Posted on October 13, 2010


This is the Johari window.

I first heard of it in Jerry Root’s class at Wheaton College (I wish I could just go to his classes for the rest of my life).  It tells us that there are four dynamic facets of our life that grow and change during human interactions.

1) What we know, and others know, about ourself. I am a girl, I love writing, I laugh way too loudly, I will probably end this blog post  with something about Jesus.

2) What others see about us that we can’t see. I convinced myself two years ago that I was cross-eyed and no one had ever told me.

3) What we know but others can’t see. If I told you… it wouldn’t be in this box anymore.

4) What ourselves and others don’t know. God still knows all of this: when you are pregnant, character traits that haven’t blossomed yet, or what you need most.

The picture above aptly names the third box that I want to talk about- your “facade.”

As humans, saving face is pretty important.  We work really really hard at making sure that everything in Box #1 (Open Area) is really cool and pretty, and that things in Box #3 (Facade) stay in Box #3. And honestly, it makes perfect sense that we would do so.  Because we look around and we see everyone’s Box #1 and wonder “How am I supposed to live up to THAT?” and then? PANIC.  Little do we know that people are maintaining their Box #3- the things they are hiding- just as carefully as Box #1.

This is something that I was really passionate about while I was at Wheaton.  The stereotypical “perfect Wheaton girl” had a killer Box #1, and if there is one thing I learned in college, it was that I couldn’t live up to Her. She could sing (probably had produced multiple CDs), could somehow be on a sports team and get straight A’s, had a sick body (weren’t we the #3 most fit college or something?),  was saving [insert third world country here], loved God and heard from him daily,  had a fiance and baked him pies, AND had time to curl her hair every morning.  And here I was: barely making it to class, homesick, heartbroken from a breakup, hating my body and fighting spiritual doubt.  So every morning, I struggled to pull myself together and be socially acceptable enough to walk the freezing cold paths of Wheaton College.  I was stuffing my Facade as full as I possibly could without it exploding everywhere.

One afternoon, I was eating lunch with a friend.  We were talking and she told me, “I just can’t believe how well you have it together. I mean, you are just so happy and doing so well here. What is wrong with me?”

My Box #1 had hurt her, because I had done way too well with Box #3.

As I progressed through Wheaton, I kept meeting more and more girls, and oddly enough, every single one of them told me at one time or another, “I am nothing like the typical Wheaton girl.” In fact, I am pretty convinced that she doesn’t exist. She is a figment of our insecurities, the child of all of our face saving and facade stuffing.  That friend who had lunch with me saw the fake front I was putting up, and accepted it as a reality that she should be able to live up to.  Little did she know that what she was trying to be someone that actually wasn’t real.

Something that I can promise you is that someone else struggles with the same exact things that you struggle with.  None of us are alone.  And it is not ever going to be our effort at face-saving that makes us actually better.  Sometimes we are hiding insecurities.  But usually we are hiding something even worse- our sin.  The Bible talks about it this way: You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean (Matthew 23:27).

When we have honest conversations with people, we save ourselves.  We bring the uncleanliness into the light and can finally find time to deal with it.

When we have honest conversations with people, we save them.  They no longer have to compete with the fake, impossible you that they were seeing.

It will soon become apparent that God- the only one who can see Boxes 1,2,3 &4- is the only one that can truly heal us.  Jesus was in a tomb, and God turned it into an empty grave.  I can’t wait to see what he will do, with that same power, in your life.

Come, come, whoever you are.

Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.

It doesn’t matter.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you have broken your vow

a thousand times

Come, yet again, come, come.