Looks can be deceiving. How many times have you glanced at someone who seemingly ‘has it all together’ and assessed that clearly they have a wonderful marriage, perfect family, lucrative job, and so on. Not to brag, but I have this remarkable talent of doing so at the glance of an eye, then immediately diving into my weaknesses and identifying all the places where I fall short, but “they” seem to “have it all together”.
That’s what comparison does to us. It actually steals our joy. It’s remarkably easy to fix our eyes on something, make assumptions, and then let the mind wander to a place of darkness. In my adolescent years, I became quite the expert at comparison. I’m not sure from where this “gift” came because I actually grew up in a loving home and had some good friends. But somewhere along the way, the enemy grabbed a hold of something in my heart and I was left walking around with a lens that saw what others had and I did not have (or rather felt I didn’t have, be it beauty, intelligence or even a nice handbag.) One dig at a time, one comparison at a time, I did not realize it but a hole in my heart was being dug. And it had to be filled with something. Now I would call that a God-sized hole, but in my adolescence, it was the absence of something that somehow made me feel more worthwhile. I needed to fill it with things that gave me ‘worth’. And so it went, I filled it with countless things – overachievement, overcommitments, and even perfectionism in many things that in and of themselves were ‘good,’ but in all vulnerability, I was chasing my worth. You see if I was at least close to ‘perfect,’ that would leave little room for people to criticize me, or to dislike me – two fears I held onto for way too long. It was exhausting. And I was still not content.
However, the closer I became to the Lord, and to other Christ-followers, the more I learned that I was not the only one feeling this way or doing this. I also learned that those people who looked perfect, well – news flash – they’re not. None of us are, or ever will be, even close to perfect. And when I acknowledged the fact that I was chasing my worth in all the wrong places, and accepted that my worth was not in those things, but rather in who Jesus made me uniquely to be (Psalm 139:13-16), everything changed. The façade of perfectionism came down. I also found I felt lighter and freer – and a bonus – people still liked me! This idea that people would think less of me if they saw my weaknesses began to fade. As a matter of fact, friendships grew deeper and became more meaningful. After all, Jesus is the only one who is perfect. Don’t get me wrong; I still struggle with this at times. But Jesus is the only One any of us need to compare ourselves to.
Now more than ever, in this not-so-tidy world in which we live, being vulnerable with others in a safe community unleashes something very special. We are meant to do life together, as that is God’s design. The Bible says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” We are also encouraged to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Here are three meaningful things that I believe come from being vulnerable.
- Being vulnerable gives others a real picture of your heart and who you are. For us to operate fully in the body of Christ, we need to lean into each other’s differences, strengths, and weaknesses (or vulnerabilities).
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:27
- Being vulnerable opens the doors for others to be vulnerable and enables us to reap the fruits of being in community where people support one another. It is how walls come down. It grows within us empathy, compassion, and connection as we relate to one another’s struggles and navigate through them together.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25.
- Being vulnerable shines light on areas that might otherwise grow like weeds in the dark. When we shine light on our hearts – the struggles, strongholds, and hurts – we snuff out the power that they have in the dark, as light overcomes the darkness.
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” – 1 John 1:5-10
Most importantly, we need to be vulnerable with God. The Lord wants everything. We cannot hide from Him, and He knows we struggle. You can go all the way back starting with Genesis to see that everyone in humanity has struggled. And no one struggled more perfectly than Jesus. He took it all to the cross, for the world to see Him bear. And through all our struggles and imperfections, the Lord loves us, and uses us, for his purposes and His Kingdom.
When I fix my eyes on things other than the Lord, those things can quickly slide in as replacements for Him. So, in 2022, I want to ask myself daily, “What am I fixing my eyes on?” And I want to be vulnerable and ask others close to me, too. Because the answer to that question can quickly unleash things not of God that are making their way into my heart.
Lord, thank You for loving me through all my weaknesses and ugliness. You are all I truly need. I ask that You help me to fix my eyes on You and You alone. When my heart starts to wander, please direct me back toYou. There are so many distractions in this world, and I pray that You protect not only my heart, but the hearts of my loved ones, so that we can encourage one another in keeping our focus on You. In Your son’s Holy Name I pray, Amen.