Written by MayBell Developments – June 30th, 2021
What do you think of when you hear the word “vulnerable”? Defenceless, weak, unprotected, sensitive, exposed? Is being vulnerable a place where you want to exist, to linger or long to be? Likely the answer is no. Most people would not choose vulnerability. When forced into it they become uncomfortable and quickly seek refuge.
But did you know our vulnerability has a purpose? Experiencing vulnerability is one of the best ways to grow in your relationships with God, others, and yourself.
In his book Changes That Heal, Henry Cloud discusses a need-fear dilemma in which people NEED connection but FEAR rejection resulting in widening the gap and increasing their need for connection. The only way to meet that need for true connection is by developing the skill of being vulnerable. Why is this important and why do we crave connection with others?
“Bonding is one of the most basic and foundational ideas in life and the universe. It is a basic human need. God created us with a hunger for relationship—for relationship with him and with our fellow people. At our very core we are relational beings. Without a solid, bonded relationship, the human soul will become mired in psychological and emotional problems. The soul cannot prosper without being connected to others.”
– Henry Cloud, Changes That Heal
If you find yourself craving connection and relationship, this is why. We are created for relationship. God is a relational being. We only have to look to the Holy Trinity to see that relationship existed long before mankind. God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Right there we can see a relationship between three beings all of whom are God. In creation, Genesis 2:18 states,
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
God has always meant for us to have good, healthy connections with those around us. This allows us to experience the fullness of life that He desires for us. Healthy relationships with Him, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, others, and even with ourselves.
It is difficult to build healthy relationships with others when we have closed ourselves off from feeling. As humans, we are weak and often fearful. What do you do when you experience fear? If you’re not Evel Knievel you likely don’t run to it and embrace it. The most likely outcome is to run from it or hide from it. A cycle forms that might look something like this:
We WANT to grow in our relationships and to build connections. Of course we do, it’s a natural need created in us by God! How do we do this with a history of experiencing pain and hurt?
“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
– Alexander Den Heijer
Who are you surrounding yourself with? Is your environment toxic? Are you experiencing pain every time you reach over that tall wall? These types of environments will continue to build on our fears and will result in us closing off our opportunity to heal and grow through vulnerability.
By moving into a healthy environment we allow ourselves to bloom. The grace of God and of those around us is what allows us to become vulnerable. It provides a safe space so the real and true self can be exposed and grow.
Grace is unbroken, uninterrupted, unearned, accepting relationship. It is the kind of relationship humanity had with God in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were loved and provided for. They knew God’s truth, and they had perfect freedom to do God’s will. In short, they were secure; they had no shame and anxiety. They could be who they truly were. Perhaps you have experienced this kind of love and grace with someone. You can be exactly who you are. You do not need to hide your thoughts or feelings; you do not need to perform; you do not need to do anything to be loved. Someone knows the real you, and loves you anyway.
– Henry Cloud, Changes That Heal
As we become vulnerable ourselves we provide grace and a safe space for others to also become vulnerable and grow.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the
– James 4:6
It is possible to be living in a safe space, surrounded by the grace of others and of God and yet not be willing to step into vulnerability. To be vulnerable we must first be honest and being honest takes humility.
Humility, according to Mirriam Webster, is freedom from pride or arrogance. We can practice this when we reflect, express, or offer in a spirit of deference or submission. At the IF: Lead Women’s Conference in 2020, Jennie Allen noted, during an interview with Dr. Anita Phillips, that “humility is about acknowledging both your strengths and your weaknesses and not allowing your weaknesses to be something that you use to value or devalue yourself.” In short, humility acknowledges our vulnerability.
We can experience true humility only if we are completely honest with ourselves and those around us. With humility comes wisdom. Wisdom to grow into who God has called us to be.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
– Proverbs 11:2
To gain a humble spirit we can look to our greatest Teacher, Jesus Christ. He humbled himself when he took on human form. He acknowledged his strengths and weaknesses, he fully exposed his vulnerabilities so we could truly see who he was. This meant being vulnerable to those who were without grace. He was wounded and killed, yet throughout all this, he remained vulnerable. In his humble vulnerability, he shows his strength.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
– Philippians 2: 3-8
Pray and ask God to humble you. May we be brought low so we may experience true humility, honesty, and vulnerability and be lifted up by God’s grace. This is not a one-time procedure. As we experience God’s grace we will continually be humbled, honest, and vulnerable. May you feel called to make use of your vulnerability and create a grace-filled space for another to do the same.
“Our” is not meant to be singular in this form. Yes, vulnerability brings us individual strength as we overcome our pain, fears, and weaknesses and feel our deep need for connection that only God can truly fill. However, “our” is bigger than this.
Being vulnerable with one another provides a communal strength in which we can see each others’ strengths and weaknesses. As we become fully aware of one another we build into and encourage each other.
Our weaknesses and vulnerabilities are given to us by God to create an opportunity for deep, honest, and intimate relationships with God and others. This is work that cannot be done on our own. We must bond together in relationship, providing a safe, grace-filled environment to tear down our walls, feel our vulnerability, and allow God to meet us in that need.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
– 2Cor 12:9
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