So many times, it appeared others were “out to get me”. Do you know the feeling? All eyes seem to be on you with that x-ray vision stare, revealing your deepest and darkest feelings. That sixth sense that the people you fear most, not only know what you are thinking, but they also know how afraid you are of them.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” - Brené Brown

A lot of my life was spent in that doubt and chaos. Always looking over my shoulder to see who was next to put a knife in my back. It was bad enough during my short time in school. However, those childhood memories of schooltime paranoia were minuscule in comparison to my experience in corporate politics. Throughout my early career, it seemed the bulk of my time was spent preparing for that inevitable attack that never happened, but always working to be a good Boy Scout by “being prepared”. In those days, being prepared was all about outguessing my opponent and working to be “two-steps ahead of the competition”. Still, it seemed the more protection placed between me and my foe, the less clear the path forward was. Not unlike turning a room into a fortress, the more windows and doors that were covered up, the darker the room.

In this case, it was giving into the shame of my vulnerabilities and my perception of my adversary’s motives that were blocking the view.

Beware of Darkness

Over time, it became clear that hiding in the dark room of my misperception was the worst thing to do. Covering my “thought windows” made it impossible to be aware of what was going on with others. And the covered windows also stopped anyone from seeing the real me. If they could see into the darkened room of my mind, they would have seen a frightened and unsure opponent, instead of the unreasonable foe conjured up by their perception of me. Likewise, the darkened windows of my opinions prevented me from seeing who they really were. In most cases, they were just another frightened individual, fearing defeat just like me.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It took me decades to learn a simple principle that had been staring me in the face since my youth. Darkness is only overcome by light. As scripture tells us, love always conquers hate and darkness always succumbs to light.

With that understanding, it became my practice to always meet hate with love and to eradicate darkness with light. Sure, it can be painful to shine light on a problem, or worse, confront someone’s misconceived perception of who you are, or what you believe. God never said that doing the right thing would be easy or painless. Nevertheless, that is the only way to remove the misperception of each other.

Like sunlight disinfects, opening a dialogue with others to become more aware of who they are will cleanse the imperfections of your thoughts about them. Likewise, opening yourself up, and being vulnerable, will let them see past the blocked windows and into the soul of who you truly are.

“But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” - Ephesians 5:13 NAS

It is only when we become aware of others, and who they are, from their perspective not ours, and they become aware of the real person we are, that a relationship can grow through truth, trust, openness and understanding.

Awareness is an Act of Love that requires action. Empathy with others and their situation, and Vulnerability from you.

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