During this past Christmas season, I signed up for the opportunity to attend a Blessed Brunch which was to be hosted here in NYC. Blessed Brunches are part of the Blessed is She ministry, which aims to foster community and sisterhood amongst Catholic women via their website, social media pages, as well as in-person meetings. The brunch took place this past Saturday in Harlem, and a group of us from different parts of the five boroughs came together to talk about the value of Faith and its multifaceted importance in our daily lives. There were young professionals, young mothers, wives, career women all together in one room to talk about our love for our Catholic faith.
It should go without saying that this was one of the best discussions I’ve ever attended. Not only did we really delve into the nitty-gritty aspects of what having faith requires, but we also delved into the deep about what keeps us from having faith, and the word that kept on coming up was….. vulnerability.
Now, I’ll be real with you: I was raised to not show any vulnerability whatsoever, I wasn’t supposed to cry or talk about what bothered me. I was supposed to be strong, stand tall and always look as though I was happy even if I wasn’t. And to be honest, thinking strong and tall got me through the glories of the American education system. However, there came a point in time when I had to acknowledge that embracing my vulnerability was the key to moving on to the next stage of my life.
It took me a while to do this, but I’m glad that I did. In the spirit of sharing, here are some of the ways I learned to accept the need for the vulnerability in my life.
(1) Don’t deny feelings. I started with this one because this was really the first step. I’ve had many instances where I’ve had to swallow my feelings to placate someone else, and I was the one who suffered as a result. So, I started to acknowledge how I really felt. I began to speak up whenever I feel bothered. I started to own my discomfort with certain scenarios, and doing those things…has changed my life.
(2) Accept the possibility of failure- When you’re being open, you’re being open to everything. You’re being open to happiness, sadness, bitterness, and anger all in one shot. Sometimes, vulnerability will pay off, and you will grow in ways you never dreamed possible. But there are other times when vulnerability will cause you to learn a very hard and sometimes painful lesson. The point is, regardless of what happens, lean into both outcomes. There cannot be great reward without great risk.
(3) If being vulnerable leads to a bad result, harden not your heart. In Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (12:9-10), he says this:
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Basically, what Paul is saying here is that accepting our weaknesses is what makes us strong in the eyes of others, as well as the eyes of God. To accept one’s weaknesses is to accept new opportunities to turn those weaknesses into strengths. If we try to hide them, eventually, they will come out in ways we would not want. So don’t let your failures make you turn your face from the world. Instead, turn your face so the sun shines brighter upon it.
(4) Don’t listen to other people who say that vulnerability is for the weak. Some people were not raised to understand the power of vulnerability, and they choose to ensure that others live by this rule as well. However, the truth of the matter is that you don’t have to live your life by their mistakes. Their lives are their business. Your life is yours.
(5) Realize that people will treat you differently when you choose to accept your vulnerability. Your relationships with people WILL change. Some for the better, some for the worse. Some people in your life will be happy that you are opening up about more of your private triumphs and trials, while others will smile with you and laugh behind your back. I myself can attest to this. When I started being more vulnerable, I lost friends. But I also gained truer ones.
So those are my tips for vulnerability. What are yours?