Tag Archives: What is vulnerability?

Vulnerability is a Must for Love–Use It with Care

I had a crazy experience recently. I was leading a group and I really wanted it to go well–really get everyone bonded. I had made a plan but then decided to go with another one at the last minute.

The group went even better than I supposed it would. They all seemed to feel good about it, but I didn’t. People had opened up more than I expected, even people that I didn’t think would.

Usually I go first to model vulnerability–a rule of being a good group leader. But I didn’t even have to. And afterwards I felt bad.

I couldn’t understand it! Why did I feel bad? Because I hadn’t gone first? Because I had changed plans? Because I thought I hadn’t prepared well enough? I didn’t get it, but I felt an awful heaviness in my chest.

I went to bed an hour or so later, and it was still there! So I said to God, “I don’t know what is going on! I have no idea why I feel this heaviness. You healed some old lies for me this morning, and yet tonight I feel worse than if You hadn’t. What is going on? Do I need to learn something? Find a lie? Is this just an attack from the dark side because things  went so well? Please show me and take this feeling away.

Immediately it lifted, and I was so grateful and went to sleep. But the next morning I was still puzzled, when suddenly it hit me: the people who had shared had gotten so vulnerable and so real that it actually scared me. I felt that because they had opened up and shared so much I could, and it scared me half to death.

It was such a surprise to me! I have gotten fairly at ease with sharing vulnerable things about myself. I don’t know if anyone ever gets comfortable with it, but if is usually freeing and you feel lighter afterwards. That is the reward. Secretly, we all long to be known and loved anyway. But there are certain things that only go to very trusted people, and I think suddenly I felt that this was a group I could trust, and it scared me.

I’m sharing it because I think we all are afraid to be open and vulnerable, and we should pick and choose people who have earned our trust over time–people who have risked sharing with us also–to trust. Risking vulnerability is scary, but it is good. It is growing. Just wanted you to know that everybody feels it, except maybe sociopaths, but risking being known is one of the best human experiences there is. Do it carefully, don’t share too much too soon, but do it. Let yourself be known. It is the only way to feel truly accepted and loved.

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Vulnerability is Strength

Nobody likes being needy. I wrote last week about vulnerability–was going to title it Vulnerability is a Good Thing–but my husband said it was a terrible title–he wouldn’t read anything with that title. I guess guys especially don’t like being vulnerable, but why? Why do we think there is a clash between vulnerability and strength? I think only those who are truly strong can be vulnerable. They are the only ones who aren’t afraid.

I suppose men see the vulnerable as those who can’t protect themselves physically, those who are over-powered by brute strength. The old “might makes right” idea. Men are built with protective instinct, and that’s a good thing. The worst abuse, called sanctuary betrayal, is when those who are supposed to protect us are the ones hurting us. So I’m glad they are programmed that way. God did it, so He wanted protectors in society, just in case something went wrong, which it did, and we were physically vulnerable. (Remember He created it perfect–no evil.)

But there is another kind of vulnerability that is good. Emotional vulnerability. The willingness to be vulnerable–to make yourself open–transparent–nothing to hide. Most of us can’t quite get there–not with everyone and not all the time. Life has given us experiences we are afraid to share for fear of judgment, some of it warranted, but everyone’s experience is different, so it’s good to really know the person you are telling before you share all. God is the only one brave enough and good enough to be totally vulnerable, and even He has taken time, and considered who, when, and how he shares.

A great example of this happened this morning with my husband. We were both tired this week, and hit a high point of crabbiness yesterday. I was sure I must be hormonal, but this morning he was sitting in the sun on the patio, and he got vulnerable (!) and motioned for me to sit in his lap. Then he said, “No matter what we might do or say to each other, know that I love you.” This is rare sharing for him, and it brings reciprocation (almost always for anyone).

Later we were in the car and I shared that I had thought my irritability had been from hormones, but maybe, since he had felt the same, it was our week long empty-carb binge beginning with some decadent pancakes we had on Mothers’ Day. He had blamed me that he didn’t feel good and we had been distant for days. We had also had pizza three times, instead of our usual “clean eating.” (For some reason he was in search of the perfect frozen pizza. And since he cooks three nights a week, I just try to be grateful.) So we talked about getting back to our nutrient-rich diet, and I told him, “I’m so glad you shared how you felt and we talked about this. It was very helpful to me.”

Vulnerability is scary, I know, but it is what makes therapy work. It’s also what makes relationships work.

And it is the way God has chosen to secure His universe in freedom forever! He has made all of His actions transparent, full disclosure for the whole watching universe! He wasn’t afraid of being hurt or misunderstood. Now that is vulnerability! And don’t miss that it is also coming from tremendous strength.

 

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Love ed, Marriage, Mental Health, Uncategorized, What is God like?