One of the speakers at one of the conferences I attended recently talked about these two words as being different from each other when it comes to interactions with others. And it started me thinking. Then, at the next conference there was another session on vulnerability that kept me thinking about it.
The first speaker described being transparent with others as being honest at a safe distance. That made sense to me - I have done that in my own life. It is easy to let others know the truth about our circumstances or even about how we felt about something that has happened.
She then moved on to define being vulnerable as allowing someone to get close enough to tough you, and possibly even hurt you. Being vulnerable means we let people into our mess and letting them see what goes on beneath the surface of what we portray to the world around us. This is much harder to do - especially if you have been hurt doing this in the past.
The speaker at the second conference who spoke on vulnerability talked about three fears we have to overcome to be vulnerable: 1) the fear of being rejected, 2) the fear of being embarrassed, and 3) the fear of feeling inferior. The possibility of those things happening can definitely keep us from being vulnerable in any situation.
As I think more about it, I am beginning to wonder if being vulnerable with others is more vital to our lives than we give it credit for. We know that we were designed for community, but that community does not happen well when we are only transparent with one another. True community happens when we are vulnerable with others - when we take the chance of being hurt by others because we let them get that close.
So, I find myself evaluating my own life. Am I vulnerable with others? Or just transparent? Does something with this need to change in my life? What about in your life? Are you vulnerable with others? Or just transparent?