This is a post I’ve been waiting to write for a while. I really hope it helps you and brings you freedom.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Proverbs 27:6 (NIV)
But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Genesis 3:9 (NIV)
I’m realising that most of the people I meet are lonely and afraid but really don’t realise it. We want deep and meaningful relationships but we’re scared of not being enough. We want to pour our love out somewhere but we’re scared of being too much. We’re scared of really fully and truly being ourselves and being Rejected but I don’t think most of us realise it. The fear of intimacy is as old as mankind and I think one of the reasons we don’t realise that we’re living in fear is that we have so many ways to “protect” ourselves. We go to the gym so that we can appear strong and feel powerful on the outside because we know we’re actually weak on the inside. We put on our make-up and “power suit” walking confidently around the workplace hoping no one sees how powerless and lonely we really feel. If we do manage to be ourselves for a split second and someone doesn’t like it we can quickly pass it off as a joke and retreat into our cave of false smiles and likeability. I’m finding that what I need is to learn how to be vulnerable.
I looked up the origin of the word vulnerable and it comes from the same word as “wound”. Vulnerability is basically the ability to be wounded or harmed. A couple of years ago I started learning about the power and significance of vulnerability in my life and how it is linked to true love, true intimacy and true freedom. I’m not talking about being the scrawny kid who gets picked on because he can’t defend himself or the weak-willed employee who gets everyone else’s work dumped on them. I’m talking more about the conscious decision to make yourself vulnerable to God and to others. I’m saying that voluntary vulnerability is not a weakness but actually a display of strength.
I was thinking one day about whether or not God is vulnerable because we’re (Christians) supposed to act like Him right? I was struck with the thought that Jesus modelled vulnerability to the max by setting aside all of Heaven and His own immortality to come close to us. Close enough for us to touch Him with our hands. Close enough for us to kill Him. While He was on the Earth even though He knew all of His disciples would abandon Him, He brought them close to Him (Mark 14:27). He even made Judas the betrayer an apostle and allowed Him to share in His incredible life for 3 years!! Jesus’ example of voluntary vulnerability shows that it is always a risk because of what people are like but it’s also completely necessary in order to have real depth in any relationship.
“Voluntary vulnerability is not a weakness but actually a display of strength.”
I’ll explain a little more of what I mean by vulnerability because clearly I’m not saying “Hey let’s all go hang out with people we think might want us dead…” By being vulnerable I’m talking about opening our hearts, our thoughts and emotions to people and giving them the power to analyse and accept, reject or correct them. It’s about living your life in such a way that those close to you can see into your heart and freely express to you what they think about it. Personally I find this to be one of the scariest things in the world but I’m learning that it’s completely necessary if I want to have real relationships with real people. Without this my relationships remain awkwardly superficial and I can never really connect with people on a deeper level. Friendships become boring and monotonous as we scratch the surface of intimacy for the thousandth time by talking about the weather or the football. I firmly believe that true intimacy doesn’t exist without vulnerability.
When I was a kid my brother and I used to break things quite regularly. We were pretty normal kids so we’d be climbing all over everything and swinging from everything and throwing everything around! Eventually the inevitable would happen and we’d have to find a way to fix it or hide it before our parents returned home. We actually got better and better at this as we got older! When it comes to worship and encountering God, vulnerability is again completely essential. I’ve definitely had times in my life where I’ve tried to come before God in prayer or worship when in my heart I’ve been doing everything I can to make sure He doesn’t see the issue or the attitude I’m trying to hide from Him because I think I know what He’ll say. I want to try and fix it myself or just hide it from Him and distract Him with my loud singing or eloquent praying. As a result I would go a long time never really connecting with God and my thoughts about myself would begin to change because I wouldn’t be making room in my heart to listen to what He was saying about me. My thoughts about Him would change too and become warped and distorted. It’s like trying to keep track of a friend’s life through Facebook without actually speaking to them! You get a distorted image. When I would eventually come to Him and lay my heart open and be honest about all that I was going through and make a conscious decision to verbalise it to Him (even though I know He knows) it would make room for Him to step in and do or say something. This is where Proverbs 27:6 comes in. What greater friend is there than Him? He may have to wound me in order to cut out what is damaging to me but I know that He will build me up and encourage me, replacing lies I’ve believed with His truth and wash me clean with His word. I like to call this open-heart surgery : )
“True intimacy doesn’t exist without vulnerability.”
In 1Samuel 19, Saul tries to kill David but comes into the presence of God and ends up stripping off his armour and prophesying all day and all night and I think this is like an example for us of what can happen when we come into God’s presence. We remove our armour and the things we use to protect ourselves and make us appear strong and we surrender to His unrelenting love and choose to speak only what He says about us all day and all night. This is true worship. When we come before Him as we are, warts and all, accepting what we see but choosing to say what He says and see what He sees. As we experience His love, His forgiveness and His grace it drives us into a deeper place of worship where even more healing and building up can be done. When Adam sinned and hid himself God called to him and asked him where he was. This was God offering Adam the opportunity to be vulnerable and so restore intimacy to their relationship. Adam started off well “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” but he then shifted the blame to God and to Eve “The woman YOU put here with me…” God is always offering us the chance to live in intimacy with Him through vulnerability. He has already displayed the ultimate act of vulnerability and done everything necessary to come close to us. Let’s come to Him without excuses and lay our hearts open before Him knowing that the One who knows us best loves us most.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this helpful! This post was getting quite long so I’ve cut it in two!
Here’s the link to Part 2!