3 Ways Being Vulnerable Might Change Your Life
I’ve lived a lifetime trying to be perfect.
But adulthood has been the absolute antithesis of perfection. In fact, I might venture to say, it has been characterized more by an unexpected slow death of my ideals and expectations.
Topping off the list of examples is year 5 of my marriage. I was a full time working mother with two kids in diapers and one still feasting at my breast. As if that wasn’t enough to permanently place me in a straight jacket, my wedded bliss was characterized by perpetual arguing about the same issue on different days of the week. Throw in a dying loved one, a devastating betrayal, and just add water and stir; things were not how I dreamt they would be.
And for a while, I talked to no one about it. I put my big girl panties on like every other woman and I learned how to grin and bear it. That’s what we do, right?
Don’t show your weakness.
Never let them see you sweat.
Have no fear.
Quite honestly, I tried, but my trying wasn’t enough to maintain a facade of perfection. And as I stood in the center of life, wobbling on a tightrope, and somehow managing to keep all my balls in the air I realized I couldn’t do it anymore.
“We need to get some counseling,” I remember saying to my husband. Even as I said it fear gnawed at me. “Kia, if you get counseling what will people think?” I thought but never said out loud.
But there is something about desperation that nullifies the fear of people’s opinions. I didn’t care anymore about perfection or the appearance of it. I needed help, so I asked for it.
Little did I know then that this decision would drastically alter the trajectory of my life. What I thought was going to be a few months of counseling turned out to be about 5 years off and on. This was the best thing I could have ever done. Life forced me to be vulnerable and as a result I’ve learned three life changing principles.
Vulnerability precedes help.
After we’ve been hurt a few times life tempts us to stand at the door of our hearts like a Navy Seal ready to take anyone out who poses a threat. Although this protective stance keeps possible hurt at bay, it also alienates us from the very people who could provide the assistance we need.
This does not nullify Philippians 4: 19 (NIV) that says,
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
God is able to meet the un-communicated longings of our heart, however His love is often demonstrated through the hands, feet, and mouths of His people.
2. Vulnerability frees others to say “Me too.”
I just met my dad two weeks ago.”
“I don’t know who my father is.”
“My daddy was an alcoholic.”
“I heard my father call my mother a heifer.”
“My dad introduced me as his boy.”
Whether I was in the salon, on a play-date with my kids, or at work, women had something to say about their father daughter relationships (or lack thereof). Without hesitation they spoke, recounting memories and words (often painful) of their biological fathers. Had I not chosen vulnerability I would have robbed these women of an opportunity to say, “Me too”.
No matter what we are facing, somewhere there is another woman experiencing it too. Our willingness to be transparent creates opportunities for genuine community where women can feel safe to expose their scars.
3. Vulnerability fosters humility.
No one wants to appear weak, we’d rather project ourselves as flawless individuals who have it all together. But all throughout the Bible we see examples of God’s perfected power displayed in the weaknesses of mankind. Paul described this phenomenon in 2 Corinthians 12: 9 – 10 when he exposed a tremendous area of weakness in his life.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Like Paul, I have discovered strength in vulnerability and I’m not looking back. I have chosen to resist the urge to throw on an outer garment of pretense every morning. I am choosing to live a life where my imperfect parts are on display and my vulnerability is seen as a strength rather than a weakness.