At first, at least, many of us fear it. But it’s so true what she says, that that same fearful vulnerability is “also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” (Brene Brown)
Dr. James Houston, with his 90 years of experience, would agree. In his words, “friendship is based on the mutual sharing of weakness.”
It's one thing to know the value of vulnerability, and quite another to be willingly vulnerable. There's no substitute for just taking the plunge - again and again and again - and discovering that, though it might or might not get easier, the rewards are worth it. But here's a little encouragement to help you dive in the first time. Or the thousandth.
You are made in God’s image. You are a unique prism, reflecting Him like no other. If you don’t let us see you, we miss out on seeing that bit of God’s beauty reflected in you. You are being crafted, written, shaped, not just for yourself but for us too.
“Our story is who we are, and if we deny it, we deny not only our own selves – we deny the very Author Who’s writing this redemptive epic.” (Ann Voscamp)
A friend puts her hand on the books. “These are God’s. They’re given to you to share.” And I can’t help but think of Jesus’ statement, “The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work." (John 14:10)
I hear the hesitation. I've felt it too. “But that’s Jesus talking about himself, not about me.” True. He was a unique channel of God's self-revelation. He listened perfectly, obeyed perfectly. We don’t. But Jesus follows that statement with the startling words, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) And it’s only a few lines later that he tells us how this is possible: “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20)
Our words aren’t inspired the way Scripture is. We can get things wrong. Still, over and over through Scripture, the declaration is made: “I have put my words in your mouth.” (Is 51:16, 59: 21; Jer 1:9; cf. Ex 4:12; Matt 10:20; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12; 21:14-15; Eph 6: 19) It’s God’s way. He puts His words in our mouth, writes His laws on our hearts, puts a Counselor within us to lead us into all truth. By some miracle of grace, He chooses to speak into us and through us. ". . . it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matt 10:20)
If all those promises feel like too many words and you need one single line to tuck in your heart and carry with you into every vulnerable situation, try this one:
"I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." (John 14:20)
Those fifteen small words (all but one three letters or less) wrap us around and fill us, defusing our two biggest reasons for hiding.
“It’s not safe to share.” No. Maybe not. You might be rejected, unappreciated (. . . though I daresay it will happen a lot less when you share your real self than when you show us your mask.) But even if it does happen, you won’t be alone. You’ll never dare to open your broken places and find yourself rejected by God. “I am in my Father and you are in me. . . .” Your life is hidden with Christ in God. There’s no safer place than tucked into Jesus who Himself is in his Father.
And those quiet fears that you don’t really have anything worth sharing? That whatever's inside of you is, at best, ordinary, at worst, garbage? “. . . I am in you.” When you drop the mask and let us see into the real you, you’re not just sharing your (broken yet beautiful!) self with us; you’re sharing the God of the universe made flesh for love of us. The crumbled open places of brokenness? Those are the places we glimpse little rainbowed refractions of the Light of the universe who has made His home in you.
The sculpture with its open brokenness tells the honest-to-God truth: real confidence grows not out of flawlessness or whitewash but out of leaning close and offering the daily given grace - and finding our broken selves loved.
I'm leaving this morning to share bits of brokenness and grace with a group about to begin my Bible study. Pray for us, will you?
Though I won't be around these next few days to respond to comments, might you consider sharing anyway? What fears keep you from letting yourself be seen? When have you experienced grace in vulnerability - either in your own, or in someone else's daring to trust you with their heart? What helps you take the risk of showing us your real self? You might even want to risk loving your brothers and sisters today by responding to the comments they leave.