Nov 22 2014

A Thought on Being Vulnerable with Less Nervousness

Published by under Life,Relationships

Five years ago, my brothers and I did a day-long endurance race – running and cycling around Nashville and doing mental challenges a la Amazing Race.

One of the events we came to was coffee bean counting. My brothers and I are not stupid. But for this event, we were.

The challenge was to count out 1,000 coffee beans. It took us forever. We were one of the first teams to arrive at the challenge, and we kept seeing teams leave before us.

Finally, we understood what we were missing.

There was a scale that was made available to us but we didn’t use it. Teams were counting 50 or 100 coffee beans and weighing them. Then they multiplied that weight by 20 (for the 50 beans) or 10 (for the 100 beans) and added beans to the scale until it weighed that number.

We made something relatively simple relatively difficult because we looked at the problem the wrong way.

My incomplete definition of vulnerability is “acting toward or speaking something to another person without knowing how they’ll react.”

We could be rejected. And that never feels good.

But here’s a different way to think about vulnerability.

Vulnerability is sharing truth with someone else.

Notice what that definition doesn’t include? Anything about a reaction from the other person. Vulnerability is about telling someone a truth. They may not like the truth you tell them but it doesn’t make what you say less true!

When we focus on the reactions of other people,  we imagine the worst. We focus on our fear and not the truth. We put ourselves in a prison, keeping our best and most valuable words locked away to wither. Fear of man is a lousy master.

Think about a few of the ways fear messes up our lives:

  1. Prevents you from telling some woman or man how you actually feel about them
  2. Prevents you from telling someone something really nice you believe about them
  3. Prevents you from telling someone about your faith or some other truth they really need to hear

When you speak, speak the truth – whether you’re talking about the capital of Nevada or the person who is the capital of your heart.

I don’t want to be heavy-handed, but by definition, not to share the truth is to lie. In a somewhat counterintuitive way, when we’re NOT vulnerable, we’re a bit dishonest to the truest parts of ourselves.

Recently, a good friend of mine took a big risk. She wrote a note to a guy she liked. At one time the guy had shown a lot of interest, but she wasn’t feeling it. So after a while, the guy moved on. Somehow, after 18 months, she ended up liking him and wrote him a short, poetic, beautiful, powerful love letter even though she was pretty sure he wasn’t interested anymore. But he was. And they’re dating now. And really happy to be with each other. All because he was vulnerable with her for months and she became vulnerable with him.

Open yourself up. Focus on the truth of what’s inside. Not the reaction on the outside. Be vulnerable.

Let life come through your mouth!

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Aug 22 2014

An Analogy to Describe Vulnerability

Published by under Life

God’s desire is that we all be on our way home. And that home is heaven.

But as we travel this road of life to heaven, we make deviations. We get involved in things we shouldn’t.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
_Proverbs 4:25-27

These deviations take us away from the path we’re supposed to walk. And they take us away from many of the people walking the “straight and narrow.”

Sometimes, other people drag us from the good road and from The Way.

When we talk about vulnerability today, what we’re really doing is not telling our story. We’re telling people, “Hey, it feels to me like I was (or that I currently am) a little bit lost.”

And the wobbly part of vulnerability is this: We ask people to meet us at a particular place. We tell them about a dark and scary land we’ve seen (or where we find ourselves) and we say, “Can you come meet me here?” Then we wait to hear their response.

When you’re vulnerable and tell someone else about serious things from your past or present, they might respond, “Hey, I need a couple days to think about my relationship with you.”

That delay can make our hearts hurt. It wasn’t the other person’s intent, but it’s an outcome.

How do I know all this? Because I’m living it right now. I told someone about a deviation that’s happened in my life and I’m waiting for them to tell me if they can meet.

I’ve realized these past couple days that it’s similar to asking a friend help you move. You’re asking them to go out of their way – to leave their path – and invest time with you. Friends sometimes say, “Give me a couple days to see if I can help you move.”

So we shouldn’t feel slighted or crushed when we share a sensitive thing about our life and people need time to decide if they want to come out. Many issues in life are a lot more serious than moving! The instant nature of our culture definitely doesn’t apply here. They don’t owe us an immediate answer.

If they decline our invitation, we can be disappointed. But what we CANNOT do is allow satan to speak rubbish to us and tell us that we’re worthless. That’s not the way it is.

