There are times in this life when being vulnerable is the only option. I had one of those moments this week and it wrecked me, truly wrecked me, inside and out.
Being who I am, my strange personality and all, I struggle heavily with vulnerability. I can be genuine in my care for you and understanding of your emotions. And I value vulnerability in others so heavily, mostly because I can't figure out how people are so open with one another. But to actually let someone into the crazy mess of my own heart and mind is almost paralyzing. And after I expose my hurts and fears to someone I spend hours upon hours examining the relationship and praying I didn't mess things up and worrying that I've scared them off. Why is this my reaction? Because it's happened time and time again in my life.
But being here in South Africa, so very far away from my usual support of people who've stuck around through the hard times, I found myself in a position where I either had to trust someone close by or completely collapse under the weight of all I've been carrying for so many months now. I'm so used to taking care of everyone else, pushing my emotions and problems aside, that I don't always see the warning signs in my own heart. Looking back I can see the pressure building and I can see the stress fractures beginning to appear around my cup of joy, but I don't notice them until they had already turned into full-blown cracks and were leaking water out of my cup at an alarming rate. And then I completely spilled over - leaving nothing but a few drops left in my cup. I sat holding my cup up to God and saying, "What happened?" and "What do I do now?"
I wish I didn't repeat this cycle over and over again. I wish I could figure out how to deal with my emotions as they come and not feel so out of control when they build upon themselves. But they're so sneaky. I'm almost used to feeling things but for a moment and then putting them in the closet of my heart thinking I'll deal with them later. It's that stupid privacy issue I have, and my overwhelming need to protect everyone else. I end up feeling so selfish taking time to deal with my own heart. But I have to find a way to break this cycle if I'm going to rely on God the way I crave so desperately. I have to find a way to leave the closet door open in my heart and just look in every once and awhile and see what's in there; to give God free reign in the closet at all times to gently point me back to it as needed.
I admire so much those who can freely ebb and flow with their emotions, with life in general. It's not a part of my personality naturally, but I'm trying. I have one of those people in my life here in South Africa that is like a walking light beam from Heaven. And to see her freedom and full grasp of what God's grace is, is incredible for this closed-shell girl to watch. I admire her so much more than I think she'll ever understand, just by being her. And I learn from her everyday just by being around her, as I know so many others do as well. Maybe one day I'll get to that point as well - fully understanding that it's okay to just be me, mess and all.
I recognize, however, that there is beauty in being vulnerable. Even through the worry of the aftermath, I still feel stronger and braver because I was open and honest. I find myself again - hidden beneath the chaos. I see my friends differently; mostly better, stronger people than I knew them to be before, simply because they allowed me to spill over onto them. I have a new untapped energy and find my cup so quickly overflowing by God's generosity that it surprises me. And I am reminded once again that I don't walk this road alone, ever! God becomes my saving grace, my resting place, once again. And I walk a little taller, a little stronger, because I walk through the mess with Him.
I'm praying I continue to walk close to Him. I pray I find a way to balance my need to protect others with my own feelings and emotions. I pray I continue to allow myself to be vulnerable - to enjoy the beauty in it and see the blessings that surround it. God help me in this mess as I know You will!