We’re all longing for a little honesty and humanity from each other but it feels unnatural to put ourselves out there and trust in the power of vulnerability, when there are no guarantees, so we shelter behind invisible walls to avoid being seen as we are.
Some of us are in deep hiding and some of us are just semi-hidden, but all of us hide in various ways and to varying degrees. We hide to avoid how uncomfortable it feels to be exposed and vulnerable, and because we’re afraid we aren’t enough.
We do everything in our power to bypass experiencing the big feelings we had when we were picked last on the playground; when we stood there waiting for our name to be called. When we waited for someone else to affirm us and when we had no control over the outcome.
We’re not on the playground anymore so we hide behind grown up things now like our diplomas, houses, and humor, our schedules, clothes, accomplishments, and religion. It’s so much safer to be known for what we do and what we have than for who we are.
Somewhere along the way we quietly convinced ourselves that some part of our existence and experience demands we sit in the shadows, alone, waiting until the magical moment when we are “good enough.”
We pass up amazing opportunities because we figure we’ll fail anyway or we refrain from investing in relationships for fear we’ll just end up hurt and rejected. We conceal our hopes and keep our dreams secret.
We forget that everyone feels like we do — like they really should have things a little more figured out or pulled together.
Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are!
It’s like we’ve been sold this game of hide and seek — but everyone’s hiding and no one’s seeking. Then it dawns on us that this business of being silent and hidden and alone is just not fun anymore.
So with knees shaking we decide to be like the little kid who during an exhausting game of hide and seek got sick of hiding in the dark places, alone, and came out to be with his friends. It took some courage for him to realize it wasn’t a game he cared about winning, but once he did he edged his way out into the open and called out to anyone who would listen “come out, come out, wherever you are!”
The Power of Vulnerability
We come out because we’re ready to be finished playing a game which has no possible way of ending in anyone’s favor. We come out of the shadows without the masks and props and camouflage and let others, who are doing the brave work of being, see who we are.
We allow them to wrap their calloused hands around our own and learn how it feels to be known. We let the light of kinship hit our lives, rough edges and all, and in time we learn that there is not a fragment of our stories that are stupid or shameful. Not even the darkest chapters.
Through repetition, we practice resisting the urge to hide our scars and cracks and fragility, and in time realize we don’t need to shy away from our unpolished parts because it’s right in those undone places we’re made more capable of compassion and connection. Where grace grows and we become more compatible with sharing life in community.
We embrace the reality that our stories are not yet finished and come to understand that the fact that we’re still breathing is all the evidence we need that we’re enough and we’ve been invited to engage life out in the open.
When we’re too close we forget just how beautiful our personal patchwork is. We see the parts that are thread bare and uneven and it makes us feel alone in our undoneness until we look up long enough to understand everyone is just as undone as we are.
I added duct tape that reads “you are just as you should be” because Macgyver! And so whoever comes over gets the message. Yes, in your mess and humanity, you are beautiful right here, right now. You are just as you should be!
TAKE ACTION: If vulnerability is hard for you — start small. Share something little about yourself (a dream, hope, or painful memory) with someone you have already built some trust with. If you haven’t yet read Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and Donald Miller’s Scary Close (*affiliate links), get your hands on these books. They will change your life!