Vulnerability

From where I sat tonight, I enjoyed clouds, cooler weather, and a day when I’ve felt more me than I have in days – maybe weeks.

Summer heat gets me down, y’all.

So, here I sit on this cooler day finally enjoying myself – reading & writing, tending to my soul & spirit…contemplating many things, including relationships.

See, that date has become something…so, it means letting someone in…

I am so, so used to single life. In single life, I’m only responsible and accountable to me (to an extent).

I mean, it is my desire to bring my husband good all the days of my life (Proverbs 31:12) – but I’ve already failed, I’m sure. So, I try moving forward – that whoever he is will truly find good when he finds me as his wife (Proverbs 18:22).

But, I digress…

In single life, you don’t have to let anyone in.
You don’t have to be vulnerable and wonder if they can/want to handle it.
There’s always fear in vulnerability.

If you move forward with someone – there’s risk. You let someone into your pain, your mess, your darkness, your weakness, your faults – along with your joy, your celebration, your gifts, your passion.

Entering a relationship requires trust.

For me, a big area of vulnerability is this blog. My heart shared, post after post; and, there are questions that go with that:

  • What if “he” finds it?
  • What if he doesn’t like what he reads?
  • What if it scares him?
  • What if he doesn’t understand the struggle, the doubt, the darkness…?
  • What if I find myself to be too much or not enough?

Honestly, though, this openness & willingness to risk vulnerability is essential to any relationship – whether two weeks old or fifty years old (not that you should spill all day one, there are levels to this…)

We cannot connect with others without it – and, yes, at some point it will lead to conflict, disappointment, and misunderstanding. It’s what you do together to overcome that which will make the difference.

Just as you hope he/she will be that for you, this gives you a beautiful opportunity for you to be open & accepting of him/her in their darkness, weakness, struggle.

In doing this for one another, you find the beauty to overcoming this fear – you find a partner, a war buddy.

And, you discover someone who loves your heart: weakness, faults, and all. You discover someone you love: weakness, faults, and all.

So, do we fear vulnerability? Of course we do.

But, overcoming that fear leads to something we are all hoping to find in this life – and it leads to the kind of relationship & love that glorifies, honors, reveals, & represents God and His love for us.


I listen to a lot of [Christian] Hip-hop, and recently, there is a song that has worked it’s way into my heart. It comes along these lines so well. It deals with this kind of openness and vulnerability, from the perspective of the one being supportive and accepting, and loving. I want to share it with you, as it may be an encouragement to others, too (KB – Lights Go Out (ft. Blanca & Justin Ebach) – Reach Records):

Neighbor

We live in a world (at least in America) where we don’t get to know our neighbors anymore. We just each go about our independent lives, disconnected.

But, I try to say hi to any neighbor I see. My sister & I have made friends with the guys across the way, just by being willing to say “hey, how’s it going?”

I’m also really enjoying getting to know the family who lives above them.

Recently, God pulled on my heart in regard to them: for prayer & encouragement of them.

He’s a pastor of a small local church that God led him & his wife to begin. God called them to be shepherds to new people. I learned today that they don’t have a permanent church home base yet and they recently had all of their ministry stuff stolen (along with the trailer it was all in).

I didn’t know most of this when God was pulling on me to be in prayer & to be an encouragement.

But, here’s the thing – we don’t have to know the whole story if God is moving us to action. Our only responsibility is to act.

Whether at home or work or wherever, if God is moving you to pray for your neighbor, then pray.
If God moves you to speak life, then speak it. (BTW: He has already asked this of us, lest we forget.)
If God is moving you to bring a gift, invite someone to dinner, to care for someone, or whatever, then just do it.

We have nothing to fear (from our neighbors or anyone else) when we are walking in God’s plan for us. We have everything to gain by doing so.

And, moving in response to His call gets easier each time we do it.

Belong…

What does this even mean?
This is something I have struggled with so often – & how much of it is on me, how much on those around me?
Since I’ve been back, I know I have been embraced. Yet, so much is different…and, have I lost my belonging in my old home? Can I belong both places…and elsewhere?
God, I don’t even know anymore…
What I do know – it’s more than any one person or place.
And, it starts with knowing my identity in You & my place in Your Kingdom. That my life is temporary, but I’m meant to make the most of it…

This past weekend, my brain has not been kind to me. A dark cloud of hopelessness & doubt popped up & followed me, taunting me. For anyone who has ever struggled with a mood disorder or anxiety disorder, you probably understand this, for others, maybe not.

It’s not that this dark cloud is with me all the time anymore (I remember when it was. At times like these, I am amazed I survived those days. God’s grace, right there).

But, once a month, for a day or two (or five…), it returns. And, it takes all the strength I have to remind myself it’s all lies…Because my brain works overtime to remind me:

My overall biggest struggle since being home (really, one of my biggest struggles all my life…)?

Belonging…Where do I belong?

As a believer who never takes anything at face value, who has had many a faith struggle, and who also trusts & studies science/psychology, the church can be a dangerous place.

As a psychologist who is also a Christian, knowing God has created us so intimately & intricately, and He is the only one who brings true healing, the “real world” can also be a dangerous place.

I had a fantastic group to belong to in California, but in moving, kind of gave that up.

I have some amazing friends here, but we are not in the same place in life. They are married, most with kid(s)…and, I don’t even know where God is going to take me in the next 2-5 years…or who He’s going to bring along to go with me.

