Vulnerability…a Dirty Word!

In my life vulnerability has always been a dirty word. It meant to expose weakness; it meant to put power in the hands of those who I knew would use it to hurt me. It meant to put my trust in another which I have never done, have never found safe. But in the hands of the Almighty, vulnerability is perfection and beauty, its power and life. Vulnerability in the hands of the Creator and Sustainer of life always returns reward, it never returns empty and broken. Isaiah 55:11 says “My [God’s] word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return empty, but will accomplish what I [God] desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” And so when God says to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that “My [God’s] grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” He means it. Paul’s vulnerability allows God to perfectly work out His powerful plan.
I recently got a taste of this very lesson. As I have said, I always saw vulnerability as a terrible thing. It literally left a bad taste in my mouth, but a few years ago God started a work in me, in relation to vulnerability that has led to God’s power being portrayed in a mighty way and a truly perfect plan. My first taste of attempting to be vulnerable did not go quite like I had hoped. When my marriage fell apart, I tried being vulnerable with my spouse in an effort to resolve thing. While it did not change our relationship, it did change me. I learned, for the first time, that I did not have to hide the way I felt, I did not have to be another person and that I did not want to be. I learned that I like myself and that no matter what others do with my vulnerability, my worth and value will always remain intact, because my worth and value stem not from the opinions of others, rather they extend from being created in the image of the Almighty God (Gen 1:27).

This started a series of changes. It changed the way I looked at myself and others. It changed the way I interacted with God and others. It changed the way I viewed life in general and my purpose in particular. My choice to be vulnerable changed me and recreated me, because when I chose to be vulnerable before God and others, I chose to trust God. I chose to allow Him to work His power in my life.

Fast forward a few years and I’m finally seeing the ripple effect. What God started a few years ago, He is now making perfect. Because I allowed Him to begin to change me then, things I never imagined possible are coming to fruition. I did not have the easiest of childhoods. Quite young my family splintered in many directions which have left us limping along through our relationships, not trusting each other or anyone else, yet pretending to be an impenetrable force. For all intents and purposes, we’ve been faking it. We’ve been faking true vulnerability and trust in one another, and though I can’t speak for the others, I have done it because I have always hoped one day it would turn out to be real. “Fake it ‘til you make it,” has been my self-proclaimed life motto, as I have always hoped that if things could appear as I desired, then hopefully one day they would really be that way.

Yet “faking” it does not cut it. Fake vulnerability is not vulnerability at all. It’s actually the opposite of vulnerability and it makes growth and change impossible. Let me say that again, fake vulnerability makes growth and change IMPOSSIBLE! Why? Because those you’re interacting with never really get to see the things they need to see in order for things to change. They see the perception you present and they react to the lie. They can tell you’re not really being vulnerable and so they too continue to hide behind their walls. Only true vulnerability can break down walls and rebuild lives.

I found this out recently. Through a series of conversations I have been having with family members over the past few months, I am seeing God shine through vulnerability. Vulnerability brings honesty; it allows people to open up and truly see you and see themselves through a different perspective. It allows people to feel comfortable to be vulnerable with you. I have noticed that as I have been vulnerable with my family, they have given me grace where I was certain they would hurt me. They have given me patience, where previously defenses would rise. AND most important of all, THEY have started to be vulnerable with me! Why? Because when a person is vulnerable with you, you receive a precious gift, you receive their trust! And when a person truly trusts you, especially when you know how hard it has been for them to get to that place, something shifts and you begin to expose more of yourself to them as well. It is the most amazing gift I have ever had the blessing to receive or be a part of, next to the grace God bestowed upon me, and it is something I now thirst for and crave. Truth always brings blessing! Truth always brings freedom! Truth always returns value! Vulnerability is truth. It is allowing others to see the truth about you, with grace and peace; it is not hiding who you are or how you feel. It is honesty and openness, it is truth lived out in grace for the edification of others and the accomplishment of God’s good and perfect will, and so after experiencing the amazing effects of being vulnerable with God “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” for my weakness is made perfect in Christ’s strength (2 Corinthians 12:9)!

2 Comments:

  1. Hi! My name is Lyndsey! I’m a born again follower of Christ and I’m really struggling in the area of vulnerability. It affects my spiritual health and my relationships with friends and family. A lot of the points you made in your blog have been helpful to me but I still have questions and frustrations. Why is it so important to be vulnerable? I feel like vulnerability has only opened me up to be used, abused, and betrayed. What is the corilation in James 5:16 between “confessing your sins to one another” and being “healed”? What power is there in letting your guard down, I thought it was wise to be on guard and guard your heart?

    • Great questions Lyndsey! Vulnerability is being open and honest about who you are. It is chosing not to hide behind walls of defense. You ask why it is so important and the best answer I have is in the form of analogy. Think back to history class, to the concepts of seiged cities, defense bunkers, and trenches. While they had a purpose at the time, no one ever considered them permenant places to live. Defense mechanisms, while sometimes useful, are not meant to be permanent places of refuge. They serve their purpose in the storm, but when the clouds pass its time to come out and start rebuilding what was wrecked by the storm. The same is for emotional defense mechanisms. There is a time and a place. We aren’t expected to be vulnerable to the point of exposure with anyone and everyone we interact with. Scripture does tell us to guard our hearts, in order that those who are worthy and deserve them will benefit and cherish them, while those who would seek to hurt and destroy them would be kept out. When it comes to learning how to be vulnerable, my recommendation would be to first try it out with God. Ask him to help you learn how to be vulnerable with him and in time, as it becomes more comfortable, ask him to show you who would be a safe person to start experimenting with vulnerability in human relationships. Ask him to guide you in your relationships and show you who will protect and cherish your heart and who will only cause it harm. It is a scary thing, but vulnerability with God will change everything and when he presents opportunities for you to try it out with people, by then you’ll know you can trust him in that area and it will be easier to transition it into your human relationships, “for out of the mouth comes the overflow of the heart.”
      As for the correlation between confession and healing, sin destroys relationships. If we look back at Adam and Eve we see evidence of that. It throws a wall up between the two parties. To restore the relationship with God, we must repent and believe. Part of repentance is confession. It’s recognition and agreement with God that our actions were sinful. Without that recognition and agreement, the relationship remains in a strained/broken state. The relationship can’t be restored without confession. The same can be applied to human relationships. When one party hurts another, recognizing that you hurt the other party, acknowledging it and allowing them to know you acknowledge it, allows for the relationship to begin healing. It takes the wind out of the injured parties sales. Now they may not desire healing and restoration, but without confession the healing cannot truly begin, because any attempt is like merely covering a wound with a band-aid, without cleaning out the infection. The sore will still fester whether it’s seen or not. Confession is the same, it cleanses the disease from us, the offending party, and allows for the other party to accept that cleansing as well, should they so desire.
      I hope this has been helpful and I pray that God helps you learn the beauty of vulnerability with Him!