The idea of vulnerability in our culture is counter to the post-modern way of western life. We need to be tough, independent, carve our own way and live in a “to each their own” mentality. In that construct our sense of self and our identity remains intact. As a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman, I struggle with how to be vulnerable to my husband. As Websters New College Dictionary defines it, vulnerability means we are open to criticism or attack and we are likely to be injured or wounded. Ouch! No thank you. I would rather have my walls up that protect me from hurt, or better yet, have my radar at the ready that warns me when the hurt is coming, then allow myself to be hurt once again from one of Kevin’s seemingly selfish acts. So, I keep vulnerability at bay and use it in my tender conversations with a girlfriend where I am not so afraid of the emotional response I may feel if they inadvertently hurt me.
But, what if? What if we decided we were going to listen to the entire thing our spouse was saying instead of assuming we can finish their sentence? What if we tried one more time to share a frustration instead of holding it inside of us and not trusting our spouse with that treasure? Or what if, we decided that it is ok if they are quiet in a crowd and we are not? Or what if we decided that their struggle was equally as “bad” as our struggle with sin and we loved them in the midst of it? What if we were open to wait, and not to respond about that same old crap they do that angers us to no end, and instead we prayed for them? What if we touched our spouse in love rather than pull away and withhold our affection as a rebuke? What if we prayed for their struggle instead of being sick of hearing about it again and again? What if we looked at how to love and saw our own shortcomings not just theirs? What if we looked at the hurt within our spouse and didn’t feel responsible for fixing it but we just smiled at them instead and thought, “Oh well! There is not a thing I can do except be the best me I can be.” And we were?
Jesus demonstrated the ultimate vulnerability. Knowing He was all God, He withheld his power, He withheld his rebuke, and He withheld judgement and was crucified and vulnerable and open to the ultimate criticism. Man criticizing God and appearing to win. This is the beauty of vulnerability. Within the demonstration of vulnerability is power. It is a humble, quiet resurrecting power that gives us victory over the flesh and allows God within us to shine through. How often do you allow yourself, willingly, to be open to attack? To be open to criticism from your spouse? I am not talking about abuse, and continual ,unchanging hurtful behavior from a spouse unwilling to surrender to Jesus. Nor am I suggesting we just lay down and take it. I am talking about the idea that wounds are ok, and if your spouse hurts you sometimes that you must be careful not to build a fortress around your heart that never allows them to hurt you again. Instead we must learn to be humble, not self-deprecating, self-loathing and self-hating, but truly open to understand that God works through the brokenness of our spouse to bring out our beauty and our strength to love unconditionally. Vulnerability is a demonstration of Jesus love for humanity and we are promised that love covers a multitude of sins.
So here is the challenge for us. In what areas do we need to allow ourselves to be open, to be tender, and to be vulnerable? Withholding a word when we have a lot that needs to be said? Praying more often for our spouse instead of complaining to a friend? Giving a tender touch instead of withholding a hug? I know for me I need to ask for help more and not take it all on. I am afraid, a lot, to ask for help from Kevin because he seems stressed or busy or tired or irritated at times. So I withhold the requests and I continue to do it on my own. But sometimes I just get frustrated and feel resentful. If I could have been vulnerable and open to him I could have unloaded my burden. He may not respond the way I want or need all the time but I am being more authentic and more transparent and that is freeing. Try it out and live in a place of humility and openness. You may be surprised how tender your heart becomes and how many victories you may achieve through the surrender of your own will to the will of Jesus!
Mountain Haven’s Vulnerability!
We covet your prayers. We are going into a time of sabbatical and prayer for November and December to rest, and seek God for the direction and continued provision for Mountain Haven. Marriage and family ministry is a battlefield, at times a wearying one, and it is not one we can fight alone. We need more monthly and one-time partners to help make our donation-based services available. We need rest, reprieve and personal support.
Pray about how to give. Give at www.mountainhavenmarriageministry.org or mail a tax-deductible donation to 1160 Diamond Back Trail Canon City, CO 81212. Stay in touch with praise or prayer requests as well. Thank you and we love you!