By Beth Demme
Vulnerability is scary.
If you know about my worst mistakes (and the shame I feel about them) there’s a chance you will choose to reject me or even mistreat me.
Even though I know that everyone makes mistakes, I still wonder if my mistakes are worse and my shame is deeper.
It’s as if somewhere along the way to trapping our skeletons in the proverbial closet, we trap ourselves instead. One day we wake up in the darkness, not even sure how we got there. Meanwhile, a skeleton—the emotionally stripped down version of us—is living our life.
As a mom who struggles with anger, I’ve spent plenty of time in the dark closet of guilt and shame.
Yet, when I speak at women’s groups about my struggles, the women don’t use my mistakes against me. They don’t reject or mistreat me; they embrace me. They find me and pour out their own hard stories, hug me and pray with me.
Why? Because there is power in vulnerability.
Sometimes I don’t want to shine a light on my past or admit my mistakes.
I’ve justified plain old-fashioned denial with smart-sounding platitudes like “the past is gone forever.”
If only that were true.
More and more I see how the pain of past mistakes sits in my soul, waiting patiently for me.
Sometimes I choose denial because I’m afraid giving attention to the darkness will make it grow bigger or stronger, leaving me weaker.
Instead, it turns out that shining a light into darkness makes the darkness go away. (Don’t believe me? Walk into a dark room and turn on a flashlight.)
A great first place to practice vulnerability is in prayer. I often fall to my knees and pour out tearful words to the God who loves me.
It’s easy to be vulnerable with God since he already knows all of my mistakes.
Being vulnerable with friends—or worse, strangers—is a different thing. And yet, I’m finding over and over again that I can be vulnerable with them because God’s love prevails. People may reject me when they know my mistakes, but God will never reject me.
Jesus said, “I have come that they [that’s you and me!] can have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
If I never made mistakes, I wouldn’t need forgiveness and I wouldn’t need God.
Prayer is a great place to start practicing vulnerability, but it’s not an ending point. Who can you share your story with today? Who would feel relieved to know that you aren’t as perfect as you appear? What kind of inner healing would come from seeing your vulnerability help someone else?
More like this: