This picture. I love it. I think it might be the perfect illustration of exactly how it feels to be vulnerable.
“Are they going to smash my heart into a million pieces when I tell them the truth?”
I’ll never forget the first time I stood in front of a group of ladies and shared my story. It wasn’t a huge group, but I had not even ventured to share my story with one person at that point (except my husband and counselor), so it might as well have been a room of thousands. Was I scared to death? You better believe it. After a lifetime of decorating my walls and making everything look so good to the outside world, the reality of letting others see behind those walls was terrifying. I did it, though. I did the thing that I was scared of because I knew in my gut that Jesus was calling me to do it. At that point in my life, my trust in Jesus was fragile at best but I had just enough stubbornness in me to ignore the doubt and do it, anyway.
What amazed me on that day, was how many women came to me and tenderly whispered, “That’s my story, too.” I was stunned to discover how many women shared my pain. Something deep and foundational happened inside of me on that day. Something that shifted the entire course of my life.
One lie we will always believe when we choose to live inside our fortress rather than leaving the gate open and inviting other’s in is that we are alone in our pain. We are convinced that we shouldn’t talk about “it” because no one will “get it”. On that day, when I chose the path of open gates and windows – of full exposure – a single truth blew through my soul.
“You are not alone in your pain.”
For the first time, I saw that there were others like me. Their stories were a little different, but their pain…their pain was the same as mine. They had beautifully decorated fortresses too, and they had kept the gates locked tight, just like me. A fire was kindled in my soul on that day. I knew that Jesus was calling me to a lifetime of vulnerability because it is only in vulnerability that we find truth.
When we are vulnerable, it gives others permission to do the same.
Someone asked me recently if it is hard for me to share about my past and the things I suffered. I paused a minute, looked at that friend and said with a smile, “It was at first, but not anymore because my heart is so focused on Jesus and his hope.” I don’t mind sharing the truth of my pain because it showcases the power of Jesus’ redemption.
Only in my vulnerability can others see their need for Jesus. If I’ve got it all together, what purpose does he serve? A harsh thought, I admit, but it’s the truth. It is only when we are broken, and we let that broken come tumbling out that we find how desperately we need Jesus.
The novel I’ve written tackles this very idea: if we expose our deepest, darkest pain, will Jesus really come through? Storytelling is the most powerful way to share the truth. Jesus used stories to rock everyone’s theology. He could have just said, “Don’t judge others!” but instead he told a story about a guy with a log in his eye, trying to get the speck out of someone else’s eye (Matthew 7). Through stories, we identify with the characters and the themes. Stories make us feel safe to identify our pain and even brave the questions we tend to avoid in real life.
I only ever write because I need to find an answer. I admit I don’t always find a perfect answer but I do discover more of Jesus in my seeking. I also write because it keeps me vulnerable. I can’t pretend when I sit down to peck out words on my screen. If it isn’t coming from authenticity then I find myself staring at a blank screen unable to come up with one sentence worth reading.
The world doesn’t need more cookie-cutter christians. The world needs vulnerable and authentic people who will share their struggle so that Jesus can be victorious. We overcome by the blood of Jesus AND the word of our story. If we profess Jesus saves but we never reveal to others how he has done that in us, then how will they believe?
I used to hide my story, but now I anticipate every single time I have the opportunity to share it. I anticipate being vulnerable because I know that when I share my story, it gives hope that Jesus can do it again in someone else…
And you know what? He can. He absolutely can.