The Pain of Vulnerability

Vulnerability. For so long this word has terrified me to the very core. It means the front I put on for people on a daily basis has to come off. It means those around me have to see who I actually am. It means I have to trust someone enough to tell them the terrifying fears that keep me up at night or the deep dark secrets that I dare not tell anyone. It means I have to uncover pains, struggles and sins I have buried deep inside my soul. It means I have to trust someone enough that they won’t hurt me, like I have been over and over again.

Recently I was in class at Focus Leadership Institute (FLI). All 25 of us students had been there for two hours and were thinking about lunch. We had been discussing identity and the lies Satan tells us.

Then it happened. Out of nowhere, we were told to share. My heart stopped.

Our professor asked us to write down the lies we’ve been told and discuss them within groups. Suddenly, something strange happened. What normally would be fear and nervousness turned into an unexplainable peace. The terrifying instance of trusting another human being oddly became easy. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I had no fear. I wanted to take a risk.  I wanted to be vulnerable. My mind boggled for answers. As my pen stroked the paper, words of vulnerability begin to flood out.

Brokenness on a piece of paper.

Then came the sharing part. Am I really going to tell them what I have written down? Words began to spew out of my mouth.

Words of brokenness.

As I finished, relief spread throughout my body, like a disease had just been cured. All of this was so uncommon for me. Then, these people, these individuals with whom I had spent two weeks, with trembling voices also became vulnerable. They spoke of fears, weaknesses, scars from the past. They were hurt, tired, scared. After we had all shared, we sat in silence. We had all realized that we had common hurts, common pains, common lies told to us.

Then our professor decided to stretch us even further. He wrote two words on the whiteboard. “I am….” He wanted each one of us to come to the board and write down who we felt like we were. He played a song as we all attempted to come up with the perfect combination of words. Then, one by one we stepped up to the whiteboard. These are some of the words that were written:

Torn. Learning to trust again. Broken. Being put back together. All knowledge, no heart. Recovering.

As we looked at that whiteboard, we realized one thing: We were all hurting, all struggling, all in pain. Yet we all refused to talk about it. We had never known Christians who admitted that they needed help. We, as Christians, thought we couldn’t hurt, couldn’t struggle and couldn’t be in pain. We thought perfection came without vulnerability.

For so long, I have refused to trust anyone with my heart. In the past, people have been cruel and have taken advantage of my vulnerability. I learned to self protect. I learned to only share so much. I always thought that Christians were not supposed to have problems.

In the last two weeks at FLI, I have seen the lies and the evil in these words. In the very beginning of creation, God created beings of vulnerability. Christians are supposed to take a risk on other Christians. Put yourself out there. O, how freeing it is.

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