Freedom is terrifying

October 31, 2014 — 1 Comment

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It’s the last day of my 31 day series on love over fear in relationships. These posts have been tough to write, and I leaned heavily on my talented friend Jen to design graphics for me to fill the days when I didn’t have time or emotional energy to dedicate to this intensely personal topic.

I’m so glad I tossed out the tidy topic I’d picked a month ahead and chose the topic stinging my heart. I certainly didn’t realize the depth of fear that plagued my relationships when I started, or I probably wouldn’t have chosen a public platform to dive into it.

I knew going in that it was risky, and as I said in the initial post, I hoped on the other side of the risk was the reward of freedom: freedom from fear, and a few more steps taken out of love instead of fear.

I’ve definitely experienced freedom, which in itself feels terrifying. We forget that about freedom – that the prison we’ve built from our fears begins to feel like home. Standing outside those walls immediately feels vulnerable, and our first instinct is to run back inside.

The fight to experience freedom is worth it, though. The fight for our right to freedom is over and won, so it’s worth every ounce of discomfort for us to walk in it.

It’s left me a little undone, honestly – crying in situations where I’d normally be the stable voice of reason, missing my family like I’m a kid away at camp, emailing online acquaintances with real truth and feelings, blubbering within the opening credits of Parenthood. (Okay, now that last one is just a normal human reaction.)

Relationships and moments and redemption feel a little more sacred, like we’ve really got something to lose if we don’t learn to genuinely love each other.

And we do. This month has kept me up nights imagining what we stand to lose when I pull back for fear of being hurt, when I refuse to say the hard truth, when I make to do lists while Mike talks to me.

What are we living for if not meaningful connections with people who care?

The eternal risk is that we reach out to make those connections, and no one cares. Reach anyway.

It’s been a privilege to walk through this topic with you. Thank you for being here. I’ll keep showing up if you will – here on this blog, and also in love – terrifying as that might be.

This post is the last in a 31 day series on love over fear in relationships. To read the other posts in this series, head here.

love rejoices with the truth

Image by @jensane

Photo by @jensane

Photo by @jensane

You know that feeling after a deeply personal conversation? Once you’ve had some time to think and put your armor back on, you might feel embarrassed- regretful, even, that you revealed that truth about yourself.

In the moment it took guts, and it took trust, but the moment took bravery with it as it passed. Brené Brown calls this experience a “vulnerability hangover.”

Somehow the right circumstances and the right people inspired us to take off our armor and be a little more ourselves. But now, in the light of day, we feel exposed and embarrassed, desperate to hide again. Remember how rich it felt, though, to be accepted as yourself?

These are the best moments of my life- honest conversations with people who care.

You took off the armor because you didn’t need it, in that moment. You didn’t need to protect yourself with sarcasm or poise or intellect – whatever shield or mask you choose.

The armor is there to bury our shame, to protect us from being found out. The vulnerability hangover happens when you feel foolish for having ever thought you were safe enough to take it off.

I feel this way almost every time my small group prays for me. I can’t ask for prayer without letting them into where I’m really at, which always tumbles out in a jumbled mess.

Part of my armor is packaging my ideas and feelings into complete sentences, fully formulated and with conclusions. Sharing things I haven’t solved yet feels scandalously vulnerable.

But I keep doing it. The alternative is keeping quiet, carrying all the weight on my own, including that heavy, heavy armor.

I usually feel panicked on the way home, worried about what they think of me now that I’ve revealed that I’m actually not strong enough to do any of this on my own.

We have all been found out, and none of us can do good on our own. We’ve all fallen short. To say that I’m weak and fault ridden and bound in selfishness on my own is to agree with the gospel.

But God – He found us out. He saw us for what we really were.

If we peel back all the layers, we’ll all be found out as broken. That’s what we fear, right?

The ultimate vulnerability doesn’t stop at showing the cracks and brokenness. The ultimate vulnerability is to admit how desperately we need the gospel – not just one time, but every day.

We do each other a great disservice when we pretend like we don’t, like the gospel is for someone other than us. That’s what I’ve been doing, running hard to outgrow the gospel.

There’s really only one thing I have to say when I take off all the armor. The most vulnerable thing I can share with you or with anyone might sound like old news, but it’s the thing we work so hard to hide:

My nature is weak, selfish, and broken, and there’s nothing I can do about it on my own. My only hope is in Jesus Christ.

Isn’t that what we’re trying to hide? All of our shame and mistakes and shortcomings look different, but aren’t we all trying to fix and hide them ourselves? The most embarrassing part is that there’s nothing I can do about it apart from Him.

Sometimes I wish there was something more enticing or flashy or modern, something I could take credit for, but there’s not. Only Jesus. And that is such good news.

This post is part of a 31 day series on love over fear in relationships. To read the other posts in this series, head here.

tbw.fearlove2

Image by @jensane

This post is part of my 31 day series on love over fear in relationships. To read the other posts in this series, head here.

TBW.ROM12

Image by @jensane

One of the easiest things about being married to Mike is how well he displays this verse.

He’ll wake up a few minutes earlier to make coffee even if he’s not going to drink any. He goes out of his way just to make my day more convenient.

These daily kindnesses aren’t hard to do but they’re easier not to, especially day after day when stress and exhaustion start to wear us both down.

Watching him choose the small but meaningful ways he puts me first inspires me. What small thing can I do to show him and remind myself that I don’t have to be out for my own interests all the time? How can I do this in my friendships and work?

Be devoted to one another. Honor one another above yourselves.

A weighty call, but a worthwhile one.

This post is part of my 31 day series on love over fear in relationships. To read the other posts in this series, head here.