(Sidenote: did I really commit to 31 days? Wow! This is going to prove challenging. Exercising my writing muscle like this is hard. It’s been a while. I love it, but its hard. Also, life. I missed day 4 because of, well, birthdays and gym and soccer games and date night. I wrote this post last night and as I was putting the final touches on it, a certain toddler woke up crying and wouldn’t settle back down until we cuddled in my bed, then his room, then my room again, and then he asked for water from his sippy cup, then “no, no no I want the giant water!” from my cup. Finally around midnight he surrendered and I called mercy. I may need to bring in some guest posters. Email me your ideas. Also, it’s kinda scary writing every day what are essentially rough drafts. I don’t have time to sit for hours and pore over every turn of phrase and make sure this is my Best Writing. It’s not. But still, I’m putting it out there. Because I love you.)
Let’s talk about vulnerability and why it’s so ______ (fill in the blank- scary, freeing, terrifying, refreshing). Anytime I get down and dirty and bear my soul or am honest with my weaknesses and struggles it kinda blows people away. Usually, what we read on the interwebs is how if we just tried a little harder, were just a little more disciplined, got up a bit earlier or had a better system our life, and by extension our very souls, would be super awesome and complete. Yep, happiness is just a pin away, along with perfect abs and a completely organized home. Why, oh, why do we believe this lie so easily? one word: Shame. According to the brilliant Brene Brown (btw, if you haven’t read her books go do so right now), shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. Its universal. I’m not ____ enough. And so we look for ways to fill the holes and wear the masks. Shame makes us want to hide our mistakes, weaknesses, sin, and any holes in our image of who we think we should be. But the shocking truth is that the antidote to Shame is being vulnerable. Being authentic. Having the Courage to say, “this is who I am, and I am flawed, and I am still worthy of love.”
I’ve been thinking about Brene’s message for a couple years now, and how what she has to say fits in with what I believe about Jesus. Here is the conclusion I’ve come to: Understanding our true identity in Christ and the depths of His love for us frees us to be our authentic selves. We CAN believe that we are worthy of love and belonging right now, as-is, because Jesus demonstrated His passionate love for us by going to the Cross. This is what he says about our worthiness because of His work for us:
He says we are worth it.
He calls us friends
He says we are made righteous
He calls us Light in the Lord (my favorite!)
He calls us his treasure
He calls us precious and honored
He says we will be a crown of beauty and royal diadem in the hand of God
I’m sorry, but with the creator of the Universe adoring me like that, why do I care what you think about me? Why can’t I walk in that confidence and love all the time? What do you think?
The thing about vulnerability is that it is freeing. Imagine being tightly bound and corsetted, your frame restricted from expansive laughter and deep breath in order to keep up appearances. But when that corset comes off, Ah! Feels like new life. Friends, there is no hope in only offering a facade to one another. If we try to see into each other’s souls and all we see is a reflection of the very thing that binds us, we are blinded to the beauty of the whole human experience and the redemption God offers. If God’s people can’t be honest about our need, our mess, our chaos, what do we offer to a hurting world who is looking for salvation everywhere but to Him? If we say Jesus is good, that he heals and redeems and yet we hide our deepest hurts and our darkest secrets as if they were too much for him to bear, how can we hold out hope to a world in need?
This isn’t easy. And of course there is wisdom in knowing when and where and with whom to share. There are people in life who I have a really hard time sharing myself with because it feels like they will just shame me more, or maybe they won’t actually listen to my heart and see me but only try to one-up me with their own story, or maybe I just fear that my true self won’t be safe with them, that they will go and tell others what I’ve shared with them. So this isn’t a call to bare your soul willy-nilly. It’s a holy thing, being open and raw and real. And it gives others hope that they can do the same, that they are not alone. I’m a big believer in leading out of my weaknesses, being a wounded heart used by God to show redemption and grace.