The Sexiness of Vulnerability

Every now and then, I read something that causes me to think of something in a way that turns my previous personal definition on its head.

To be vulnerable is to demonstrate that you are confident about who you are; that you aren’t afraid of your weaknesses. It shows trust and perpetuates trust. You can’t have true love without vulnerability.

Turn-On # 5: Vulnerability
Vulnerability is not the opposite of confidence, as some men seem to assume. I see your willingness to be vulnerable with me as a huge statement of confidence. And, it makes me want to support you, and take care of you. Not in some mommy/boy way, but in this, “Oh, wow, he trusts me!” way. Not only that, it makes me trust you. If you’re willing to get vulnerable with me, I’m going to be less guarded with you. And you never know what fantastic places that could lead us to.?? Trust that I can support you in the moments where you need to be held, listened to, or even just to vent. Trust that I’ll still be here when you’re through it. And as you trust more, so will I trust you. – What Women Really Want: 10 (Sort Of) Secret Turn-Ons for Men Who Want to Know!

Don’t want to accept this from a post with the word “Turn-ons” in the title?

Fine.

Listen to C.S. Lewis talk about vulnerability in, The Four Loves:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

PS: The rest of that “Turn-ons” post is pretty good, too! Enjoy.

How would you describe your relationship?

“Which One Describes Your Marriage?” (click to read) was a post I read yesterday on the health of marriages. I’m still thinking about it today, and I’d like for you to read it, too. (I think the principles can be applied to all kinds of relationships, don’t you?)

I think the observation of “transactional” is be spot on. I have been there before — subconsciously keeping score on a few things, and it’s miserable. As the post says, it’s subtle. To the untrained eye, it might even look like it’s in the “Thriving” category, especially if you can keep up with pleasantries. However, you really can’t give your whole heart when you are relating to your spouse like that in the slightest.

Getting some advice from my pastor last year about ways *I* needed to alter my thoughts and behavior was life-changing. It was not only refreshing to my marriage, but my outlook in general. Specifically, I was taking things way too personally (especially when Tom would come home from a trip.. I was feeling a bit empty after not seeing him and wouldn’t give him much breathing room) and attributing every little bit of friendly sarcasm, criticism or disagreement as, “He must not really love me…” (Which wasn’t the case at all!)

I also had to realize that my happiness couldn’t primarily hinge on how I related to Tom (What pressure on him! How ‘used’ he must have felt!) but in my relationship with the Lord.

I hope the linked post is helpful to you. Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

If you read it, and realize that you would not place your marriage in the “Thriving” category, please do give me a call or send me a message. I’m happy to listen and to pray with you!

Much love,
Sarah

PS: No matter what you think of the Bible, you’ve gotta admit.. this is a pertinent, truthful description of real love:

I Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered , does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

And, of God’s perfect love for us.. so much that he even came to the earth to die horrifically on a cross (Jesus didn’t pass quietly and peacefully in his sleep!) and pay for our sins with his own life:

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

Love Notes On My Mirror

image

I keep these on my dresser mirror and smile at them every day:

“I miss you a lot. I will be home soon.”

“If I don’t need a reason to love you, I don’t need a reason to send you flowers.”

“Dear Sarah, I love you. Your best friend, Tom”

Confession

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

– – –

This is part of my note to a friend who admitted they’d been hateful toward others. They are going through a horrible rough patch in life. I urged them to repent, noting my own sins.

Posting this excerpt here so I can eat my words later :)

FWIW, God doesn’t call us to be kind and loving only when things are going well. It takes *faith* to be strong and trust in God when things are NOT going well. I have noticed, speaking freely here, that God sometimes withholds blessings when we do not suffer well. (God has kicked my butt over this multiple times!!)

When I have sinfully focused on life’s problems and not on Christ, and have let the love Christ in my heart be taken over by bitterness and anger, it feels like my arm is being painfully twisted high above my back. Can’t sleep. Zero appetite, and I feel a horrible unrest in my heart. Anxiety attacks, etc. Life is grueling and all up hill.

When it finally gets through my thick skull, I confess, not just to others, but to God, that I have not been trusting in Him and that I’ve been leaning on my own strength and not His, I begin to feel His grace and mercy. God can’t use us when our hearts are hard. I’ve had to humbly confess to my Maker that I’ve been essentially giving Christ the finger with my actions.. He died for me, purchased my soul with His blood, and I’m basically being an unusable asshole.. not the conduit of Christ’s love that He wants for me to be. Instead, I need to be like Christ’s mother who said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

Circumstances don’t always change, but they are much more manageable with a humble heart that is trusting in God… and certainly a lot less stressful.

I’m not saying these things to point a finger at you in any way. In fact, I respect you even more because of your apology and you are forgiven. Please know that *I* am guilty of saying equally hateful things… and much more. I am your friend and, as a pastor once put it simply, “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

The Not-Nice Tweet

While I was killing some time in between soccer games this morning (October 6th), the following (re)tweet showed up on my feed:

Jesus didn’t call you to be nice. He called you to be good. There’s a difference. “Holy” and “righteous” aren’t the same as “nice.” @TravelingMead

*20* People had retweeted it.

I sent it to my feed with the comment,

Kind? Tenderhearted? “@TravelingMead: Jesus..called you to be good. There’s a difference. “Holy” and “righteous” aren’t the same as “nice.””

