I believe in the power of vulnerability. This is probably one of the reasons why I blog. It is not about how smart or wise I am as much as it is about admitting my mistakes and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Still, there are some things we keep to ourselves. And if anything, the hard parts of life that we’re willing to let out we only admit and share with the people closest to us. Our so called “circle of trust.” We do this to avoid judgement. And so we hide in a shell with fear of what others might think. Yes, vulnerability can be used against us but it should not be concealed by fear or limited by an audience. The true power of vulnerability is on full display when we accept our situation, our experience, and share freely.
I wasn’t introduced to this concept until later in life and so for many of you cringing at this idea I simply ask that you continue to read. Believe me when I say this is not easy. As I type these words there is a part of me that is uncomfortable. Seriously. But I still believe I should share.
Why should we be vulnerable?
If we are truly honest with ourselves we can all recognize that we are messed up and less than perfect. We’ve all been hurt by something or someone. For some of us even our circumstances and environment have damaged our sense of perspective. Broken. That is how I would define it.
Our instincts are to fight the pain and adjust. Adapt. Sometimes we do this by avoiding the things, people or places that remind us of our brokenness. Most times we put on the fake-it-until-you-make-it mode that has been subtly engrained in us. You know what I’m talking about. We were enrolled into this mindset at an early age and now we’re instructors of the fallacy. “Get over it” or “You shouldn’t feel this way” are all well intended but don’t address the issue. That is why vulnerability is so liberating.
Indeed, if life and pain go hand-in-hand then vulnerability provides the calibration needed to measure both. To acknowledge a struggle or a painful memory to the point of sharing is to choose freedom. By doing this we can approach the future with hope. And when we do this we recognize that the freedom we experience is available to others . It is also the recognition that our story has power to impact the lives of people around us.
I often find myself looking at Jesus and the Bible as a compass for my own journey. In the case of vulnerability I see it best displayed when his followers accepted their shortcomings and simply acknowledged their place in God’s story. Paul was a great example of vulnerability. Yes, Jesus accepted him and provided him a purpose that ultimately changed his life. But not everyone was as welcoming. I just don’t think God’s story would be as beautiful without Paul’s past – the one who persecuted and killed Christians. It creates authenticity and it is the same with our story.
True vulnerability weights in the balance of opportunity. To have an impact we must recognize when to share our story, knowing that is is just a piece of something much larger. But instead of moved by fear we must share with courage knowing that our message can bring freedom to us and hope to others.
Finding my voice by being vulnerable
Growing up my dream was to tell stories that would inspire others. Look deep into the character of a human being and reveal the secrets behind his or her achievements. I first started looking at the historical figures of my own country – The Conquistadores. It later morphed into a passion for sports. The images I wrote in my mind came to life as I hoped for them to be my story. But it never happened. Yes, I experienced moments that still play like a Forrest Gump movie: in the midst of historical events I was somewhere in the story, just not center-stage. But then again, that was okay. The problem is that is distorted my voice.
Through the years I was told to conform and so did my narrative. It is no wonder I ended up looking at the corporate world as my new platform and public relations as the skill to master. The spin doctor in me recognized the way a message needed to be shaped, only to feel the brokenness harder to hide. It wasn’t until a youth group welcomed me in to their midst that I could feel comfortable in myself; my own skin. I was finally able to tell my real story.
Through the years I’ve never felt perfect or as the main cast member but I have felt whole. I might not have the craziest of stories but my life still includes frustrations, regrets and pain. No, it is not all loom and gloom but I am now just as comfortable with the dark side as I am with bright side of my story. There is no need to spin that.
In my life…
I experienced great loving parents as well as parents that didn’t accept my bride as the love of my life.
I created great friendships but was hurt by deceiving company.
I spoke with authority for others but shrieked when bullied.
I have lead with confidence but experienced the pain of demotion.
I loved well in public but failed in private.
In recognizing my shortcomings I have been able to be truer to myself and become a better man, a better husband, a better father, a better son, a better brother, a better worker, a better leader and a better friend.
And besides findings my place in the story, I have found my voice.