Courage To Be Vulnerable

Courage

“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.” – Erica Jong

It’s not about my expectations, but my hopes. I have had a lot of unrealistic expectations in the past. These expectations were rooted in control. Control is the fear of the unpredictable resulting in doing everything in my power to ensure certain outcome. I grew up with the bottom always falling out. As a result even after Jesus saved me and set me free, I have moments where I still want to save myself and am learning to do this less and less as I learn to trust more. God has been calling me to develop faith in His Love.

Gal 5:1(NCV) “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” 

It’s one thing to SAY: I trust God with my life and the lives of my friends and family. But what about a parent who loses a child? A diagnosis that shatters your world? A betrayal that destroys a precious relationship? A potentially unfulfilled dream of being married?  A love unrequited? This is where the rubber hits the road and faith is tested, called higher, purified. This is where we become more beautiful and whole in God.

2Cor 1:20 (ESV) For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 

We must all continually be counting and re-counting the cost on trusting God in these moments because He is Love. He is the love that is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for because He did it all first for us. Agape is love that gives even when it is not returned and when it is rejected. It takes greater faith to not lose heart when the love of others grows cold. It takes greater faith to not succumb to the rejection and offenses that come. I need to remember that it’s not failure when love is not returned. I must keep sowing. It takes time to reap godly fruit that lasts. His love and forgiveness sets me free.

Gal 6:8-9 (NIV) “8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” 

I can’t hang my hopes on me, I can only hang them on God. It is fear and fear alone that starts to crowd out my hope and breeds distrust. When I stop for long enough to take a deep breath I can return to the truth that God has always proven himself trustworthy. I choose to still give when it is hardest because God gave to me first.  I choose to focus on His character.

Is 30:18 (NCV) “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait.” 

Col 3:15 (NVC) “Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body to have peace. Always be thankful.” 

To trust is to have full confidence.  This means I don’t need a backup plan because I am not expecting danger. Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I encourage someone to sit around and do nothing. For example, if you’re out of work please don’t apply for only one job and say, “I don’t need a backup plan because I trust God.” The back up plans I’m talking about are the ones I make in my heart to protect me when I allow fear to control my thinking. It’s leaning into my controlling nature when things are not going as I would wish and wanting to step in and “help” God along or self-protect. It’s not allowing myself to pour my entire heart out and all the hopes in it before Him for fear He will not answer favorably. This is not who God is. I can risk everything, and courageously pour out what is in my heart before Him and trust that He will do beautiful things with it, whether it looks like what I thought it would be or otherwise.  I can be vulnerable and bare my feelings or admit my hurts without covering them with anger or seeking to defend myself. When I feel fear of being rejected or abandoned, God calls me to remember that I am safe in Him, always.

Ps 144:2 “He protects me like a strong, walled city, and he loves me. He is my defender and my Savior, my shield and my protection.” 

Trust in action calls me to act like who I want to be not who I am. Trust that He will change the parts of my character I grapple to change, if I stop doing it on my own and surrender them to Him. It’s believing He is already at work and has seen these things I need to work on long before I did. It’s me that is just catching up to His plan. Trusting Him means I treat others as if they were what they ought to be – helping them to become what they are capable of being. I put down self-protection because the one who is at work is trust worthy. He frees me to give more. I no longer try to cover someone else’s weaknesses with my strengths but with His love.

Rom 8:15 “The Spirit we received does not make us slaves again to fear; it makes us children of God. With that Spirit we cry out, ‘Father’.”

God has shown me that for many years my love was selfish, easily offended and filled with expectations that lead to disappointment when not met. I would be selective of who I let in for fear of being hurt. No matter how hard I tired, more often than not I deferred to self-protection. God brought people into my life who loved me unconditionally, who taught me how to break this cycle. I am less of my own savior now than I was before. Loss is sometimes necessary to cause the shift that is most needed. When I laid what was most precious to me on God’s alter and lost it I was in the place I needed to be for Him to change me. 

1John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

God shakes everything so that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. When God shook me, He remained. The shaking brought me closer to Him as my foundation, it removed the dead things in me that I had let remain for too many years. I was finally able to release these through forgiveness and He awakened me to a deeper understanding and faith in His love. He helped me to view circumstances through eyes of faith. As He sifted He removed all my self-confidence and left His sure foundation. On Him I stand even when my heart shakes within me, when my life can shake around me and when things just don’t go my way. I can yield my will to His.

1Peter 5:5 (NCV) “Be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Trust calls me to surrender, to have faith when I doubt, to be grateful when I’m dissatisfied, to be respectful instead of demanding and to be vulnerable instead of nagging or defensive. 

2Cor 10:5 “[…] and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God we capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.”

And when I fail and fall short, which I will, a lot, it gives me the courage not to allow my shame to kill intimacy between me and others, but to find goodness in situations even when the bad seems so much more blatant.  So I’m learning how to be less cynical and fight, be brave, and risk everything for Love, one vulnerable moment at a time, because it’s worth it.

Philip 1:9-10 “This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more, that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between good and bad and will chose the good; that you will be pure and without wrong for the coming of Christ.” 

I am called to be rooted and grounded in love. It may not happen in the way I thought, but it will always be beautiful if it is from God.  When I am assured that God would never do anything to harm me I am rooted in God’s character and able to share his joy.

Is 33:2 (NLT) “But LORD, be merciful to us, for we have waited for you. Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble.”

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