This post was hard to write, but I am so excited to share it with you. Vulnerability can be scary, but I’m discovering afresh how vital it is for deep relationship.
Let me be specific
About a week ago I lied to my wife. It was stupid. I’d done something careless, and when I found out about its consequences, I didn’t tell her for a few days. When she asked about how long I’d known, I felt ashamed that I’d hid it. I lied that I’d found out only a few hours earlier.
It was a split second thought but my insecurity got the best of me. I was scared that if she knew what I’d hid from her, she’d be angry and love me less.
I hate the fact that I am prone to lying. My selfishness and pride try to project this perfect image of “Ben the flawless” that requires lies to maintain. This flimsy mask that I put on protects my insecurities for the moment, but damages my relationships. It hides the part of me that I don’t think can be loved, and stops me from feeling fully understood.
A couple of days later, at bible study we were talking about the question “where have you been hiding lately?” (Maybe you’d like to reflect on that one yourself) and I realised that my need to look good and earn love, had put a wall up between my wife and I.
On a slight tangent, I also realised how unhealthily I’ve been spiritually eating lately. Last year I really awoke to this spiritual hunger inside me, I had heaps of buffets, and God led me to a real place of freedom in him. But this year I’ve been stuffing myself with junk food, Netflix has been getting way more view time than God has. My soul has been malnourished, and without realising, my identity has gone right back to worldly things.
I wrote a post a few weeks ago on weakness and vulnerability, but let me be real honest with you, I am often really bad at this stuff. When I’m unhealthy and in a place of insecurity, I hide. I put up masks or divert to others, and like I said above, sometimes I lie. It’s really hard for me to write that, because I fear that now you won’t trust me now. Writing that forces me to realise that I don’t deserve your love, respect or grace. But I kinda think that’s the point.
The most I’ve ever felt loved is when I realised I didn’t deserve it.
Maybe you guessed this already, but as I told Elana this the other night, she just sat there and loved me. She forgave me and asked how she could help me feel more secure in the future. Instead of seeing it as an opportunity to rebuke me, or take some kind of moral high ground (like I had feared), she lay down those rights and put my needs before her own. I’m a lucky man.
The best news
It’s refreshing to see this in human relationships, because it’s exactly how God treats us. Time and again we make choices that put walls up against our creator. Yet as soon as we vulnerably come back to him, he is eager to shower us with forgiveness.
If we keep our masks on, sometimes we might even fool ourselves that we’re awesome. But it leaves walls up against everyone. Walls that shut down deep relationships and, from my experience, feeling truly loved.
It would hardly be a blog post from me without a quote that’s changed my life.
Tim Keller: “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
Here’s a summary of a few things I’m learning from this experience:
- Slowing down and asking ourselves good questions, particularly in a community of people that love you, is a huge blessing.
- Vulnerability is scary, it’s an opportunity for pain, but without it, we miss out on love.
- Eat your spiritual veggies. As a child I hated broccoli, mushrooms etc. As I am growing in maturity, I’m finally seeing their worth, and they taste flipping delicious. Lack of soul care still creeps up on me! Discipline is a great way to avoid this.
- This is a big part of what weakness looks like to me