When it comes to sharing my feelings, I’ve always been a private person.
I spent a majority of my life growing up dealing with my struggles alone- just God and me. There were a lot of times as a child that I would go through something hard, and I’d find myself lying on my bed, praying to God and/or journaling. God, in His goodness, would fix whatever the hard situation was at the time, and I would move on. While I don’t regret being reliant upon God since it drew me close to Him from a young age, I can see how as I got older, I needed to also learn how to rely on others.
It was normal for me to deal with everything on my own, and as a teen and young adult, I guarded my heart for fear that I would somehow be rejected. Rejected for what? Being human? I often held back wanting to share parts of me in fear that people’s perception of that cuddly, giggly, “Mytch” would change, in fear that if I didn’t look strong all the time, people wouldn’t come to me for help, in fear that if I were to be vulnerable, I would somehow lose the people closest to me. Dealing with everything alone had become a safe space for me, a space where I found I could avoid hurt and misconceptions.
That’s the way it is for a lot of people. Fear cripples us from being completely authentic. What this does is isolates us and ultimately keeps us from growing in the way God intended.
That’s not the plan God has for His sons and daughters. He designed us for community. He put in our hearts a need for love, for people, for heart to hearts.
Paul said, “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
I’ve learned that it takes effort live like this.
Three years ago, I left what was comfortable to me to attend a new church. Meeting new people challenged me with a choice— I could share my ups and downs and show these people who I truly am or I could choose the easier way— hide away by avoiding any and all vulnerability. The people that stood in front of me could know exactly how much I wanted them to know. They could see exactly what I wanted them to; they could know only the pretty, polished parts of me, or they could know the cracked, sculpted, molded parts too.
I could have easily painted a pretty picture for all my new friends to look at and admire with no flaws, no struggles, and no tears. I could have once again found myself dealing with the hard parts of life alone.
I chose a different way.
I chose to be open with them and to be real; I chose to show them my heart and still do choose to do so today. It’s an intentional choice, and because of that daily choice to be open with who I am, I’ve grown exponentially like Paul promised in Ephesians I would. Because of that, I’m becoming not so afraid to pull back the layers and reveal “me.”
Because of that, I am better, stronger, and braver than I could ever be alone.
Learning to be open and choose vulnerability is a process, and it’s not always an easy path. My conscious choice to be real every single day with the wonderful community God has placed me in has helped me tremendously become closer to who I’m called to be.
I’ll continue to grow in this area by choosing to be vulnerable, because I know it’s the best way to live. The way God intended for you and I to operate is “together”. We have been fitted and knit together by Him not by accident but for a specific purpose; togetherness promotes growth, and God never intended for us to be alone. We are better together.
“True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are. It requires you to be who you are.”-Brené Brown