May 30: Vulnerability, Part 1

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And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I’d like to spend a few days covering the big topic of Christian “vulnerability”, which has in recent years come to almost mean “cool” among Christians. Often times Christians are swinging out of some environment where they felt like no one was honest ever. No one mentioned that they themselves might sin at times. Everyone pretended that they too lived in the world of Thomas Kinkade, where there are no garbage days, or vomit, or headaches, or remodels that leave your thatched roof cottage with a construction dumpster out front and tarps all over the roof for three years.

This is an understandable response. What are the people of God doing pretending? Why would we act like we are strong, and perfect? What is with pretending that we have our act together? This becomes especially difficult if you yourself are struggling. You need someone to say, “This is normal. This is what it is like for all of us. You aren’t alone.” But when you look around the church you see a lot of people that you would rather die than tell about your problems. They all look happy. It doesn’t seem like they have a struggling marriage. None of these ladies look like they ever had an abortion. She is never tempted to complain. Look at her smiling at that snotty kid. These people cannot be real. If I told anyone about my problems, they would pull up the hem of their colonial re-enactment gown and  and flee from me forthwith.

Now a number of different exciting situations come out of this kind of problem.  The first angle that I’d like to cover on this whole topic is the accusations. Because often when this sort of thing happens to us, we start brainstorming for answers and frequently come to the conclusion that all these people are fake and their religion is not real. Not real like mine. Look at them being fakers. What are we going to do about this?!

When you see a follower of Christ, who you believe has some level of “fake-ness”, what are you doing about it? If you feel that it is clear that the plastic smile is there to cover up a hurting marriage, why are you standing and pointing? What possible Christian reason could you have for wanting to expose this person as a charade? Are you reaching out to them? Are you looking for ways to show mercy to them? Are you lifting them up in your prayers, asking God to pour out His grace on them? Are you asking Him to make His strength perfect in their weakness?

Far more often you will find Christians open air preaching about the cover up jobs they believe other Christians are perpetrating. We point fingers. We sneer. We confer amongst ourselves to come to the conclusion that the image they are projecting is, in fact, impossible. Really? To what end?

Imagine that we are all in one of the gospel stories, walking behind Jesus. Imagine bringing this concern to him. “Lord, Lord! Stop! Christine thinks she has it all together! She thinks that she is a good mom! She thinks that she knows it all about marriage! Lord! Stop her! And she keeps hanging out with other ladies who look like they think they have it all together! Stop them, Lord!”

What do you actually think would come of this? What do you think Jesus would say about this? He would probably ask you why you care. You would probably camouflage the envy with worry about how this person is making the church look. Look at what they are doing to the evangelistic cause, Lord. Look at how she is making other moms feel bad about themselves.

And Jesus said, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” (John 21:23)

If you are following Christ, what is that to you? So the next time you feel annoyed or angered at someone who you feel is not being vulnerable or real, imagine yourself bringing that concern to the Lord. Then actually do it. But be prepared for the answer that He will have for you. What is that to you? You follow me.

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “May 30: Vulnerability, Part 1

  1. This has been a real struggle for me lately – not to compare my insides and real life to others outsides and the life they like to show. I know that everyone struggles, but some seem to have it all together and are more on top of it than me. Jealousy is a joy thief and trying to be in control is taking away the grace that God wants to give us. Thank you for the insight to pray for these people and my own sanctification.

  2. Yep. This is really good. I sometimes think people look at me and see the faker. I may look like I have it all together but I DON’T! I just have one of those personalities that doesn’t fall apart in a blubbering mess in front of anyone and everyone. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. I actually admire the people that can let it all hang out and I enjoy being with them. I enjoy their highs and lows. They laugh hard and they cry hard. But I am just not one of them. Plus, I struggle with trusting the Lord that it will be okay, that He is strong when I am weak, so I try really hard to be brave and unwavering when I go through trials. I keep trusting the Lord that it’ll be okay in the end and that helps me to keep smiling. But yes, pray for people like me. The smile doesn’t always mean everything’s perfect and sometimes it’s just that we don’t know HOW to share. And this post is good for me too because even knowing my own personality, there is no temptation that isn’t common to man and I still get tempted to think others are faking so this is a great reminder. If their life is really that great, praise the Lord! We want the best for our brothers and sisters. And if it’s not, I shouldn’t kick ’em while they’re down but encourage and edify any way I can.

  3. Wow this was good! I have been on both sides of this and neither one is pretty! Now when I see someone who looks like they have it all together I remind myself that when I looked the most pulled together to others I was actually falling apart and completely broken. So it is a good reminder to pray for them. I don’t think I know anyone who has it all together but I do know many women both young and old who have great wisdom and trust in The Lord- and that is something! Not something to envy but to maybe humble ourselves and be open enough to say “hey I’m struggling with this right now, how do you deal with that, what addvice do you have for me, pray for me”. And at the same time I think it’s important to not air your problems to everyone all the time but instead find a couple close friends who will pray with you.
    Just my thoughts, thanks for this one.
    Love the flowers too!

  4. So excited for this series! I, like Pat, tend to normally have things “together” on the outside. But there’s always internal struggle, always self-awareness, always criticism about what I’m doing/thinking/feeling wrong. AND always thoughts directed towards others, “I wish I could be more put together like her.”
    In the last year, the Lord has given me grace to be a little bit more open in conversations with friends/mentors. It’s hard to describe other than that, but I know that it has helped me tremendously in gaining advice and encouragement from those who can help, and also camaraderie with those who are “normal,” as you put it.
    Thanks so much! Can’t wait to read more.

  5. I think this is a huge temptation amongst us. I know I have struggled with it and also heard fellow ladies complain of “fakiness.”

  6. Very convicting! Thank you! If I am feeling, health-wise, really bad, is it okay to answer people honestly when they ask how I am doing? A lot of times at church I feel like that is shunned (answering honestly when not feeling well.)

  7. I am so glad you are writing about this and look forward to next installments. I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately and how hard it is to confess weakness: both as the one struggling and the one hearing about it. It is hard to know how to help a hurting friend if all we are focusing on is the way they are dropping the ball, instead of the what might causing them to juggle injured in the first place.. Working on it, by grace.

  8. Love it, not sure if it’s just my iPad but the print was very hard to read with the background

  9. First verse that popped into my head after reading this: Martha, Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things. But only one thing is necessary…

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