Recently I was reflecting on my friendships. As a definite introvert, it takes a while for me to warm up to people. I tend to be a very private person and have trouble letting people in. However, the relationships that I have with my closest friends tend to be very deep, meaningful, and authentic. As I thought about how each of those friendships developed, I noticed a key theme: vulnerability. All of my closest friendships deepened through mutual sharing of struggles, fears, pain, and disappointments. From my experience, vulnerability is the glue that cements deep and authentic friendship.
However, I think that our culture is especially terrified of vulnerability. We tend to present ourselves as idealized versions of the people we truly are. Our social media profiles show snapshots of all the best moments of our lives, but fail to show our disappointments, anxieties, and insecurities. Most of our relationships only reach a surface level, stopping just short of true intimacy and closeness. I think that pride is the biggest culprit. We want people to be impressed with us, so we carefully construct idealized but false images of ourselves that keep people from discovering who we really are. Our pride makes us lonely-unseen and unknown.
Fear is another culprit. Vulnerability is dangerous. When we authentically share ourselves with others, we risk rejection and disapproval. I think that most people have had these experiences at some point. The Enemy tries to use painful memories of rejection to keep us from risking vulnerability again.
The Lord has recently been chipping away my own fear of vulnerability in a surprising, but simple way. I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, but the reality of God’s love for me has often been more of a mental understanding than a practical experience in my life. As I’ve experienced more and more the reality of God’s unconditional love, I’ve had greater courage to risk vulnerability with the people in my life. God sees me as I truly am. He knows ever insecurity, understands every anxiety, and mourns with me over every disappointment in my life. He knows every sinful thought and impure motive. He is intimately acquainted with every aspect of my life that I carefully hide from others. Yet he loves me deeply and unconditionally.
The love of Jesus frees me to be vulnerable.