For a big portion of my life, I was dishonest to both myself and to others. I was so focused on shoving any negative emotions down that I never allowed myself to truly feel pain.
The pain of death, the pain of divorced parents, the pain of practically any life experience that hurt – I shoved deep down inside of myself. I lived life numb. I turned off my pain receptors and was “strong” for myself and for everyone else around me.
This next sentence was a revelation: vulnerability goes so much deeper than simply allowing yourself to TALK about the hard stuff. It is allowing yourself to feel it, too.
I never gave myself the freedom to actually “lose control” and embrace pain. I would be sad for a little while, but would quickly tell myself, “Enough is enough,” only because I’d get tired of feeling the negative emotion. I would cry for as long as I deemed necessary, but only when I chose to.
I constantly tried to control and limit the depth of my pain.
A short backstory: I used to highly value looking like I was put together. I was the “strong” one. Even when life got hard, I was the person who could carry on, regardless of anything. Looking back now, I realize how I allowed my insecurity of looking weak to steal life from me.
False strength stole the intimacy of being vulnerable, and the closeness it fostered in relationships.
I even allowed it to steal my dependence on God. I was too busy being “strong”, instead of relying on him to carry me.
More recently, I came to the realization that I have lived the majority of my life half alive, numb to pain – all because I believed allowing myself to feel pain was bad. It made me weak, somehow.
Lately, I’m discovering it’s actually the complete opposite.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
God loves broken people, and he loves being glorified in our weaknesses.
It’s completely selfish that I haven’t allowed this healthy emotion – pain – into my life. I’ve lost a lot of opportunities where I could have relied on God instead of trying to do it all myself.
Even though being vulnerable may make me feel cut open, wounds bleeding and scars showing, I know it is necessary. God is best glorified in my weakness. And as I find the courage to feel, I can see God working for me, not against me.
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
By walling off pain, I was denying myself the comfort God brings through mourning.
Dear Reader, if you’ve had similar struggles – please know that it is okay to cry, even when people can see you. Chances are, those same people want to be there to comfort you, love you, and support you. It is okay if we don’t have our lives put together. We aren’t called to perfection; we are called to live in complete abandon for Christ.
It’s also okay if you don’t know how to explain your feelings. I encourage you to just take the first step, and allow yourself to feel.
Feel the ugly, and feel the brokenness. Be completely honest with yourself. Allow the tears to come. Let your walls come down.
In these feelings of “weakness”, God can create intimacy.
In these feelings of pain, God can create dependence on Him.
In not having your life put together, you can witness to other people who don’t have their lives put together, either! Let your brokenness be your testimony for God.
I am weak, because God is my strength.
I am not perfect, because He is the only one who can be.
I am not independent, because I am DEPENDENT on the One True King – and in this, I am free.
I am free from the fear of judgement. I am free from the standards of my own mind. I am free from the guilt, the shame, and the perfectionism!
In Christ I am free. That my strength. That is what I will lean on.
2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”