Exposing our hearts can be uncomfortable. Especially when it involves our spouses, friends, God, and even ourselves. Vulnerability has the ability to enrich our relationships and the results are beautiful.
Vulnerability. There’s that word. I shiver when I hear it and cringe at the thought of opening up. I need the comfort of my couch and a warm cup of coffee; STAT!
Over these last few weeks, God has pushed me to learn one specific lesson: exposure. One thing that is incredibly difficult for me to do is speak my mind. To verbally expose feelings I have. There are two reasons I have difficulty in this area. One: confrontations make me uncomfortable. Two: I NEVER want others to feel uncomfortable because of me.
So why is “exposure” my lesson from God? It might be that 8 years is the exact time it takes for me to confront real issues within my marriage. Maybe it’s because of the adult friendships I am learning to navigate. Or, I’m finally understanding the importance of being vulnerable with myself. Perhaps, my spiritual growth in the Lord is drawing me towards a posture of exposure. I’m certain, these all apply.
Types of Vulnerability
One thing “they” don’t tell us about marriage: we will sooner or later be completely exposed. Yeah, we all know about physical exposure, but no one tells us our insides are completely laid bare for our spouse to see. This is something extremely uncomfortable for me.
When you are living every day of your life with someone, it’s inevitable they will see sides of you that no ones else sees…
My husband hears my true voice, sees my true reactions, and witnesses my most vulnerable moments. He sees the food I eat, the shows I watch, and when I have a booger hanging out of my nose. He’s seen me cry uncontrollably and that one time I punched something. Okay, maybe a couple times.
Because he sees all this, I feel the need to keep some things hidden. Something! Anything! I feel like I need to keep some sort of dignity. Or, that thing that is just too painful; it’s mine.
In any relationship, there is hurt. In my experience, pain comes most intensely when I’ve been unguarded, only to be rejected. Sometimes this happens instantly, but mostly this is a damage over time effect. Meaning, we slowly allow others a glimpse inside. Then, wham!! Which feels like complete betrayal.
My gut reaction if someone hurts me, is to walk away or distance myself. The flight response is strong in me. I build those walls, create boundaries, and mask my feelings. I hold on tight; they are mine.
I’m not sure about you, but I also build borders to keep myself away. Kind of like I’m refusing to be honest with myself. It’s uncomfortable to go there; to push through self-inflicted pain and allow healing.
Being vulnerable with ourselves, is to be completely raw with honesty. To acknowledge our part in the pain. It’s mine. No one else can see it, so why should I have to be brutally honest? Yeah, that’s not super fun for anyone, but it’s vital.
My past is so filthy, my sin too great, my road so dark…. I’m not sure what makes me think this is all mine. If I’ve truly given my life to God, all of it is His. Every dirty, sinful moment is used for His glory. It’s called testimony.
However, I often find myself trying to hide from God. If I have to endure one more probing of the Spirit, I may just implode. Not really, but we all know there’s a lesson to learn when we are vulnerable with the Lord. Most times, I’m a child and I fight against lesson learning.
My past is so filthy, my sin too great, my road so dark... If I've truly given my life to God, all of it is His. Every dirty, sinful moment is used for His glory. It's called testimony. Click To Tweet
So how do we overcome? We can all benefit from practical application. We need to know what to do. We need to let go of the “mines” to strengthen every meaningful relationship we care for…
Saying “I’m sorry” is so incredibly vulnerable. It proves we are human. It proves we are NOT perfect (gasp). We hurt the people we love, the God who created us, and even ourselves. I have this rule: if you feel sorry, just say it. It shows you are thinking of the other person’s feelings, apart from their words. Also, repentance is the key to our relationship with God.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves
Philippians 2:3, NIV
This one is easy to apply to our relationship with God, but what about our marriages? What about our friendships? How often do we kneel with our spouses or start a coffee date with a prayer? Do we pray for each other face to face? I find it easy to pray for others, but shy away from praying for things I know I need help with.
Here are my directions: Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all he is going to do for them.
1 Timothy 2:1, TLB
Another easy one to incorporate in our walk with God. Maybe a little easier to have Bible time with our families, but what about our friendships? Do we approach times spent together with bible studies and scriptures close to our hearts? We should tackle issues and problems with the Truth of God.
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV
I find this most easy with my husband. Others find alone time with the Lord easiest. I find it most difficult to spend quality, one on one time with a friend. Mostly because…children. I would say, focus on a relationship where you know this is lacking. Even alone time with yourself (self-care).
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.
1 Corinthians 14:26, NIV
I often forget that my ability to work and create comes from the Lord. When I say forget, I mean I don’t invite Him to help me or be a part of it. Allowing my husband to create with me, or see an unfinished work of art is completely vulnerable to me. The same is true in friendships. My creations are very dear to me (whatever it is) and I feel exposed showing others.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24, NIV
In almost all my relationships, salvation is a common ground. Testimonies are meant to be shared. My testimony is growing. God is shaping and molding it. I believe, with all of my heart, that my testimony glorifies Him…as long as I’m obedient and share it.
I will praise you to all my brothers; I will stand up before the congregation and testify of the wonderful things you have done.
Psalm 22:22, TLB
I urge all of us to evaluate how we can actively utilize vulnerability to strengthen and enrich our relationships. I know, without a doubt, our obedience to the Lord’s design, will create beautiful, fulfilling friendships.