Today a cool gal I met through blogging made a very vulnerable post describing how she fears rejection because she is a former porn addict. She made a bold proclamation to the world and I admire her courage. Although I’ve spilled many of my secrets on this blog over the years, there are still some I hold close to my heart. I cannot or will not reveal them to anyone but my closest and dearest friend, and even then, there are things between God and me.
It circles back to this scrap of paper I found when I was organizing the piles o’ stuff on my desk earlier. When I get ideas I write them down on whatever I can find at that moment. I have several small notebooks, scraps of paper, old receipts, and you-name-it (a ticket stub!) filled with thoughts. The one I grabbed today says, “Risks of Being Vulnerable to Other Christians” and lists a few of these risks.
Risk #1: “You’re not a real Christian.” Sinners struggle with sin, not Christians redeemed by the blood of Jesus. That’s what the Bible says, isn’t it? We’re new creations and the old has passed away. If I am a new creation, I should be, uh, new.
Growing up with depression, I really wondered if I was saved. I think I gave my life to Jesus 15 times “just to be sure”. I didn’t feel “saved” and struggling with cutting I knew I was going straight to hell. Sure, Jesus forgave people if they asked, but I just kept on sinning. I fiercely believed the truth of the Gospel, loved and tried to serve God… I could never do enough. I wasn’t a real Christian. In fact, that’s what I was asked by well-meaning adults again and again, “Are you sure you asked Jesus into your life, sweetie?”
Even now when I admit that I battle daily with depression and anxiety, I am sometimes questioned about my salvation. Because Christians can’t struggle…WITH ANYTHING. And if a Christian struggles, well, that brother or sister just needs some prayer. The story of the prodigal son is always the goal of every Christian, yet so often we live like the Israelites in the desert. Are we any less saved because we are fallen? Or is salvation one of those things we truly don’t “get” as Christians, a wonderful mystery we can never quite understand?
Risk #2: “God will never give you anything you can’t handle.” Actually, God gives us things we can’t handle all the time. Welcome to the REAL Christian life. We humans can’t do life on planet earth all by ourselves, which is why we so desperately need to cling to God. He also gave us other humans to help bear our struggles, except human beings aren’t always great partners in pain. We say stupid things, walk away when we should stay, and muck the whole thing up. Yet God uses us to touch others in their pain, to listen to their vulnerability.
I love this one passage in Job in which he is in a very vulnerable state of despair. Here’s what his friends do, “No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (2:13). It’s when his pals start talking, problems arise.
Risk #3: “Rejection and judgment”. I didn’t know how to put this one into a catch phrase, but it’s a very real fear. Oh, how we love to cast the first stone! As long as we can focus on the sins of everyone else, we don’t have to look at that pesky plank in our own eyes. “At least I’m not as bad as so-and-so, she’s a mental case” or “I’m better than him because he was addicted to porn”…how’s that prayer go? “O, God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”
Risk #4: “If I show you who I really am, you have the power to hurt me.” This is perhaps the most painful risk of all–to show someone your heart and have it thrown aside. When a trusted friend looks you in the eye and says, “You are not worth my time anymore” or a lover throws you aside for someone younger, it is devastating. To open your life to another is to risk being hurt in new and profound ways, to make things ache that you never knew could ache (like a person who jogs for the first time pulling muscles he never knew he had).
In his book Sex God, Rob Bell says that Jesus was the ultimate example of vulnerability. He let the world see who He was and they killed Him. Yet Bell urges that we should be the same way (yet wise as wolves and innocent as lambs) and notes that we will suffer for it like Jesus. While we don’t need to “bear it all” and should use discretion, we could all try to be a little more vulnerable with one another. Not just that, but when someone takes a risk on you or I, let’s try to be worthy of that risk.