Honesty. Vulnerability. Intimacy.
Do those words make you squirm a little bit? They do for me. There’s something about those words that really makes a person uncomfortable. It’s like they require a pulling back of the layers, a laying aside of the masks and letting our mess and our ugly show–something none of us seem to enjoy very much and avoid whenever possible. We don’t want to be judged or rejected. We don’t want to be pushed aside or ignored or told that those things we’re dealing with don’t matter. So we hide. We hold back.
Yet there’s something inside of us that craves those words–that craves to be fully known. Even in the midst of our mess.
I had a conversation with a friend recently and walked away praising God for it. I have had few conversations with even fewer people where both of us are completely transparent and honest about where we’re at, even when it isn’t so pleasant; and this was one of those conversations. Nothing but raw vulnerability–questions we’ve been asking, doubts we’ve been having, struggles we’ve been going through. And despite what you might expect, the conversation was actually uplifting. Our sharing turned to encouraging and promises to pray.
As we poured out our hearts, God was in our midst, and that conversation became worship.
At one point during our talk, my friend thanked me. He said he appreciated that he could trust me with the things he shared and knew I wouldn’t judge him for what he had been dealing with lately. His gratitude and honesty touched me deeply. Because how often do we feel safe sharing? Yet, in those moments when we do feel safe and we lay it all out there, how often do we walk away a little lighter and a little more encouraged. Someone else is helping us carry the burden. Someone else knows. Someone else is praying and helping us do battle.
The same is true with God.
I have been so amazed and honestly challenged over the last several months as God’s asked me to lay it all out there before Him. There have been days and weeks where my devotional time is nothing but me writing out what’s on my heart, sometimes pressing my pen hard to the page or clicking the computer keys with force, sometimes fighting back tears. Often I would fight the urge to write. God already knows this, so why do I have to hash it all out. I’ve already written about this same thing twenty times; what more can I say? But still He called and offered me a safe place to process my feelings, hurts, and struggles.
Yes, He’d heard about this before, but He was ready to listen again. And when I sat down to write it all out, when I let the thoughts fall from my brain to the paper, I felt a little better. I wasn’t trying to keep it all back like a weakening dam holding back a flood. I was laying it all out there, letting my vulnerability show before the One who knows me best. And I walked away a lighter and a little more encouraged because I knew that He cared, that He was caring my burdens, and that He was doing battle for me.
When we’re honest like that, when we’re vulnerable, that’s where true intimacy is formed, whether that’s in our relationship with God or with another person in our life. When we lay out our struggles and our joys, when we share from the depths of our heart, it has a way of strengthening relationships and building trust.
We need to stop being afraid of vulnerability. Especially with God.
Fear says lock it all away–the pain, the feelings, the hurts, the doubts, the questions. Don’t let anyone see that mess because that’s weakness and that’s not good enough.
Grace says, “Come near, My child, and pour out your heart before me. Ask questions, be angry, cry, scream, laugh, dance. I can handle it. This is a safe place to be exactly who you are, right where you are.”
Don’t let fear steal this gift from you. Open up your heart before God. Practice pouring out your heart to Him. Sing it, write it, scream it, whisper it. He’ll hear and He’ll understand.
Be honest with Him and watch as the intimacy between you grows. Watch the relationship grow stronger. Watch as He provides safe places to share your heart with others; watch as He gives opportunities for you to be honest, to share in their burdens, to be an encouragement. Be a safe place where others know they can share and not be judged or condemned, but will always be loved. Let them ask questions. And pray. And watch as those relationships grow stronger too.
Let’s lay aside the masks. Let’s be transparent. Let’s not be afraid of those words any longer:
Live in His love!
Photo by Brittany Taylor