I recently asked a friend of mine to write about her journey into authenticity and vulnerability. As I am challenged and encouraged to move forward pursuing transparency in my own life, I value having people around me who are willing to do the same. This friend is someone who truly loves God, yet like all of us, still struggles, and to see her choosing to share that with others is beautiful!
Here is her story:
I’ve been thinking about vulnerability a lot lately and how terrifying it really is to me. How much it truly encompasses. At the beginning of Lent, I decided that I wanted to practice living in truth, but didn’t really know what that meant for my life. What I kept coming back to again and again was vulnerability.
I grew up in an environment that over the years left me constantly afraid of judgment. I would do almost anything to be accepted and gain the approval of my peers, mentors and family. At an early age I learned how to change myself to fit a mold, to not cause too many waves and to only say things that would be acceptable. I didn’t realize until after college how suffocating this kind of lifestyle was! When I graduated college, I began to realize that I didn’t know who I really was after you got past all of these facades that I had created. When I was with my “good Christian friends”, I pretended to be the perfect, wholesome girl that everyone thought I was, but I really wasn’t. I was hiding a part of me. When I was with my non Christian friends, I became wild, taking in all the world had to offer, but my light and love for Jesus became hidden when I was around them. I was afraid to discuss my spirituality with these friends. My love for God became hidden as well. With my family, I couldn’t cuss; I couldn’t tell them about my experience with men or seek advice and comfort from them.
Why was I so afraid to be vulnerable with them about my life, about me?
Why did I feel like I couldn’t share my whole self with these people that I love so much?
I first decided I would start being vulnerable with what I (affectionately) call my “good Christian friends”. I can still remember the first few times I began to share the hidden parts of my life with them. I shook from the inside out. I was so afraid of judgment, but once it was out there, that secret part of me finally verbalized, I felt so liberated! So free! Sometimes I did encounter judgment, but more often than not I gained acceptance, encouragement and love. I had not given my friends enough credit. I also noticed that I began to draw closer to God as I accepted vulnerability more and more. I found I could talk to my Christian friends about my struggles and see growth in our friendships, because I had started being who I really was around them. I also began being more authentic with my non Christian friends. I started talking more about the church I attend and overall I was more open with my spirituality. Guess what, they still love me!
I still struggle with vulnerability. I have yet to conquer this with my family 100%, but I’m committed to continuing to practice vulnerability. I’ve found it to be the scariest, yet most liberating feeling. I still shake from time to time when I find myself sharing things about myself that I wouldn’t have 2 years ago. Sometimes I still wuss out and jump back into an old mold. But in the end, I still depend on Jesus to give me the courage to be who He made me, and not be ashamed of it.