Vulnerability in an Independent World

RBP-16

Vulnerability, What does that mean, exactly? Basically, it means being open. Open to attack, open to criticism, opening our hearts to let others in. It’s risky. It’s a word we don’t like to be in our independent culture. We are taught at an early age to be independent, to find a job, move out on our own, to live our own lives. We are taught that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us. We are taught to hide our true feelings.

I grew up in the same town, the same house, for the first eighteen years of my life. I couldn’t wait to leave home and make my own way. I was convinced that was the way to happiness. I was not an unhappy child, but I wanted to be independent so fiercely. I had things to do and see and the whole world was at my fingertips.

I finally graduated from high school and was able to move away for college! I was so nervous and excited at the same time! While I didn’t move too far away (just 4 hours), it was far enough, for the moment.  Ironically, as independent as I wanted to be, I probably cried for the first week of my college life. I was so homesick that I went home once a month for the first semester (plus I did not have any clean clothes to wear!  Thanks for doing my laundry mom!).

Fast forward to college graduation! Once again, I was anxious to live on my own, live in my very own apartment, pay my own bills. What I wouldn’t give now to have my daddy pay my bills now! Sigh….

Clearly, I achieved the independence I wanted. I treaded the waters of college successfully, made some incredible friends and learned some new perspectives on life. I had the opportunity to study in Europe and backpack across that great continent!  I had the opportunity to travel to Africa, where I spent six weeks working in a hospital helping the men, women, and children of Tanzania. I learned more in those six weeks about being content with what you have than I ever had in my young life.

Right after college, I moved to a big city and had a small apartment where I could walk to work, coffee shops, and more.  That was everything I had dreamed of at that point of my life!  I was a grown-up.  I lived by myself for five years before I married my hubby (I did have a roommate for about a year or two). And I loved every minute of it (well, maybe not every minute, but I was content). I worked twelve hour night shifts, so I did many things alone: went to coffee shops, grocery shopping, mall shopping, ate alone at restaurants (though that was mostly fast food).  I even went to museums, church, and movies by myself (though those were not my favorite things to do by myself).

All of the above has helped shape me to be the person I am today and has served me well when I needed to be independent.  That stage of my life taught me how to do things I needed to be able to do by myself (pay bills, budget, change a tire, though, ashamedly, I have probably forgot that by now), check my oil, etc.  I would not change any of my life experiences.

BUT, I spent so much time learning to be independent, I forgot what Jesus teaches about vulnerability.  I  fought vulnerability so much that I forgot that God made us to need each other. He made us a part of a whole. We forget that we Christians (and women especially) are supposed to be on the same team!

"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of only one member, but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose. If we all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, thee are many parts, yet one body."

1Corinthians 12: 12-20

Jesus knew what it meant to be vulnerable. He knew what it meant to be alone, even with crying and screaming and gossiping crowds around him, even when he was constantly being interrupted. He knew what it meant to be criticized, laughed at, and beaten down. He knew what it meant to be exhausted but not sleeping. He knew what it meant to be talking and not heard. He knew what it meant to be vulnerable.

"And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well", And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in imself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his discipes said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you and yet you say, "Who touched me?" And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." 

Mark 5: 24-34

What if, like in this story, we were not afraid to ask for help or reach out to touch somebody? What if we remember we are on the same team? That life is bigger than we are. Life is bigger than the busy season of sleepless nights, potty training, temper tantrums, wiping runny noses, and dirty bottoms.  This life is bigger than deadlines and all night study sessions and early morning classess. This life is bigger than sibling rivalry, living under your parents rules, and not being able to vote or drink or smoke (at least legally).

This life is about living life together. Let’s challenge ourselves to let our lives be about helping each other cherish the moments. Let’s learn from each other, be willing to be vulnerable and call on God and each other.

We are on the same team, and better yet, God is on our team. We cannot fail!

Know that you do not have to do it all by yourself!

Please share!

 

I Don’t Deserve Your Friendship

So many great friends in one picture!
So many great friends in one picture!

I don’t deserve to be your friend.  Chances are I will not be fully focused on you, especially if I have my child with me. I will probably forget your birthday or forget to tell you how much I appreciate you. I may never call you or return your text messages or voice mail.  My house will not always be clean when you come over. I will say again and again that we need to get together and then forget to follow through. It is not my intention to be a bad friend, for I greatly value your friendship.  Know that I am always striving to be a better friend to you.

