Why Vulnerability in Love is Worth the Risk

Why Vulnerability in Love is Worth the Risk

I don’t remember how many times I glanced at that lilac-colored flyer sitting on the counter—every time I’d talk myself out of calling the number on the back—but one thing I knew. I needed real connection.

With the birth of my baby girl arrived the aching loneliness of motherhood. Those early days were sweetly tinged with sadness. Postpartum depression looks like joy wrapped in a choke-hold of anxiety and fear.

My mother-in-law had dropped by the house just to hand me a flyer, “Here’s the calendar for the mommy group,” she said, “whenever you’re ready.” I had kept that flyer on my table for a month before I gained enough courage to step out and make new friends.

Whenever you’re ready. When are we ever ready to risk everything in vulnerability?

Arriving at that first playgroup, baby carrier on one arm and diaper bag on the other, my stomach tied in knots. I had tried women’s gatherings in the past but often walked away feeling more alone than I had come. Would this time be any different?

What are we afraid of?

For years, my knee jerk response to intimacy was either one of two reactions: isolate myself and not engage in community or get close to a new friend and then hold her at arm’s length.

If you’re like me, maybe you are afraid of opening-up and being misunderstood. You may fear being judged for your past, even if you have moved on. Maybe you have suffered wounds that make trust difficult. Ultimately, you fear being rejected…again.

Those are just a few of the lies that hold us back from meaningful connections, deeper friendships, and seeing them through.

Brene Brown exposes some of our misgivings in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. We live in a culture of scarcity, a society of never enough. We value authenticity in others but struggle to present our authentic self to the world. We fear vulnerability because it makes us feel naked and exposed.

(Full Disclosure: I’m an Amazon Affiliate, so I earn a bit of commission on each sale. No worries, there’s no added cost to you.)

Fear makes us want to hide.

In Genesis 3:8-10, the first man and woman were deceived by the evil one and they disobeyed God. Then the Lord God moved among the trees of the garden and called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “…I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

In her book Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding & Keeping Lasting Friendships, Lisa-Jo Baker writes: At the beginning of the most defining friendship humanity would ever be offered, fear yelled, ‘Hide!’ and none of us have recovered.

Fear is a terrible friend. Fear is wretched at friendship. And fear is a liar. –Lisa-Jo Baker

When I hold back and try to hide, fear closes me off from the most meaningful connection of all. The one where I bring my truest self to the table and you bring your true self, and love becomes the bridge that builds relationship.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.

If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. (1 John 4:18-19 NLT)

My years in the mom’s group have taught me about trading fear for love. The mommas in that special group by-pass the superficial to share real-life struggles. They pray together, serve one-another, support those who suffer, and build each other up in faith. By showing up and risking vulnerability, I handed over my brokenness and bravely received love in return.

It’s always the vulnerable heart that breaks broken-hearts free. –Ann Voskamp

What can we count on if not for God’s redeeming, breaking-free love? This is a love that always forgives, always hopes, always trusts. This love never fails.

We are stronger together

When we share our brokenness with one another, we hold each other up in the strength of Christ’s love. In The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life, Ann Voskamp arrives at this:

Living given means break down all the thickened walls and barriers around your heart with this hammer of humility and trusting the expansiveness of the broken-wide-open spaces of grace and communion.

The way to a whole heart is not to hide the shards of our brokenness but to give all our sharp edges and risk being cut. My friend, love says you are worth it. Love is too important not to risk everything. That’s what Jesus did.

It was for love that Jesus willingly died upon the cross, to break us free from sin and shame. When we bring our truest self, our shortcomings, and insecurities to Christ, he receives us in the fullness of love that covers a multitude of sins.

Perfect love casts off fear. When we receive Christ’s overwhelming, never failing, reckless love, God looks upon us and no longer sees our scarlet sins. Instead he sees Jesus, wrapped around us in pure-white robes of righteousness.

 

(Full Disclosure: I’m an Amazon Affiliate, so I earn a bit of commission on each sale. No worries, there’s no added cost to you.)

Photo by Jurica Koletić on Unsplash

Comments

  1. Jill E. McCormick

    Oh sweet friend! This was so good. I could totally remember those times when I brought the baby and the diaper bag and knocked on a door, hoping someone kind and gracious would open up. Vulnerability is so hard, but also so worth the risk. -jill

    Reply

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