rebelling against low expectations

The Hard Thing of Vulnerability

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I’m afraid of vulnerability.

I’ve always been the strong one. Always tried to have it all together—my actions, attitudes, emotions, circumstances: my life.

I cover up my fear with excuses. It’s just my personality. With the right people—in the right circumstances, at the right time—I can be vulnerable too. People need me to be strong.

I’ve even bought into the lie that I need to appear strong before God, forgetting he already knows my every weakness.

Broken Hearts and Lies

Recently, I’ve dug beneath these lies, realizing a startling truth: I’m petrified of letting people see the real me—fears, scars, insecurities, weakness, and all.

Because I’ve been hurt and rejected, I only allowed certain people into my heart for fear others would hurt and reject me too. Like a scab over a healing wound, a tough exterior protects a still-healing abrasion. Protects…and hides. But all wounds eventually heal. All scabs eventually fall off. The ones on our hearts, however, are not so simply mended.

So I locked away many of my emotions, shrouding myself in a false sense of security, not realizing that my others-focused outward appearance, revealed a self-focused heart. And that by my reticence, I’d actually hurt people around me.

Can you relate?

In our culture, sharing our hearts is dangerous. The climate of self-focus makes vulnerability a landmine of potential hurt. It seems easier, somehow, to shut ourselves away, because we don’t know who’s safe—who will cherish our hearts, instead of run roughshod over our offering of them.

Vulnerability is treacherous business. And it’s true that we can’t, and shouldn’t, be vulnerable with everyone. Many won’t value our hearts, or sooth our wounds, and therefore aren’t worthy of the gift of our trust.

But there are others who are worthy. Who long to go to a deeper level of relationship with us, if only we’d let down the barricade of bricks called “fear” surrounding our souls. Such individuals are a rare and priceless treasure. But how often do we turn away, too scared to let them in?

Healing and Truth

God created us for community and vulnerability. He crafted our hearts to need each other, but mostly to need him. Which is why community and relationships are attacked so fiercely. Distorted so harshly. Our fear of human intimacy both originates from, (one sin began it all) and leads to our fear of intimacy with God. Ever since Adam and Eve first hid from God, we’ve hidden and doubted, running from the One who already knows us better than we know ourselves.

Will God accept me? we ask. Can he really look at my scars—my past—and still see something beautiful? Am I beautiful? Am I worthy?

I’ve fiercely wrestled with these questions.

But here’s truth.

We were never meant to be strong on our own. Never designed to carry the weight of our insecurity—consequence of separation from security in God—on our shoulders.

We were created to accept and be accepted. By God first, embracing his gift of unconditional love purchased on the cross. Others, second, knowing we’re all sojourners on the path of sanctification–riddled with weaknesses, but covered with grace.

My façade of strength can, and will, crumble. On my own I can’t be strong. On my own I’m not strong. The only strength I can claim is from Another. The One who is my Strong Redeemer, my High Tower, my ever present—Jesus.

That’s why it’s okay to be vulnerable. Because Jesus already shouldered the greatest vulnerability on the cross. God in dying flesh, weak, pierced, forsaken, rejected, for my sake.

Because he died, I can live fearless, come what may, my eyes focused on eternity.

Because he was weakened, I now find strength. True strength. Not my version, but his.

Because he was forsaken, I never will be, no matter who on earth may wound me.

Because he was rejected, I’m forever accepted. Embraced, welcomed, his.

Jesus already shouldered the greatest vulnerability on the cross. God in dying flesh, weak, pierced, forsaken, rejected, for my sake. Click To Tweet

I’m realizing that vulnerability is a good, God-ordained thing. No, it’ll never be safe. But it’s one area where my weakness displayed in humanity can be turned into strength for God. Because my security isn’t found in human acceptance, but Christ’s, I can dare to share my weaknesses with those around me.

I can say with Paul, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) His grace is always sufficient. His power is made perfect in weakness.

I’m still learning what this looks like in my relationships. Still battling fear. Just writing these words sends insecurity jolting through my heart.

But I want to be real. I’m tired of my counterfeit strength.

Sometimes vulnerability can be the hardest thing we do. And sometimes weakness is the most powerful picture of strength. Click To Tweet

So today, I challenge us both—embrace vulnerability. True relationship and community. With those around us who long to see deeper into our hearts, we can let down our guard. This doesn’t mean always keeping the focus on us, or spewing our every thought. It means gentle and sincere sharing and listening. Accepting and being accepted. It means letting go of our bondage to fear, and living in the freedom Christ gives us.

Sometimes vulnerability can be the hardest thing we do. And sometimes weakness is the most powerful picture of strength.


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About the author

Sara Barratt

is an 19-year-old speaker and author. Her first book releases from Baker Books in Spring 2020. Along with her work on The Rebelution, she also contributes to websites like The Gospel Coalition and Girl Defined. Connect with her on her website sarabarratt.com

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →

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