Reticence … Really? … Yes, really!

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Today’s pruning focus is reticence. I would like us to consider the possibility that the Master Gardener wants to prune a few branches that involve reticence.

I feel the need to ask you, right here at the beginning, to hear me out. I’m aware that this prune-worthy branch might not be as obvious and self-explanatory as judgment or jealousy. Nonetheless, I think God’s calling us to surrender some reticence.

The Oxford dictionary gives us this definition of reticent: not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily. It’s a bit like being shy, but more precise. Synonyms include reserved, introverted, restrained, and inhibited.

I think those last two synonyms are especially helpful for us. The first two synonyms might make us think of personality traits, but the last two synonyms get right to the heart of the matter: they are perfect descriptors for the behavior of the primordial people in Genesis 3, after the Fall.

In Genesis, chapter 2, when they still reflected God’s original design, they were unrestrained and uninhibited … in all the best ways.

Many of us think it’s good that we’re restrained because we might say and do some really stupid things. That’s absolutely right, but mostly because we’re living on this side of Genesis 3.

I wonder if you could imagine Genesis 2 for a second? Imagine the true design, in which we are unrestrained and uninhibited. Imagine being totally vulnerable and totally safe. In that world, we can express our thoughts and feelings, and they are received with interest, love, and care. Since we can share so freely and be received so warmly, we experience intimacy that feels ecstatic. Can you imagine it?


We tend to think of shyness or reticence as a personality trait, but what if it’s a coping mechanism? What if it’s a way to stay safe in a broken world full of imperfect people? What if most, if not all, of our reticence is part of our false selves? What if we’re designed for vulnerability & connection, but unfortunately, we are reticent more often than need be?

It is true, we live in a fallen world. That being the case, there are social circumstances where it is entirely appropriate to be reticent. For instance, we can imagine someone saying, “I was reticent to share my feelings because I don’t trust him.”

But what if we are new creations? What if we are now citizens of a new kingdom, one that is already inaugurated even though it’s not fully consummated? What if our identity as beloved children of God is secure and we need worry so much about people’s responses to our vulnerability?

If all that was true (which it is!!), it might be okay to prune some reticence. And as it gets pruned, we just might find that as we share more of our thoughts and feelings, especially the good thoughts and good feelings, that we have never felt more alive. Right now, so many of us live partly human lives where we are half-alive. The Vine-grower is calling us to a life in which we are fully human and fully alive.

TODAY’s ACTION: When you feel reticent—that is, hesitant to share your thoughts and feelings—ask God to prune your reticence so that you might open up to others today. Obviously, it’s best to start with someone you trust. But if you’re a bold new creation, you can start just about anywhere.

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