A study recently came out reporting the greatest predictor of lifelong of happiness and to no surprise of my own, it’s based on our relationships. Our relationships and the perception of whether they are healthy, secure and loving say more about life satisfaction than any achievement or anything material. Short of Jesus, nothing in our life matters more than how well we love and how well we are loved. Connection, community, fellowship, people, pursuing these things are not just important, they’re the most important.
I place high value on connection, conversation and friendship. Deep, meaningful conversation and deep, meaningful friendship. I live for the moments in conversation and friendship where you transcend beyond the superficial into something far more than two people talking, into connection. That place where you begin to learn not just about the others life but about their heart. There is a moment in conversation and in friendship where the words become more than words, they become the piecing together of two stories, the crossing of paths and the potential for God’s grace to shine through in ways we could never plan. It doesn’t happen in every friendship but when it does, it is something to hold onto.
These kind of deep relationships, conversations and moments I am talking about, the ones the study on lifelong satisfaction is referring to, require a surrendering of self in the form of vulnerability. When you are vulnerable enough to open up your heart something beautiful happens. It is where those heart moments happen and the conversation delves deeper than the surface. You begin to hear about what makes someone tick, what gets them out of bed in the morning, the places in which you are similar and the pieces that make them distinctly them. It is here that your stories begin to wind together. Vulnerability is terrifying but there is no path to true, deep relationships without the sacrifice of superficial safety and embracing the act of vulnerability.
I am fed up with superficial. Ugly, messy, chaos is real life. At least it is for me. The mess is made beautiful by allowing God into it and allowing it to be used to help and connect others. If there is no safe space to be vulnerable, create one. This year I have decided to step out in faith and spill the raw parts of my heart all over the place. What I have been met with surprises me. It is nothing but love, acceptance, relief and an overwhelming number of ‘me too’s. I have found the chance to connect and delve into deeper friendships with people I never would have expected. For the first time, I could see light shine through the cracks of something ugly and broken.
I choose to practice vulnerability as often as possible. I choose to wear my story and my heart on my sleeve because vulnerability propels us into these relationships. I am choosing to be tender and open with my own life and pray it gently ushers others to do the same, in their own time and in their own way. I choose vulnerability not just because I value it but because I believe God asks it of us.
1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon:
2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.:.
3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend
Out of curiosity, I looked up the word vulnerability. Going completely off of the dictionary description of vulnerability, making a conscious effort to place yourself in a vulnerable position would be inadvisable. By its very definition vulnerability leaves you open to attack, assault and criticism of many kinds. It doesn’t seem to have any appeal. The definition of this word has no attractive characteristics and the same can be said of most of the synonyms of the word as well.
Exposed. Unsafe. Weak.
In the practical sense choosing to be vulnerable is well… completely impractical. Opening up your heart, confessing where you have been, letting the world in on your weakness. It makes no sense. The act of vulnerability will never be logical, not until I look at it through the eyes of grace and faith. Scripture is dripping with an explanation for vulnerability we cannot find in the dictionary or in common sense. Christ has a place and explanation for admitting our weaknesses and the ongoing act of vulnerability. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 tells us to openly boast of our weakness so that His strength is glorified and rests upon us. We can be content in criticism and being exposed or open to attack because our weakness leaves room for His strength. James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another and pray for each other so that we can find healing. The very act of vulnerability with one another can bring healing. We are built to be vulnerable, to bear the burdens of one another and to live in broken community with one another. It’s the broken, scary act of vulnerability which can be of the greatest asset to us.
This year has unintentionally been a year of vulnerability. In 2016, I chose a path of healing and honesty which led me to slowly open up in ways I never had before, to people I never imagined I would. In 2017, I chose to go out even further on this limb of honesty by taking aspects of my story that I truly never, ever, ever thought I would share and openly write about them. Despite a trembling fear of attack, judgement and criticism, I embraced vulnerability and it has been beautiful.
The concept of vulnerability strikes me as complex and peaks my curiosity. As I search for meaning in different pieces of my life and story, common themes have emerged. Phrases that stick to my mind like glue. Hopeful brokenness, grace upon grace and choosing vulnerability being a few of them. I’ve written, prayed over and researched how these themes weave into the threads of this story of mine. Choosing vulnerability has the most relevance to the where my feet are now.
The first synonym of vulnerable is accessible. I love that. Followed by wide open and ready.
When we become vulnerable, we become accessible.
We become wide open.
We become ready.
Yes, when we are vulnerable we become open to attack and judgment but through faith we also become open to others, to relationships and to community. Through the sacrifice of being vulnerable we allow ourselves the privilege of bearing our brothers burden, living in honest, broken community and glorifying His strength in our weakness.
I choose to be wide open, to be ready, and to be accessible. The thought of vulnerability has never been anything but scary but the act of vulnerability has never been anything but worth it