Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Courage to be Vulnerable

“To share your weaknesses is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”- Criss Jami.
Vulnerability is a very scary place to be for most people, it’s easier for us to paint a picture of having it all together, and appearing like our life is perfect; than it is to be really honest about where we are in life and the struggles we face. Our society has expectations of what it looks like to play the different roles, or wear the many hats we put on; which makes it very difficult for people to come clean about what is really going on inside. I used to believe everything I see or hear about people, until I got close to some of this people, and realized that everything isn’t as beautiful as it looks on the outside. Through social media, I found a lot of inspiring people who led beautiful lives, that were do die for and also doing great things, but what I didn’t see much online were the bad days, the tears, or the lonely days, which I am sure they had. We all stumble in different ways, even the individual whom you greatly admire and respect has struggles. Often times the images of people that we see that draws us to them could be very far from reality, people may be going through deep pain but only share what they want others (public) to see. People watching from the outside would idolize this people, compare their lives with them, and feel bitter and angry if their lives don’t measure up with theirs.A part of the reason, people mask their pain is because they are scared they might be rejected if they show their weaknesses; they are afraid that if people get to see the REAL person inside, they may not like or accept them. Everybody loves inspiration, we all love motivation, and we are drawn to words of wisdom from people who have had various life experiences that allows them to have the answers to some of life’s questions, as well as the wisdom to speak into people’s lives. However, this people no matter how smart, inspiring, wonderful, or godly, they may be struggle in so many ways that you may not know about. The truth is not everyone is going to be comfortable with our vulnerability, not everyone is going to be able to handle our truth or understand our story. There will also be people who will judge us based on the information we put out. It takes a lot of risk to be comfortable enough not to allow people’s opinion/judgment of us affect how we share with others. People who are able to dig into their soul, and channel their pain, struggles, and insecurities in a way that blesses others have truly discovered how to live life fearlessly. We were created for community, to feel love, and a sense of belonging, we are not supposed to go through life alone. Stop carrying that pain inside, and allowing it to eat you up, stop trying so hard to look like you have it all together. It takes courage to transform your pain into purpose, and to risk being hurt while being willing to be vulnerable with others. It’s interesting how the most beautiful women struggle with a lot of insecurities, the people, who appear to be strong on the outside are breaking inside, and the people who are good at encouraging and uplifting people are hiding a lot of pain inside. Also people who seem to know a lot about relationships, and about love are often the most difficult people to love because these people find it hard to trust people. Being vulnerable allows us to share our hearts in a way that relieves us of the stress we carry on the inside, and gives us the freedom to love ourselves and others well. Every human being regardless of their position, or background are wounded in some way, our lives are not perfect, as long as we live in this world, we are going to have problems, deal with difficult things, meet difficult people, have weaknesses that we struggle with, and experience pain in one way or the other. Which is part of the reason people feel connected to a person who don’t allow the pains of the pasts control the rest of their lives, or even allow other’s people’s opinion affect them so much that they shut down. 1 Cor 10: 13 talks about “no testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone” Often time’s people feel ashamed sharing their pain because they believe what they are going through is shameful and they cannot talk about it publicly because of the nature of the pain. And the moment they have the courage to finally share their story, they discover there are many people who are also going through some of the things they struggled with. One thing I know about life is we can never have a new problem, every situation we have faced in life, has already been faced and conquered by someone else we just need to find those people who have been through our current situation and learn from their insights. According to Brene Brown- the author of “daring greatly”, goes into great detail in her book about the issue of vulnerability, and how we shouldn’t have to go through life alone, it is so much harder that way “we need support, we need folks who will let us try on new ways of being without judging us; we need a hand to pull us up off the ground when we get kicked down”. I am not a very open person so I don’t readily share things going on with me except with the people closest to me. There were times I would really need help in a certain area and I would just suffer in silence because I was too ashamed to ask for help. My thing was why share my pain or problems with people who couldn’t do anything about it. I had to learn the hard way how to interact with more people and build trust with them and get the help I need. I didn’t know everything and just being around people who I could learn from, and lean on for support helped me overcome struggles I was dealing with. Often times the people who are quiet have no one to share their burdens with, they usually have a smile on their face, but they are suffering in silence. Even when they tell you, they are fine and things are good with them, the truth is they need people to loving pursue them and find out what is going on in their lives, and not give up easily when they say “I am fine”. On a last note this quotes sums up my thoughts on what vulnerability means and why is so important “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves”-Brene Brown

