Let me tell you a story of a few unfortunate events.
I was back in Texas rushing to go see my brilliant new nephew and take a few pictures of him. In my haste I decided to throw my "not quite dry" shirt into the dryer and go in the back yard to play with the camera before I headed over. As I wrapped up and headed back inside I ran into a very disturbing road block. The door was locked.
Okay let's go check door #2 that leads to the garage. LOCKED!
There I stood, with no shirt on, and my road to safety completely blocked in front of me. What was I going to do. I WAS PRACTICALLY NAKED. My only choice was to go through the backyard gate, into the front yard, (did I mention I had no shirt on?) and then through the front door into the house. It took me a minute to ramp up the courage.
Over to the side gate I went. Locked, with a padlock, and I had no key. Fine. Over to the other gate. Bolted shut. Is this Fort Knox? Why the heck did my parents back yard suddenly feel like a prison cell? I'm running late, I have no shirt on, I'm locked in my own back yard, and I have no idea how to get out of this situation. I'm down to two options, hop our back fence into the woods which is someone else's property or climb the 8ft fence to the front yard (still with no shirt on) and run to the front door like the crazy person all the neighbors already think I am.
In this moment, I felt vulnerable.
Vulnerability- by definition it means susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.
How interesting that I've spent the last two years listening to pastors and teachers tell me how important it is to be vulnerable in community.
UGH. I hate that feeling.
I like to be strong, independent, I carry that "I can do it myself" card closely in my pocket, oh you call that pride? I've been told that too.
A few months back I got myself in a situation (not naked in my back yard) in ministry that felt difficult. I wanted to handle it with mercy, honor, wisdom, and LOVE. I spent some time praying and deciding how to handle it. After I was finished, I couldn't shake that I needed some more input.
I sat down with a pastor who happens to be a close spiritual parent and she said, "Why didn't you call me sooner than this? I could have helped you!" I gave the excuses I always give, but on my inside I knew why.
I didn't want to be vulnerable. I didn't want to admit I needed help. Do we have to talk about how long I pondered if I was going to call her at this point?
Being self sustaining is engrained into us in our small town Texas culture. We're taught to "pull ourselves up from our boot straps", "put on your big girl panties and deal with it" then we wonder why it takes a process to teach us to depend on God, much less ever learn how to be vulnerable and trust people.
YOU WERE ACTUALLY MEANT FOR COMMUNITY!!
God set this system up where we actually can't become our FULL SELVES until we become FULLY invested in community. The most real you is found in vulnerability with Him and with others.
As we wrapped up our conversation my spiritual mom said, "God is trying to teach you how to be vulnerable with community. He's trying to teach you that you actually do need people. You're better when you have a support system that you trust and THAT REALLY KNOWS YOU"
I've encouraged people for years to be vulnerable, but I've always struggled to do it myself. The Truth is we're better as a team. We're better as a family.
This season I"m going after being more open with community. I'm allowing God to highlight the leaders, pastors, parents, friends, that I can trust. The ones who can let me be fully me in my highlight reel, but also in my short comings and failures. I'm thankful for these people. I'm thankful that they stick by my side through thick or thin. I'm thankful that I don't have to hide behind an idea of what they think I should be like.
And as I've been taught over and over, I"m thankful that in my vulnerability I've found I love deeper and I allow myself to be loved deeper by God and trusted community. Real love doesn't hide from the failures of others, it sees them, and loves anyway, just like Jesus does.
I encourage you to find safe community and open up your heart. Find the people that are your tribe that stick by your side on the good and the bad days. The ones who reach deep inside you and pull out your potential. Those are the ones that can survive the mountain tops and the valleys with you. Then I encourage you to be that person for others. Be that friend, be that mentor, be that parent, be that child. The one who loves UNCONDITIONALLY. Who sees the gold in a pile of dirt. Who confronts and challenges people to be the best version of themselves they can be, but also allows them to show you the parts of them that are in process and you don't walk out or give up on them.
Somehow Jesus loved Judas so much that the disciples didn't even know he would betray Him. He loved Peter so much that He called him a rock when He knew he would deny Him. He allowed John so close that he leaned on his heart. I want to be like my Jesus.