Ever have one of those “did I just say that out loud?” moments? What am I thinking, we have ALL had one of those moments, right? Those moments when you share something that was maybe really personal for you…or maybe it wasn’t some deep secret desire…but you said something that left you little vulnerable to a group of people you didn’t really know very well. And your intimate moment was greeted with “the look.” The look that says, “oh yes sister, you just said that out loud and you might as well just. die. right. here.”
Or what about online? Ah….the freedom one can possess when given a keyboard…. you can say anything you want, right? Well, until people start responding to it. That same freedom you had to post about well, whatever it was that left you feeling vulnerable or just really, really open…that same freedom also gives a boldness to people who can comment, critique, and tear your thoughts or feelings apart.
I remember a time when I posted in a Facebook group page (I know, I know, there are a whole slew of you who are cringing right now, thinking “rookie…dude…WHY would you do that?” ) Anyhoo, this “rookie” naively thought I might get some good advice on how to assign dog responsibilities with the kids so that we weren’t constantly negotiating or arguing about it. Being the transparent person that I am, I posted with the attitude of “I do not have this parenting thing down, and I’m looking for help!”
My notification button was on fire…lighting up because these mommas love to give some advice! The first 3 were great and offered solutions to engage the children or at least minimize the arguing. And then….
Then the opinions started. Animal opinions. Parenting opinions. Opinions about other people’s opinions. And on….and on…and sadly on; So much so that I took down the post.
I’d love to tell you that it had nothing to do with the fact that I felt personally attacked. I’d love to tell you that I’m so strong and un-offendable but I can’t. The reality is that my FIRST emotion was rejection. Because somehow a screen and keyboard, in the safety of someone else’s home, people had used the post to share their opinions about the responsibilities of dog ownership and criticism towards people who get pets and then neglect them…and I felt attacked. Shamed. (And darn it, I’m a pretty decent dog owner!)
Being vulnerable can leave us open for condemnation.
I mean, just look at Jesus. Good grief, the poor guy was truthful and true to his character every time we read an account of him yet he was consistently ridiculed by the Pharisees. Yet, all too often, we endure it more often because it’s easy to spout of 140 characters tearing someone apart from the comfort of our keyboard. Ultimately, Jesus’s vulnerability cost him his life… he was crucified for his sharing.
So what are we to do? Being vulnerable can hurt. It can provide you with this rush of wind… rush of joy and adrenaline because being true to your nature…the way God created you…feels so freeing. Just as quickly, it can punch you in the gut with such a force it knocks you over, reeling….and sends you back into that place where you want to cover up and never let someone in again.
We need to shift. We need to shift our focus off man and onto God. When we care more about what people will think of us when we are vulnerable than we do living an authentic life, we need to shift our thinking. I believe one of the biggest culprits in our culture’s decline of compassion is a lack of vulnerability. But I also believe that we’ve made God so small and helpless that we have come to view what people think of us as one of the most important things. And if we are constantly using this as our barometer, it’s nearly impossible to live vulnerably.
But when we do, when we rise up in braveness and fight for vulnerability, we give permission for others to do so. And just as a wave crashes against the shore with force because it’s a collective force of trillions of water drops headed the same direction with momentum…. we too can begin to transform the way culture views vulnerability and authenticity. Lastly, when we place our creator back into his rightful spot, and the opinions of man below it…. we are free to live above the mere opinions and whimsies of people and their keyboards. And that, my friends, is TRUE freedom.