Beyond the Valley

I would like to take a moment and, in full discretion, admit that I am a human being. There are times when I fully embrace all of my faults and weaknesses and boldly declare that it is a humbling thing to be human. Then, there are other times that I feel absolutely deceived by my own humanity. This may have something to do with the fact that I strive for an image that projects perfection (a false self), and failure (or being at fault) for me tastes like battery acid … still, it is humbling.

The subject matter I am about to dive into is something I am very familiar with. I have written about this time and time again, but this time around I write with scabbed knees and a recovering heart. What I’m going to talk about (again) is vulnerability. Situational vulnerability to be exact. It is this type of vulnerability that can be chosen in the moment, when every single insecure part of me wants to flee the scene or throw up a wall of defense with words like fire.

Whether we like to admit it or not, to be seen and to be known are basic human desires, and it is vulnerability that routes us there. Having those desires to be seen and known, I have had a shift in perspective on vulnerability after listening to a podcast that a friend sent over from Brené Brown. If you are at all familiar with Dr. Brown’s work, you know she is quite the expert in vulnerability and shame, and has even written a book on the subjects.

As I listened to all of her wisdom, I began to see my most recent actions for what they were. You see, I hurt someone that I care for so deeply, and I did it out of defense. I was afraid of getting hurt. Because of this, I chose to respond with fire, which, in turn, burned down every set truth I could possibly pull. I hurt the kindest heart and then I fell. If shame had an office, I was crawling in and filling out a new client form.

But as Brené so kindly puts it – shame tries to tear you down by saying this is who you are, while guilt says that what you did was wrong, it does not define you. Both can send me into a valley of sadness, but shame only lures me further from the light that brings hope for change and a new day.

Thinking of all the shaming I put myself through, that shift in perspective took place. I was hearing about the importance of situational vulnerability. For me, vulnerability has always been about relating to someone and not being afraid of sharing a part of my story. I now see that vulnerability is also about choosing to lean into courage, even when emotions are high and triggers like alarms resound. It is my choice to step into the vehicle of vulnerability and, in love and kindness, courageously say that I do feel triggered from an insecurity or that I feel anxious about this particular thing in this particular situation. How it is received is not on me. I chose courage by being vulnerable.

When I don’t do this, it is only I who chose to be the team leader into that valley.

When I do chose to be vulnerable, my spirit ignites with courage to rise beyond the valley; to pursue words of life and to see that the person on the other end is worthy of a kind, loving response out of my feelings.

I think of this most when it comes to the woman in scripture who who bled for twelve years. Even after seeing multiple doctors, a cure could not be found. When she heard that Jesus was close, she courageously pushed through the crowd to touch the cloak that Jesus wore. Everything inside of her told her that He could heal her, even just the touch of Him. As His healing power left Him and as He questioned who touched Him, she neither ran nor became defensive. Instead, scripture says that “with fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, she came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.” Because of this vulnerability in truth and faithfulness, Jesus said she is healed and to go in peace.

Peace.

When the pot of insecurities is stirred, what do I desire most? Peace. When I feel triggered, irrational or not, what do need? Peace.

This is where I choose. I can choose to play defense or I can choose to be vulnerable and pursue peace. And, because I am very familiar with myself, I know it’s not always going to be easy. It is all in the choice of who I say I am in the moments, and to say that I am called to know life more abundantly through Him. I truly believe that being vulnerable is such an important component to a life lived more abundantly.

And, in full vulnerability, this blog was difficult to post. Thanks for receiving it.

Like the edge of the waterfall, this is how vulnerability can feel sometimes.
Like the edge of the waterfall, this is how vulnerability can feel.
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