I consider myself to be a fairly open and honest person about where I am in life…with friends, God, family etc. But through the past few weeks I have found myself being confronted many times with asking myself the question of am I truly in my relationships with as open of a heart as I say? A while ago I read a chapter in Grace for the Good Girl that took me by surprise and at first left me in a new place. With a new challenge. This chapter felt like she was speaking directly to me, and was looking straight at my heart…”you know the fine art of how to be vulnerable enough so people believe you are authentic, but not so vulnerable that all your mess hangs out. You know how to be vulnerable with boundaries.” Over the next few days I took a few steps back and looked at the relationships that I considered to be my strongest and deepest and what I found was a distance between where we were and where we could be. I wasn’t intentionally hiding things, keeping secrets…at least that’s what I told myself. I wasn’t always as complete in my answers to questions or in telling friends about how my day or week had been. I would make up excuses like “We don’t have enough time to be able to talk about all of it” or would say that we could come back to something the next time I saw them…but then never bring it up. A few days before I left to come home, I had two conversations that shook me. The first was brought back to a question that had been asked of me earlier in the semester…”Who am I?” I thought I had known the answer to this question prior to being asked, but when I really was honest…I wasn’t sure. As the semester came to an end, I was faced with the same idea again. How am I going to choose to respond to circumstances that come up, daily tasks and the people who are a part of my life everyday? I knew what I wanted my answer to be and what it should be, coming from a girl who had grown up in the church and was making an effort to pursue Christ in her daily life…but I also knew what my real, true, honest answer was. So here I was faced with that same challenge of vulnerability. This lead to my second conversation, with a friend who I claimed to be completely open with and not hiding anything from…
I had previously asked her to read a chapter, Can’t Fall Apart, because it put into words what I had been feeling, and so many of the reasons behind who and how I am…and she stated it in a way that allowed me to understand it all, and coherently enough for someone else to do the same. She brought up the quote that I shared earlier, about knowing just the right amount of vulnerability to have so people will see you as genuine and trying to make more room for God to work…but still holding a faint mask in between eachother. She simply asked me if I did this with her? and not in a looking down on you sort of way, but in a honest, caring friend sort of way…wanting to help me make the jump into being fully vulnerable to God.
I think that I can “hide” things from God. The frustration I feel towards my brother sometimes, about things that he has no control of…and make him who he is. The lack of grace that I show my dad and brothers when they make mistakes or hurt me. The guilt I carry for things I have done. The desire I have in my heart to want the things that I want possibly more than what God does. If I suppress the frustration, shame, anger, envy…if I push them so far down then God won’t be able to see that far. Of course not. Another part of this chapter that has always been a tough thing for me to grasp, and still rattles my brain is that because of God’s grace, we can come to him broken, stained, and lost…and by recognizing that He is the only one who can make up for what we are missing…it leads us to Him.
“That mask portrays to the world around us that we have it all together, that we can handle the mess, that we don’t need people, or worse, we don’t need God.” This quote described something that I have always found myself struggling with, feeling like I had to be strong and keep a “pretty face” for everyone else. Hands down one of the biggest lessons that I have learned in the past year or so is that admitting you can’t do something on your own, and asking for help isn’t weak…God longs for us to recognize that we aren’t made to do this all on our own…and He wants us to bring these struggles to His feet. “God doesn’t ask us to be strong. In fact I believe the Bible teaches us that He asks us to be the exact opposite.”
“Come and be filled with life at the feet of Jesus.
Leave all cares behind at the feet of Jesus.
In strength and weakness, I trust in You.
In joy and suffering, I delight in You.
Nothing can separate me from Your love.
For your love is faithful throughout eternity.”