Christmas time is often marked by cards with perfect family pictures on the cover. Everyone smiling, everyone wearing cute Christmas sweaters. The perfect family on the perfect card. In reality, however, life is not very often like the cover of a Christmas card. Life is messier than that; it is, for all of us. But we don't want anyone to see.
Why is it that being vulnerable is so hard?
Here's a definition of the word “vulnerable:" “The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”
Exposing yourself emotionally to attack is a scary thing to do. We have all grown up in this world. It is not a perfect world. We have all had our weaknesses thrown at us; we have all experienced abuse in moments of vulnerability. It is painful; it leads us to build walls around the tender, weak areas of ourselves. To fortify our hearts with battlements, that become so strong over the years, so entrenched in who we are, that the thought of tearing them down, is simply beyond us.
We live in a world of such pretense. Being "real" or "authentic" is often lauded but rarely achieved. The notion of truly exposing your worst moments is a shuddering thought. If you look at my Instagram account, there are cute pictures of my children; there are not, however, mini videos of me roaring my head off at them. That's not cute. That's not fit for public consumption. That would leave me vulnerable to too much criticism. And honestly, I have enough of that going on in my own head as an, often tired, sometimes overwhelmed mum.
The idea here is not that we have any call to expose our worst moments on social media, no, the idea is, in fact, to hopefully stop feeling the need to present a manic, besieged, image of perfection. Your body, your family, your church, your ministry, your children. All of these areas hold some weaknesses for all of us. That's just a fact.
The problem arises when we let fear force us into presenting ourselves in such a way that we remove all vulnerability. If we are honest about ourselves, we often feel vulnerable. What will people think of us? What if they knew what I'm really like?
Sometimes, in order to help somebody who is struggling, you might need to be honest with them about your own struggles.
If a person comes to you with their weakness, and you look down on them from your fort of false perfection, it will not help them. But, if you open yourself up to vulnerability and humbly share your own imperfections and struggles, but remind them of our righteous position in Christ, you could be a huge blessing to people who need it in this Christmas season.
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the most beautiful example of this. Jesus embraced vulnerability on a scale none of us can ever truly understand. He made this universe. He spoke it into being. By Him all things were created. And yet, for you and for me, for the love of us, He became a baby.
Luke 2:12 tells us, “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." What is more vulnerable than a baby? He became completely dependent on the very people He Himself made.
He was helpless. Exposed. Needy. Weak. A baby. But, because Jesus was willing to become vulnerable for our sake, He won salvation for all of us, for all the world. What a gift, what a Savior, what a King! As we remember the good God we serve this Christmas, as we recount His humility and humanity, Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”
Our God was willing to become vulnerable, and because of it, He can relate to us and to our struggles.
Let's let His example encourage us to be more open and honest with each other this season. 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." Let's remember we are loved perfectly by a God who has been present in every moment of our lives.
He's seen the very worst of us and still He loves us. We have nothing to fear. Let's let that love rule our hearts and allow us to act honestly and humbly to those around us who need us to shine God's love this Christmas.
Happy Christmas to you all!