveal the truth
  3. Lie – Tell people something untrue so they can’t discover what’s really going on.
  4. Deceive Ourselves – Tell ourselves a lie or ignore the truth so much that by the time we talk to anyone about it we are unaware of the truth or now believe our own lie.
  5. Isolate – Run from relationships, ignore calls or texts in order to stay hidden.

Which one(s) do you identify with?

People will be as close to you as you will let them. When we hide it leaves us lonely and isolated, even when others are around.  When we are honest we are calm, confident, courageous and close.

One of the most courageous things you can do is to be honest about what you really think, what you really feel and what you have really done. This leads to true courage.  Courage that is achieved when you care more about what God thinks than what people think.  

Ask yourself the questions:

  • How courageous am I?
  • How honest am I?
  • Is there anyone who knows everything about me?

If you want to change, you have to start with honesty.

Choose To Be Courageous…

  1. Be honest with yourself. Write down what you’re hiding and why.
  2. Be honest with God. Pray and tell God what you are afraid of. Ask God for the courage to be honest. Find a scripture you are going to obey, This will help you focus on God rather than people.
  3. Be honest with your friends. Choose two friends to be honest with today. Tell them everything. Start by saying, “I’m afraid to be honest about this, but here it goes…”. Apologize where needed and let them know the reasons why you are being honest.  This is what courageous looks like.


Written by

Nick Straw

Nick Straw is a Santa Clara University alum, and is passionate about ministry and community service work in the San Francisco Bay Area.