“Vulnerability is terrifying. The courage it takes to reveal your heart is one of the most daunting… and yet rewarding experiences in life. It will set you free.”
-The Better Man Project
I was reflecting the other day and the question came up… How often are we truly vulnerable with others… in fact, how often are we even vulnerable with ourselves? There's this façade perception that if we're vulnerable, then it acknowledges that we are broken, we are less than, and we are not strong. Where does this lie originate?
I’ve been thinking, how often do I sit and mediate upon my day, my week, my month, or my year… and think upon my weaknesses? What tender part within myself is there that I just don’t really want to plunge though, open up, and heal? Is it possible that my pride puffs up and says, "You are blessed and have nothing to complain about, keep it all together!!" Maybe it's my pride and maybe a part of me doesn’t want to acknowledge my faults to others, least they think I have a weaknesses and begin to fault or discredit my character. <<-- Ah, there it is… The Mirror of Inferiority! Pastor Chris spoke about this in his last sermon, Mirror, Mirror. There is a part of our heart that desires to put on a show in front of people. We want to be labeled as “put together,” “respected,” “esteemed,” and “valued.” We turn to mankind for praise and eagerly wait for applause and recognition. This isn’t that abnormal, most people would say that they could relate to this subject in some way or another. I know that I definitely do!
(I highly recommend watching the church service, "Mirror Mirror" by Pastor Chris at Church of the Highlands here: https://www.churchofthehighlands.com/media/message/mirror-mirror1)
I’ve been exploring my own heart with its desires and emotions. Do I look to man for praise more than I look to God for it? Am I too prideful to acknowledge that I have weaknesses and flaws? Gosh, what about to acknowledge that I’m broken and desperately in need of a Savior? I was amazed at my own reflection and I confess… Yes, I’m prideful at times and I do look to people for reassurance more times than I should, instead of looking to God as my source of comfort and wisdom.
Sometimes this prideful nature builds up a wall from us connecting with those around us. I’m reminded in James 5:16, that it's not only Okay to confess your weaknesses and be vulnerable before your Christian family, but it is also Biblical. It's not only benefical to the mind, but also for the spirit to admit that we are flawed and need Jesus to help us through each day. I could never speak on the behalf of someone else, but I can only speak about my own personal experiences and express what I’ve come to realize. The truth is it’s exhausting to play the game of pretending to have it all together. On the other spectrum, I’m also realizing how it’s so empowering to surrender this facade of being “put together” in front of people and instead show them my true and authentic nature. Yes, that means the good as well as the bad.
In James chapter five, verse sixteen, it says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
WOW! James wrote this down for the church thousands of years ago, but it still applies to the church body today. He was inspired by the Holy Spirit and his words pierce the heart and transforms the mind. This is what I'm gathering, confession leads to vulnerability. Vulnerability leads to an open heart and humility. Thus, making our heart more tender and moldable before the Lord. It is the pathway and the opening for us to position our hearts to be open to what God wants to take out, replace, and re-fill. The things that used to occupy our heart are now replaced with God's unconditional love, encouragement, and edification. When we choose not to confess our sins or faults, our pride creates a barrier and hardens our hearts to receive God’s truth. What an interesting revelation!
So, let me tell you a little secret... I’m not one that enjoys talking about myself. I truly hate filling out the “get to know me papers,” or “tell me a little about yourself,” and I squirm when I’m put in the spotlight. The introvert in me shies away from the attention and is perfectly happy being the wallflower in the room. Honestly, I just enjoy being a part of the background. I love having meaningful one-on-one conversations with individuals, the types of conversations that are simple but have some depth. In most circumstances, I will step up to lead, but sometimes I’ll refrain from tasks or positions to ensure that others are feeling included and filled with purpose.
Anyways, getting back to the main point of being Vulnerable. I was asked to share my testimony at small group the other night and I told my leaders that I would love to share how I became a Christian. I explained how my faith and walk with Jesus has been affected by the influences of people around me. Some people have drastically changed my life for the better, others had drastically changed it for the worst, but through it all Jesus remained ever close, ever faithful, and ever steady and unchanging.
Sharing my testimony is not a big deal and I’ve done it in the past, but I always get nervous because it pushes me out of my comfort zone. In order to share my story, it requires some vulnerability. It’s not a comfortable feeling for a lot of people. In fact, it can even feel awkward at times, even to me and I've done it several times! So, thinking about my testimony, I thought… “How much do I need to talk? Do I share my deepest thoughts and emotions or just breeze through the surface of my Christian faith?”
I decided to be open and vulnerable, honest and real. What happened next was a wonderful surprise! I learned that when you share your story to others it changes the atmosphere. People can relate to you more than you think and there’s a bridge of trust built in those sacred moments. This is something that I’ve known for years, but even I still need to be reminded about this simple truth.
In fact, it’s a humble and vulnerable heart that God desires, a spirit of repentance and wholehearted surrender. It’s in those moments that God meets us. In this place of our weakness, God’s strength overpowers and fills the cracks of our brokenness. His unconditional love breaks down the walls of isolation and He redeems us to Himself. The world will tell you, “To be vulnerable is to be weak!” but I implore you to listen and heed the wise words of James. He reminds believers that to be vulnerable in a safe and Godly environment with other Christians is not only needed, but Beneficial for the spirit! It’s in this “thin place” as I like to call it, that God desires to dwell. It’s a sacred place where His glory is exemplified and He truly works miraculous wonders in the heart of His creation and mankind.
The next time you feel inadequate, doubtful, or nervous to share about the vulnerable places of your struggles and story, I encourage you to take a deep breath and allow God’s presence to fill the room. It’s through your obedience and testimony that others will open up about their own experiences in life. I want to leave you with some encouragement, God isn’t checking off a list to see if you’re good or bad. He isn’t keeping a record or score about your inadequacies or your greatest achievements. All He cares about is your spiritual well-being and your heart.
So, if you’re struggling with being vulnerable with God or with others, remember that it’s nothing to be ashamed over. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and allow God to be your source of grace and strength in those weak and vulnerable areas. Don’t walk through life’s hardships alone, you weren’t meant to do it alone. Instead call up a trusted friend that you feel safe around and know well, tell them what you’re going through and ask them to pray for you! You will feel so much better and see a huge difference in your life. As you surrender those vulnerable pieces of your heart to God (I’m talking about ALL OF IT -- the good, ugly, and in-between parts), He begins to transform your life into His beautiful masterpiece. I hope this provides some comfort and encouragement to you as you continue on your journey with the Lord.
“God’s grace is sufficient for you, for His power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9