See the scene. You are ready to be brave. You’ve heard of the power of vulnerability and being your true self because God loves you no matter what. You step out and say something brave to your family and BAM – you hear the replies: “You’re weird” or “Okay…. Whatever….” or “Are you serious?! Did you really mean to say that?” And you start to question your bravery and courage because well, yes, you are serious, and yes, you meant to say that. You felt led by the Holy Spirit. But your insecurities rise and you question yourself and want to crawl in a hole and hide. Why am I so awkward?! Why can’t I bravely be vulnerable?!
We hear it more and more: we need to be vulnerable, we need to be real, we need to be authentic. Some churches and businesses are teaching on this, some are starting to, and some are still afraid of it. I am hoping this article will help get rid of the myths of vulnerability and help give you confidence to be able to walk your path the way God intends with being truly yourself for His glory. The first thing I’d say is that being vulnerable is brave. Period.
I believe that Jesus is the most real, most vulnerable, most authentic person who ever lived. He is our model to follow and be like. The Bible is our model to follow to be able to be like Him. Our little brains sometimes don’t understand things and the world has tainted a lot of what the power of the Word could do to transform us. We are part human, so we need human explanations to help us move into our God-given spiritual life. Brené Brown defines vulnerability as emotional exposure, uncertainty and risk. It is courage but can “feel” like weakness. Second Corinthians 12:10 says, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” We look for vulnerability in everyone else, but we struggle to show it to others. To learn how to truly step out in courage by being vulnerable like Jesus, we need to know some of the myths of vulnerability that have slowed us down.
Here are six myths of vulnerability from Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly:
- Vulnerability is weakness. This often comes from messages we grew up with. People often have good intentions but are just not aware of the harm they’re causing by saying, “You are weak if you talk about your feelings.” This just squashes who we are. This is one of the reasons why we have so many physical issues – like stomachaches and headaches. Because we’re trying to be someone we’re not.
- I don’t do vulnerability. I can opt out of it. This is a myth because God designed us to be relational, starting with Him. When the veil was torn, we now have direct access to our heavenly Father
- I can go it alone. Having alone time with God is important, but we can’t do vulnerability alone. We need fellowship and connection to continue to grow and transform to be more like Jesus.
- You can engineer the uncertainty and discomfort out of vulnerability. We often want to “manage” and “control” people. We need to trust the Holy Spirit to do the work He was designed to do.
- Trust comes before vulnerability. When we know who we are in Christ, we need to take the first step and trust Him. It’s a risk, but it’s worth it. We need to be vulnerable in order to build trust. Trust and vulnerability grow together and to betray one is to destroy both. If you’re walking with your values, you can walk the line and have healthy boundaries.
- Vulnerability is disclosure. Oversharing is indiscriminate disclosure as leadership or vulnerability just for vulnerability’s sake. This is sharing the details of your divorce on Facebook for example. That’s not vulnerability. Vulnerability is sharing a testimony. Oversharing often disconnects you from people or connects you superficially. Vulnerability is sharing with the intention to connect and giving God the glory. It’s all about trust, intimacy, and connection.
I believe that in the church, we need to understand vulnerability, especially those in leadership. When you hear a testimony, God gets all the glory for it. We need to find trusted people to be vulnerable with – either a Christian counselor, inner healing minister, pastor, or trusted friend. Most of all, we need to be vulnerable with Jesus. Start there. If you have walls up, ask Jesus to take the walls down. Forgive those who have hurt you and caused the walls to come up in the first place. We are not orphans anymore but worthy and valuable children of God. Let’s take down the walls that have stopped you from being vulnerable. Romans 8:15 – 17 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”
There’s nothing to hide because we know who we are and Whose we are: children of God. Allow your intimacy with Him to guide you as you learn how to be vulnerable in this world to bring more people to wonder what it is that you have that they don’t: Jesus Christ.
Heidi Mortenson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of a mental health clinic in Minnesota. She is host of the “Strong Tower Mental Health Podcast” produced with Charisma Media and the author of the book The Brave Encourager. Heidi is ordained through Patricia King’s Women in Ministry Network, and is a second -year student of Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry online.