Vulnerability. A word that strikes fear into the hearts of men. There is something terrifying about being emotionally naked in front of others. Throughout my life, I’ve had a closet full of emotional turtlenecks that I’ve only recently began to purge. Don’t worry – I’m not replacing them with any hoochie-mama shirts where I let it all hang out, but rather, emotionally tasteful shirts that fit me better, let me breathe, and are simply more me.
I have a friend who made a commitment a year or so ago to be as vulnerable as possible with others. In conversations. In life. His courage has inspired me a lot and I’ve tried to follow suit in my life and relationships. His leaps have been a lot more successful than mine. Mine look more like someone who instead of making it to the other side, they leap right into the side of the ravine wall and slide to the bottom in a crumpled heap. But I think it has more to do with the courage at the beginning of the jump. He runs and goes for it. I stand at the edge, look down, close my eyes, and half-heartedly jump/step off the edge. But I’m leaping more and each time, I jump a little harder and I get a little farther.
But still, sometimes I round the corner and run into something that makes me want to run for cover. This week it was dating. Some of my closest friends have someone they want me to meet. Yeah, that kind of “meet”. I’ve not been interested in dating for awhile but I’ve been thinking some about it recently. Maybe they sensed that in me or it is just sheer, freak timing that they brought it up. I joke and throw out some awesome conversation starters that I could begin with that my middle school youth, and perhaps a few select adults, would find hilarious. But if I can be totally vulnerable (which I can because it is my blog), it stirs up all kinds of emotions in me. The greatest hurts in my life came from relationships. A broken heart hurts way more than any broken bone. Am I ready to risk again? Will I ever be ready to risk or do you just do it – ready or not? Insecurity rears its ugly head as well. What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t find poop jokes funny? That’s my entire joke repertoire.
Author Brene Brown says that
owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.
I have realized the past several months that it truly is more exhausting to run away from vulnerability than to embrace it. It is also more lonely, more depleting, more imprisoning, more empty. And not just running away from vulnerability with others but running away from vulnerability with God. I know in my mind that I can’t hide things from God but that hasn’t kept me from trying to only present my “cleaned-up, burden-free, all-together self” to Him. It is much more difficult and dangerous to try and keep myself tethered to the ground through self-sufficiency than to take a flying leap of faith into the outstretched arms of a God who loves to swing me around and around like my dad did to me as a little girl.
Lately, I’m more fearful of missing out on love, belonging and joy than I am of being vulnerable.
What I’m finding is that my desire to explore the other shore is becoming greater than my fear of the leap. The desire for new shores and new adventures is giving me courage to leap higher and farther than I have before. When the butterflies start fluttering in my stomach, I’m learning to welcome them (literally – “hello, little butterflies”) and harness their little, flapping wings for energy rather than trying to find a way to calm them down. When I’m standing at the edge and starting to feel overwhelmed by the risk, I hear God whispering to me with delight and a wink in His voice – “You are My beloved. You are My beloved. You are My beloved! I made you to SOAR!”
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite humans – Bob Goff. There are several quotes from Bob that would apply to this post but this one says it best.
I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.
Take a flying leap with me. What’s something that you’ve been afraid to risk? What’s keeping you from taking a flying leap? What is something worth failing at?