My computer crashed a few weeks ago. For striving to work in the journalism industry, it wasn’t quite ideal. It crashed and many pieces of writing I’ve drafted up over the years went with it. I exited the door of the repair shop on 14th street and walked all the way home up to 95th. I was already so upset so might as well just walk home for the dramatic effect, right? The first part of my walk I was just on the verge of crying, but once I calmed down, I was trying to determine why exactly I was upset about losing writing I never did anything with. Perhaps it was because it was so honest, so vulnerable. When I get honest, I begin to see the mess and the brokenness. But there’s this desire and this urge for someone to read it. There’s this risk I’ve always wanted to take to share it with people and hope that they’d listen, that maybe they’d relate. That they’d tell me it’s ok or say “me too.”
The thing is, the Lord has given us this desire for vulnerability. He’s placed a desire in each of us that craves to be honest and real. But this broken world we are living in tells us to keep it all in and mask it all up. And that we should look like we have it all together all of the time, even though none of us really do. However, the beautiful thing is that we get to be completely vulnerable with Jesus all of the time and not only that, but He gives us this special opportunity to do the same with each other.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the relationships the Lord has given me in life. I have some truly incredible ones. There are a few friendships I have been thinking about that are different than other relationships I’ve experienced in this life so far. I’m sure my younger self would take a look at some of the relationships I have today and think, wow how the heck did you get friends like those? The truth is though that there’s a lot to it. I can’t think of a better way to sum it up than how Shauna Niequist does in her book Cold Tangerines, “True friendship is a sacred, important thing, and it happens when we drop down into that deeper level of who we are, when we cross over into the broken, fragile parts of ourselves. We have to give something up in order to get friendship like that. We have to give up our need to be perceived as perfect. We have to give up our ability to control what people think of us. We have to overcome the fear that when they see the depths of who we are, they’ll leave. But what we give up is nothing in comparison to what this kind of friendship gives us.”
You see, vulnerability is the answer. It’s what it is going to take to fill that hole, that desire that each one of us has. And the Lord did not put it there by mistake. It’s a risk. Putting yourself out there like that. Taking the mask off. But even if it fails, we have Jesus to lean on. And as if that’s not enough, the potential of what to come with this vulnerableness is worth the risk. So what I would tell my younger self, or anyone looking for real friendship is to start being real with people. Because let’s face it, we all know brokenness. I heard someone once say, “You know how it’s kind of impossible to describe what being sleepy in the morning feels like? Yet, each and every one of us knows. We could all empathize because we all know. You can just look into the eyes of another fellow sleepy person and just…know. I think brokenness is is kind of like that too. We all just know. We can’t always describe it, but we all just know.”
I remember being at a leader weekend once and the speaker asking, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” This was back in 2015, and yet one of the first things I wrote down on my list was “tell people how I truly feel, be completely honest and real with them, and tell the ones I care about that I do.” That may have been two years ago, but it is likely still the same today. No wonder I was so torn up over losing thoughts I’d written up but never shared with anyone. But at the same time, as I sit here and think about vulnerability, I am able to see that one of the best results it produces is that we are able to see His power in our weakness. We are also able see how His grace covers us. We begin to see who we are, and our story, and how the grace plays out in our lives. And most importantly, we see more and more how deeply loved by Jesus we are. The gospel sets us free. It brings the freedom to face every true, honest, messy and broken part about ourselves and to face it without the fear of rejection or disapproval. Nothing is too messy or too broken for the Lord to enter into it. And in fact, those are the parts He wants to be let in the most.
I have come to accept the fact that many things in this life are a risk. Writing is a risk. Being vulnerable with each other is a risk. But it’s the riskiest things that produce the best and most beautiful results. We have been set free and we get to be who we truly are. We don’t have to mask it up. And if people don’t accept it, if people don’t want to be your friend, if you get rejected, etc., it’s ok. We have Jesus.
words by Megan Sauers and photo by Hailey Pierce