The Gift of Vulnerability

As humans, vulnerability is one of the number one things we struggle with. You might say, “Jennifer, we live in a day and age where it seems that people are pretty vulnerable, especially in this digital age space.” Sure, this might be true. But, being vulnerable on social media isn’t really true vulnerability. At least, not in the way we were designed. You see, as God’s children, we were designed to be vulnerable with God. Yet, as my Pastor brought up this past Sunday, it seems that a lot of us struggle to be vulnerable with God. We put up walls, we try to put on our own self-righteousness in His presence, we try to be “good enough” when we approach His table, and yet, that’s not the person He wants. He wants our true selves, our honest selves, our vulnerable selves. It is only then that we can become women and men who take on His righteousness and receive the beautiful blessings that He has in store for us. Vulnerability says that we trust God with our pain and our joy, the full breadth of our emotions. Jesus perfectly demonstrated to us how we are to manage our emotions in Matthew 26:37-39, right before His crucifixion.

“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Two things that are significant here. First, Jesus shares what He is feeling with His disciples and then He goes and prays about it. I think it’s a beautiful example to us that Jesus doesn’t hide his emotions from his close followers. Jesus literally tells them, “My soul is sorrowful, even to death.” If I was one of the disciples and Jesus, God in flesh, told me that He was feeling that way, I would be feeling quite concerned. “Sorrowful, even to death?!” Did Jesus worry about what His disciples might think when He opened up with them? Perhaps, but the most important part of this story is that He was honest with those who He was discipling. Leaders, take note. If you are leading a team or discipling a small group, it is important to show others that you are human. If Jesus showed His humanity to His disciples, then why are we trying to prove that we are someone that we are not when we don’t always have it together? Also, another quick takeaway from this short passage. This takeaway goes for leaders and all people alike. It is with His close disciples, not the masses, that He shares His emotions with. I think something can be said of that. We are more healthfully able to manage our emotions when we bring them before those who are closely walking this journey with us, who are headed in the same direction, rather than sharing how we are feeling to the masses. There might be a time and place for that, but I strongly believe that Jesus is giving us a proper lesson on how we can manage our emotions.

I was not planning on sharing all of that, but that’s where the LORD led me, so maybe someone needed to read that. Today’s blogpost was supposed to start with this paragraph. So, let’s continue on this subject of vulnerability, shall we? This week, I was teaching a bible study on the woman in Luke 7 who washes Jesus’ feet with her perfume and tears. It’s truly a beautiful story and if you’ve been in church for awhile, you’ve most likely heard some sermon preached on this significant story in the Bible. Usually when we approach this story, we focus on the alabaster flask of oil that this woman (who we do not know by name, but is just labeled as a sinner) presented to Jesus. And, while there is great significance to this part of the story, there is something that stood out to me even more while studying this story this go around. The woman didn’t just offer her sacrifice, she offered her vulnerability through her tears. Did you know that in Jewish tradition, women were known to carry around tear jars? These tear jars represented the scriptures in Psalm 56:8 that says, “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into your bottle.” These women literally collected tears in a bottle to observe what the LORD has done for men and women through all of history and their own history.

In this story in Luke 7, the Scriptures say that, “she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head.” There is so much to this story, but for the sake of our time, I’m just going to focus on two things here. First, it says she began to wash His feet with her tears. Because it was custom for women to have tear jars during this time, it could very well have been that not only did the woman pour out her perfume as a sacrifice, but she poured out her tear jar as a sign of her vulnerability. Vulnerability demonstrates trust in the one we are sharing our emotions with. That is what this woman does. Secondly, she wipes these tears from the hair of her head. Hair in scripture has always and still does represent a woman’s glory. But, during biblical times and still in some parts of Middle Eastern culture today, a woman did not let her hair down in front of men. Her hair was something to be seen by only God and her husband. So, why did the woman let down her hair, in front of a room full of people, no less? She could have wiped her tears with a cloth, but she chose her hair, her glory. What appeared to be outrageous to the crowd was something that was seen as worship to Jesus. Vulnerability paired with worship births beautiful blessings in our lives. Only when she was vulnerable with Jesus was she able to walk away with something that she didn’t ever think she would ever attain: peace.

After all of this takes place, Jesus looks at this woman and says, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Whatever she had walked into that room with, whatever had been troubling her, she now walked away at peace. Why? Because she gave her all to Jesus. To me, this story represents what happens in our lives when we are completely vulnerable with God. When we go to Him in prayer not as an obligation or to fulfill the law, like seen by the Pharisee in this story, but with a posture of praise and thanksgiving, in complete humility before our King, we will experience blessings we could have never imagined. Getting through our list of prayer requests is not the objective of prayer. The objective of prayer is to get to know our Creator better, to invite Him into every area of our lives, so that from a deep and fulfilling relationship, we are able to better serve the people in our lives and fulfill The Great Commission. If the only thing you are ever doing in prayer is praying for others, but never letting your walls down and being vulnerable with God, then what you have is a working relationship, not an intimate relationship with God. There is a BIG difference. Please, do not stop praying for the needs of others, but before you do, make sure you are being vulnerable with God. Prioritize your intimate relationship with Him. Take the time to just abide in His Presence and spend time with Him. He wants so much to be invited in.

Yesterday’s YouVersion daily Bible Verse was so fitting for what I wanted to write about today.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

All I could think as I read the story in Luke 7 this week is that maybe, just maybe, if the woman had only given Jesus her alabaster box of perfume, and walked away, she would have missed something incredible. Had the woman not been completely vulnerable with Jesus, and washed His feet with her tears, she might have never heard the words that Jesus had to say to her. She might have missed her greatest blessing: Go in peace.

I don’t know about you, but this story has challenged me. Vulnerability does not come easy for me. And, I’m certain for most of us, that statement is true. So, in the reading of Luke 7 and Jesus’ example to us, I’m reminded that God wants me to bring all my emotions to Him, to be completely 100% my self with Him, rather than the “put together” version of myself in prayer. After all, God knows us better than we know ourselves. So, if there is anyone we can be vulnerable with, it’s Him. He created the whole of you, mind, body, heart and spirit. Don’t let anything hold you back from bringing your all to Him. Who knows what you might be missing out on?

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