“I’m sorry, that was a lot” is a phrase I find myself suppressing a lot more recently. The difference is I actually used to say it out loud a lot. You’ve said it a lot too, and I’m not quite sure why.
Vulnerability is a gift God gives us, so it’s a shame when we apologize for it, for the way we’re created. And before you click out of this page because those lines sound like an excuse before I bear my heart to you and tell someone else’s secrets, keep reading. We can start with this: vulnerability is not posting your diary as your Facebook status, but it is some sort of beckoning for someone to come into the deeper parts of who you are. And I have to believe that’s similar to the invitation God gives us when He offers us a seat at the table. It’s holy in a way, to allow the light to hit some of the darker corners.
I know I’m not the only person to ever apologize for my vulnerability, but it’s worth mentioning. I’ve learned more about the Light when I’m buried in the shame than I could’ve ever learned when I was standing in the middle of a field in direct sunlight. Don’t get me wrong, we learn a lot about the Light when it’s directly on us and we’re dancing in it, but I have to believe we realize its power more when we know how it feels to stumble blindly through the dark. It’s a lot sweeter.
But then there’s that weird tension: but who can I trust? And my answer to you is I really don’t know. That’s a dance I’m still learning, and it awkward and messy and it’s never the thing you’d expect. Not just romantic relationships, though I’m sure that’s where your mind inevitably drifted. I’ve seen it in friendships, in work relationships, in people who have authority over me. In all of them, you experience at least little moments of, “Hmm maybe that was too much,” or, “Hmm maybe shouldn’t have shared that one.” But why? Because they’ll use it against you? Because you feel ashamed for the story? Because you didn’t want to form that bond and you did? Because you shouldn’t have shared the secret?
And I can tell you I’ve jumped straight into the fire more times than I can count, so it’d be easy to back off and spend the rest of my life dipping my toes in. It’s in the moments where I’m strongly considering that alternative where I am so struck by the beauty of the relationships I do have where we’ve gone deep and it’s been the best thing in the world, truly relationships where I get to see God’s Kingdom coming to earth. There are hardly words. Comfort. Security. Understanding more deeply what it means when God calls us friend. And even the ones that ended very painfully, how amazing that I’d get to know the deeper parts of a person and care so deeply? Did you ever believe we would be able to care so deeply for other humans, even in our brokenness? Imagine how much more God cares for you.
I think it’s in seasons packed with transition and processing that I find myself sinking back into those people pleasing tendencies, and it feels like every other thought is something like those moments not wanting to be vulnerable, or at least you’re overanalyzing every little piece: “Would this person approve? Would this person like this? Am I doing this the way this person would like it?” It’s daunting and it’s messy and it weighs on you. God invites us to lift the weight. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Nothing ill-fitting. I wonder what that feels like. And I don’t want to mistake the burden for a bad time. I am absolutely in love with this season. Head over heels for where God has me, but it’s in the mess where I let other’s opinion influence my perception. It’s sticky. But it’s also the place where the deepest truths get shouted the loudest, even when they’re being whispered, and I’m hearing a million other things. I’m learning what it looks like to dream really big dreams for the Kingdom of God, even in the mess and some cynicism and some darkness. The truth is prevailing, and it’s powerful.
But 11 months. That’s a long time to be in transition, and I know that God knew that when He moved me home. This has been a space of stability that I am in no business of taking for granted. First it was college graduation, moving into a house in Rome, quitting a job, accepting a job, learning hard truths, moving to Costa Rica for a couple months, accepting another job in Atlanta while down in Costa Rica, moving back to Rome, moving from Rome to home, starting the new job in Atlanta, starting another job in ministry at the same time, relationships coming and going and some causing turmoil in the midst of this, finishing the internship, finishing the job, starting a job, starting another job, starting at a new church, starting in a new community group, transitioning out of a job, transitioning into a full-time job, and dying my hair some sort of blonde, and I know there are things I’m missing because those are just things that came to mind in the 2 minutes it took to type that all out, and yes, I think I may have held my breath through that whole thing, wow.
So I’ve been to the game. I get the whole transition thing. Would you have believed me if I told you one of the hardest transitions for me a couple years ago was moving into a new office space down the hall from an old office when I worked in ministry in college? Welcome. Here is my humbling recognition of how far God has literally picked me up and carried me in these last 5 years. I used to hate change and let it wreck my world, sending me spinning off into this self-destructive sort of space. But now when I see the relationship status change on Facebook or I get that lapse in communication, it phases me a little less, which is good. It’s a process, and I’m by no means perfect at it. But I’ve seen it. Like a whole lot.
So God. He asked me to sit here, and I accepted. He asked me to learn the truth. Not only that, He asked me to learn the truth and sit to watch how it radically transforms my life, each one of my steps. It was a process, and I’m not comfortable with it every day. In fact, on most days when you ask me, I’ll still tell you about how much I hate the change even with the Light involved, but right now I’m more willing to sit in the seat He’s offered me. And I have to believe He’s pleased with me. He’s comforting me. He’s not manipulating me. He’s given me this seat under this shade, and it’s the most peace I have felt in years. And I have this unwavering belief that God’s going to come through exactly like He said He always would. Geeze. I never thought I’d write those words. And I’ve sort of got a few tears in my eyes as I write it. He is my Father. I do not wonder, if His plans for me are good, if He’ll come through like He should. He is provision and enough wisdom to usher in my brightest days, to turn my mourning into faith. I do not wonder. I trust. And He leaves me in awe and wonder and in a place of feeling incredibly beautiful because He’s the one who crafted me.
My motivation for you today in a nutshell: stop saying you’re going to do things and then not doing them. Do the thing. Buy the thing you’ve been saving up for (mine was a dream camera, and my wallet’s a little emptier or a little lighter, it’s all about perspective, right?) Kick the things off your to-do list that have been sitting there for a few weeks. Say the words you’ve been DYING to say. Have the first awkward encounter to make the next encounters a lot less awkward. Tell that person you love them. Tell that other person you care for them. Tell the person sitting across from you that you see potential in them and it breaks your heart. Say some words to encourage someone who needs to hear them. Maybe hold your tongue if you want to tell someone off. Make the time for running or punching a bag or lifting the weights. Sacrifice something today. Sacrifice something for someone else. Make your breaths a little deeper. Spend your coffee money on someone else. Write the words. Log out of all your social media accounts for 24 hours. Tell the truth. Tell all of the truth. Tell the truth even when you think it’d be easier to be quiet. Tell the truth when you’re afraid of the vulnerability. Tell the truth to save other people. Tell the truth because it’s time to call out the darkness when we see it for what it is. Tell the truth because that’s the only way the light’s ever going to get in.