By Michelle Martin

Christmas!! It’s the Giving Season and we’re all asking ourselves, “What is the best gift I can possibly give?” Would you roll your eyes if I said, “You!”? Probably.

Yet, are you not a more precious treasure than all diamonds ever created? You are intricately and wonderfully made. YOU are an original…a beyond rare, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. You, my friend, are the best gift besides Himself that God will ever give to you and it’s what He intended for you to share with others.

Peeling Back The Layers

In friendships and relationships, being known can be scary. Being transparent requires courageous vulnerability. We like to be liked, approved of and accepted. Sure, affirmation feels great. However, when it becomes our motivation, we are masking our true selves in order to conform to whatever we believe will gain the approval of others. Therefore, we are withholding our authentic self, the best gift we have to give. This form of self-protection usually results in loneliness. When we are not connected with our true selves, the connection we crave with others will be an ever elusive chase.

How often do we build our own self-protective fortresses in the form of layers around our hearts? Larry Crabb in his book, Encouragement, explains that powerful, Life-giving encouragement cannot take place between self-protecting people. Powerful connection does not happen “layer-to-layer”. Living without a façade of self protection seems risky. There’s no need for other “versions” of ourselves when we’re in possession of the authentic original.

Is there a cost to transparent living? Yes. Are there risks? Most definitely.

Living Authentically

Author E.L. Konigsburg is quoted as saying, “Before you can be anything, you have to be yourself. That is the hardest thing to find.” I’m sure many of us would agree. Fortunately, we know our Designer and He knows us intimately. He has told us, “Call to Me and I will answer and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” He knows the plans He has for us and longs for us to seek Him with all of our heart. He delights in revealing Truth to us …about us. God created us to thrive best in the freedom of transparency. Through His Word and Holy Spirit, He continues to pour Life, Truth, wisdom, and revelation into us. We can be confident that He will continue this all our lives.

There IS hope. We can know ourselves. We can make the choice to live authentically and to courageously give others the gift of letting them know us…. really, know us.

The Best Gift

The people in my life that I feel closest to are the ones that are brave enough to allow me to know them without masks. I consider many people precious, but if they live with layers around their hearts, I cannot know them deeply and they can’t fully know me. When they begin exiting fortresses, releasing protective layers, speaking truth with love… that’s refreshment to my soul. It is the best gift they could ever present to me.

To know and be known as we journey through this life…isn’t that the deep cry of our hearts? Through a relationship with Christ, He invites us to open ourselves to Him in humble honesty. He longs to reveal His deepest heart to us. I believe it represents how He wants His family to live with one another. Isn’t that absolutely THE Best Gift we can both receive and give, not only this Christmas season but really…ANY season?

This Christmas, as we celebrate the Eternal Giver of Life, may we courageously honor Him by giving to others our Best Gift….our deepest and truest self.