I've only been on this crazy planet for 22 years, so I don't have much figured out-- especially, something as complex as vulnerability-- but as a young, perpetually curious person (who happens to be a nomad and a newlywed), the concept of belonging fascinates me. Since finding home leaves us all a little vulnerable sometimes, I've felt God lead me in the direction of this series (read the posts here). As a way of concluding this several week journey, here are 5 unexpected things I've learned about vulnerability. I hope that somehow, this helps you too:
1. Sometimes it isn't strength.
Actually, it usually isn't. While there is two kinds of vulnerability (like I talked about in my previous post), we can take it even deeper and say there are also two different perceptions: America's version and the version Christ models perfectly.
America & Authenticity.
Defined as "the quality of being real or true" in the Cambridge Dictionary, "authenticity" is a word that's hit a cultural upswing. Everyone is searching for someone to relate to, and it's so easy in today's media environment to feel like we've found a way to express our 'true self' to a group of like-minded and unopposed individuals.
That's why there are online chat rooms, franchise players in the NBA, lifestyle Youtubers partnering with popular brands, and the purpose behind talk-shows like the "Red Table Talk" on FacebookWatch. We want answers to our daily life problems. And with the internet, "answers" are just competing for our attention.
Millennials (born between 1997-2007) crave authenticity, that's pretty common knowledge by now, but after some additional research for this post, I realized that they are increasingly being known for something else.
CBS so fittingly calls it the "hidden epidemic".
Would you do me a favor, open a new tab, type "perfectionism in previous generations" into Google. What you find is chilling.
But isn't perfectionism the antithesis of authenticity?
If we were really striving for "Authenticity", our humanness would be the obvious subject of reflection. As flawed creatures, something like "obsessive perfectionism" would not exist.
And isn't just a millennials' thing either. Our whole culture is saturated with it.
You don't have to look far to see what I mean. I encourage you to look for the ways this toxic concept has been seemlessly sown into our society. It's humbling.
It's also really messed up.
Feeling and becoming vulnerable is weakness, but in America, we are consumed with the appearance of the exact opposite.
What can we do to face vulnerability head-on, despite what's happening around us? (This question is open-ended, I'd love to hear what you think!)
2. Vulnerability breeds vulnerability.
When you are vulnerable, you have the opportunity to create a supportive and encouraging environment. Just by being you. Vulnerability is painful, but just like a forest fire can burn down entire forests, the flames leave behind soil ready for new growth.
Also, please do not believe the lie that being vulnerable means isolation. There may be people you need to step away from and old habits you need to break (and staying away from certain people/groups/areas are the only way to do that), but if you are denying yourself community, you are opening yourself up to a dangerous game with the Devil. This vulnerability you are crafting for yourself becomes easily pliable, and loneliness and feeling out-of-place becomes Satan's battering ram. Your pain will be used against you, not for you, if you do not surround yourself with people who decide that you are worth the fight.
-- Thoughts resulting from a conversation with the beautiful & talented Victoria Conner (of vconnerphoto.com, photography based in VA and NC)
3. Vulnerability takes intentional acts of self-care.
You must understand that you still matter. Vulnerability does not mean you sacrifice the holiness of the body you have been given.
I. The "five-second rule" works. (PS: not the food thing)
"If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it....When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action." - Mel Robbins
I use this ALL THE TIME. In order to get up out of bed, or get to work, or get up to get water, or face the people that just burned you, these 5 seconds are vital to making good, but hard, decisions.
Read more about "The 5-Second Rule" here.
II. Quiet time is essential.
Our world is so busy, we can convince ourselves we're fine. But vulnerability requires strength we do not possess on our own. Take away the time we have to listen to the Spirit, we take away the opportunity of healing.
Here are some verses to consider:
II Corinthians 12:9-10
II Corinthians 13:4
II Corinthians 4:7
** This is something I have an extremely hard time doing, and am looking for a little guidance. What works best for you?
4. "Hurry" is Incompatible.
You cannot rush through and skip the pain of vulnerability and feel the joy of redemption. It just doesn't work like that. Pain is an essential apart of healing. Pain shows you who you are. And how much you need Jesus.
"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Hurry is the archenemy of spiritual life of our day...There is nothing else" - Dallas Willard.
Listen more about this on the Jefferson & Alyssa Bethke's (amazing) podcast on Spotify here or on Youtube.
5. God uses ordinary people.
The Bible is a record of God using countless people, who, perhaps, had only one definable quality: they were willing. SO God used them for extraordinary thing. Mary, for example, just a 14 year old girl who grew up like other girls her age, with the exception that she was willing. "Let it be," she said. And she became the mother of the Son of God.
Opening ourselves up to vulnerability, means we are willing to be uncomfortable, in pain and confused. But willingness allows God to move. To have new things grow up in place of lesser things.
Imagine what would happen if we lived like that.
Believed like that.
Recap: Godly vulnerability requires...
weakness / community / self-care / a process / ordinary people
That's all I have! What did you think of these five things? Which is the one that got you thinking the most?
What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful. - B.Brown
Psst...Let's be friends!
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