Why is it so hard to be vulnerable? Is it because we worry about what other people will think of us? Is it because we feel we have to project a certain persona or way of being? Is it shame, embarrassment or pride? It may be all of those things at any given time.
Did you ever stop and consider the positive aspects of being vulnerable? I have found that when I share things that I have experienced in life with others that it helps them to see that they are not alone in experiencing the same things. For example, I have been through a divorce. It was not something I ever planned or that I saw coming. But when people are going through a divorce and I share my story, women in particular, can see that there is life on the other side of the valley in which they now find themselves. My story gives them hope and courage to keep taking the baby steps into their new future.
I am a breast cancer survivor and while every single cancer journey is unique, people can still relate to my experience and find the courage they need to keep going to deal with treatments, changes to their bodies and life post-cancer.
My father suffered with dementia for five years. This is a cruel disease and I would spare anyone this journey, but my family and I had to walk it. We finally had to make the very, difficult decision to move him to a nursing facility where he spent the last 9 months of his life. The day we moved him was the absolute worse day of my entire life.
Yet this experience too is of help and value to others dealing with the same thing with their parents or other loved ones.
I have had financial struggles. I have been a single mother. I have an estranged brother. I struggle with my weight and there is more I could share. We all have stuff. We all have problems. Let’s face it none of us gets out of this alive and along the way the road can be quite bumpy. However, I believe that the pain I have experienced and the hardships I have endured have all impacted who I am today. They have made me the strong person I am today.
Each one of these experiences can now help others. As Paul says, “3 Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves.” In other words, don’t let shame, pride, embarrassment, or the façade you need to present to others keep you from being vulnerable. By having the courage to be vulnerable you can help others.
Your lived experiences can help others to realize that they are not the only ones going through whatever their situation is. Seeing that you survived it gives others hope that they too can get to the other side. You have to be willing to share your pain and hardships with others. That takes humility, it takes courage. Will you be courageous and allow yourself to be vulnerable so that others can benefit from your life experiences? That is one way to love others and help each other do life together.
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, help us to remember that we are all made in your image and are equal in your eyes. Grant us the courage we need to be vulnerable so that in sharing our lives we can uplift and give hope to others. Amen. Rev. Dr. Debra A. De Vos, Pastor, Trinity Church, Hackettstown