Two months ago I was having a lot of trouble sleeping. I’d sit in bed with my eyes closed for hours before my mind slowed and drifted to sleep. What was scarier than not sleeping were the thoughts and feelings of anxiousness that would run through my head while lying there. And in the middle of all those thoughts I felt totally alone. No one is up in the middle of the night in my home, not even the dog. And even though my husband laid asleep right next to me, I physically felt so isolated and so fearful of having to lay there with all these thoughts, all by myself.
After a few nights of horrible sleep I started using sleep aids, supplements, and essential oils hoping to relax and fall asleep faster. And when those things only helped some of the time, I became more and more anxious that my trouble sleeping wasn’t ever going to go away. I was terrified.
After a few weeks, I decided to share it with my women’s prayer group. My eyes flooded with tears and my body started shaking as I told them how scared I was about not being able to sleep. Immediately they began praying for me; for rest, for strength, for the peace of Jesus to just wash over me constantly. Then, not just 1 but 2 women began sharing how they had struggled with the same issue. Not just the loss of sleep but the anxiousness too. They offered ideas to fill that time with prayer or recite scripture over and over and over…. “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” Psalm 4:8
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13:34-35, NIV
It was a vulnerable moment; one that most likely wouldn’t have happened before I met Jesus. I used to think that showing your emotions – sadness, shame, guilt, conviction – made you look weak. But that is far from the truth when it’s with the right people at the right time.
Fortunately, Jesus has captivated my soul and changed my thinking. By trusting in Him, He’s provided me with these times of vulnerability and the people to be vulnerable with. These very specific moments – filled with specific people, offering specific prayer and strategy to encourage and make me feel loved – those are perfectly orchestrated by the Lord. He uses them to renew our strength, and to give us hope and peace.
“Therefore confess you sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16, NIV
I treasure these moments now and see them as a gift and a strong point in one’s emotional growth. And grateful doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about them as a mom. Because how terrifying is it to feel alone? But how glorious is it to know that you are not?
This story is fairly light compared to some of the deeper, darker things I’ve shared with these same friends; like the kinds of things that give you a reason to hide it. Whether it be shame, embarrassment, envy, guilt, or anger – there is healing and redemption to be had when we trust in the Lord and are open with those specific people He’s placed in your life. I know this small inner circle of women is a safe place to be in those vulnerable moments.
So how do you practice vulnerability wisely?
How do you know you’ve found ‘those people’ you can be vulnerable with? Well, do you know that the vulnerability will be reciprocated? Not to say that you won’t feel called to share something even if they don’t – God may do just that. But be prepared that they may not be willing to share themselves. However, maybe in due time your example will make a mark on them.
Are your ‘people’ the kind that want to listen and sit with you in it? Pray with you? Check in from time to time? There is a difference in being heard, versus having someone listen only for what they can fix. And that can leave us feeling like a project, like we aren’t as good as them, like we are so broken in comparison.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” -Proverbs 14:30, NIV
My husband shared with me the other day a great example of someone he knows he can’t be too vulnerable with. He said that unfortunately he feels it would only be one-sided – my husband would share and then it wouldn’t be reciprocated, even over time. Why? Maybe deep feelings of pride, maybe feelings of insecurity and defeat – things that, let’s be honest, we all have, but we come to a point that we either let go of or sink into. He also said something else I found interesting…he thought that once he shared this vulnerable information, that this person would view every other circumstance they were in together with that in the back of his mind. Like this new information would be used to identify him in the future.
Yeah…that is not the kind of person you should be vulnerable with. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pray for them to change! Maybe one day they will realize the undeserved grace that Jesus freely gives will cover all those feelings of pride, insecurity, and defeat. And ya’ll know only God can change someone like that.
“But this He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV
So, pray about vulnerability. That your heart would be open to it, because there will…really, their will… come a time and place that you need it. Don’t let shame rule in your heart – that is the enemy. Pray that God will give you courage and peace about stepping out in trust and obedience to Him. Our culture can be quite far from this at times but we were created to do life with one another – not just playdates, picnics, and happy, happy time. But nitty gritty, ugly, and beautiful – it’s all meant to collide. So that we are not alone.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2, NIV