Today I am going to show you what you have in common with that beloved animated street rat, Aladdin. Let’s begin, shall we?
You know that part in Aladdin, when Aladdin is reporting his relationship frustration to the Genie, and the Genie tells Aladdin that in order for his relationship to be successful, he has to be honest?
He doesn’t say it quite like that, of course. It’s more like this.
The problem is, Aladdin doesn’t believe Jasmine will like him for who is, so he tries to look more important, stronger, and richer. Which, as we know, backfires on him when the crafty Jafar tells Jasmine the truth and becomes an evil sorcerer and turns Rajah into a kitten etc., etc.
When you watch that movie, (or any movie based on the “lie to win the guy/girl” premise: think While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail, or Ever After), you think, “You idiot! This will never work! You can’t build a relationship based on LIES!”
But in a (usually) less dramatic fashion, I try to build relationships on lies every day.
Let me be clear here: I am not a pathological liar, or anything. Most of what you know about me is true – I am in fact in graduate school, 24, excessively charming: the list goes on. But there is a richer, deeper truth, and oftentimes I let that one remain untold.
By this I mean that there are lot of words I don’t say. I keep my mouth clamped shut because of how I imagine people might respond. There are times I don’t say what I really think, or I don’t let you know the vulnerable pieces. I skim along rather than letting you really see me. I, like Aladdin, would rather be smooth, cool, and confident. (OK, I’m done with the Disney comparison. Almost.)
These little lies not only present a false image of myself, they build barriers to real relationship. Who wants to be friends with perfect people? Certainly not George Wade (“Saints are boring!”), and not me, either. Conversely, Jen Hatmaker, in her essay “Tell the Truth,” says, “When you tell me the truth about yourself, I no longer hide from you. You become safe for me. So guess what? You are now a recipient of my truth too. I am drawn to you. Your vulnerability makes a path for my own.”
Vulnerability is a lovely idea, but in my estimation, it takes two things: guts and security. You have to be secure enough to know that other people’s opinions don’t define you. You have to stop trying to prove your worth all the time -- which means you should be secure in the worth Christ has graced us with.
It also takes guts – because even with that security, some things are just terrifying to say out loud. But it’s especially those terrifying things that have the most power over us, and really need to be said.
Yes, it’s scary, but the alternative is just as bad. Brene Brown in Daring Greatly says “Nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”
So if you need a little pep-talk to encourage more truth-telling in your life, I recommend watching Aladdin. This will remind you that misrepresenting who you are will only result in bad things such as the sultan-reign of a tall, dark, and sinister, ugly man, and also, large snakes.