I learned something about myself last week. I am only comfortable with vulnerability when it doesn’t threaten my appearance of self-sufficiency. In other words, I want to be truthful without coming across as needy. I have no problem admitting to a struggle I used to have. But admitting to one that I am still struggling with…that’s a whole different thing. I can point to my scars with confidence, but still find it unbearable to expose my open wounds.
When I wrote a blog on criticism (this is the last time I’ll mention it, I promise), it was met with a flood of kindness and affirmation. And also a bit of concern and worry for me. It was the concern that I struggled with. It was hard enough to write the blog I’d written, but to then be helped…that opened up a whole new level of vulnerability.
My knee jerk response was to go back online to reassure you all that I was fine. But the subtext of that, the thing behind the thing, is that I felt embarrassed by your affirmations. They exposed the vulnerabilities that I was refusing to admit to myself. Those truths that everyone else sees and we don’t, like a bad comb over. I needed you. And I hate to feel needy.
As I read through the responses, not only were the words so affirming, but they revealed to me where I was bleeding. I had a choice…self-sufficiency or healing. And that is a really difficult choice for me, because self-sufficiency is like nicotine. I crave it.
I want to be the encourager, not the encouraged. I want to lend an arm, but not have to take one. When I’m sick, I just want to disappear. When I feel blemished, I want to hide, until the blemish is gone and I look presentable once more.
Truth is light. It exposes us. And it sets us free. If we’ll only come out of the shadows. Which is why encouragement is so necessary. Because those soft words allow us to inch out of our shells. Little by little, until we can see ourselves the way God sees us.
Encouragement is humbling. And the humility it brings is so freeing. It breaks the false myth that vulnerability is weakness. We know this so confidently when we encourage others. It is in receiving encouragement that our lie is exposed.
And that’s what you all did for me. You showed me my false belief that to be helped is weak. And I stand condemned, in the best way. If you thought I had this all figured out, which you didn’t, I’m here to say I don’t. To me. And to say thank you. I’ve said before that I love you guys. Now I’m saying I need you. Thank you, my friends, for the healing and humbling light of your tender encouragements.