For those meeting me the first time, my personality can be a little bit overwhelming, mostly because I like to ask questions — lots of them.
When I meet you, I want to know all about you — where you’re from, why you’re here, what you do, where you’re headed … and way more. I want to know: What are your dreams? What is God teaching you right now? What did you learn from your greatest failure? If you could live your life over again up to this point, what would you change?
A total of two of you thinks this dialogue sounds like fun; the rest of you are likely thinking you’d want to steer wide and clear from THAT.
I get it. I really do. Over the years, I’ve become more discerning about, and less vigorous in, my attempts to get to know — really know — a person. Many times, it’s because other people don’t want to, don’t know how to, don’t have time to or are afraid to be vulnerable with me; other times, it’s because I don’t want to, don’t know how to, don’t have time to or am afraid to be vulnerable with them.
Also? Like you, I’ve jumped into that vulnerable space of deep friendship and been burned. So I’ve spent some time on the sidelines of relationship proverbially licking my wounds.
Truth be told, though, when we’re content to move about in the shallows of acquaintance and reticent to move into the wilds of deep connectedness, we are safe from harm but far from adventure. Alone.
And where’s the fun in that?
Let me illustrate.
Growing up, vacationing involved tossing swimsuits, fishing poles, and food into the back of my dad’s pickup truck to spend a week in a rented lake cottage with aunts, uncles, and cousins where we’d swim, fish, swim, eat charred hot dogs with burnt s’mores, and then swim some more.
Thus, upon arrival, it took us kids about 2.3 seconds to leap out of the car, slip on our suits, and splash into to the lake.
One year, after swimming for several hours, one of my cousins looked down at her legs and noticed little brown spots. Upon closer examination, she realized that attached to her skin were the tiniest blood-sucking worms!
We all thought that was hilarious. Until we spotted the same little brown creatures on our own legs which caused a mass exodus to the shower where lots of frantic scrubbing ensued.
Mind you, this was day one of our once-a-year vacation, and the thought of spending an entire week at a lake where we couldn’t swim was torture!
But then, my still-to-this-day most resourceful cousin slipped on a giant pair of white tube socks (remember those?). He pulled them all the way up to his knees and ventured back into the water where, lo and behold, he squished his socked feet into the mucky shallows and wriggled past the weeds — without a single blood-sucking varmint leeching upon his skin.
Solidly convinced that our health could be held safely intact by the strength of long, white tube socks, the rest of us subsequently ransacked suitcases for the thickest, tallest pairs.
Except one of my cousins wasn’t having it. There was no way she was sticking even a toe back into that water — tube socks or not. No amount of coaxing or convincing could lure her into our space, and she spent the rest of the week sitting on the pier watching the rest of us play. She. Was. Done.
Now I don’t know how you feel about tiny, blood-sucking worms, but I’m hoping you can see at least the loose connection between our lake experience and relational vulnerability.
Brene´Brown, author of Daring Greatly, describes vulnerability as “uncomfortable” and “even a little dangerous at times.” But she goes on to say that “nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”
I want to live a more uncomfortable, dangerously vulnerable life — even if it means a few “blood-sucking worms” (or much worse) wreaks havoc along the way.
Who’s with me?