She tried her best that morning to cover up the hurt. The mask of self-sufficiency clearly indicated to everyone she passed that she was probably ok. No one bothered to ask how she was really doing, and if they did, she’d have answered, “Fine.” She didn’t want to bother someone else with what had gone on in her life. Her trail of doubt and fear was evident to some, but still, no one pushed through to remove the mask. Would they accept me if they knew? Her daily walk of hurt was well tread and became familiar like an unwanted door salesman; she answered because it persisted and no one told her any other way of how to deal. She went home that evening, alone, tossed her keys on the apple crate by the door, and dropped in fatigue onto her well-worn couch; still carrying the weight of pain.
In our society, we often interpret vulnerability as weakness. Someone tells you something they are going through and immediately our thoughts can run hay-wire on how we think they should make things better in their lives; what they could’ve done to prevent said weakness.
Why be transparent when you can, and should, appear strong? Like you have it all together?
Our technology-based world has made it very easy for people to hide behind a gadget or screen, when deep down we are all crying out for tangible, heartfelt relationships. The kind that we can be real, and it’s still okay. Vulnerability and transparency creates connection. Yet the Pinterest society we dwell in tells us that if we APPEAR okay, then everything will BE okay. Eventually. We’re trumped by our own misguided attempts at connection.
So what creates an atmosphere for vulnerability and transparency?
I-accept-you-for-where-you-are-at kind of love.
The I-don’t-care-what-your-past-is kind of love.
The let-me-walk-with-you kind of love.
For a few years, love has been on my mind. Not because I’m waiting for Mr. Right For Me, but because there has been a resounding cry in my heart that there is more than what this world tangibly offers. There is more than our day-in-day-out attempts at fulfillment. God has created us for relationship. With Him, and with others.
Last fall a group of ladies and I studied the Joyce Meyer book, ‘Reduce Me To Love’. It was transforming. Uncomfortable. And made us all realize how selfish we really were. As we shared our hearts and our weaknesses, there was a beautiful connection that formed between us because we had been real. As Christians, our greatest commandment is to love God and love people.
1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I can be critical in my heart. I can tend to look at a situation and think exactly what the person should’ve done differently to avoid it. Yep, real constructive Way to go, Lani! God is working on that in me and I’d like to think I’ve seen progress. This is me, being transparent. My desire is to intentionally and daily love and accept people where they are at, serving them in a way that would honor and please Jesus.
As I sat with my coffee and books this morning, my thoughts turned to vulnerability and how it creates connection. If we loved people where they are at, and intentionally lived with the heartbeat of love, then our society could transform. Pressures of performance would cease, and we could relax and be real, letting God do the work that needs to be done in us because we’re in a real relationship with Him. Rather than wearing masks, we could be transparent with those closest to us; creating the connection that everyone desperately longs for.
And it would be okay.
My hope is that at the end of my life, it won’t be said of all the things I did or accomplished, but simply, that I loved others with all my heart.
Is there someone in your life that you can be real with today? Is there someone that you can be that heartbeat of love for?
Lord, reduce me to love.