Lately, the heaviest things on my heart have been how vulnerability and love are interconnected. Quite recently, through very unwelcome events, I was brought to this place of being utterly broken over having given my heart to another… having dared to explore love. There is a lot that I’m learning through the brokenness and ugliness found in relationship and if anything it has been extremely sobering.
Rewind a couple weeks back when I was first hit with the realization of uncertainty and confusion regards to a relationship:
I was honestly so devasted and I felt my heart just being completly thrown into an abyss of turmoil. My heart churned with anxiety and heartache as I realized that the security of relationship back home was no longer there. You see, I am a high J on the Meyer’s Briggs, meaning I’m a HUGE planner… I like knowing the next twenty, thirty… hundred steps. However, what I am realizing about love and relationship is that there is no aspect of control. You cannot control another’s feelings, emotions and heart because that is not love. Love is giving another a choice. Thus, God gave us, his beloved creations, the free will to choose. But with love there is great room for heartache as love is uncertain. The past few weeks where I came face to face with a complete and total lack of control, which absolutely and completely terrifies me. Although the past few weeks have been a complete hell as I wrestled with anxiety and fear in a way that was so foreign to me, I see that this was the true process of God unveiling parts of my heart that I wouldn’t have been able to come face to face with, otherwise.
The reason why anxiety was so intense to the point of physically manifesting and leading to sleepless nights, as my brain was running constantly, over-processing the situation, was because I was not willing to be vulnerable with my emotions. I wasn’t willing to fully come face to face with my heartache and let myself go into the darkness of my emotions. I was unwilling out of fear and uncertainty of what such honest evaluation of my heart would look like. Growing up, I’ve trained myself to suppress my emotions and to dull down their intensity. I became really good at being able to stifle and suffocate my pain, anger, rage, and hurt in a matter of a few moments to the point that I would not even feel those emotions after the incident. However, what God has now been doing is uncovering those parts of my heart that I let die because His heart is to make us Wholehearted. According to Brene Brown, wholehearted people have two characteristics: vulnerability and a sense of worthiness.
Fast forward to this very moment that I am writing this blog. The past few weeks have been absolute hell as I was wrestling with God through the night as Jacob wrestled until daybreak. He wrestled with God until he received his breakthrough… and I believe that this was the state of my heart, although weak and extremely weary. I see that I was in this place of wrestling with God and coming to realize that I needed to face the truth and ask the hard questions. But it was here in finally vocalizing and honestly sharing the deepest and darkest fears within my heart that I actually began receiving clarity and breakthrough. It was when I surrendered to going down into the depth of my heart that I began being able to come up out of the turmoil and anxiety so heavy on my heart. It was in the seemingly backward steps that I saw God actually leading me out of the confusion, angst, and anxiety. As I began seeing my most shameful fears, my perspective began to change. Rather than being a victim, I realized that God was now empowering me to look at this situation with a completely renewed perspective. He directed my heart back to Truth, which was not the lens through which I was seeing this situation the entire time.
I was looking through this situation with lens of pain, hurt, and offense. But when God began convicting me of pursuing 1 Corinthians 13 and seeking to have that be the end goal, I realized that the surrender came easily. Not only that, I woke up yesterday with this surge of confidence in my self-worth. I feel as though there was this supernatural working in my heart and God had aligned my heart with His. I came to proclaim for the first time that I was truly beautiful and someone worthy of pursuit. I think for the first time, I believed this truth. I believe that I am so worthy of love and someone who is truly beautiful not in an arrogant way, but as someone who has come to grasp how we are the image of God and we are His masterpieces. I think for individuals to really walk out in a lifestyle that is fully vulnerable, we have to understand that our self-worth is not contingent in what we can hoard and keep hidden and locked away from others.
To love at all is to be vulnerable. But in this vulnerability, there is strength because we understand that we are worthy of love, not because man tells us our worth, but because we come to truly understand how our beauty and worth is found in Christ. Our worth was determined the day God sent His son to die for our sins. I am worthy not because I am loved by so and so or have x amount of friends or am popular, etc. I am worthy because Christ has called me His own. For so long, I was caught up with this belief that my worth was truly determined by how I was loved by man. However, that has proven to be such a broken perception of my self-worth. It is one that is so easily shaken.
This new understanding that my worth really is not contingent on human beings, rather, my worth is determined by Christ’s love for me, has given me such a radical confidence. Not only confidence but this supernatural ability to fully surrender this relationship. I was so consumed and distraught about the outcome because it was beyond my control, but I wanted a particular outcome. However, at this point, I am realizing that whatever the outcome, my worth is not something that man can give me and determine for me. I am secure because of Christ, thus, I am confident and not shaken by man’s fickleness and inability to love. My security and my foundation is built upon the love of God.
And so, I’ve come to this place in my heart where I understand that God’s love and ability to make me wholehearted is greater than my greatest brokenness and my greatest losses. He is committed to making me wholehearted, and so when He is the guardian of my heart and the one tending to my heart, there is no fear. Perfect love casts out all fear. Thus, God has been showing me that its okay for people to take pieces of my heart because He is able to make me whole. In realizing that my role isn’t to be the tender and sole-defender of my heart, rather, I simply need to yield my heart to Him, I have found a freedom and a huge relief in loving another and letting another into a more intimate part of my heart. I am not the one having to sustain my wholeheartedness.
Thus, this also brings me to this place of realizing how to love at all is to be vulnerable. According to Brene Brown, love is uncertain. And she defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. I feel as though I am having a light bulb moment regards to the sober reality check of what love implies.
“Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betry us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability. Love is uncertain. It’s incredibly risky. And loving someone leaves us emotionally exposed. Yes, it’s scary and yes, we’re open to being hurt, but can you imagine your life without loving or being loved?”
I feel as though this paragraph so perfectly sums up everything that God has been purging my heart of regards to false perceptions of love. Love is risky. Love is frightening. Love is not something we can control. Love is a choice that two individuals come to, and sometimes the decision is not mutual. However, in that place of loving another, we choose to expose a part of our hearts that is so fragile.
But when we really have built up our foundation in Christ there is no fear in vulnerability and allowing another to take a piece of our hearts. When we understand that we are worthy because of what Christ did for us on that cross, we are not fearful of man and driven to self-preservation. When we are resting in His Truth, we are free. The fact that in opening our hearts completley and wholly to love and be vulnerable — to allow another to take a piece of our heart and to be emotionally exposed — there is a peace. In fact it seems like a juxtaposition and completley absurd in the eyes of the world. However, when we see and understand that our worth is not determined by man, but by Christ’s reckless act of love and surrender and when we see and understand that in the midst of our hearts being given away, God is faithful to always make us wholehearted, we step into a place of complete and total surrender. As I’m realizing that at the end of the day I am called to pursue a love defined by 1 Corinthians 13 and that my heart is safe and secure because God is the one who restores and makes me whole, I am given complete and total permission to love unreservedly, unabashedly and without restraint.
words by Grace Chun and photo by Jessica DiMento