I have had some great friends in my life and still do. I don’t know why; because like stated above I am not always a good friend. I try, oh how I try. It probably doesn’t seem like it when I ask you for the fifth time when your birthday is or what your husband does for a  living, or even what your husband’s name is. But I do value your friendship.  I believe we have friends at all stages of our lives for diferent reasons. Some friends are only there for a brief second like the friend you meet in the store with a kid the same age.  While you were both shopping, they were able to entertain each other. Or like the friend at the park whose kid generously shared with yours out of the blue. Their friendship meant a great lesson for your child or prevention of a meltdown in public.  Then there are the friends who are there for a season, some of these are college friends who you lose touch with or the one friend you studied with in the one class you had together. Some of these for me are friends from the church camp and girl scout camps I attended as a teenager. I have great memories of those friendships, the laughter, the pranks, the singing, playing ping pong, or swamping the canoe. Many of those friendships have passed on from my life, but played an important role in my life at the time.  Then of course there are the friends who come into your life and never leave, and they become your family. Even if you don’t talk to them everyday or even every month, you know they are always there for you and that they would give you the shirt off their back.  I would like to introduce you to two of these such friends in my life.

The first one I have known my entire life. We were supposedly friends when we were tots. She is my lifetime friend.  And while we are not as close as we once were, I know she will always be there for me and I hope she knows I would do the same.  And while we are both busy with our own lives in different cities and different states, she will always be a part of me, a part of why I am the way I am and what values I choose to teach my own children. She was the friend I could always be myself with and the one I shared my dreams with. The one who knew the perfect gift to buy, the one you could have a picnic in the backyard with. The one that you shared your coffee dates over the phone with.  The memories we have shared are too many to recount. Thank you Amy, for being my lifetime friend, the one I “loved like a sister” (LYLAS) and BFF.

The second friendship, was one that was never expected.  My friend, Connie, was my manager at the Chick Fil A when I was in high school. How many of you have become friends with a manager from a high school job?  I can’t say we were necessarily friends in high school (she was four years older than me, a big difference for a high schooler), but she is someone who I always had great respect for and always treated me with respect (in spite of my bad teenage attitude!) For some unknown reason, we kept in touch, even after I quit that job and went to college and she moved to a far away city.  I ended up moving to that very same city. She let me and a couple of my friends whom she had never met stay at her house during college interviews. Then, when I decided to move there, she helped me find an apartment, helped me find my way around.  That is where our friendship was truly sealed. She could not have been rid of me if she tried!  What kind of extraordinary person does that? We have been great friends ever since (even after living together which as we all know is sometimes detrimental to friendships). We live in separate towns now though close enough to visit fairly regularly.

For both of those friendships, I miss the days of seeing them on a daily basis. But, I have a feeling they will always be in my life and we will celebrate together in eternity.

I don’t deserve either of those friendships nor any of my other great friendships, of which all deserve an individual post. (Let me not forget my dear husband who is my greatest friend and partner, and my two sisters who I am lucky to also call friends).  Much like we don’t deserve Jesus’ friendship, He loves us in spite of our sinful lives.  He has done far more for us then we could ever repay. EVER!  It is because of Him that we are called to great friendships and great love.

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16

Because of Him, I remind you to open your mind to friendships you would have never expected.  I encourage you to be a better friend then I. God gives us different friends at different times in our lives that we need and that need us. We have to keep our eyes open so we don’t miss that treasure!  That is what I am working on right now, keeping an open mind for new friendships and not so quickly dismissing those that are different then me as a friend or one who needs a friend. Perhaps it is that person in the park you just met, or the work friend you keep at a distance, or perhaps even an older or younger friend.  There are no defintiions of what  friendship should be, except love. Jesus was a friend to all sinners. Often his friendship was not reciprocated, but he kept trying. He kept trying out of love and mercy. Never give up on friendship. A true friend is always worth the quest.

My question to you is how do you meet new friends? Whatever age you are, whatever stage in life, In what ways do you open your heart to new friends, and keep your heart free for old friends?

I will end with the words to one of my favorite songs: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xj4oukh8hY)

“We were made to love and be loved. But the price this world demands will cost you far too much. I spent so many lonely years just trying to fit in. Now I’ve found a place in this circle of friends.”

“In a circle of friends, we have one Father. In a circle of friends, we share this prayer. That every orphaned soul will know, and all will enter in to the shelter of this circle friends”

“If you weep I will weep with you. If you sing for joy, the rest of us will lift our voices too. But no matter what you feel inside, there’s no need to pretend. that’s the way it is with this circle of friends.

“Among the nations, tribes and tongues, we have sisters and brothers. And when we meet in heaven we will recognize each other. With joy so deep and love so sweet, oh we’ll celebrate these friends and a life that never ends.”

I pray that you will continue to be my friend. I will be taking an official break from my blogging to acquaint myself with our new baby boy and readjust to a family of four!  My official due date is September 3rd, so he could decide to meet the world at any moment!

Thank you for reading!