It happens everyday. It’s what we do. We see someone and we ask, “How are you?” They answer, “I’m fine,” and then they ask us, “How are you?” We answer back, “I’m fine.” But are we fine? Are they fine? My guess is that many times the answer is, “no,” but we don’t feel safe in saying so. It would make us appear weak and vulnerable to admit that we are not doing “fine.”
Being vulnerable takes courage. In doing so we admit that we don’t have it all together, that things may not be as they appear. Being vulnerable is something I only recently learned to do. Somehow I learned as a child to put on a brave face, to give the appearance that “I’m fine” even when my world is falling apart. I learned to press on and make it look like I had it all under control. As an adult in the “second half” of my life, I have been working hard to unlearn that behavior.
Perhaps this revelation naturally comes with age; as I get older I become less worried about what people think of me. But I actually think that is too long to learn a lesson. Life would have been so much easier for me if I had been honest. There is real freedom to be found when we embrace who God created us to be and accept ourselves, “warts and all.” Part of what I have discovered in this process of unlearning is that I am the one who judges me and that other people are not nearly as judgmental as I am. In truth, others want to lift me up, encourage me—build me up, not tear me down.
There’s a song on the radio these days by Francesca Battistelli, “If We’re Honest,” that speaks to this challenge of being vulnerable. The song says, “I’m a mess and so are you. We’ve built walls nobody can get through.” I don’t think that’s what God wants for our lives. God wants us to be in community, to love one another. The truth is if we aren’t honest with one another about how we really are doing, then the love and mercy available to us when we experience authentic community is never discovered. That’s not God’s plan for our lives!
The song continues, “Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine ‘cause love can heal what hurt divides and mercy’s waiting on the other side, if we’re honest.” Having travelled this road, I wish I had not waited so long to be vulnerable. As the song says, “There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross.” Trust God, trust the love found in friendship and family and be honest.