When was the last time you allowed yourself to be vulnerable with someone? When have you sat down with someone and said, “I am a mess in this area. I could use a friend.” I looked up the definition of the word vulnerable and this is what it says –
“Someone who is completely and rawly open, unguarded with their heart, mind, and soul.”
Yeah, I know…it isn’t exactly one of the top ten character qualities we desire to incorporate into our lives. Who wants to be – that? Most of us would much rather pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, learn to manage the situation, pray about it privately, or better yet – try not to think about the thing -that- we’re- feeling -vulnerable about.
Some of that is good. There is no reason to be always blabbing about our bad days and tough deals and hard luck stories. But sometimes it is necessary and very good to be vulnerable. Not only can it be helpful for us…but for the people we open ourselves up to.
I have learned many new things since I exposed my messiness in the previous blog, When Your Sin Finds You . Even now it’s hard for me to refer to that blog without feeling some embarrassment. I asked myself, “So, what’s the deal with that – really?” I am no longer embarrassed before God – He and I dealt with it and it’s over now. So what is it that makes me so uncomfortable?
It’s hard to be vulnerable. It feels like taking your clothes off in front of someone and hoping they still like what they see. (If I had an emoji face to put here I would – and it would not be a good face at all) As Christians, it can be especially hard. We are wearing the name of Christ and we His representatives here on earth. We are supposed to live changed lives and be a light in the world. It can be hard to admit that sometimes we aren’t doing that great at all.
I imagined the “people” out there reading my blog doing a tch..tch..tch thing with their tongue thinking, “Oh, my dear…you are not the person you claim to be. But, yes, I am so glad that you are starting to figure things out…have you ever considered getting some help?”
I am sure that was in my head…but nonetheless, it was in my head. It gave me a little glimpse as to how non-Christians might feel about those of us who cling to our faith. When I feel like I have to live up to some sort of expectations of others…it makes me just want to go away.
I remember a time long ago when I had two little toddlers and I expressed to my friend that I was frustrated – no exasperated – with my 4 year old. She didn’t relate to my condition. She didn’t even say anything at all. The next day she brought me a book about how a mom should raise a son and something in me made me want to pop her. I am sure her intentions were good – but the crummy little me wanted to say to her, “Yeah…well your daughter is just as nuts as my son so you better find a good book for you!”
But that’s me, of course. I’m the messy blogger. That should be the new title of my blog. Not sensible – messy. My favorite bloggers, writers and speakers are the ones who admit that they are a mess…except for Jesus in their lives. Yeah…I relate to those kind of people.
But let me tell you what actually happened.
One of my good Christian friends emailed me saying that she had been up at 3:30 in the morning praying about a particular area of her life she had been struggling with. She prayed that God would show her someone who she could talk to about it. The very next day she learned of my story and felt that I was the person that God directed her to.
Another sweet woman, older than me, emailed me and talked about voices from the past. She tenderly shared that sometimes she wondered if any of her words could have hurt her children. She prayed that the Lord would erase those hurts.
And today a friend sent me a text saying, “I read your blog – we all fall short – I have been working on myself everyday so I get it.” She followed that with scripture, 1 John 1:8 MSG.
That didn’t feel like judgement to me. It was pure grace and it’s love wrapped around me and gave me strength and hope. And you know what I realized?
Sometimes we just need people to come alongside.
Sometimes we need someone to whisper in our ear, “I understand…I’ve been there..”
These women are rock solid believers who live their lives well and they reached across and into my heart to say, “I’m right there with you, my friend.”
My husband loves to tell the story about a time from our younger days when I was stressing over something and even shed a few tears. As any loving husband would do, he told me how I could fix it. And in my hysterical condition I said to him, “I don’t want you to tell me how to fix it. I just want you to listen to me and to feel my pain.” (The italics do not do justice to my tone of voice)
He told me that in that moment he learned that sometimes I am not looking for him to tell me how to fix things… sometimes I am simply needing his shoulder to lean on and to come alongside.
As believers, we have a wealth of answers that can be found in the Bible. When someone is struggling it’s hard not to try to fix it and grab our Bibles and show the person how they can find truth and freedom. Of course, we should always be directing people to the Bible and to scripture…as long as we first come alongside.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” – So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
So how awesome is this verse? Jesus isn’t telling us that His power works best when we are strong and have all the answers. He’s not asking us to“co-savior” with Him. (Yeah, no. I am not interested in that job share.) Instead, He tells us that He releases His power in our lives when we come alongside in meekness and humility.
What if – when your child was caught doing something wrong you said, “I remember when I was your age and I got into trouble…” It doesn’t mean you take away the consequence, but it lets them know you are still on their team. What if rather than being mad for 24 hours…you came alongside and laid with them before bed and just talked about things? What if you hopped out of bed and had a quick bowl of ice cream?
What if – when your husband let you down you said, “I know that there are times that I let you down, too. I would like to talk to you about that.” And what if when he told you – you said, “I am so sorry for that. I want to change.”
What if – when your friend shares she that is struggling in her marriage, rather than telling her how to fix it you share what happened in your marriage awhile back and how God worked in it.
When we share with unguarded hearts, people are more apt to share their stories. It opens up opportunities for encouragement and prayer and connects us on a deeper level. Being humble with one another positions our hearts so that God can work in our lives.
So I ask you again – when is the last time you allowed yourself to be vulnerable with someone? What is it that has been niggling at your soul? Why don’t you pray and ask the Lord to reveal someone who you could talk with.
As we humble ourselves and learn to become vulnerable with others, the Lord will speak and move in ways that we never would have imagined. Won’t you allow someone to come alongside you?
“The greatest test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us. In man, humility is the one thing needed to allow God’s holiness to dwell in him and shine through him. The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is lack of humility. The holiest will be the humblest.” – Andrew Murray