We were not meant to live as self-reliant, independent operators. Yet many of us choose to live this way because we are afraid of vulnerability. Being known scares us. Admitting feelings or failures shames us. Somewhere, life taught us that openness was dangerous, so self-protection becomes huge. Fences and defenses keep people at arms length. Being competent and in control keeps our weakness and struggles out of the reach of others. No wonder we feel alone when we struggle with loneliness, temptation, and pain. The walls around us are thick. Furthermore, the effort we pour into image maintenance separates us from who we really are. Hiding the “real me” from others sadly hides the “real me” from me. Image management, pretense – it’s a lonely, diseased road.
Clearly, we were not designed to journey alone. Without trusted friends, we wither and sometimes die. God created us for community and interdependence – with him and with others. We need others. We need their wisdom in unmasking defense mechanisms that keep the truth at bay. Many of us can not get through a day or a relationship without falling back on rationalization, denial and blame. And our blind spots hinder us from recognizing how manipulative and hurtful these defenses are. However, what we can not see is often blatantly visible to others. Without their help and love and truth, we will never know the taste of real freedom.
Taken from the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us
by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun.