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If you have read my blog last week, you know that I am currently participating in the LoveBlog challenge, hosted by Brita and today also by Alessia and me. Each day there is a prompt for a topic to blog about. Today’s topic is vulnerability. You can read my previous LoveBlog posts here. If you want to find out more about the challenge and how to participate just scroll to the end of this post.
I am not going to cry
In primary school, I must have been maybe 9 years old, I once fell whilst playing catch on the playground and really badly injuring my elbow. I remember how everything went black for a moment because it hurt so much. In a daze I got up collected my bottle and lunchbox that I had dropped on my way to the floor and walked over to the teacher who was on duty.
“I can’t move my elbow,” I told her. I tried to smile. She looked at me and smiled back. “You will be fine. Just sit down and rest it for a moment. You’ll see.” So, with clenched teeth I sat down on the bench by the side of the playground. I am not crying I told myself. I am not crying.
My arm really hurt.
Next, we had PE. I told the teacher that I had fallen and hurt my arm and again I was simply told to sit out and wait for it to get better. It got worse. But I didn’t cry. The other kids were playing some game and one of the boys run with a bit too much fervour and stumbled into me. Pain shot through my arm and I almost had to throw up. “Watch out you idiot!” I grumbled at him. But I didn’t cry.
After a while my PE teacher noticed that I looked very white and started asking me questions – “What happened? How did you fall? Can you move your arm at all?” An hour later my mum picked me up and drove me to the hospital. By that time I felt like I was about to die because the pain was so bad. I didn’t die. My arm wasn’t even broken. Something weird had happened to my elbow but it healed after a few weeks and everything was fine.
Vulnerability is necessary
However, when I remember this story I wonder why was I so determined to not cry? This desire to hide my pain did not hold any advantage for me. Actually, to the contrary. If I had cried out in pain and really told someone how much it hurt, my teachers would have made sure I get to the hospital much sooner.
To be honest, I still tend to avoid crying in public. I also still have to overcome some big internal hurdles when I want to ask someone for help or tell them that I am hurt. Even worse, when telling someone they hurt me. I really struggle to have those hard and awkward conversations.
But I know that facing conflict is important. I know that running away from conversations about my feelings and pretending that I am okay even if I am not is not cool but cowardly.
What keeps us from being vulnerable?
We tell ourselves that we keep our feelings to ourselves because they no one else’s business. Because we don’t need their help. We are perfectly fine dealing with our things ourselves. Wow look at how strong we are. However, we’re lying to ourselves.
In reality, we believe one of two things
- Either, we think our feelings are stupid and as a result not worth mentioning. We think other people have bigger things to worry about. I am too easily offended anyway. That’s my problem. And so on.
- Or we’re scared. We worry what people will think. We are afraid they might laugh at us, misunderstand or not take us serious. Further, we might worry others could use knowledge about our weaknesses to hurt us.
So it is either shame or fear (or both, if you’re really lucky) that keep us from being vulnerable. The thing is… I think in order to overcome both fear and shame is to be vulnerable.
Overcoming shame and fear
The author and researcher Brené Brown says this:
“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”
And also this:
“What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think – or letting go of how I feel, what I believe and who I am?”
My personal journey towards more vulnerability
Like I said, I still very often struggle to open up about my feelings and initiate difficult conversations. But I am learning to be more vulnerable.
I am learning that my feelings matter. In fact, listening to my gut results in good decisions 99% of the time. Maybe people will judge me as sensitive, but I rather let go of caring about my ‘coolness factor’ than let go of who I am.
Secondly, I am learning that most of the time, people don’t actually judge me as too sensitive, but rather, appreciate my openness and vulnerability. Especially since being married I have gone to unknown lengths in being vulnerable and have experienced so much compassion, trust and intimacy.
Therefore, closing myself off from others and holding in my pain does not make me the coolest kid in town. Instead, it will make me lonely.
Vulnerability leads to abundance
We need to open up if we want to grow. It is necessary to take risks if we want to be creative. Vulnerability is incredibly hard, but it is the only path that leads to abundance.
As a Christian I have the daily choice to be vulnerable with Jesus. Inviting him into my life requires me to let my guard down. In order to accept his grace and forgiveness I need to admit my own brokenness and need for forgiveness and healing.
Following Jesus and his call on my life is vulnerable. Laying down control and blindly trusting in the goodness of his plans incredibly risky. Accepting that his way is better than mine requires humility.
But what is the alternative? Forsaking the abundant life he offers? I rather get over myself and surrender the illusion of being in control. Because, whether I accept it or not – He is on the throne.
Which in many ways makes me feel incredibly safe. The God of the universe is in charge and he is for me.
Therefore, I don’t need to be afraid.
Meet your Love Blog challenge hosts!
Britta blogs over at the Bright And Bold Life about her journey as Jesus-follower, wife, church planter, environmentalist and maker. She recently moved from the UK to Berlin with her husband to be invovled with a new churchplant. Her recipe for a good day includes coffee, bookshops, nature walks and knitting needles.
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. On her blog and social media, you’ll discover more than authentic storytelling–she’s brutally honest about pursuing a fulfilling and joyful life even with Crohn’s Disease and depression.
Alessia is a 30-something writer from London. Chic + Catholic is her newly rebranded lifestyle blog, where she documents her life as a Catholic woman in the big city. She has a sharp sense of humour and sees herself as character Amy Sherman-Palladino would write if she wrote a TV series about a 30-something Catholic writer who does everything except writing.