Why Vulnerability Pays Off

It was a night like any other night.  Since January, I've committed every other Wednesday night to meeting together with Clarity people.  We eat together.  We share together.  We pray together. We gather in community to do life together. 

And so far, it's been pretty easy.  After all, I can turn on the charm when I want to.  I can hang out with fun people.  They even cook around my gluten and dairy issues.  It's a win-win. 

That was, until last Wednesday.  We've been working through this field guide on discipleship.  We've been discussing what it means to be in community.  Last Wednesday, community got personal. 

You see our field guide is postulating that there's different types of living when it comes to missional communities.  There's life on mission, life in community, and life on life.  We discussed life on life last Wednesday.  And at first, our discussion seemed safe.  Of course we do life on life.  We eat together.  We watch football together.  We band together when there's a financial need.  We enjoy a good cup of Starbucks together.

And then I glanced down at the field guide....

God’s means for your growth, redemption, and restoration is others in your life who are committed to bringing your brokenness out into the open and bringing the gospel of Jesus to bear on it.
— Saturate Field Guide

Did you catch that?  Bringing your brokenness out into the open.  I don't know about you, but letting someone else see my brokenness does not sound fun.  We are way beyond dinners and football games.  We are talking the courage to be vulnerable.  We are talking the trust it takes to be truly visible.  We are taking a risk as we let others know the most inner parts of us. 

As I sat there and considered this, I was brought back to a time I often share when I speak to groups. A time when I was my messiest self.  I was bitter and entitled and angry at God but blaming others in my life.  I was afraid to have my insides be known by anyone around me. 

My friend and ministry leader had invited me on a trip for some training.  I was thrilled by the invite.  But truth be told, I was longing for a ministry position myself and was not handling it all that well.  I went from pity party to blaming my friend. I pouted and cried until I brought out the big guns of sarcasm. 

My friend and I fought more than we did anything else during that trip.  We disagreed.  We drove each other crazy as I became lonely and sullen.  During one walk together, she began to press me on what I had been thinking - about what was going on in my heart. 

I was resistant.  I wasn't brave enough to let it all hang out.  I let it out a little only to have conflict and discord.  And then she said the words that were the moment that changed me.  "I'm not going anywhere".  

It's funny.  Those aren't profound words, but in that moment I needed to hear that someone would stay no matter how messy it got.  I needed to hear that someone would love me not for having it all together, but with my flaws and weaknesses.  I needed to know that someone would see the mess I was and still love me anyway. 

As you may have guessed, I shared my heart with her that day.  My feelings not only about our current situation but about my progress so far as a human.  To be fair, the angels didn't come down singing. We fought again and rode home licking our wounds. 

The truth is, we worked through our differences for a while.  The I'm not going anywhere talk didn't solve all our problems.  But it was the moment that I realized that allowing someone else to love me in the middle of my mess was the catalyst to healing.  Bringing my baggage into the light brought healing I could never have imagined. 

Today, my first vulnerable friend is still one of my vulnerable friends.  She speaks truth to me in a way that can hurt and heal my soul.  She is still in my life - true to her word she hasn't gone anywhere.  And I'm learning to return the favor and speak truth in her life. 

Returning to my community on Wednesday nights, I had to admit that I was not all that comfortable with this definition of life on life and being truly visible.  You see, I can be vulnerable when I've got it all figured out.  I share when I'm on the road to healing and understanding.  

How about you?  How do you do with bringing your brokenness out into the open? I don't know about you, but this is hard.  It takes courage to be vulnerable with others.  Vulnerability has a price tag - our hearts.  And yet, I have seen with my own eyes the pay off.  It pays off when we get close enough to let others speak truth over our lives.  It pays off when we take down the walls around our hearts - brick by brick.  It pays off when we hear and feel that someone else loves us in the middle of our mess.  That's where healing begins. 

Before we run off and start sharing our baggage with our mail people and the woman at the health club, I have some questions for us to consider. 

Who do you need to be vulnerable with? 

As we discussed being visible and vulnerable, our pastor talked about pace.  If we need time to be vulnerable, Jesus will give us time.  But sometimes, our fear of being known and rejected keeps us from being vulnerable when Jesus is calling.  

On the flip side, Proverbs 4 tells us to guard our hearts.  And while we hear a word about vulnerability, we can swing like a pendulum and back on our dump truck of emotions and problems on anyone who will listen. 

My caution is to choose a few first.  My friend and I had known each other for a few years before we were at the I'm not going anywhere talk.  Look for friends you trust and who have been there for you in a growing capacity.  And take a leap of faith.  Your friend might surprise you. 

What should we share? 

Yes, we can start small.  I really struggle with....you fill in the blank.  But there comes a time when we need to consider a couple of things: 

  • What areas of your thinking and actions need Gospel truth?  
  • Do I need someone to love me through my mess right now?

Maybe you choose to share that one thing you are really struggling with.  Being consistent with your faith.  Your job.  Contentment.  Parenting.  Your marriage.  How you feel about you?  Build from one thing. 

I love what the field guide closed with...

Jesus lived life with his disciples. He was close enough to really know them. He observed what they believed by watching how they lived. He became closely acquainted with their brokenness so that he could see their wrong thinking, wrong believing, and wrong acting. They were exposed. And as they were exposed, Jesus helped them to be restored.
— Saturate Field Guide

As I started reading, my blood pressure went up.  He could see their wrong thinking, believing, and acting.  What?  But then all of this was so that Jesus could help them be restored.  You and I need restoration when we're in a mess.  

How can you extend grace to yourself? 

I write about this stuff, because I'm smack dab in the middle of it.  I'm struggling with my food lately.  If you've been here for any length of time, you're probably aware of that.  As I've sought healing for this food situation, I've uncovered more.  Just like the disciples I have some faulty thinking and actions.  I've uncovered where my heart has never found healing. 

In all this uncovering, I'm finding that being vulnerable with others starts with allowing Jesus to love me in my mess.  I'm finding that while I'm exposing faulty thinking, I need grace to love who I am and who I am becoming not because I've arrived, but because I'm on a journey.  I've discovered that as I extend grace to myself, I extend grace toward my people.  And as I extend grace, I'm ready to receive it not just from Jesus but from the people I love.  I find that I'm ready to start taking my walls down brick by brick.  I'm discovering that I'd rather be present with my people over perfect. 

As I journey more and more, I still pause at vulnerability.  My walls are easily built.  I'm afraid of my own mess.  And yet, I have found the reward in being brave.  My reality has been changed because I trusted one friend to love me mess and all.  Since that day 8 + years ago, I've added a few who get to see what's going on inside.  Every time there's healing.  Every time there's growth.  Every time it helps me learn to see what my friends see and love who God made me to be.  

One foot faith is not just about having brave steps.  One foot faith is about being brave with your heart.  I'd love to hear how God is asking you to be brave when it comes to your heart.  Simply comment here or connect with my on my contact page.