“Vulnerability is the key to genuine connection.”
I walked into the women’s bible study, very excited for what God was going to do in my life. I was craving something deeper than the normal and wanted to engage more in conversations and relationships with other women. I had just received my book for the study, Lysa Terkeurst’s latest study Finding I Am, and I was beyond excited. I love her, so you can bet I was anxiously awaiting the moment I could dig into the study with like-minded women.
I sat down at the table, decorated with a cute vase and leafs to match the look of the book. I grabbed my name tag and began to fill it out. My table leader came over and shook my hand and said hello. We exchanged names and some info on who we are and soon, women began to fill up the small round table. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by women who were much older than I was (as in grandmas and older mothers) and I was excited, thinking that I could learn so much, and perhaps grow so close that I could one day see some of these women as family.
However, I eventually found myself sinking into my seat, trying to find my voice to speak up whenever our table leader asked what we thought. I didn’t usually have trouble sharing my two cents on things, especially if it was to build someone up, but this time it was a little different. The ability to be open and honest with the other women had vanished from inside of me. I couldn’t find my own voice to answer questions and have conversations. The age gap made me more nervous than I ever thought it would.
I walked away from the bible study, asking myself why this was so hard for me? I was confused as to why I could not even get myself to read a passage from the Bible outloud to these women.
As I began to reflect on this experience, I realized that it all led back to a fear of being vulnerable. However, this specific time, the fear of vulnerability was rooted in the belief that because of my age, I had nothing valuable to offer.
I was too afraid to be vulnerable with these older women because I feared that what I had to say would be looked down upon. I feared they would hear my thoughts, feelings, and issues I go through and see them as things they have conquered, dealt with, and I would ultimately feel belittled. I didn’t want my voice to seem unimportant because my issues were smaller than theirs. Have you ever been in this spot? Have you ever allowed the fear of people hold you back from having an amazing experience? Have you ever felt so intimidated to the point of asking yourself is it even worth it to have a genuine connection with others?
Vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Now this definition might go to the extreme for most of us, but at times I feel this to be so true in my life. I sat in the chair on that morning and felt myself slowly slipping into my own cocoon.
Vulnerability. We all have different reactions to this word. Some of us might hear this word with excitement and are ready for any heart to heart moment that will strengthen a friendship. Then there are some of us that hear this word and begin to shut others out. We begin to have those little crows feet form in the corner of our eyes as we squint to reveal our discomfort. Many people hate being vulnerable out of fear.
I never knew that being vulnerable was something that I needed to work on. I always believed that I was great at being vulnerable and that it was not an issue for me. But sitting there with all these wonderful women, I began to realize that I am very terrible at it, and I allowed my fears to hold me back from genuine connections.
Being vulnerable is hard in any stage of life, but it’s good for us. I love having heart to hearts and having those moments where you open up and share the things that are truly going on, expressing how we really are doing. The thought of being vulnerable with people can be terrifying, it can give us anxiety at times. The thing is, being vulnerable with one another is a necessity for us, because vulnerability is the key to genuine connection, and we were created to have genuine connection with each other.
Paul was one of the most vulnerable people in the Bible. In 2 Corinthians, he is explaining to the Church in Corinth exactly what he is going through. He just goes for it because he wants them to know the truth. He begins to explain all the hardships he has gone through (imprisonment, starvation, sleepless nights). He expresses to them how he has opened wide his heart to them and how they should do the same (2 Cor. 6:11-13). Paul understood the power of vulnerability, and the value that it brings to connection. We were created to be vulnerable with others just like Paul was. God has given us the amazing ability to share a genuine connection with people, but we cannot enjoy connection unless we open wide our hearts, because vulnerability is the key to genuine connection.
Being Vulnerable isn’t easy. It’s never going to be, but it’s worth it. If I want to allow these women to become like family to me, I have to say no to my fears and step out of the shell that I slowly slip into. If I want to have more than surface level relationships, I have to be able to dive into life with people, opening myself up to being vulnerable. This is the way in which people can come together, pray for one another, and learn from one another, creating a connection which manifests into a life-giving friendship.
Don’t let your walls or insecurities build up and block you from a flourishing friendship, relationship, or marriage. Let them inside, allow them to see your flaws, and then come together to build each other back up. It’s amazing what strong relationships can do when they are built on love, intimacy, and connection.
Be vulnerable. Connect with one another. Create a safe place for others. Above all, be open, honest, and raw with each other, it’s how we were created to live.