"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even 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. To love is to be vulnerable." C.S. Lewis
Our Need to Be Seen
We have a deep, real need to be in relationship. We want to be vulnerable with others, and have others be vulnerable with us. We want someone to know us, to know our business. We want to know another person's business! Why do you think we have a multi-million dollar gossip magazine/website industry? There are literally million of people who are seeking vulnerability, wanting that feeling of being part of a celebrity life.
God promises use a much better form of being seen, on earth. He gives us the ability to be vulnerable, and see by Him. He also enables us the ability to be seen by others here on Earth.
God saw her
Hagar, the broken alone servant girl, mother to Abraham's illegitimate child Ishmael. She is sitting in the desert watching her child starved to death, after being thrown out of her home by Abraham's jealous and bitter wife. She is alone and rejected. She is filled with terror for her child. She is running from abuse, from sin, from pain.
In this moment, God meets Hagar int he desert. But he didn't just meet with her, He SEES her.
"She [Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, "I have now seen The One Who Sees Me." Genesis 16:13The name of God Hagar uses is El Roi-, meaning The God Who Sees Me. This is the only time in the Bible where this particular name is used for God. What awesome beauty in that. God saw a scared, lonely, hurting, and broken girl, and he saves her.
Don't you want that? To be seen in your most painful and fearful moments, and still be loved by the God of the Universe. God saw her. And I promise you He sees you.
He sees me; the broken, lonely girl that I am. He see me when I am filled with fear for my children.
God is our first example of what true vulnerability looks like. Hagar is not at her best before God seeks her, she is at her most honest.
"And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment." Phil 1:9
In Hagar's story, God seeks out this broken girl. Sometimes those who are hurting will come to us for help, but that takes immeasurable bravery. We are called to be observant of those in need, to always seek a love of understanding. There are seasons in life where others may be too raw, or just plain exhausted to share what they need to others. They need you to seek them out.
Vulnerability is slowly given through time and trust.
- Be a person others can trust-No one will confide in you if you the type who find secrets as currency. It may be subtle, but sharing others hurts, even in the context of a "prayer request" will damage any trust you have built.
- Listen to their story- Ask open-ended questions about their story, their life. They don't have to be super deep, but they must be genuine. Were they in sports? Why do they love owls? In my experiences, vulnerability can happen when you feel like some genuinely just wants to know your story, just for the sake getting to know you better, no judging involved.
- Be Relatable, not Self-focused. Many times intimacy is born from shared experiences. Knowing we are not the only one with "that story" is essential for healing, but be very careful to not make their story all about you. We ALL struggle with this. Pray pray pray during your conversations for how much you need to share. I have learned to err on the side on less details depending on the context. I want to be authentic with my shared experience, but once I begin going into details of MY experience it becomes about me, which isn't always appropriate the sacred space of someone sharing a hurt for the first time. I am not saying there won't be a time to share the details, but pray for discernment when someone is being vulnerable for the first time.
Talking is not the only way to build vulnerability. Some people are not able to process their struggles verbally, but they still need you. My prayer is to discern how I can see another person's unspoken needs.
When you know someone is struggling, DO NOT ASK "How can I help?". Just start helping. Bring a meal, pick up their kids so they can have a date, etc. I once had a friend just tell me, not ask me, he was picking up my kids that week for a play date so I could get my every growing pile of work done. I would have never asked him directly to do this, but I was immensely grateful.
These types of unsolicited service show someone you see their need, you show you see them.
Let Others See You
Vulnerability is a scary thing. Seriously. But I can say from experience, the value outweighs the fear. I am the first to admit there are seasons when you need someone to help pull you of the pit without being asked, but we know one can supernaturally see into our hearts, but God.
Unspoken Expectations are the leading cause of death to relationships. I have been guilty of unfairly thinking loved ones need observe my need without me saying it (anyone else unfairly expect your husband or friend to be a mind reader?!?!)
I have failed many times to be honest when I amfeeling worn. Sometimes I don't share because I have a real fear of being "needy". I love that my husband can sometimes mistake me for Super Mom, but respectfully admitting to him I need his help is best for me and our marriage.
It just plain unfair, and fruitless, to expect others to supernaturally see those places that are emotionally raw. After growing up in an abusive household, I have triggers. It is just a fact. Everyone has some place where we are all raw and sensitive. I personally don't believe avoiding triggers has brought me healing but honestly with my loved ones about those wounds has.
It is important to know we are all human, and your friends will make mistakes, say the wrong thing sometimes. This will especially happen in those friendships where you are trying to grow a deeper intimacy. Being honest about our pain and giving the benefit of the doubt are the best gifts you can give your friends.
God is the only who can see your heart, but he graciously gives us friends and family who would love to know you, to see you.
Satan does not want women to be vulnerable with other women. Satan hates Godly Female Friendships. He knows how powerfully a woman's life can change for God when she is surrounded by other Godly women; spurring her on and encouraging her in life's struggles. I have seen the battle firsthand, and I have seen the life changing power of a women ministering to other women. Remember this as your seek a deeper intimacy with a female friend.
Our honesty in relationships must begin with our relationship with God. I have to be honest with him about my doubts, my sensitivities, my sins, and my heart. The beauty is he has already seen it all, and still loves me. From that confidence, I can be courageous with others about my heart.
Seeing others can help you heal
" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. " 1 Cor 1:3-4Comforting others is a tried and true road to healing. My personal testimony has been that sharing vulnerable moments with another in their hurt can unexpectedly bring about the healing you were seeking.
The Holy Spirit has often brought me a new perceptive on on my own pain,while I was seeking to comfort someone else.
I know I can get so blinded by my own hurt and grief, that the idea of comforting another seems almost impossible. I am not saying there are not seasons of grief where we are just the receivers of comfort, I just came out of one. I had literally nothing to give anyone.
But there are, but ability to share the pain & burdens with our sisters and brothers in Christ is what the church was designed for, and ultimately one of the ways God brought me healing.
Being Seen Leads to Accountability
Vulnerability leads to intimacy, and intimacy leads to accountability.
God sees our whole heart, the yucky parts too. If we are not willing to also share the worse parts of us, then we are not truly genuine when we share the good. If we want others to see us, we need to be willing to receiving truth from others.
I heard once that everyone needs a biblical "Jonathan and Nathan" in their lives. Jonathan was King David's best friend, always protecting and sacrificially loving on him. The Jonathan in your life will bring you unconditional love in all circumstances
Nathan was the prophet who had to wisely, and lovingly, confront David on his sin. The Nathan loves you enough to speak truth in way that brings about repentance.
A warning for those who think themselves natural "Nathans". You can not be a Nathan to a stranger. You must love the person as much as they love the truth you need to share. Nathan cared enough about David to study him. He knew the most effective way to bring about a better intimacy with God for David.
Be careful not to take the name of "Nathan" until you check your motivation. Are you wanting another to repent to you (i.e admit you were right?), or to repent to God and grow closer to Him?
Safety in who Sees You
Godly Wisdom is essential when deciding who let see your true heart. Below are three important rules I have had to learn (almost all hard way).
Be Aware of Co-Dependency and Enabling
Some people may expect you to carry their everyday loads, with no effort on their part to carry their own load, and with no reciprocity involved. While there is healing to be found in helping someone through their crisis, be aware of a lop-sided relationship that will eventually become unhealthy for both parties (i.e. Co-dependent) If you feel like you are in a lop-sided relationship, I highly recommend by "Boundaries" Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
Only because we are made in His image can we see others, I praise Him for that gift.
I pray I use it wisely for His glory.