Question: Can you share how to be vulnerable?
When I was reading through the list of questions that have come in, this one stuck out to me. In ways because it is kind of vague. Vulnerable in friendships? Vulnerable at work? Vulnerable as an online influencer? Vulnerable in general? Unsure what the real intent was, my mind started thinking about vulnerability in my life. For me that is two main places:
- Oak + Oats: Here on my slice of the internet I share a lot. I post pictures, I share advice, I tell stories. I do a lot of things that open myself to the criticism of the world. At times it is hard to push “post” on a new piece but often times it is easy. I have been writing here for seven years – in many ways this feels like home. And for the most part I’ve been welcome and not rejected (that helps a lot!) But just because I share a lot with you on Oak + Oats doesn’t mean I share everything. Here is a post I wrote called “How to be Authentic Online” which is closely related to being vulnerable online. CLICK HERE to read it now (or later 😉 )
- My Relationships: The second place in my life that I am vulnerable in is my friendships and relationships with people. I have my online community but I also have my real, physical community that I live with, play with, share with, cry with. My husband, my family, and my friends.
Since I already wrote a post on being authentic online (which is to be vulnerable online), I wanted to focus on the second one – being vulnerable in friendships! So here goes:
A couple of months ago I was sitting around in my living room with some friends. We were talking about everything from Breath of the Wild (the newest Zelda game 😉 ) to the Enneagram. We talked about relationships, the joys and struggles in our work, funny YouTube videos, dream vacations, and movies to watch (AKA: Sing Street). One of my friends chimed in,
“I’ve been thinking a lot about something. Do you ever think, man… I am so lucky to have good friends? Like when I talk to my co-workers none of them really have that.”
Yes. I do think that. And not just that handful of people who were sitting in my living room that night. Those good friends are found in my monthly Bunco club, our weekly Bible Study, our siblings, and even the creative community I’ve met through Oak + Oats. I do have some of the best friends. They encourage me, they let me take pictures of them for blog posts, they ask how Oak + Oats is going, they reach out, they host happy hours, they text in the middle of the day, and they are faithful prayer warriors.
And I’ll confess that sometimes I take those sweet friendships for granted.
But friendships like this are not easy. They take time and they take being vulnerable. I have been thinking about those good friendships in my life since then. Some came easy, some took more time. Some I’ve hurt and some have hurt me but we didn’t let it stay there.
None of us are the same – we have different stories, experiences, personalities, and passions but we all share the desire to be known. As I think back on my friendships, I wanted to share with you some tips for being vulnerable in your relationships to create those deeper, meaningful, friendships:
MAKE THE FIRST MOVE
Reaching out to a new person is always a tad awkward. Whether you are introverted or extroverted fear is still something you have to push past. So summon your courage and be brave, be the person to break the ice. There is a Winnie the Pooh quote that I always think of, “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
STOP TRYING TO BE PERFECT
When you are so concerned with how you are being perceived by those around you, you cannot be your full self. Guess what? We are ALL BROKEN. We all have to walk through grief, pain, disappointment, fear. We all have bad days, snap at those we love, doubt our talents, question life. None of us are perfect and we do not have to be. Grace is God whispering in your ear “You don’t have to be perfect because I am. You don’t have to live in sin & shame because I’ve conquered the cross and shouldered the blame for you. My mercies are new every morning” Don’t get grace? Get with a friend and let them know – I bet you that they also wrestle with the idea and fight the temptation to hide behind a facade of perfection.
SHOW UP & Follow Up
Schedule a weekly book club, Bible study, bunco night, happy hour, play date – anything- and continue to show up for it. And don’t just physically show up, emotionally show up to. Allow yourself to share the hard day you had or what is going on in your life. Follow up with those people, remember the stories they share with you, check in with them to see how they are doing. Deep friendships do not happen over one coffee date, they happen over many of them.
Baby steps are more than okay when making friends & being vulnerable. You don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) share your deepest darkest secret with a person you just met. It takes time to get that deep with each other. But you do need to start walking down the path of vulnerability. Share what you can share, open up about something. When we open up, it allows the other person to do the same. These small steps build trust and they build relationships.
FORGIVE & APOLOGIZE
Grudges and resentment will get you nowhere. We are all human. We hurt others and others hurt us. We need to be able to admit when we are wrong and ask forgiveness. We also need to be willing to forgive each other for their shortcomings.
DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION
Just like allowing yourself to be imperfect, you need to allow others to be as well. No other one person (or group of people) is going to satisfy you and meet all your needs. Community and friendship is life-giving but can be suffocated if you place too much value and identity in that. Be vulnerable with your people, let them be vulnerable with you, and together help each other look to Christ.
Above all, know that you do not have to do it alone. Allow the Holy Spirit to live in you and work through you. Ask Him to open up the locked doors in your heart and soften the hard, rough places. Pray for community and people to connect with. Pray for the people who open up to you. Pray for the stories, the days, and the work loads. Pray for wisdom for how and when to open up and share your story. Let Him help you be vulnerable.
I don’t know where you are at in friendships or how vulnerable you are with others, but I hope that these tips help encourage and inspire you to reach out to those around you. I pray that you would start the baby steps to being more vulnerable and you would witness the fruit of being yourself, being imperfect, and still being loved.