I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Building authentic relationships requires vulnerability, which means not being afraid to reveal our true selves. Living in the world and apart from God makes us feel vulnerable, so we erect barriers and put on masks. For example, we answer the job interview question “What is your greatest weakness?” with a strategic weakness that we can spin into a strength; we put on the most flattering outfit for a date; we nod along rather than admit we don’t know what people are talking about. All that is fine—a bit of social lubricant helps society function smoothly. None of us wants to be that person who “overshares,” and leaves the rest of the group bathing in awkward silence with a sudden desire to look down intensely at their notes. But we also admire the person who takes the courage to share something personal first, which opens up the atmosphere of the whole group to a deeper bonding. Being that openly vulnerable is daunting: we all want to appear more invincible, more attractive, more knowledgeable, and ultimately less vulnerable, than we really are. But at what price?
Frederick Buechner wrote in his book Telling Secrets: “It is important to tell, at least from time to time, the secret of who we truly and fully are—even if we tell it only to ourselves—because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are, and little by little we come to accept instead the highly edited version that we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing.”
Perpetually maintaining a “highly edited” version of oneself is ultimately a lose-lose proposition. Even when people like us, we live in the fear of “what if they knew the real me?” Preserving an outward mask comes at the price of loneliness and alienation.
We can hide from others and from ourselves, but God is omnipresent. It’s like my friend in primary school who had a bee on his shoulder. He looked at it, screamed, and then took off running as fast as he as could. Yet the whole time the bee remained serenely perched on his shirt. You can run but you can’t hide from a God who pledges to never leave or forsake you.
The solution is to find where you dare not tread by yourself, and invite God to explore the darkness with you. Only when you acknowledge and accept that it is there can you then submit it to be consumed at the foot of the cross; so that when you die to yourself, it is indeed your whole self that is dead. Letting Christ reign in our heart, our whole heart, enables us to be vulnerable with others in our lives. It still takes wisdom and discernment to decide what to share, with whom, and when, but like all matters of faith, when we choose to take the risk and be vulnerable first, it opens up the way for a more spiritually satisfying relationship. And ultimately, with God on your side, what’s the worst that could happen? “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 118:6.
What vulnerability are you afraid of sharing?
- Ask God to explore those areas of vulnerability with you and remind you that you have been crucified with Christ and that Christ lives in you.
- Pray that you would not be afraid for God to use your vulnerability to deepen your relationship with Him and with others around you.