“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” -Proverbs 4:23
Remember yesterday I shared about the fence versus the open field? While an open field sounds beautiful, a fence is a necessary and healthy boundary created to keep the safe things inside the unsafe things out. It is a property line that says, “here’s where I end and you begin” (read Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries for more on this).
Here’s why I think this is important in our discussion of vulnerability:
Vulnerability must go hand in hand with wisdom. We must use wisdom with who and how we share our stories, our time, and our hearts. If someone proves over and over again that they are untrustworthy, it would not be wise to continue sharing our deepest hurts or secrets with them. However, when someone has spent time cultivating safety with us by earning our trust, we can open the gate and let them into the fence.
My raw vulnerability that comes with fresh pain is best shared with those three people who have earned my deepest trust and are closest to my fence. Some of the things I am just now sharing about in my writing happened 10 years ago. I needed the safety of a closed fence, plenty of time, and safe people to process/heal before I shared more vulnerably with wider circles. I’ve spent the past 6 years particularly in private with a very small group of loved ones/mentors as God moved those raw wounds to healed scars.
Even now, there are things I choose to hold back, as it would not be wise for me to disclose them. This is not isolation, but is the result of prayerful discernment. I recognize that vulnerability on those topics is not safe or beneficial for me and could hurt others. So healthy vulnerability does not mean open fields and letting everyone in to the raw processing. God has taught me so much about the active process of checking my motives in my vulnerability (is it for validation, acceptance, assurance, healing, connection?). I must pray about what I share before I open my mouth to verbally vomit vs. share with others from a place of grounded healing.
I believe vulnerability is a gift in relationships, but it MUST be used in balance:
- Vulnerability with wisdom
- Tenderness within healthy bounds
- Softness with strength
- Or my favorite from Mike Foster, open heart with backbone
There is a balance to living authentically. There is actually great freedom and LIFE through using healthy boundaries and learning to tend to our fences. Is this something you’ve learned about? What are some of the ways you practice wise vulnerability in your life?
Like a field of wildflowers
Her heart was wide open
She wore it on her sleeve, for all to see
And that heart was welcoming, soft, unguarded
The trouble with her open heart is that she kept giving it away
She overshared and she over-trusted
She spilled her soul to those who would listen
And hoped they would hold her wildflower soul with gentle hands
But they trampled the flowers and broke her heart
So she built a brick wall around herself
“Now, no one can hurt me. No one can get in.”
The walls were so high, the sun couldn’t even reach her
In the shadows, her world grew smaller, colder
The grass withered and the flowers wilted
Her heart became hard like the very brick around it
After a while, she couldn’t feel anything…
Sure, the pain couldn’t enter in, but neither could the joy
She missed the warmth of the sun and the scent of the flowers
She asked for Someone stronger and wiser to help tear down the wall
Together, they removed the bricks one by one
He told her about a new way to keep her heart safe
“Let’s build you a fence,” He said
“There will still be sunshine and warmth, but you will be able to protect your heart gently.
I will guard your heart for you when you don’t know how, and this gate will help you let love in again, when you’re ready.”
She found a balance between that wide open wildflower field and the heavy brick wall.
They built a fence, and the flowers now bloomed in love and safety.
– – –
I can’t wait to share more with you this week about vulnerability with others- wisdom, healthy vs. unhealthy vulnerability, Biblical examples of the concept, and boundaries.
I’d love to hear–do you connect most with the image of the wide open field, the brick wall, or the fence?