on vulnerability.

I recently had a talk with the man I am dating about how I was feeling vulnerable and didn’t want to think I was the only one in this boat. He bravely opened up and made himself vulnerable in response to my letting my guards down. So today I googled “vulnerability” and “dating” and a list of articles popped up. One of them was “Being Vulnerable and Increasing the Attraction”. I didn’t even click on the link.

When did being vulnerable become a game we play at to entice someone? To manipulate them into liking us?

Brené Brown says this of vulnerabililty –

Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process.

So if vulnerability is about trusting someone…isn’t it counterintuitive to use vulnerability in such an untrustworthy way? I don’t want my vulnerability to be a tool to lure a guy in. I want it to be a gift I share the more I feel safe with someone.

Over one phone conversation he mentioned that he feels we are in a stage where we are building a safe place to share and be vulnerable and get to know each other. A couple of nights ago I told him that everytime I shared something with him, he responds with such graciousness to where I feel like our safe space is expanding and we can talk about more vulnerable or intimate topics. I am slowly learning to trust him and feel safe sharing pieces of myself. It’s something I am grateful for and would never want to cheapen by “using” my vulnerability. I just want to BE vulnerable with him. Because he makes me feel like I can.

vulnerability

*In the midst of all this anxiety and feeling all the feels…I need to say…I am so grateful to God for this whole…whatever this is. i’m just grateful God decided to take me on this journey with this man. I’m keeping things in check but at the same time hopeful about where this might go.

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of milestones and men.

2014 was a year of EPIC realizations. As I recall everything that happened over that year it feels like a veil has been lifted. In hindsight I see the fingerprints of God over all the good and bad experiences I went through. I see how God has been hemming me in to a place of surrender, to a place of brokenness, and a place of submission. So today I wanted to take some time to write down exactly how my life has changed and list the milestones I had in 2014.

The year started with me being fed a different view of Christianity. I read a book by Mike Erre titled “The Jesus of Suburbia”. It rocked me to my core. I realized that I had missed the whole point of Christ – of his movement. It wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about being a better person, or the 5 steps to being happy as a single, or how to be a better employee. I was ministering to the healthy and completely ignoring the sick. I was treating my fellow image-bearers as “less than”. It was mortifying to be faced with the ugliness in my heart. And it was also humbling and freeing to accept it and allow God to change me.

I started to explore this “radical” view of Christianity more. I was started reading books about Christians who had given up everything for the sake of the gospel. For the sake of being able to serve God and His kingdom by loving the “least of these”. I grew dissatisfied with the church I was attending. I looked around and saw the focus on small groups and ministering to other Christians override the mandate to reach a poor and broken world. I grew angry when I heard fellow Christians talk about isolating and separating themselves from less than desirable people – y’know, those people who curse, smoke, drink, have sex, lie, cheat, and steal. I grew frustrated when I heard my guy friends talk about women’s bodies and whether or not they “looked good” standing next to each other. I hurt for women when I heard men say that because they were “damaged” in some way, they would not be considered as prospective life partners. I grew confused when I realized that no one wanted to rock the boat. People didn’t want to confront or convict. Rebuke was nonexistent. It was all mildness and meekness and no change. I looked around me and thought…is this Christ? Is this Christianity?

I grew angry with myself. Because I am that person. Who will choose to ignore the less than desirable human in favor of the one that readily receives my love. I am that person who will judge another based on appearance or past circumstances. I am that person who will not speak up in favor of keeping the peace. I am that person who will try to sugarcoat a friend’s sin so I don’t run the risk of losing them. Plank, meet splinter.

I moved to a new church. I heard a lot of things that made me uncomfortable. I learned about being passionate but being compassionate. I learned that I was not too much because I felt strongly about certain things. I learned I could be mad at God. I learned I could have different convictions and not worry about being condemned or secretly judged. I am learning to do all those things for others.

I started to become dissatisfied with my job. Prestige, power, travel opportunities, a huge paycheck…I had it all. And it left me hollow and empty. It did not satisfy. It did not ease the ache of emptiness in my heart. I started to take personality tests. I learned that I was an ESFJ – a caregiver. As an ESFJ I am a people person. I derive great joy and satisfaction from being able to help and serve others. I am also extremely organized and love to create order. This was a shock to me – I knew that my job did not fit my design as a person.  I started contemplating other options. Perhaps I could go back to school and start a new degree. Perhaps I could study to become a counselor or psychologist. I applied to several schools in other countries. I received acceptance letters from most of them but have yet to hear back regarding financial aid.

I felt compelled to get my 2nd tattoo. I realized I was in the throes of major life realignment and needed something to remind me to be brave. I thought about it for a month and got a line from an encouraging worship song tattooed on my back. I felt God was clearly speaking to me that He was going to be taking me “deeper than my feet could ever wander”.

