Someone Safe to Be Vulnerable With

This week I had the joy of visiting with a very creative friend. Society calls this friend, whom I find refreshingly real and delightful, “disabled.”

I prefer to not use the label “disabled” for anyone. It conveys a distorted and negative viewpoint. None of us are totally competent in every life’s capabilities. We all have a weakness of some kind.

A dictionary definition of disabled is “physically or mentally impaired, injured, or incapacitated.” Dictionary definitions of impaired include “1) weakened, diminished, or damaged and 2) deficient or incompetent”.

So, the truth is that in one way or another everyone is disabled. We might simply have impaired hearing, or impaired vision. Often, these “disabilities” can be corrected by glasses and hearing aids. Sometimes they cannot. Yet, wearing hearing aids is less acceptable than wearing eyeglasses? I wear both of them but for a long time—because I was embarrassed—I hid the fact that I wear hearing aids.

It’s interesting that we call people who have mental or physical weakness—yet have emotional or spiritual strengths—disabled and other people who have mental or physical strengths—yet have emotional or spiritual weaknesses—gifted.

In Andrew Root’s book review of The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost, by Donna Freita (CT; March 2017, pp. 57-59), he asks this question: “Has social media created a generation of young adults who can’t confess weakness and need”?

Freita contends the “drive to look perfectly happy” is the greatest dangers of social media. She claims that this practice is worse than bullying, stalking, and sexting.

I’m not downplaying the impact of bullying, stalking, and sexting; these are dreadfully destructive practices and must not be tolerated. Could it be, though, that the pressure for perfection and the fear of vulnerability add fuel the former practices?

If we can’t confess weakness and need, if posting a negative comment about ourselves or talking about a personal struggle can result in censure and disapproval, if feeling unhappy or failing in some way is “sin” and, in shame, we up the fact of our imperfection and struggles, reality becomes blurred. 

Fearing the consequences of vulnerability, we end up rewriting history—the world’s and our own—so that it reflects only that which is uplifting, beautiful, and victorious. Sometimes this is the applauded the “Christian” thing to do. To me it lacks authenticity.

I’m all for having appropriate boundaries; it’s not necessary or wise to share painful or shocking details of our lives on public media. But everyone needs a safe somewhere and someone with whom they can be vulnerable.

There is a person like that who is available to all of us 24/. His name is Jesus Christ. This is his invitation “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT).

I have found my friend “upstairs” entirely safe. 


My Friend “Upstairs”

There’s almost always something
To stir up fear and doubt.
There’s almost always something
I can cry and fret about.

There’s almost always someone
Who has an ache or pain.
There’s almost always someone
Who rubs across my grain.

There’s almost always somewhere
That I have missed the mark.
There’s almost always somewhere
That I’ve stumbled in the dark.

Now, I can take those somethings,
Those someones, and somewheres–
And I can think about them
Until I plunge into despair.

Yes, I can think about them
Until my stomach’s filled with rage
Until my heart is pounding
Like some tiger in a cage.

Or, I can take those somethings,
Those someones, and somewheres,
To a friend I have who listens
To a friend I have upstairs.

Who never is too busy
Who never needs to sleep
Who accepts me when I yell
And accepts me when I weep.

All those heavy somethings,
Someones, and somewheres,
Somehow lose their grip
When I tell my friend upstairs.

6 thoughts on “Someone Safe to Be Vulnerable With

  1. Wow! This is so timely and so true. We desperately need to remember that none of us is perfect and that is really ok. We need to remember that we really are weak and only in Him can we be strong. Best of all, we can do all things in Jesus.

    Thank you for sending this.
    Debbie

    • Thank you for commenting, Debbie. Yes, in Jesus we can be strong. I love the verse of the old hymn that my grandmother used to sing (“Just a Closer Walk With Thee”), which remind me that “I am weak but you are strong”.

    • Thanks Judy! I agree. Weaknesses can teach us to be strong, if we don’t get so focused on them that we get discouraged.

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