fear of being known
Ten years ago I lost one of the best Executive Assistants I have ever had— to marriage. It was a bitter-sweet parting. I was excited for her to begin her new life while dreading the thought of the immense effort it would take to teach someone all the intricacies of NEEDinc. Just before she left we had our debriefing, our exit-interview. As I reviewed her incredible services to NEED, and to me, her somewhat scattered, visionary, prophetic, CEO, she rehearsed what I needed to do to make sure her replacement understood both the good and the bad of working with me. [Was I really that clueless a boss?]
As we wound down I asked her what she most looked forward to in being married. She answered with the usual young bride-to-be responses—the safety, the love, the end to the hunt for the right one, etc. Then I asked her if she had any concerns about getting married; with little hesitancy she replied “Being known.” The thought of living 24/7 with the same person for the rest of her life terrified her. I tried to assure her that that was actually the best part of marriage. She was not assuaged. Of course, today, she looks back at herself and wonders at her needless anxiety…, and laughs.
Still, there are many leaders, Christian, political, and business, who wear a mask, a persona—who fear being uncovered, found-out, exposed for who they really are if their façade of bravado, or pseudo-confidence were to be ripped asunder. Some, with good reason: because they are pretentious manipulators, users of others; but not all. Many leaders are genuinely…, well, genuine. Of a truth, degrees of transparency are still tied intrinsically and socially to degrees of intimacy and propriety. But for some, the very idea of anyone else knowing who they truly are horrifies them. What if they find out my fears? My failures? What if my wife discovers I was unfaithful once…, twice? What if those under my charge learn I don’t always know what to do, that I fake it? What if that perpetual underlying struggle I have with sin emerges? What if… ? What if… ? Their fear seethes just below the surface, binding them ever more tightly to their artificial avatar.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Confession is good for the soul, is still true. True to God, for sure. We ALL need His forgiveness and mercy. But also to those we’ve wronged. Saying something that is not true is not to misspeak; it is a lie.
Overcoming a fear of being known is not a simple matter. It starts with little revelations, small disclosures that test the worthiness, the trustworthiness, of another. This often takes years. It helps if you have skills in reading people; you can weed out those who care and those who don’t much more easily when you have these abilities. But the key ingredient to overcoming a fear of being known is to realign the foundation of who you are, your core values, that which makes you…, YOU, to come into line with the very God who made you. If you are not comfortable with the people around you knowing you, then you can be sure that being known by the God of the Universe is a terrifying, absolutely petrifying matter.
Even here there is good news and bad news. First, the good news— He already knows you; He knows everything you think, do, plan to do, etc. The good and the bad. And He accepts you the way you are. Now the bad news— He already knows you. The good and the bad. He accepts you the way you are; but He will not leave you the way you are. He needs you to represent Him and accomplish His MISSION on this earth. For that, you must change, be different, less self confident, more confident in Him. He needs you not to fear being known, but to rest in the reality that He knows you, all of us, intimately. And He wants all of us to enter into His Kingdom and to live by the principles He has set down for our protection. He wants us to enter His Heaven…, on His terms, not on ours. In the mean time, we should be making a difference in the here-and-now with who we are, rather than expending a great deal of energy pretending to be someone we are not.
So if you are afraid of being known…, give it up. It’s too late. You already ARE known. “Fear not… !”
Have a nice week.