I began to feel overwhelmed with everything God was revealing to me. I felt like my life and everything I had known was spinning out of control. I fell into a deep depression (which I am still struggling with today). For the first time in 5 years, since my last bout with depression, I contemplated suicide. I trusted only a few close friends with this knowledge. My oldest friend was a rock of support for me. I saw Jesus over and over again in her. I also trusted other close friends. Some really came through for me. Others let me down. They seemed to give up on me and stopped investing their time in me, all the while promising to pray for me. I opened myself up to new people. Unexpectedly they were there for me. I learned a thing or two about making new relationships, deepening friendships, pruning relationships, letting go of friendships, and forgiving people. 

I opened up to my parents about my depression. I told them of my fear of losing control over my life. Of the idols I had put in my life to replace God. How my identity was so rooted in my career, my position, my apartment, my paycheck. I was so tired of feeling fearful and striving for control all the time. I wanted to give everything up so I wouldn’t be afraid of losing everything anymore. I worried I would not make sense to them. My parents gave me their full support. My mom told me that if I had to spend everything to find myself and be happy, then I should do it. I knew it was a miracle.

An opportunity to become certified as a counselor came up. I felt a strong pull on my heart to pursue it. I didn’t have the money. My counselor committed to praying with me for financial aid. She also is trying her best to help me obtain a work/study agreement with the program director. While I was thinking about this opportunity I also started to wrestle with the idea of leaving my job permanently, taking a hiatus to take the counseling program and then work and serve at churches and charities/nonprofit organizations for a couple of months. Again, the issue of finances reared its ugly head. God began opening doors. My friend and her husband offered to pay for a pair of tickets. They offered me a place to stay. Another friend offered me another place to stay for a time.

I took a trip out of the country to get my head straight. I was able to remove myself from worry and anxiety for a couple of days and just enjoy myself. On this trip I even managed to develop a deeper relationship with my brother and see my sister in another, more positive light. I met with a dear friend who encouraged me saying “I know this is going to hurt, but I’ve never seen you so close to where you should be before.”

Slowly but surely God was opening doors. And I grew more terrified. I wrestled with God in the mornings while I would sip milk tea, eat a chocolate bar, and do my devotions. He kept bringing me verse after verse on the importance of losing my life for the things that mattered, how important it was to be humble and vulnerable before Him, to give Him control, to not worry about the obstacles in my path. I kept insisting for a grander and bigger sign. One day I felt a peace and a confirmation that I had to do it. I had to leave my job, trim down my life, and seek Him. I had to pursue a different dream – one that is in no way fleshed out but requires inordinate levels of faith and trust in Him.

For now, this is where my story ends. Me standing on the edge of something bigger and greater and unimaginable. Petrified that I am doing something incredibly foolish and irresponsible. Terrified of being homeless, hungry, and most of all…useless. Trying to push back the doubts and trust God.

January 2015.

Honeycomb

TRUTH THURSDAYS 5: WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?

I’m reminded of the story of Moses, who God called to set the his people, the Israelites, free.  We have 2 whole chapters in Exodus of Moses basically hemming and hawing and trying to get out of doing what God had instructed him to do.  He was scared, insecure, and completely lacking in any confidence – in himself and more importantly, in God.

God countered every excuse Moses gave him:

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

“I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

 

“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

“I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

 

“What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

“If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign [staff becoming a snake], they may believe the second [hand becoming leprous]. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”

 

“I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

“Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute?Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

 

“Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

“What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.”

 

Aren’t we just like Moses sometimes?  So unwilling to do what God has commanded, full of disbelief that we are even capable of doing the things He wants us to do.  Doesn’t it ever occur to us that if God asks us to do something He will most certainly enable us to carry out his commands?

God calls us to bless and give and love extravagantly beyond our resources.  He calls us to a place of utter reliance on Him.  We don’t need anything in our hands to be able to do God’s work.  in fact when Jesus sent out the disciples he told them to “take nothing for the journey”.  To quote Francis Chan’s Crazy Love –

“Jesus was forcing His disciples to trust Him.  God would have to come through for them because they had nothing else to fall back on.  This place of trust isn’t a comfortable place to be; in fact, it flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught about proper planning.  We like finding refuge in what we already have rather than in what we hope God will provide.  But when Christ says to count the cost of following Him, it means we must surrender everything.  It means being willing to go without an extra tunic or a place to sleep at night, and sometimes without knowing where we are going.”

