Excruciating Vulnerability


I accidentally ran across this video a little bit ago. You should watch it. It’s long, so I’ll forgive you if you don’t, but it led me to some crazy, relevant thoughts about life.

Here are some quotes about vulnerability from the video that really hit home for me:

1. “Courage to be imperfect”  I don’t know why, but it takes a lot of courage to be imperfect – courage that I don’t yet have.

2.  “…believed that what made them vulnerable  made them beautiful” The image I associate with vulnerability is never beautiful. Mostly, I think about what I look like when I’m crying. I rarely feel more vulnerable than when I break down in tears in front of people, and what that really looks like is snot dripping out of my nose, red face, eye lashes stuck together, make-up streaming down my cheeks, quivering chin, sideways forced smile… and none of that seems beautiful to me.

3. “The willingness to say I love you first… to do something where there are no guarantees… to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out” This is one of the only things from the video that I can say I’m genuinely doing right now. It’s really scary to love when you might not be loved back. To serve those who may reject you. To give to those who may betray you. And while I’m doing this with multiple relationships in my life right now, I remember the strange moment when I first submitted to voluntary vulnerability. It’s weird that it had to be a decision, but I remember back in October when I said for the very first time in my life, “I might very well get hurt. And that’s okay.” So much of vulnerability to me is that one statement. When I’m standing in front of friends with the option to open up or not, what I’m really faced with is the truth that I might very well get hurt, but that’s okay. If I can reach that point in my mind, I can cry in front of people. I can love without being loved in return.

4. “Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love…” So much of what I’ve done in life has been not feeling – not hurt, not angry, not betrayed… but also, not joyous, not grateful, not loving, which leads us to the next quote:

5.  “We numb vulnerability… You can’t selectively numb emotion… We numb joy. We numb gratitude. We numb happiness. And then we are miserable.” That’s a paradox if I’ve ever seen one: we numb emotion, causing us to be miserable. Yet that was the reality of my life up until just a few years ago. I didn’t want to hurt, so I just didn’t feel, and I was unknowingly miserable. God changed so much about who I am, and I can feel now. And it’s lovely.

“Let ourselves be seen – deeply seen, vulnerably seen…”

Last week, I was without much direction in my time with God. Usually, I set out a plan to study this or that book from the Bible. I usually read something from the Old Testament and something from the New every time I sit down with my Bible. Last week, though, I ended up jumping around a lot, reading whatever struck my fancy in the moment. Here are some verses that stood out to me:

2 Kings 22:19

“because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord… and wept before Me, I truly have heard you”

James 4:8-10

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

Job 7:11

“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

Is it just me, or are all of these verses about being vulnerable? It could be that I was more apt to notice verses about weeping and anguish last week, but I prefer to believe that God was showing me something.

On December 14, I wrote in my journal, “Teach me faith. Teach me to trust. I don’t know how. I’m mad at myself.”

And God is faithful, is He not? I asked Him to teach me trust, and I think part of that is Him guiding me through the scary moments when I get a call telling me to come to the hospital. Part of that is Him letting me experience betrayal and hurt from trying to help someone. And part of that is Him showing me beautiful words of pain and heartache that touch vulnerabilities I keep hidden. Job didn’t hold back the tears. He mourned. His friends “sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”

It’s interesting to me that the video that started all of this described vulnerability as excruciating. Pastor Mike taught me that the word excruciating comes from the word crucifixion. Isn’t it fitting then, that I learn to be vulnerable from the one who most fully experienced excruciating vulnerability? If I follow Jesus’s example, I’m forced to let myself be known by others. I’m called to share joy, love, peace, friendship, as well as aches, sorrows, betrayals, shames and fears. I’m called to vulnerability.

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6 thoughts on “Excruciating Vulnerability

  1. If I thought I could losen lugnuts from my car’s wheels by simply using my fingers I would never reach for the tire iron. And I would also spend weeks alongside the highway trying to losen those things!!!

    He does not appear as powerful in what we consider our strength.

    By His Grace.

    • That’s brilliant! When I first saw your comment about lugnuts, I thought it was spam or just something weird and unrelated, but it was full of wisdom. I really like it too because it points to God rather than men. I’m always trying to make myself better rather than relying on God to work in me. Thanks for the brilliant comment!

  2. All praise to the Lord Most High, Jesus, for the wisdom He gladly gives without finding fault. Every good and perfect thing comes from above.

    (though I thought it was pretty funny…… I’ve changed a few tires myself)

    By His Grace.

  3. Katie, thanks again for a truly beautiful post. It is the scariest thing to love, or to give with no strings attached… but it is more blessed to give than to receive, He said. And He should know. He gave His life.

  4. I finally got to watch this video, and it was very good. It definitely spoke to me. I liked when she talked about the people who felt connection and belonging, and what they had at the core of those feelings was vulnerability. I mentioned something like that in my response to Mike’s post about community. I think that I felt vulnerable during Bible studies/social gatherings expressing my feelings and hurts, and desires, and I think I was witness to that in many others. Maybe that is why I feel the connection is so strong with you all. Does that make sense?

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