I have a very heavy story of redemption and the topics of my testimony can be shocking to some. I’ve spent quite a lot of time just getting comfortable telling my story without the fear of what people might think. I felt that once I reached that place, I had arrived at true vulnerability but God has recently been teaching me that honesty, although brave and courageous, is not the same as being vulnerable. Honesty does not equal vulnerability.
In regards to my story, honesty has been retelling the facts of who I once was. It means admitting to the life I lived and choosing to keep no part of me hidden in the dark. See, when I retell of my past experiences, I am able to tell the story with my guard up. My walls can be sky high. This is easy to do because it’s the past. I’ve already learned what reactions to expect. I’ve already decided how to justify my actions or explain how I’m different. I can properly defend myself. And more importantly, I’ve already come to a conclusion on what I’m going to allow my story to say about me. I can be proud of my transformation so any judgmental reaction rolls off easier.
The trouble with this type of honesty is there is relatively no risk involved. If I’m carrying guilt and shame, the perceived risk is much higher but, in all actuality, there isn’t much risk, at all. It becomes calculated risk. I know who to tell and when. I know what parts of my story to skim and what parts to go deep. I am, in this moment, in control of the outcome.
Vulnerability means being open and exposed to the possibility of emotional, mental and/or physical injury. True vulnerability is present tense. It’s right now. It’s raw and it’s real and the risk is so great because the scenario has never played out before. I don’t know what will happen and I am out in the open with an unknown in front of me. Vulnerability requires trust in God, to the degree that bearing yourself, in a moment of humanness, honest, pure, and humble; you’re able to accept whatever reaction might come your way.
Many people can tell their stories and be honest and vulnerable, at the same time. If I tell you how I used to be gay, I’m being honest. But if I tell you how, coming out of that lifestyle, has made me, currently, struggle with relating with people, and how I isolate myself out of fear of my heart ever connecting to the wrong people, I’m being vulnerable. Vulnerability is exemplified, more, however, in our actions than our words. I can tell you how I was bullied and beat up, rejected, most of my life, but the moment I allow someone new into my life, and I choose to trust again, I’m being vulnerable.
Do I choose to love again? Do I allow my kids to see my true heart? Do I give up my control and break down my walls? Have I really given over all of my life to God? Can I put my agenda aside for a greater picture? Am I humble? Do I show honor without reservation? Do I live a life of gratitude? Can I admit when I’m wrong? Can I accept the consequences?
We all have stories, many of which are inspirational, but nothing inspires me more than a heart that is willing to be seen, right where they are at, nothing to prove, and everything to lose. The true heart of vulnerability is humility, and a complete surrender and trust that the God of the universe is madly in love with you. He sees you, and knows you, and is proud to call you His, in every moment.
I challenge you, don’t just read people your story, show them your heart.