Searching for Direction

Trying to find our way in life can be tough, life is full of ups and downs of trying to figure out what direction to go with our lives, and what our purpose is. It can be pretty painful when it feels like we are going through this process alone, and the people around us are not understanding. We know we are looking for something meaningful to do with our lives, but with everything we find, we can’t hold on to it for long, we lose our excitement or passion for it quickly. We find ourselves jumping from one thing to another and never seem to get anything right. Many times we wonder why things are taking so long for us, we ask ourselves why we have to do several things before we find out, what it is we want to do with our life. We go from one seminar to another, where we learn all this great tips on how to find our calling in life, or our passion; we read books after books, attend one conference or the other but yet we still feel confused. Maybe you didn’t attend conferences or seminars, instead you sought the counsel and prayers from a godly man or woman you consider as a mentor or a spiritual father or mother, yet with all the prayers, and advice you got, you still are not clear about the path to take for your life. If this is you? You’re not alone I have been in your shoes. There were times when I felt like I was going through life blindly. For a long time I was desperately searching for direction for my life, I wish someone could give me the answer to some of life toughest questions and challenges; or give me some magic formula on finding the right direction for my life. I would often ask myself, why I would often feel confused about my life. Why is it taking me so long to achieve things that seems easy for others? Why do I have to wait for every single thing? When is my life going to start? Is there something wrong with me? The scripture speaks about this in the book of Proverbs: it says: “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9) We can plan all we want about the things we want to do and accomplish with our lives but at the end of the day, only God has the final say. He sees the end from the beginning, and he knows what is best for us and his plans far out-weighs our own plans for our lives. When we’re truly submitted to him, we align our plans with his will and that is when he directs our path and things begin to fall in place. As children of God, we are not supposed to live life in our own power or strength, we need God’s direction for our lives. Every project or tasks I engaged in without God’s leading, ended up as a failure. It didn’t matter how much effort I put into, or how much I believed in the project, it didn’t work out. Sometimes God allows us to have things our way when we resist his help, and of course we end up running back to him anyways, because our human effort alone couldn’t sustain it. Anything we do outside of God is going to cost us too much, at the end it’s not going to be worth it. We cannot run faster than God, when it is not your time or your season to do something and you try to make it work, you end up with headaches and pain. It takes wisdom and discernment to know how to move by the spirit, and not with our natural mind. Everything God does is done in steps, he didn’t create the world in one day, each day he made something different. If God took his time to create things, then we shouldn’t expect to our purpose /calling to happen in a short time. Sometimes God may reveal our future to us, but he doesn’t always show us the preparations or process we would have to go through to get there. There could be a lot of time that passes from the time God gives us the vision, and the fulfillment of the dream. Joseph was 17 years old when God showed him the great plan he had for his life, at the time Joseph was just like any regular teenager, maybe feeling a little stuck up because he was his father’s favorite, and he also had dreams that his brothers and his father will one day serve him. Unbeknownst to Joseph he will face a series of disappointments, hardships, betrayal, and suffering before he will get to his purpose. Just like Joseph we may had revelations of how God is going to use us in the future, or the great plan he has for our life, but things from that point on begins to go wrong.
We usually face our greatest challenges in the process of birthing a dream, at times it may feel like God has forgotten you, or nothing seems to work no matter how hard we try. It may take us a long time before we begin to see the fruits of the vision coming together; meanwhile in the process we’re losing friends, our family is turning against us, we’re facing strong opposition, feeling confused and overwhelmed, and just feeling pressure from every side. We look around us and we see people walking in their purpose, achieving their dreams, and doing great things, and here we are, feeling like how life is heading nowhere. “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3). This verse provides strength for the weary individual who has waited so long to see their dreams come to pass, or for that person who is so close to the promise/ dream but who is about to give up. God has promised he will not allow more than we can handle. God lights the path that we are on, we may not see all the steps we need to take at once, but we can be at peace knowing that God is leading us; and we can find grace for each day when we chose to trust in him. There is no formula for finding direction in life, what may work for one person may not necessary work for another, stop trying to figure it all out, you’ll wear yourself out, stop comparing your life with someone else’s and feeling like failure, quit trying to making things work that God’s blessing is not upon, stop trying to fit in. Your present circumstances do not dictate your final destination, no matter how long it takes keep pressing. God never fails, if he has decreed a thing it will surely come to pass. Allow God lead you one step at a time, his grace is sufficient for each day!