How Our Failure Can Foster Friendship

Jana Carlson

Jana Carlson

God used an embarrassing moment to remind me of the rewards of being real. There is risk in vulnerability, but deep friendship is impossible without it.

Our own insecurity is often the biggest hindrance to fostering the kind of friendships we desire. We’re afraid of exposing “the real me”, afraid no one would want to be our friend if they knew the depth of our struggles or the flaws in our character.

If we’re going to walk in the sweet fellowship for which we’ve been created, we need to let down our guard a bit. It’s non-negotiable. It’s an absolute necessity.

God reminded me of this recently in a moment of unintentional exposure.

That Time I Was Embarrassed At Work

I had a moment at work that completely overwhelmed me with embarrassment. Lest you’ve conjured up some unrealistic impression of me as someone who “has it all together”, I’m going to shatter that false image right here, right now.

I’d already been at work for at least an hour, interacting with my coworkers, getting up from my desk, walking to the printer, and getting a cup of tea.

On one of those brief errands, something caught my eye on the hem of my jeans. I bent lower and lifted my leg for a closer look. “What in the world?!” There was a strange loop hanging from the hem. It looked completely unfamiliar to me and was not the same color as my jeans. I tugged at the loop, and…

Out came a pair of panties!

Oh. My. Can you believe it? Right there, at work, standing helplessly with a pair of panties in my hand and nowhere to hide them!

That Time I Exposed the Real Me

I tried to cover it up. I balled up those beauties and tried to sneak them into my desk drawer.

The problem is my inability to hold things in. I have to share everything with someone!

Within minutes, I had all my coworkers in stitches. We were laughing until our sides ached and tears streamed down our faces.

The beautiful thing was the feeling I got when one of my coworkers said, “Oh, Jana, that’s totally happened to me, too!” It was a moment of genuine camaraderie… the kind that can’t be orchestrated, especially in an office setting!

We’ve since joked about my mishap countless times and I’m no longer embarrassed about it. The resulting enjoyment of our entire staff was worth my shameful confession.

And therein lies the lesson. (I thought for days about how I could put a spiritual spin on wayward lingerie. Here’s what I’ve come up with.)

Realness is Relatable

There is a powerful bond that forms when we allow ourselves to become vulnerable. When we remove the masks and put off the false fronts, we show others that we’re real humans, too. We have fears and failures. We mess up sometimes. We all do.

So why are we so afraid to just be real about it?

The week I blogged about “What If I Don’t Feel Like Reading the Bible?“, I was surprised by the number of responses I got from women who were so grateful I admitted that this is something I’ve experienced. They said they’ve been too ashamed to talk about it, to ask for help, because they expected to be judged as “unspiritual” or “not godly enough”.

This grieves my heart.

We need fellowship. We were not created to do life on our own. It’s why we’re called the Body – every part needs the others (1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 4:16).

But we’re slow learners. We struggle to actually live this out, to open up and let people in.

The Rewards of Being Real

There is risk in vulnerability. No doubt about that. But the rewards? The rewards are immeasurable. (I’ve shared in another post about some of the painful responses I’ve received when trying to open up to others. It would actually be an excellent companion read when you’re done with this one.)

Sharing our weaknesses with others:
1) Gives them a sense of relief that they’re not the only ones who’ve felt that way,
2) Enables them to trust that we speak from a place of compassion instead of judgment,
3) Opens their hearts to glean encouragement and practical instruction,
4) Connects us in a new way and builds relationships.

I can tell you from experience that, while there have been times I’ve been hurt or even betrayed, the depth of fellowship I’ve enjoyed from the times I was courageous enough to be real has been worth all the fumbles and failings.

This is what we were made for.

Be Brave – Take Action

What are some of the things you’ve been struggling with but have been too ashamed to talk to anyone about? You’re not the only one.

Would you consider stepping outside your comfort zone and sharing? If there’s someone whom you look up to or who inspires you or who seems strong in this area, would you talk to them? Or maybe it’s just a friend you feel pretty comfortable with but you’ve just never allowed yourself to go that deep… would you try?

If this scares you enough to paralyze you, would you at least begin to pray about it faithfully? Ask the Lord for courage. Ask Him to show you who to open up to. It’s a prayer He’ll answer because Christian fellowship is His desire for each of His children.

Don’t give up!

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