What’s in my hand?  Does it matter?  I’m not looking anymore.  There may be something.  There may be nothing.  But regardless, that’s more than enough for my God.

confettihands

TRUTH THURSDAYS 1: I AM HERE

starscliff

“I’m standing on the edge of me
I’m standing on the edge of everything I’ve never been before.
And I’ve been standing on the edge of me
Standing on the edge

And I’m on fire
When You’re near me
I’m on fire
When You speak
Yeah I’m on fire
Burning at these mysteries”
-On Fire, Switchfoot

This is my heartsong. It seems I’m always trying to race after who I could be. Who God wants me to be. And it seems I’m always tiptoeing the line, dipping my toe in the water, suspended in time. I want to cross over, to jump/run/dive in. Except I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to dive in to. And then when I ask for direction, I don’t hear what I want to hear. I hear things like “You are in a fog but God will give you just enough light for the next step” and “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” (that’s Romans 12:1, MSG). You mean to tell me I’m supposed to keep circling this issue? I pray about it till I’m blue in the face and all I get is “wait”? Doesn’t God want me to be living up to my full potential – in the job he has planned for me, one that will utilize my passions for his glory? With the right man, with whom I can serve him better that I could as a single? All these questions. They’re exhausting.

 
Maybe that’s where God wants me to be. A place of exhaustion. Where I’m so bone-weary-tired that I stop fighting for control (because let’s face it, I am a control freak) and surrender. Finally embrace the lessons of patience and trust He’s been trying to teach me. One thing I can say with absolute certainty – God is a master strategist. He knows exactly how long and how slow He has to go to get you where you need to be. I look back over the last 4 years and I see how he has been so patiently bringing the same issue to light over and over again. I’m amazed at my stubbornness. 4 years to learn ONE lesson. I want to smack myself upside the head. Lesson’s not over though, and maybe this time, I’ll finally get it. At least I hope so, because as I said before – I’m exhausted.

 
This is what I’m learning now. Paraphrasing my pastor – Be content. Contentment doesn’t mean settling. It’s still moving forward. Contentment is FOR THIS MOMENT – being FULL, but moving forward. The secret to contentment is CHRIST. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. When I am weak, I can still DO (through Christ). Whether I am rich or poor I can still DO (through Christ). Whether I am married or single I can still DO (through Christ).

 
I’m still asking my questions. But I’m trusting in the answer-giver. Not in the answer. Maybe I can learn to finally just BE HERE. On the edge of me or otherwise.

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

Recently someone came back into my life after a year of radio silence. (yes, this person is a he and yes, we did have some romantic history). Cautiously, or maybe not so cautiously, we started talking again. 3 weeks later we admitted we still liked each other but the distance remained an issue. A year ago, this is what kept us from progressing – the distance problem. We both had taken time to pray about our situation and we both found different answers. He felt like God was telling him to let me go as we would not be able to “walk together”. I felt like God was telling me that He could make the relationship work, and that nothing was too difficult for him. I have to ask myself if I projected my own desires into my prayers or if I really heard from God.

Fast forward a year later and we’re almost back where we started. I can feel myself remembering all the reasons why I liked him. I can feel him doing the same. Then suddenly…the slow fade. I can feel him distancing himself. The IMs begin to lessen. The messages become more cryptic, more general, more “friendly” and less “flirty”. I get an IM saying he will continue to pray for clarity about the situation. I never asked him to define the situation. I told him I didn’t want him to feel pressured, that if we just remained friends it would be fine with me. But all this talk about possible relationships has left my emotions unguarded yet again. I feel this anxiety, this tension…I want things to be different this time around. My conversations with God are all over the place. From “it’s been a year Lord! surely this means something? maybe this means that he’s changed and has realized I’m not someone he should let go” to “we already can see where this is heading. If he really wanted to be with you, he would be IMing you more often and booking plane tickets to see you”.

fog

I haven’t been handling the anxiety very well. I’ve been depressed/angry/sad about the situation and just haven’t been trusting God in general. If I’m honest with myself, I’ll admit that I don’t trust God to change him or to speak to him. I don’t trust that God has been working in his heart the past year. Why is that?? Certainly God has been working in my heart. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so hurt by men recently that I find it hard to believe that they can change. God, where did this bitter person come from? The sadder thing is that I don’t trust God to provide a husband for me. My love life has been in a perpetually cloudy season and I can’t see past the fog. But shouldn’t I be trusting that despite the fog/clouds/impaired vision (in the physical), the Lord is near? My prayer is that I would not cling to anything. But instead continue to offer everything to God. Whether he gives or takes away (or continues to take away). Whether he is pruning me and I don’t see the blessings that are just around the riverbend. (Pocahontas fans, I’m sorry, I had to, the analogy was just there!) I want to learn the lesson this time. I want to walk into (or away from) this with the right attitude. An attitude of trust. And faith. And joy in the Lord. Not joy in this man. It will be hard to do. DAILY, I wrestle with the tension and fear of losing something I want. It’s difficult and painful, but surely I can still honor God despite these pesky emotions.

 

What do you do when you can’t see past your nose?

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” – Phil 4: 4-5

That I would be that woman of God that rejoices in the midst of trial and change. That I would be that woman whose soul is overwhelmed and satisfied by Christ and Christ alone.