Vulnerability. It’s a word that makes most people squirm. Over and over, I see people physically get uncomfortable in their seat in my office when I say this word. They know that it is a risk. If you are vulnerable you can get hurt. Dr. Brene’ Brown has spent much of her career studying vulnerability. Her TED talk is on the list of most viewed and it deserves to be there forever. Here is the link if you want to see it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o&t=26s
What people miss about the concept of vulnerability is that it is a necessity in order to live a fully happy, satisfying, joyful life. In battle, a vulnerability is a weak point that allows people in and is destructive. But in relationships, vulnerability is a strength point that allows people in and it is constructive. It builds and strengthens relationships. It takes courage to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to endure the pain. You have to have the confidence that you are able to endure the hurt.
Some people choose what Brene’ calls “foreboding joy.” It’s that joy that says, “I’m so happy!” and “I’m so excited!” and at the same time says, “but this might not last.” It’s a mindset of always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The lie that is unconsciously, or sometimes consciously, held is that if you don’t get too excited, then the hurt won’t hurt as much. That may be true to some extent. But it is a strategy that robs of you true joy. With this strategy you may well have the valley experiences but you never get to experience the mountain top.
God made us humans as emotional beings. We are intended to feel things emotionally. So, when we stuff down those emotions like you do with foreboding joy or when you refuse to feel the negative feelings such as sadness, guilt, or shame, you are acting in a way that is against God’s design. You are stepping outside of His will. In my experience, things just don’t go well in life when I am living outside of God’s will.
Brene’ makes the point that to live wholeheartedly you must be vulnerable and vulnerability requires courage because you risk being hurt. When I take this all a step further and look to Jesus, I see the true model for wholehearted living. He, a divine being, came to this earth in the completely vulnerable state of a baby human being. He knew from the beginning, not the beginning of his life on earth but the beginning of creation, that the plan for him was to be the sacrificial lamb for you and me. He knew the pain that was to come not just physically in the torture, but also emotionally in the utter rejection. In the midst of knowing all that, he held nothing back. He gave himself wholeheartedly to all he encountered.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” (Phil. 2:5-9 NIV)
If you find yourself having a difficult time of being vulnerable in relationships and want to talk to someone about it, feel free to call and for an appointment with any of our counselors at Rush Creek Counseling Center. Find us online at www.rushcreekcounseling.org or call us at 817-704-6991.
Written by Audra Dahl, MA, LPC