A strange theme of words has been in my life the last three months. Vulnerable. Shame. Truth. Freedom. Guilt. Relationships. Doctrine.
It started in a church service When the teacher, at the end, could not define what truth was. They asked the congregation to go home and ‘think about what truth means to you’. What?
Truth – Alethia – Alethes – loving the truth. Interesting to note that it is from two word roots, Alpha – Christ is the beginning and end – and Lanthano (probably not spelled right)– To be hidden, secret, unaware. (like the mystery of the gospel). Christ said – that it was For the Purpose that I was Born and for this Purpose (Cause to come, to come and be established) I have come into the world. TO bear witness to the truth – Alethia – Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. It should be told of the Lord to the coming generations – they shall come and proclaim his righteousness – to a people yet unborn – that HE. Has. Done. It.
Trust /Believe is the other side of truth. I’m sitting in denial right now that it is raining, but it doesn’t change the fact that all of my lawn cushions are soaking wet. Trust – Believe – to be persuaded – the conviction that God exists and is the provider and bestower of eternal salvation. To trust and to Hope is to wait for salvation with joy and all confidence.
If you are a follower and servant of Christ. If you have access to the Bible – there should not be a question of what truth is. Christ – Is Truth. Christ is the Word. The Word is Truth.
This unfolded the words of vulnerability and shame. We started a secular books study of a woman who gave a Ted Talk. Essentially she was surprised at how embarrassed locked in fear she was before and after giving the talk. She has spent the greater part of her life researching what vulnerability is. What shame is. Where does it come from? How do we find the triggers? How do we control it? The word Vulnerable started coming to to the teaching and Ladies nights at church. Coming from a military background – I was confused.
Vulnerable – from the dictionary – means that you are susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. You may also be suffering from being publicly exposed. Generally – it is a place that you allow, that you put yourself in. In the military – you are trained to NOT be vulnerable. You are aware of your surroundings and have training to take the upper hand.
From the Word, I have been taught to not fear man. What can man do to me? Why would I live with a worry of what man thought? Psalm 56:11 – In God have I put my trust – I will not be afraid – what can man do to me? Ps 118:6 – The Lord is on my side, I will not fear, what can man do unto me. Ecc 2:12 – And I turned myself to behold wisdom madness and folly for what can man do that comes after the king? Even that which has already been done? Ps 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life of whom shall I be afraid? – In this I will be confident – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble – Refuge, I will not fear what flesh can do to me, god is with me – I could go on and on and on and on in Pslams alone.
Romans 8:31 – What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us – Who can be against us??? Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say – The Lord is my helper and I WILL NOT FEAR what man shall do to me.
And yet, thousands of women are diving into the studies of guilt, shame, man based fears, with man based solutions. We’re told that if we find the shame triggers we can manage them, and if we are vulnerable – we can have better relationships. There is truth to this. Folks are so bottled up, calculating what to share of their past, what to even share of their present day. They spend money on makeup, surgeries, false eye lashes, cars, clothes, educations – to present what they think will be their best – un-embarrassed selves – to the world. I’ve been known to be more confident with fresh lipstick and eyeliner and a blown out hair with a straight iron myself. But I don’t walk in shame on the days that I don’t. We’re not talking about the embarrassment of ketchup on a shirt – we’re talking about willingly clinging to guilt and shame – managing it – and then choosing who to reveal those parts of yourself with – willing yourself to find a close circle to be vulnerable with.
I’m a blogger. I’m on Facebook. Part of my job is being transparent with our lives. As the boys have gotten older, I don’t have permission to share their feelings and failures and not even all of the success. I don’t publicly write about our health issues or my marriage journey. But if you know me in real life – in town, or on a message – I’ll chat about anything. If you asked a direct question – what about this part of your life – I love to share the journey – What I did, what Christ did – How amazing it is that I’m sitting here today!
So when I shared with the group that the only thing I felt vulnerable about was the fact that I didn’t like the book, I got a lecture, one girl started praying in tongues over me, and I was told that the reason I don’t have relationships is that I put myself on the same as God. Only God has no sin and shame. Oh, I have past sins. Even present sins. But I also have FREEDOM.
This is getting long, but if you are still reading – I’ll continue.
I left the book study – I did finish the book and there was a lot of helpful nuggets in there – but I craved the Bible side of the study.
I joined the second week of Beth Moore’s Breaking Free. Living a life of freedom. I had done the study when it first came out 20ish years ago. I really enjoyed the 10 weeks of being in the word – day after day – rebuilding that foundation of who I am in Christ. What he set me free from. The victory that he wants in my every day life.
We also switched churches. Crazy enough, the teacher we chose is in Romans. A stacking of sin and grace and condemnation and freedom. We are on Chapter 7 right now and gearing up for Romans 8. That starts – There is therefore NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. None. I’m re-starting a Doorposts Bible Study on Romans 8 and she gives this example. Ask your child to go to the fridge and take out an apple, knowing one isn’t in there. Or to a cupboard to get an item. Is there any? Part? Even the fragrance left over? None. It just isn’t there.
As I shared earlier on the blog – I was also asked to review a book called Unashamed, Healing Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame. (Heather Davis Nelson) She was influenced by Brene Brown’s Vulnerable Ted Talk as well. Her book reveals places and habits that you may be walking in every day shame and embarrassment – and don’t even realize. She also walks you through over a hundred verses on why you don’t have to live that way – you already have freedom.
I still don’t quite know why I’ve been thrown these words almost every day. Is it a theme in the media? I walk in joy and freedom. Folks actually give my boys and I a hard time for ‘always being happy’ smiling, joyful. My son got in a wreck and for some weird reason the photo made it into our small town paper. My oldest son, shaka hand and smiling in a tie dye shirt. One commenter said – that’s just like their family, having fun and joy in any situation.
On the 10th (last) week of the Breaking Free Study we studied the warnings of 2 Timothy 3:5-7. We don’t want to be weak willed, silly gullible women. They are deceived. I was looking at version comparisons and 2 Timothy 3:6 warns against being “Vulnerable women who are burdened with guilt of sin controlled by desires”. Anywhere I see the mention of the word or idea of vulnerability – it comes with a warning – that you do not want to be that person.
I feel like I’ve come to understand the flip side of freedom more these past three months. I’ve learned to see some of the physical signs of grief and pain – masked by silence. I’ve really learned that there needs to be a louder voice crying out FREEDOM in Christ. I can’t imagine a day living without joy and hope – especially when my circumstances feel like I’m being drowned.
I’ve questioned writing all of this chatter out. I’ve written out blog posts about it in my head at the beach over and over. I’ll be praying about why this has been a theme in my life – and what I can bring to those holding on to hurts. If you have any personal questions – cause I’m sure my fly by the fingers pre-coffee online one sided chat doesn’t make a lot of sense – feel free to email or msg me on Facebook!
Thanks for listening.