If your friend can’t go out of their way to help you move, it doesn’t mean they hate you or that you’re a piece of crap. It only means they can’t make it.

The part that should hurt about being vulnerable isn’t that someone may decline an invitation to meet and that it somehow says something about YOU.

It’s that instead of missing out on a pair of hands to carry furniture for a single day, we’re missing out on a whole person – maybe for a long time. We experience it as rejection. It isn’t. It’s loss but not rejection. It just means that someone else doesn’t feel they can make it to where you are – that for their own internal reasons they can’t make the journey. Sometimes people can verbalize those reasons. Other times they can’t – either because they know the words and won’t say them or can’t find the words but just know in their gut.

In either case, it doesn’t say anything about the other person! It doesn’t mean THEY’RE weak or a piece of crap. It just means they can’t make it.

Here’s the good news. God can always make it. He’s always with us. Even in the darkest place. We only need to lift our heads and say, “God, I need you. Come meet me.” Over and over again in the bible, God comes to meet his people. Jesus went the furthest of ANY of us, coming from heaven to earth to meet us.

The Word became flesh and made his home among us.
_John 1:14

In the end, even people like me who are fiercely independent need others around us. Some of those people will know about our serious off-path wanderings. And those who come to meet us there may be the ones God intends to be in our life. What if he arranges some of this and knows who the right people are for us? If that’s the case, then we can trust that the people who come and go from our lives are the ones meant to be there!

In some ways, we ask a lot from people when we want them to come to us in the wilderness. We’re possibly asking them to come through mountains and oceans and deserts.

Whatever happens, there’s a genuinely great truth that I need to put first in my mind: I wander. I get lost. But I’m on my way home. That home is heaven. And God is asking ME to come meet him there!

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Aug 18 2014

The Four Stages of Light

Published by under Uncategorized

Try telling a little kid they’re really good at doing something. You’ll usually get one of four reactions: they could ignore you. Or say, “I know!” Or say, “I don’t think so!” Or say, in a surprised tone, “I AM!?!?”

Here’s something that Jesus told us that seems wild…

You are the light of the world.
_Jesus, Matthew 5:14

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Man.

It doesn’t feel like that to me very often. Previously in my life, I’ve just tuned out and ignored what Jesus said about being the light of the world.

At other times I’ve denied it and said, “Light of the world? I don’t think so.”

Occasionally, I’ve been shocked. “WAIT! You’re saying that _I_ am the light of the world? I am!?!?”

I want to leave these three reactions behind.

I hear what Jesus is saying, but I don’t know that I’ve ever internalized it.

I want to reach the place where Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” And somehow, I can say back, in a quiet, humble, confident tone, “I know.”

We ARE the light of the world. And thinking about that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t FEEL like the light of the world. I do a lot of really crappy stuff every day. How could I possibly be the light of the world?

It happens in the same way that we might say cars are fast. Technically, cars aren’t fast. They can’t move an inch on their own. They need fuel (gas or electric) to move. It’s the same with us and Jesus.

God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
_Colossians 1:27

Two things about this. First, see that Christ is now IN us! He’s like our fuel. Somehow he lives inside us through the Holy Spirit. So it’s really Jesus who is the light inside us. We’re supposed to be walking around with his light in us.

Second, there are parts of our Christian life we CAN’T explain. Paul says here, “this mystery, which is Christ in you.” It was a mystery to Paul about how Jesus could be in us! He couldn’t fully explain it. And some things we can’t explain either. Not just because we may not be the best theological thinkers but because it CAN’T be fully understood.

This mystery stuff makes me personally uncomfortable sometimes. Because it’s the kind of thing a cult might say – “Hey, don’t question this. You can’t know. It’s a mystery.” But it can also be true that it’s so unbelievably complicated and incredible that we can’t understand. After all, there are a PHENOMENAL number of things we don’t understand about the universe and stars and planets and black holes and pretty much everything else around us. These are incredible mysteries.

I want to hear Jesus tell me I’m the light of the world and somehow say, “I know.” And then go and do great things in our world because I have the confidence that comes with shining.

We. Are the light of the world. May God make us bright.

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Aug 17 2014

Where to Find Wisdom

Published by under Uncategorized

Andrew, wherever you’re confused today, don’t fret. There’s a voice calling out for you if you’ll listen. Ask for help in which way you should go.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
_Proverbs‬ ‭2‬:‭6‬

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