I think we often run from vulnerability.
Nah, I take that back.
We sprint full-force as far as we can in the opposite direction of anything that pertains to wearing our hearts on our sleeves unless it unleashes itself through choppy, vague punk rock lyrics or we stumble across it on a trail laced with the poetic words of another.
Every bruise, scar, and mark running down our arms is covered up by the sleeves we continually pull tightly down around our wrists whenever we feel the gradual exposure begin to take place as we use our hands to work.
We try so hard to lift up the burdens riding around on the backs of others, so hard to pick them up and carry them, to lessen the weight dragging the hearts around us down, yet every time a bit of our own pasts begin to be revealed through the bending and lifting we just as quickly drop and run.
You don’t want to risk exposing any realness that may be ugly, for the sake of looking someone in the eyes, being vulnerable, honest, and telling them that they have no clue how dirty and broken they might find you to be.
There’s nothing fun associated with admitting that not only have you been battle-scarred by the sins of others, the heartbreak, and maybe, of broken trust, or people you’ll never see again.
Delving into your past can mean admitting to yourself that that broken pot was not only fragile and delicate, but it can mean admitting, as the water comes seeping out through all the cracks, as it slowly trickles down your wrists, as each drop one by one hits the floor, that no matter how much you felt that your heart was worth it, no matter how much steel you thought it was reinforced with, and no matter how many times you were told to guard it, you failed at protecting it.
You had one job with this porcelain heart of yours – Guard it. Protect it. Place it up high above hands, high above movement, high and out of reach, out of sight, and out of mind of any curiosity to see what’s inside.
But there it was.
Right in the middle of that kitchen table.
Filled with water.
Displaying beautiful, vibrant flowers.
Exposed and offered to others.
One by one, pieces of your life came strolling by that kitchen table.
Some sat down and stayed awhile while others merely glanced as they passed through.
Some had meals, others simply a drink.
Some cozy-ed up to that table for many hours of laughter and tears over a hot cup of coffee, while others sat stone cold and unable to make eye contact as they gave one worded answers to the questions you frantically searched for.
Some sat around that kitchen table and sang, making harmonies with the songs of summer evenings drifting in through the open windows, while others who had become so angry with life, so bitter at the world, could do nothing more than yell at the injustice of pain.
Some linked hands with you around this kitchen table, pulse-to-pulse as you whispered prayers of thanks.
Others poured out their heart ache and dismembered the myriad of every fear hidden inside of them, and every ounce of hurt they could not let go of.
Some people poured out the truth of their hearts to you, gushing forth with revelations and honesty.
Others told poker-faced lies.
Some sat kitty-corner to you, hands wrapped around a mug of warm, homemade hot chocolate, and made new memories, eyes twinkling with the flicker of candles set.
Others looked up at you across this kitchen table, over melted wax, and broke your heart.
Every person that sat at this table plucked a flower out of your heart as they left.
You didn’t sign up for this.
Being compelled to be vulnerable with people and expose your heart to others, to share in it’s beauty and let them take a piece of it with them, was because you thought that they valued it.
This desire God gave you to share your hurts and your weakest parts of you was because you believed that just as you cherished theirs they would hold tightly to yours.
So what do we do?
We place our hearts high up on a shelf, away from anything or one that can come waltzing by and devalue it any farther.
Too scared to be vulnerable for any longer, we close that part of ourselves off.
Life will be easier, life will be less painful, life will be less about wounds and hurt if we can just avoid it touching things that can stand up and walk away at any given moment.
I get it.
Really, I do.
Not only do I want to forget every pair of feet that stood up, turned around, and walked out of that warm kitchen room, with flowers in their hand, but I want to seal it off, and never take the chance of one more person entering and leaving, or one more painful thing from occurring.
If you can stop the breaking and entering, then you can rest assured that nothing will ever be stolen from you.
That’s all fine and dandy, and, honestly, that makes perfect sense, but if we are not here to take the chance of becoming vulnerable with another, so that they can experience companionship and encouragement from someone else, so that they can look at another soul and realize they are not alone in this journey of heartache that God sometimes allows us to walk in, if we are not here to relate to each other an make prostrate our pasts so that someone else can find encouragement, even at the chance that they might reject it, than what good is it all?
