Drop The Mask: Be Vulnerable

By | January 2, 2016

maskHow often do you wear a mask? Does anyone know the real you? To be a good friend, it requires us to be vulnerable. Intimacy doesn’t just happen. It requires revelation. Just as we can have a relationship with God because he reveals himself to us, self-revelation is a prerequisite for intimacy in our close relationships.

Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God, relational intimacy has become hard work! We desire intimacy, but in our fallenness we are afraid of being known. We run and hide instead of being vulnerable. Rather than revealing our flaws, we put on self-righteousness, hiding ourselves with fig leaves and shifting the blame.

But thank God that he pursued a relationship with us, even when we were unloveable. God did not leave Adam and Eve alone when they went into hiding. He pursued them, taking the initiative to reveal himself to them. He covered their shame and nakedness. Their actions had consequences in a moral universe but God promised to redeem them and send a Savior.

As He always does, God came through on his promise. Through Christ’s death and resurrection and by faith, we are clothed in His righteousness and are made whiter than snow. As a result, we no longer need to be defensive and hide from each other. We can let our guard down. While who we are called to be vulnerable with is a matter of wisdom, (we are not called to trust all people), learning to be vulnerable in relationships is an important way we can love others.

Imagine the intimacy we would have in our relationships if we learned how to be appropriately vulnerable with each other. In Loving Well, author William P. Smith explains that we need to take the lead in being vulnerable. “Friendships in which people feel free to share their difficulties give them permission to drop their guard and ask for help as they grow into the fullness of Christ. But if you want to have those kinds of relationships, you have to take the lead in sharing your difficulties. Look for these opportunities and intentionally offer yourself to others.”

When scripture calls us to get the log out of our own eye, it is teaching us a principle of humility. One pastor introduced me to the term “first repenter.” He explained that his children already know that their dad is a sinner. But he wants his children to know that their dad knows he is a sinner.

We don’t naturally share with others our temptations or how we struggle. We don’t like to admit our weaknesses or moral failures. So how do we become first repenters and exhibit vulnerability?

First, we need to be open with God. says:

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

In order to be a first repenter, we need to believe the gospel covers our ugliness. We need to be repenting of sins regularly. Martin Luther said, the whole of the Christian life is to be one of repentance. We live before the face of God. He sees everything, so there is no need to hide from him. The wonder of the gospel is that He knows all of our thoughts but still loves us!

Paul understood this. He understood his unworthiness, but knew God had chosen to bestow his love on him because of His mercy and love. Paul was quick to boast in his weaknesses. “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” – .

Next, our vulnerability should extend to other trustworthy individuals. Being a first repenter means that we create an atmosphere around those we love that encourages them to be open and honest with their struggles, because they know we struggle too. Being a first repenter in marriage means that it will feel like we are giving up the power we have over our spouse and give them leverage over us.

We often fear that others won’t understand or relate to us if we are vulnerable. We fear that they will judge us. But a spiritual truth is that the opposite is often true. After all, there is no temptation that has seized you that is not common to man (). There is freedom in vulnerability. says it this way, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Are you confessing your sins and struggles to others? Do you believe that you need to be encouraged by your brothers and sisters in Christ?

We need to believe that it is ok to struggle. Our glorification is something that we can look forward to, but it is not here yet! My temptation is to believe that the longer I am a Christian, the more I need to look perfect. But the gospel calls us to humility and honesty. We can be honest with our struggles and doubts. The object of our faith is what counts, not the amount of our faith ().

Do you have friends praying for you and sharing your burdens?  reminds us to encourage one another daily, so that we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. In other words, a lone ranger is a dead ranger. We should be asking God to give us friends with whom we can share our struggles and temptations with in a deeper level so that we can continue to grow in our faith. By being vulnerable, we invite others to help us see Jesus and we invite others to share about their struggles as we live out our faith together.

As one pastor put it, as Christians we are free to struggle, not struggling to be free. May God give you the grace and freedom to be vulnerable before Him and other trustworthy individuals today.

photo credit: Stian Eikeland via photopin cc

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!

Psalm 139:24

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!

Psalm 139:24

24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (ESV)

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (ESV)

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (ESV)

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself. (ESV)

13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (ESV)