And then, more directly, I replied:

That’s probably one of the most bullshit lines I’ve ever heard about Christianity. Do you write catchy church signs, too?

:D

First of all, I’m pretty sure Pastor Mead’s a godly man. It probably wasn’t entirely fair to him, a complete stranger, for me to treat him this way without at least first offering him a cigar and some bourbon. Over Twitter, he certainly couldn’t see the smile in my eyes or my smirking tongue-in-cheek expression :)

While his tweets were protected (I wasn’t able to find context for the tweet at the time, although his tweets seem to all be public now), he does link his blog to his profile. Check it out.

The problem I had with his tweet is this:

It was written to be some sort of inspirational truth statement to his followers, yet it contains the ridiculous false dichotomy that somehow you can’t be “holy” and “righteous” and “nice” at the same time.

After seeing my not-so-nice (wait, I thought we’re not called to be “nice”?) response,
@DanRevill shot back at me,

@mrsalbrecht I do think the word “nice” is an overused saccharine term. I understand what he’s saying, even if his eloquence could use work.

Eh, kinda. The problem is that when Biblical ideas are packaged into catchy phrases (or modern-day translations), they lose their punch. Paul notes this danger in I Corinthians 1:17-30, “…not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.”

The truth is that we can be sincerely nice even if we are in conflict with someone. This isn’t “saccharine”. In fact, it is a form of acting upon our faith to be nice and to treat a believer caught in sin with love — that is a key to restoring the relationship — even if our heart is still hurting and we don’t feel like it.

Not only does Paul tells Euodia and Syntyche to knock it off, he encourages them to behave civilly toward one another for the sake of their church. Their feud was so bad, God allowed it to be recorded for posterity’s sake, and to be a lesson to us. Paul reminds them of their faith and urges them to be nice, even with nitty-gritty instructions on how to think and treat each other. Certainly it was a struggle for them! When we purposefully think and say the best of people and are gentle even when we don’t feel like it, peace is the result…or, at least, it can seriously take power and focus away from the conflict.

Phillippians 4:2-9 “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Admittedly, it is of great irritation to me when Christians flippantly decide to “cut people off” as if it’s some righteous thing to stop associating with people who cause them “stress”. (Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners (see Luke 5:27-32) — yet how many Christians do you know refuse to attend family holiday parties because someone offended them in the past? This isn’t being “good” – avoiding a potential conflict – this is being bitter!) There is a hint of this in Mead’s tweet — because of the false dichotomy. How different would it be if people actually followed Matthew 18, with the goal of RESTORATION to relationships? How different would it be if, instead of the goal of trying to get rid of people by excommunication we took it to the next step and, in treating them as an unbeliever, would pray for them and minister to them?

Peacemaker Ministries, in their foundational principles resource, The Four G’s notes that some people are unreasonable, but that we still need to treat them with LOVE.

Be Prepared for Unreasonable People

Whenever you are responding to conflict, you need to realize that other people may harden their hearts and refuse to be reconciled to you. There are two ways you can prepare for this possibility.

First, remember that God does not measure success in terms of results but in terms of faithful obedience. He knows that you cannot force other people to act in a certain way. Therefore he will not hold you responsible for their actions or for the ultimate outcome of a conflict.

All God expects of you is to obey his revealed will as faithfully as possible (see Rom. 12:18). If you do that, no matter how the conflict turns out, you can walk away with a clear conscience before God, knowing that his appraisal is, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Second, resolve that you will not give up on finding a biblical solution. If a dispute is not easily resolved, you may be tempted to say, “Well, I tried all the biblical principles I know, and they just didn’t work. It looks like I’ll have to handle this another way (meaning, ‘the world’s way’).”

A Christian should never close the Bible. When you try to resolve a conflict but do not see the results you desire, you should seek God even more earnestly through prayer, the study of his Word, and the counsel of his church. As you do so, it is essential to keep your focus on Christ and all that he has already done for you (see Col. 3:1-4). It is also helpful to follow five principles for overcoming evil, which are described in Romans 12:14-21 :

  • Control your tongue (“Bless those who curse you;” see also Ephesians 4:29)
  • Seek godly advisors (identify with others and do not become isolated)
  • Keep doing what is right (see 1 Peter 2:12-15; 1 Peter 3:15-16)
  • Recognize your limits (instead of retaliating, stay within proper biblical channels)
  • Use the ultimate weapon: deliberate, focused love (see also John 3:16; Luke 6:27-31)
  • At the very least, these steps will protect you from being consumed by the acid of your own bitterness and resentment if others continue to oppose you. And in some cases, God may eventually use such actions to bring another person to repentance (see 1 Sam. 24:1-22).

    Even if other people persist in doing wrong, you can continue to trust that God is in control and will deal with them in his time (see Psalm 10 and Psalm 37). This kind of patience in the face of suffering is commended by God (see 1 Pet. 2:19) and ultimately results in our good and his glory.

    So… there it is. Took me long enough to have a moment to respond!

    I am curious to know what Mead was thinking when he wrote his tweet, and how it was that he came to this supposedly biblical conclusion, beyond being catchy and trying to make a point by use of semantics, that we’re not called to be “nice”.

    Whether or not he responds, it was therapeutic for me to write this :)

    And, in replying to a pastor who posts fart tweets, I don’t feel bad about my use of the word “bullshit”. I think he can handle it :P