I  have a great workplace and co-workers I’ve learned a lot from…who all go our separate ways at the end of the day, because we are also in different places in our lives.

I go to a great church – that mostly feels like home. But, also, seems to have no real place for people like me: Single, career minded, & young-ish. I am getting involved in serving, but still struggle to find my place.

I guess, it’s hard for so many people…This knowing where to belong thing…

But, when I feel this way, it helps to remember that there is one place I will always belong:

In the will of God. He has chosen me; He has called me. And, I find my belonging when I answer…

This weekend, I felt so empty, so alone, and so disconnected. My brain was telling me all the old lies: there is no purpose…you are worthless…you don’t know what you’re doing…you are going to fail. BIG. You are so disconnected, and no one wants you around…
But, instead of wallowing, I forced myself to go to the church fellowship, engage in conversation, and gave myself permission to laugh. Because, if I truly have a desire to belong, I know that I have to put in the work.

Be open.

Answer the call.


 

This is my contribution to this week’s Tuesday @ 10, where the theme for this week is Belong. Let me know your thoughts on belonging…It can be a heavy topic. But, maybe, we can find belonging with each other, as we bear our hearts & share our journeys.

Encounters

I was originally hoping this would be part of Five Minute Friday, but I missed the link date…But, used the prompt anyway. Also linked up with this week’s Tuesday @ 10.

The prompts gleaned were: Favorite “I truly believe…”:

“The LORD your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with Love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephenia 3:17

The past two weeks I have been talking to my Sunday School class about encounters. Specifically – Biblical accounts of encountering God.

And, as I see the word “Favorite”, and the phrase “I truly believe”, I am again struck by now God continues to move.

Some of my favorite events in life are encounters (an un-expected meeting). Encounters with God and encounters with His people.

I truly believe that God still shows up for His people, and seeing Him at work this way is my absolute favorite.

Last Saturday, a brief encounter with a coworker who shared his faith story with me (including a story of his own encounter), bolstered me, and opened my heart to other encounters God set up throughout the week.

His brief story also prepped my heart for a God encounter Sunday morning. The kind I’ve been praying for, desiring, but not quite open to, for months.

You see, I believe God uses these encounters to remind us He hasn’t left. He is always with us. And, He desires us.

And, that, is my most favorite of all!

The Reality of the Single Friend

I have now missed 2 #WorkItWednesdays & a Lovely Sunday…But today I’m getting on track.

Wanna know what I’ve been doing with my life? It’s really no secret, I do what I want (ok, well, between working 30+ hours a week, going to school, & doing a practicum, a lot of stress comes from “what I want”)…But, really, the point is, I’m busting my butt following my dream.

When I’m not at work/school/practicum/any number of other commitments, I get to indulge in the Disney Channel shows, the girly flicks, the chick-lit books, working on art/writing projects…really, anything I want to indulge in (For instance, tonight, while I work on the blog & job applications, I’m watching 27 Dresses; which, sometimes feels like the story of my life…) If I want to go to the gym, I go. If I want to eat out, I do it. It’s actually quite wonderful, for the most part…

So often, single people (especially girls) complain when friends pair off/marry. Now they have no time, no money, they are always with so-&-so… Sound familiar?

The chasm of friendship seems to widen with kids.

Now, I know all this from experience…At nearly 27 years old, all my best friends are married, and as of this year, will all have kids. Life changes definitely put strains or distance on the friendships, whether you live in the same city, same county, or halfway across the country, the life change alone causes the distance…

And, single people often blame the pair. But, really, it’s a two way street.

Sure, it’s the life of the married friend that has really changed – in one direction. While the single friend grows – well, in a different direction.

As a single person, our interests verses those of our married friend can be so different. Of course, each person keeps their individuality, but as a single person vs a part of a couple interests are so different:

  • Singles are often still about the hunt – flirting & searching. As well as focusing on knowing who they are/what they want out of life. Meanwhile,
  • Married/Paired up friends are focused on – blending two lives, getting to know one another, balancing joint finances, bringing in kids.

Really, it’s all part of the progression of friendships. So often, I’ve seen people drift away, letting friendships fade into the background. Not always, but often. And, it’s sad.

But, when so many differences come up, how do we hold on to the friendship?

  • As the single person, it’s nice to give them their space. At some point the married friend will want space from their partner/kids…It’s inevitable. So, hold on to that hope 😉
  • On both sides, be willing to reach out. Communication takes two people.
  • If you have a friend who may be harder to connect with now, be wiling to go the extra mile (this is especially true for connecting with friends who are parents, they have a little more on their plate).

Some final notes:

If you are single, and notice that your friendship is drifting apart, don’t just blame them. Remember you have some “single person” interests your pal can’t/doesn’t share anymore. If that friend is important, hold on to the friendship. Put in the work. And don’t get hurt when/if you seem to always be the one who reaches out. Give them time to reach out as well. And, put yourself in their shoes. Remember how you feel in a relationship & how you may be if you had to blend a life with someone or begin having children.

If you are married, you may not notice the distance at first. But, please, don’t forget about your friends. They care about you, and I know you care about them as well. Don’t make them do all the work to keep the friendship. Reach out from time to time. But, also, be honest with them about your new reality, family plans, and family demands. And, as well, put yourself in their shoes. Remember what it was like to be single once friends started pairing off.

See, the reality of it all is the single friend has their own life, and it is often easier to hang out with single people. But, we can find support and community with our married friends. Friends we’ve always had and don’t want to lose from our lives. These friendships bring love into our lives and beauty into our world.