I don’t know anyone who would say that sharing your heart isn’t a risk.
It’s kind of a gamble, really.
I can tell you one thing though – if you keep it locked away up high, you may avoid getting hurt by another, but it will remain dormant and the bitterness which results will be more destructive to you and with no results other than bitterness to accompany it, than sharing with another and investing in others.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” – C.S. Lewis
God does not write heartache into our lives, but because of sin, and because of free will we are exposed to it.
Here is the greatest part about God, though – no matter what happens in this life, when we are waiting on and trusting in God, He promises to fight for us.
“The Lord shall fight for you, you need only to be still…” Exodus 14:14
When you stop and realize that every step of the way God is standing beside you, defending you against every swing that comes your way, it allows you the chance to revel in the fact that no matter what, you are going to be OK.
Your heart has immense value and God has equipped you, through Him, to be an incredible encouragement and blessing to the people that are in your life.
Sometimes it feels like this porcelain heart is bone dry.
It feels like every last drop of what God has put inside of you has been poured out and left behind and there is nothing left of you to give.
But here’s the thing.
Nothing about this life, really, has anything to do with us. It is all about giving God glory, and just when we think we have nothing left at all, He comes flooding in, overflowing us with His strength and mercy. He tells us that when we are weak THEN we are strong.
I know it’s scary.
There’s a chance someone will take your heart, examine it, thoroughly inspect it, and with indifference throw it back at you.
You might invest in someone, pour into someone, and go to bed every night with a fear that you cannot rid, wondering if they are going to wake up in the morning and no longer need or want you to be any longer in their life, and there’s a chance you could be right.
You might open up the most vulnerable parts of yourself to someone, daringly roll back that sleeve, and with almost a sense of shame, expose your deepest scars, only for them to observe it and not see God’s beauty mark of grace, but see it as ugly and undesirable.
They might not look at it and see God’s grace and faithfulness, but a jagged and hideous wound. It may repulse them, screaming of their conviction, reminding them of their imperfections, and they may not want anything to do with ugly, with grace, or with pain.
They may see a person marred by their past.
But you know what?
Maybe they won’t.
They may take one glimpse and be overwhelmed with the revelation of God’s grace and magnificent, in-comprehensible, knightly defending, and see faithfulness and grace etched into every groove of that scar.
They may see how valiant your Prince is.
They may see how He swept in and freed your heart from anything that would devalue it’s worth.
How protective He is of His jewel, and how much He values the most delicate part of His beautiful daughter because He never allowed someone who did not value what He created and see the worth of it to stay sitting at that table forever.
Don’t you see?
We question why so many people sat down, only to get up and walk away with a piece of us in hand, but the real truth is that by God’s grace He does not give them the freedom to STAY. He protects us so thoroughly that when He sees false commitments there is no question of it staying to hang around until we are deeper entangled. To us it seems like it has been too late – we are already damaged – but to God He has used the trust we have in Him to be a ministry to others – and when it is broken, rejected, or manipulated His protection is unleashed and a new place is set.
You have a Prince who has promised you eternity in His castle, and He has ceaselessly been fighting and battling every day to win your heart. We have been fought for with more tenacity that we could ever comprehend, there has never been nor will there ever be a greater example of what it is like to have your heart fought for and won. He has never, ever given up on His pursuit of the hearts He longs to cherish, nurture, and protect, and He will do whatever it takes to win them.
There is no greater, more vibrant example of a pure and unadulterated ceaseless pursuit than the one that has been high on your tail since the day you began this journey of life.
If you think you are unwanted, un-valuable, worthless, and used, take one look behind you and recognize that a Prince has been pleading for a chance with you since the dawn of creation, and nothing will ever even come close to dissuading Him from constantly calling at your door.
If only you could get one glimpse of how much His heart aches for you to stop and sit at His table., you would forget about the ones that walked away from yours.
“He will fight for you, you need only to be still…”
Be still, and revel in God’s constant guard over you, and delicate handling of someone made in His image..
“He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; but those who wait on the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Guys, some days your heart is going to hurt so bad, it is going to be so hard to believe in the truth and remember God’s promises, but He will get you through it, He won’t waste it, and it will be something that you thank Him for down the road.
Though I am weak HE is strong.