In a recent post about Generosity of Self, I found that the practice of vulnerability brought up more thoughts than I could include in that article. Until today, this additional content was only available via email, but I want to make it available to everyone.
WHY IS VULNERABILITY SO HARD TO ACCESS AS AN ACT OF GENEROSITY?
Most people find the practice of vulnerability to be terrifying and when practiced with wrong motives, it can be perceived as weakness. For this reason, it is avoided by many who miss out on finding the key to unlocking generosity of self.
Let's look at a few common ways we can be vulnerable in our daily lives:
- Speak up when others are afraid // When we can see that someone is genuinely afraid and empathize with their state, speaking what we are sensing can bring validation of emotion so freeing that fear dissolves on the spot. Often, we can recall a time when we were in the same position. Without shifting the focus to ourselves, reassuring someone that they are not alone can be very powerful. The Holy Spirit can give us perspective that people crippled with fear might not have access to in the moment. If we communicate empathy and wrap it in God's Truth, the enemy's effort to paralyze through fear is foiled.
- Ask questions when you don't have the answer // Let's normalize not having all the answers. Soon it won't take so much courage to admit we don't know. What's cool is that your willingness to let folks know that you aren't afraid to show that you don't know everything will cause others follow suit. Nothing is more freeing than existing with people who don't try to know it all. Can I get an "AMEN"?
- Be honest about personal struggle // Along with admitting you don't have all the answers, choosing to not pretend you have it all together is crazy liberating, both for you and those you share with. It can be a great way to find common ground. However, this is a bit a delicate act. Sharing struggle with wrong motives is the most common cause of vulnerability being seen as weakness by those unwilling to practice this act of generosity themselves. You can probably think of an example of someone sharing struggle in a way that is self-focused. Sharing struggle should flow from a heart of empathy and helping others, not moaning and groaning or self-pity. When you share your struggles, be sure to mind your complaining. And remember that you can let your flaws be visible without being negative about them. If we speak about struggles as opportunities for growth we are forced to be mindful of also sharing what we are doing to overcome them. Sharing your strategy for getting through struggle can be an invaluable gift to others. I find it inspiring when others do this and it serves as a good reminder to be grateful for adversity and growth.
- Allow others to see you fail // This takes great courage and humility. You can help others avoid your same mistakes or learn from what you learned in the process of failing.Perhaps seeing you fail will give others the courage to try in the first place. Fail out loud and put complacency to death in others. Your process of getting better will inspire them to do the same.
- Never wear masks // Don't be fake. Just don't. That's the opposite of generosity. Facades hold back what you have to give deep down in your soul. Walls are built out of fear and pride. Decide today that masks simply aren't in fashion. As an encouragement to destroy your temptation to put on a mask in certain situations, know this: people see through fake and fill in the gaps of what they can't see with assumptions... good, bad or ugly. Give them the real you and they won't have to make up stories.
Some good news: vulnerability gets easier with practice. So why not start now? Be real. Be unapologetically you. Let Christ's love flow through you as He intends and watch what happens.