Wednesday, March 12, 2014

on risk and vulnerability

I'm linking up today with Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart and with Beth at Three Word Wednesday.

Not worrying too much about the order of things, but putting in main characters who have influenced me and main events that have affected me, I wrote my spiritual narrative two weeks ago. 

When I sat down to write, I was surprised how easily things came to me. I started out with the overused line, "I was born...". Seemed like a logical place to start, and I wasn't worrying too much, remember? 

My tendency and "tapes" tell me to worry too much. I tried to shut those off, so the writing could come out. I wrote. And, before I knew it I'd filled up nine single spaced typed pages with size 12 Arial font. I didn't know it would get this long, but I have five decades to cover. 

This assignment was given in a class on spiritual mentoring. The idea is that it is important to know ourselves before we can begin to walk alongside another. 

*I also had a partner listen to me read my story and give feedback. 

Where does she see God at work in my story? What events point to His work, His intervention?

I had never done anything like this. 

The night came to read my story. 

I had gone back and changed words and sentences here and there.

Writing it brought up old emotions that I'd thought I'd dealt with. My body was affected during the writing, and I needed an extra trip to the chiropractor.

I knew this was important work.

My listening partner listened attentively. She prayed for me before I started. And, after I finished reading, she looked down at her notes and shared where she could definitely see God's presence in my story. 

To get this type of feedback is a true blessing.

The next week, it was her turn to share. I felt privileged to hear.

Her narrative was very different. (shouldn't it be?) She went with more sweeping themes in her story, instead of specific events and people. Hers was about seven pages shorter.

The key here is that hers was different than mine. Not better. Not worse. Different.

How my old tapes play tells a lot about me. Driving home from group that night, I heard old familiar put downs. 

"You told too much in your story."
"Yours was too long."
"She didn't like your story."
"You aren't good enough."

My struggles usually center around using my voice. Feeling like I share too much is a shame trigger for me. Feeling like what I say is dumb after the words are out can lead to a true vulnerability hangover. Intense.

What do I do with these low hanging feelings? My path of least resistance is to find someone to blame. That person usually happens to be me. 

Yesterday, after letting these low hanging emotions stick around for two weeks I finally emailed and thanked her for listening with care to my reading two weeks ago.

She wrote back. She said she loved hearing my story. 

She said, "sharing your story totally brings a deeper understanding.  I think that is one of the beautiful that you can be honest with fellow Christians and add depth to life!"

Her email words became a gift to my soul. A confirmation that I and my story are not too much. That I am not somehow flawed in writing a nine page narrative.

I felt the lies that I'd been hearing for two weeks melt away.

I was reassured in my belief that vulnerability is risky, but it is beautiful.

*as a side note. It is very important to share your story with someone who has earned the right to hear it. Someone you feel safe with. I felt safe sharing my story with this person in this setting.

How about you? Do you have a story about how being vulnerable felt very risky, but you took the risk? Do you ever have a vulnerability hangover after sharing something personal?

Blessings to you today, friend!


  1. beautiful post, Anne, and yes I've been there, but the Lord brought me up short on that thinking when He asked me one day, "Why do you need man's approval when you already have Mine?"
    Receiving His Word - Life Giving Words - made all the difference.
    Def a Life Changing moment paying life-long benefits!

    Blessings of Grace and Shalom to you today!

    1. Thanks for your sweet comment! I agree, we don't need man's approval, only God's. Another struggle of mine showing! Blessings to you!

  2. Hi Anne, I can certainly relate to having those old tapes playing in your head about what you shouldn't have said. If we could really celebrate our differences rather than allowing the enemy to trick us into using it against us oh how much better we would be.

    1. I so agree, Wanda! Thanks so much for stopping by. Glad to know I'm not alone in this struggle! Blessings!

  3. This post reminded me how important sharing our stories can be, and I thought of this quote from one of Anne Lamott's books: "If you are no longer wracked or in bondage to a person or a way of life, tell your story. Risk freeing someone else."

    1. So true. I do believe our stories, by the grace of God, can become healing instruments for someone else. Thanks, as always, for your comment, Dayle! Blessings to you!

  4. Hi Anne,

    Lovely to meet you - found you through 3 Word Wednesday.
    I wanted to say how much I loved your post. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I am so thankful that you were encouraged through your experience. I love how God does this - He knows what we need, and when.
    God bless

    1. Thanks so much, Anita for your kind words! Yes, God is indeed good! Blessings!

  5. I appreciate your honesty. Most of us I think can relate in a very specific way. It takes guts to hang your words out there… it's the strength of our Father… and He is honored. Good for you, I wonder about all the others who are silent in fear. They really don't know what they're missing. It's not easy, but the most valuable things rarely are. Thanks to Wanda for linking this up.

  6. Thanks for visiting Floyd and for your kind comment. Yes, it does take courage to tell our stories. But, you are right, the most valuable things rarely are easy! Blessings!


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